The Instructional Speech.
Matth. 10, 5-42.
If Jesus neither called nor ever sent the Twelve, then he did not give them a special speech at their departure. We could therefore be very brief if asked whether Jesus actually spoke the long speech attributed to him by Matthew on this occasion. Equally brief, we could note that Matthew has composed his long speech from the speeches that Mark and Luke attach to the sending out of the Twelve, and the latter also attaches to the sending out of the Seventy, enriched with sayings that he found elsewhere in the writings of his predecessors. However, we will not rely on the result of the above criticism; rather, we will start the matter again from the beginning, prove the origin of the speech within Matthew’s own context, and as for the individual sayings from which this speech is composed, they still deserve a separate, independent consideration, and the possibility remains that Jesus spoke them on other occasions.
1. The Lost Sheep of Israel.
Matth. 10, 5-6.
“Go not,” the Lord begins his speech, “into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans*) enter ye not, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
*) This is correctly translated by Luther; πολις Σαμαρειτων is not the capital, Samaria, but rather any city of the Samaritans and as general and comprehensive as οδος εθνων.
But, but! What must the theologian say to this? Even in the Gospel of Matthew, the Lord commands the disciples (ch. 28, 19): “Go and teach all nations!” and here he forbids them all association with the Gentiles? What does the theologian say to that? He finds the matter very easy, as there is no difficulty for him and he makes no effort to swallow camels. This prohibition, he says, “was only meant to be temporary **)” and it was very wise, as it recommended to the disciples the necessary and salutary restriction at the beginning and prevented them from scattering their strength at the first attempt. But then the Lord would have had to remind the disciples at this moment that this prohibition was only meant for the near future, and he would have had to expressly emphasize the limited validity of it, since he had recently himself associated with a Gentile, the centurion of Capernaum, and had opened up to the disciples the prospect of the time when the peoples would come from the east and the west. On the contrary, Weisse ***), answers, there is no contradiction between this earlier saying and the present one, in the latter the Gentiles and Samaritans are not even “excluded from the Gospel, but it is only commanded to await their voluntary response.” But just listen to the words: “Do not go on the road of the Gentiles, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel!” How strict they are, how clear and decisive the contrast is, and how determinedly it is stated that they should have nothing to do with the Gentiles! If the disciples were to think that they should indeed accept the Gentiles if they came voluntarily, they must have been reminded explicitly in what limitation that prohibition was to be lifted.
**) so says Strauss I, 571.
***) II, 60.
However, the issue is not only that this prohibition contradicts earlier and later statements of the Lord in the Gospel of Matthew, but it even contradicts individual sayings that follow in this discourse, and it is at odds with the entire situation that is presupposed in the following sayings. In verse 18, it says that the disciples will be brought before princes and kings, as witnesses to them and to the nations. If the theologian responds that this is only referring to governors like Pilate, to kings like Agrippa *), or at most to the Herodian family and the neighboring Arab kings **), then we cannot blink our eyes to weaken the impact of the scene, but we have to open them wide, as the evangelist wants it, and see the world theater before us, where princes, kings, and nations act and the disciples who have gone out to proclaim the gospel bear witness before them. It is the struggle of the gospel against all the powers of the world, whose image the Lord portrays to the disciples, which was only possible if he could assume that they would be thinking about their universal mission at that very moment. In short, this assumption, this situation, this consideration of the future, in which the disciples would work among the nations and bear witness before kings, contradicts the prohibition with which the discourse begins.
*) as de Wette, 1, 1, ior.
**) as Paulus creg. Handb. l, 737.
But this prohibition is at odds with everything else we reliably learn about Jesus. The Jesus of the fourth Gospel, who even establishes a community among the Samaritans himself, who speaks of the time when God will be worshiped in spirit and truth, and not in the sanctuary of Jerusalem, even to a foreign woman, that Jesus cannot have forbidden the disciples to go to the nations and to the Samaritans.
However, regarding the Samaritans, Strauss *) suggests that Jesus “seems to have addressed them personally due to the inexperience of his disciples in dealing with them.” Before we have time to notice that Jesus could not have sent his disciples to even the Jews, much less the Samaritans, without first attempting to send them to such a closely related people, Gfrörer enters the conversation to express his displeasure that the authenticity of that statement could only be considered remotely possible. No, he says **), “Jesus could not have spoken those words. The Ebionite spirit has attributed them to Christ.” However, we do not know how Gfrörer could prevent us from asking the question, “why should he not have spoken them?” since we have recognized the historical Christ, whom he regards as true, and the Johannine Christ, as a work of later reflection. We know nothing of Jesus revealing himself to the Samaritans as the Messiah, or of him speaking to a Samaritan woman about the time when people will worship God in spirit and in truth, we know nothing of this enlightened theorist of the fourth Gospel, and so…
And so… we would come to the conclusion, as the only one remaining, that Matthew portrays to us the true historical Jesus when he commands his disciples not to go to the Gentiles and Samaritans? In the end, was Jesus’ self-awareness nationally restricted, and was it only Paul and later people who liberated this new principle from this barrier? But let us not rush into things; let us just remember where this statement is located, what occasion it is linked to, how it does not harmonize with the other elements of this discourse, let us just hold on to all of this, and another solution will be found. Here it is!
*) l, 584.
**) holy Sage II, 23.
To the Canaanite woman who asked him for help for her daughter (Mark 7:27), Jesus said, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” We do not yet have to worry about what this word means in the portrayal of Mark and how the barrier that seems to exist between the Lord and the Gentiles is abolished in the dialectic of this whole narrative – enough, Matthew has particularly focused on this barrier and reinforced it even more, made it tighter by reworking the words “let the children be fed first” into the others (Matthew 15:24): “I am not sent, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Exactly the same words that Jesus speaks to the disciples, only that in the instruction discourse he expressly designates and must designate the contrast because at this moment, unlike then when he spoke to the Canaanite woman, the contrast was not personal.
Matthew formed that saying from a not entirely correctly understood, i.e. falsely separated expression of Jesus, which he read in the scripture of Mark.
But now the question had to give us no small difficulty, how on earth was it possible for a man who could only bring together a couple of thoughts to incorporate such opposing elements into his not particularly voluminous scripture. Matthew is the evangelist who speaks most frequently of the admission of the Gentiles into the kingdom of heaven, it is he who separates the Lord from the disciples with the command that they should go and teach all nations, even in the instruction discourse the assumption arises that the Gospel is testified before kings and peoples and that the apostles have gone far into foreign lands, and yet he alone has the saying “do not go on the road to the Gentiles and do not enter any town of the Samaritans!” Gfrörer lets these sayings arise in different, even opposing circles of the community and says now *): “It took a considerable time for such contradictory expressions to reconcile with each other and could dwell peacefully in the legend. Matthew probably did not feel their mutual struggle.” Since we have seen from all the sayings we have learned so far that they did not arise in the legend, did not live in the legend, we must look for another solution. It is true that Matthew did not believe that those sayings were in conflict with each other, but only because he was far beyond the conflict and looked at sayings that scream at us with the utmost impartiality. The man who sent the forerunners of the Gentile hordes to the cradle of the divine child, who has worked out the story of the centurion in Capernaum so extraordinarily beautifully and even in the instruction discourse, where we are now, unconsciously extends the ideal situation to the world stage, was no longer limited by national boundaries and had no dogmatic interest in letting the Lord speak as if the Gentiles were somehow excluded from salvation. Precisely because of his basic view, he could (as in C. 15:24) carry the embarrassment of pragmatism to such an extent in all unpretentiousness, holding on to fleeting moments that he found in the portrayal of his predecessors, working out more into the specific and positive, and this time (C. 10:5-6) he believed he was telling the truth historically if he let the Lord speak that prohibition. He reads, in the scripture of Mark, that the disciples only stayed away for a short time, so he concludes that they only went to their countrymen, so they were only sent to the lost sheep of Israel. However, soon enough he goes beyond this limited assumption, since his spirit drives him further. His abstract view, which does not feel at home in the particular, rushes towards the universal, and his inclination to pile up sayings and present the Lord as a teacher who sheds light on all aspects of the subject at once, leads him to compile everything that looks like an instruction to the apostles – thus the contradiction with the beginning of the discourse arises, but he is not concerned about it, since he soon forgets that beginning.
**) holy Sage II, 80.
Regarding the Samaritans, we note that Mark does not report any statement by Jesus about them; he, as the first gospel writer, did not yet incorporate the interest that the community later had for this people into the life of the Lord. The third synoptic gospel writer, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, already knows more about them to tell. In addition to the one anecdote of Jesus’ bad reception in a Samaritan village, he knows the parable of the Good Samaritan and the story of the thankful Samaritan – of course! The historian of the apostolic era must know something about how the Samaritans had already proved themselves worthy at the time of Jesus, that the kingdom of God also came to them. Later, when the initial interest in the Samaritans receded and was displaced by the greater interest that the conversion of the Gentiles aroused, the double interpretation could arise: either it became a positive statement that Jesus had already recruited Samaritans for the kingdom of God, and then they became in the circle of the gospel story the representatives of the foreigners who would enter the kingdom of heaven, or they were forgotten again and the first type of the gospel story regained its right. The first happened in the fourth gospel, the latter in the first; here it even happened by chance that they were placed in the same category as the Gentiles in the opposition that was to be presented to the lost sheep of Israel.
2. Equipment for the journey.
How his passion for universal ideas, or rather abstractions, could drive him far beyond the limits he had set for himself just a moment before, is shown to us by Matthew in the next verse of this speech. The disciples are to undertake a mission journey within the borders of the Holy Land; the evangelist has read in the writings of his predecessors that they soon returned after preaching, healing the sick, and casting out demons, but he forgets all these details, both his original intention and the assumptions underlying the reports of Mark and Luke, in the second sentence of this speech. And as if they were already being sent to the work that the Acts of the Apostles describes, the Lord now says to the disciples (v. 7-8), “Go and preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons.”
“You have received it for free, so give it for free as well.” Only Matthew wrote this sentence, but in a context that absolutely excludes it, since immediately afterwards (verse 9) the disciples are commanded: “Do not acquire gold, nor silver, nor copper for your money belts, nor a bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support.” Now, if they are supposed to expect sustenance for their work, it cannot be said at the same time: give it away for free as you have received it for free. The apologist could still torture us and the report, and claim that it was only said that they should not demand anything for the miracles, but the teaching should be the business from which they thirst for their livelihood. Useless torture! The teaching and the miracles are so closely related that they are not differentiated at all with regard to the instruction that they should work for free, and when they are later commanded to let themselves be fed by the people, and if they then actually find their sustenance on the journey, it could not be determined that they received this support not for the healings but only for the teaching.
The contradiction remains. Furthermore, the verb “do not acquire” (κτήσησθε) does not fit all the objects that Matthew lists, at least not at the same time for “gold, silver, and copper,” especially since it is said “copper in your money belts” and “bags, two tunics, and staff.” Finally, the saying “the worker is worthy of his support,” this imitation of the saying “you shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” is out of place, since there was no mention of food before, but rather of gold, silver, copper, tunics, shoes, and the staff. *) Now listen to how all these disharmonies are silenced when we read in Mark (6:8-9): “He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—(ινα μηδεν αιρωσιν εις οδον)—but to wear sandals; and He added, ‘Do not put on two tunics.'” “And,” the introduced address continues in verse 10, “wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that city;” i.e., you will find bread there.
*) See Wilke, p. 355. 356.
In general, Luke reproduces the same thing when he elaborates the instructional speech to the twelve (C. 9, 3. 4.), only he begins with the direct address from the beginning: “take nothing on the way,” although at the end of the sentence “they should not have two coats” he falls into indirect narration and thus betrays that he is working with a scripture in which both forms of speech alternate at the beginning of the speech. But only Mark gives us the original account when he gradually transitions from indirect narration to direct address, and Luke made a mistake when he suddenly turns into indirect narration in the middle of the address – which anticipates the παρηγγειλεν of Mark C. 6, 8. Furthermore, it is Luke who has caused the apologists so much agony, for he once includes the staff among the things that the disciples should not carry with them on the journey when he is in the process of listing everything: he does not realize that the staff neither hinders the speed of the journey, if that is what it is about, nor belongs to the things with which one usually attends to the stranger during the time when one hosts him. Finally, in the structure of the speech, Luke does not make it clear why the disciples should not provide themselves with provisions and money for the journey, as he does not say, like Mark: “stay there until you leave,” but rather “stay there and leave from there.”
Therefore, this mistake arises because Luke only wants to give a brief account of the speech to the Twelve, in order to later develop it as the Instruction Speech to the Seventy. When he actually reports this, he 1. stays on the track that he has already taken in the former, and believes that Jesus must absolutely only list things that the disciples should not take with them on the journey: he leaves the staff this time, but instead counts the shoes among the things that a messenger of salvation must refrain from carrying – “carry, says Jesus, no bag, no purse, no shoes.” At this moment, 2. the thought comes to him that the disciples should not complain on the journey, so they can move forward faster and he quickly writes down: “and do not greet anyone on the road” (C. 10, 4.). He also writes down these words because he is currently preoccupied with the meaning of the apostolic greeting, and 3. because he is about to write down what this greeting means. “Wherever you enter a house – Jesus must say in verse 5; at Mark it says much better and more concisely: “wherever you enter a house,” because he follows with “stay there until…” which Luke only picks up again in verse 7, after he has introduced his idea of the apostolic greeting – so first say: Peace be to this house! And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest on him. If not, it will return to you.” “But in that same house, it says at Luke V. 7, stay and eat and drink what they have.” How? In which house? The one where a son of peace lives? But just now it was about the house where no son of peace is found! Not even a specific house of this kind, nor a specific house of the opposite kind, had been mentioned before, but rather the general rule of how to deal with the apostolic greeting. So how does Luke come to a specific house where the disciples could and should stay? Certainly not from his own means! He did not pave the way there himself, but Mark blindly leads him there, “stay there,” says Mark; Luke writes it down for him without specific consideration for the construction and position of his insertion, and he now even goes so far as to 4. elaborate on the thought that Mark associates with these words, by adding: “and eat and drink what they have.” “For, he writes down the proverb that explains the context of the speech that Mark lets the Lord deliver – for the worker is worthy of his wages.” Even more! Luke also interprets the command “stay there” from another angle, as if it were not enough to explain it according to the context in which it is spoken, he presses into it the idea or meaning that the disciples should be given the instruction not to change their lodging, not to run from one lodging to another. “Do not move from one house to another.” The confusion does not stop there. In the speech at Mark, there is also a contrast, whose two parts form the different experiences of the apostles on their journey. We already know the one part (Mark 6:10): the disciples should stay in the house where they have stayed in each town until their departure; it is the part that is connected by a strong thread to the beginning of the speech and serves as a conclusion as well as an explanation of the command that the disciples should not take anything that relates to their daily needs on the road. But, the question remains, what if they don’t find a friendly house in a city? “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them.” However, so that the speech does not end too abruptly and the second part expands and develops in the same proportion as the first, so that this symmetry is achieved, it is added: “Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.”
Let’s take a break! We have now learned the whole speech as created and formed by Mark – created! Because no one will now claim that this beautiful construction of the sentences, this grouping and organization of the whole, has lived in tradition, and no one will think that no one in the community could have put these two thoughts together and written them down if Jesus had not expressed them – we have now learned the whole speech, which is formed for a self-created occasion anyway. How simple it is! How true! The disciples are not to care for their existence, for where they work, they will find their livelihood, and if they do not find ground to work in a city, they should move on and leave the city to judgment. How simple! Did these two thoughts or Mark need a tradition, a legend, and all these ghostly mists? And how beautifully both thoughts touch in the middle, each pulled tightly from its beginning and end and held together as a whole.
In the shorter speech to the Twelve, Luke has taken out only one sentence from the second part: “And if anyone will not receive you, when you go out of that town, shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” He omits the printer: “Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” And so the short speech, when given to the Twelve, has lost its stylistic balance.
But in the second version, in which the Seventy are to hear it, it not only regains this printer but is even repeated twice in a row. Clearly, the opposite reception that the disciples receive and the instruction that they should expect the satisfaction of their needs from hospitable, believing families are the main content, no, the only content of the speech. But hasn’t Luke already exhausted both thoughts when he explained that contrast between the success of the apostolic greeting and spoke of the worker’s wages? Indeed! But he still wants to give the contrast in the way Mark has explained it, with that printer, not only that: he wants to elaborate on it even more than before.
“And when you enter a city and they receive you,” says Jesus in verse 8, “eat what is set before you, heal the sick there, and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.'” In other words, work, heal, teach, and trust that the laborer will not miss out on their reward. “But when you enter a city and they do not receive you,” writes Luke with an unfortunate detail and an entirely inappropriate transformation of the symbolic act into a statement by the disciples, “go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.'” (Verses 10-11) “I tell you,” says Jesus in verse 12, “it will be more tolerable for Sodom — why not also Gomorrah? — on that day than for that town.”
That is all for now! Later, we will take a closer look at the other additions with which Luke enriched this speech (verses 13-16). Now let’s turn back to Matthew! Although he copies from Luke the proverb about the laborer and from Mark the command (in chapter 10, verse 11), “stay there, that is, in the welcoming house, until you leave,” he nevertheless writes beforehand on his own (in verse 8) the sentence, “Freely you have received; freely give!” This is where the contradiction arises, because he emphasizes the miraculous work so strongly and must now indeed write the warning that the disciples should not use a power that the Lord has given them for worldly gain or treat their miracles as a profession. Jesus, however, could not have possibly thought that there was any danger of the disciples taking money or anything else from people as wandering miracle workers. It was only possible for the evangelist to add this principle that they should perform their tasks and demonstrate their miraculous powers for free, because he gives the disciples such an enormous power that they should even be able to raise the dead. He immediately thought of the miracle workers that people told stories about in his time, but he did not consider that in that very moment (in verse 7) he gave the disciples the instruction regarding the reward that would not elude their apostolic work. He did not see that in the scripture of Luke, the matter is presented in all simplicity and without any hesitation, that the disciples should eat whatever is set before them where they are kindly received, and then heal and preach as they thirst.
That the disciples should not take a staff on their journey, Matthew learns from Luke (9:3 *), and that they should not even take shoes, he learns from the speech that Luke has addressed to the seventy (10:4). He has combined both passages **). Now, if he wants to make all these individual items—gold, silver, copper, money bag, clothes, shoes, staff—dependent on one verb and remembers that people usually buy clothes, shoes, and the like, and that this verb must be placed first, then the inconvenience arises that the disciples are forbidden to acquire money, clothes, shoes, etc., namely by purchase—κτησησθε.
*) Luke uses the word ραβδους here, because he has in mind the disciples as these several individuals.
**) The earlier apologists, that is, the serious ones who still cared about difficulties and did not take them as lightly as their later followers, have famously struggled to resolve the contradiction between Mark and Matthew. Calvin says that the disciples should not burden themselves with luggage so that the speed of travel would not be impeded. As if they could convert or even just teach their people while running at full speed! Quia tale erat legationis genus, ut discipulos vellet Christus intra paucus (!) dies totam (!) Judaeam lustrare et statim ad se reverti, sarcinas secum gestare vetat, quae celeritatem hanc (!) morentur. But Mark sees the matter entirely differently. What about the staff? Matthew and Luke understand sticks that are a burden to bear(!) – then they could simply throw the staff away and cut a light one from the first, best bush! But Mark means a support that sustains and lifts travelers. Bengel says even more naively: whoever did not have a stick did not need to worry about obtaining one; whoever had one could carry it for convenience’s sake! Instead of asking whether the poor, who did not have one, could not simply cut one by the roadside if convenience was so important and the speech was worth it, we now have to ask how Jesus could have said the same words and in the same moment to different subjects, depending on whether they had a staff or not, or how it came about that the evangelists divided themselves into the two parts of the antithesis when he had spoken both sentences. Otherwise, such parts of an antithesis usually stick very firmly together, since one has value and interest only for the sake of the other. Weisse’s symbolic explanation—that the apparatus of spiritual mediations must be thrown away when it comes to the living communication and preaching of the Gospel—II, 62 cannot even be applied to the convoluted presentation of the first and third Gospels; the coherence of the simple speech that Mark has formed rejects it from the outset. It is precisely this coherence and the confusion of the individual parts in the speeches of Luke and Matthew that refutes those who, like de Wette (1, 1, 101), assume that Mark was disturbed by the striking sayings he found in the writings of his predecessors and “anxiously” improved them.
Finally, Matthew should have written the least: “for the worker is worthy of his food,” since he forbids the disciples to take so many other things with them and does not even mention the bread, which according to Mark (6:8) and Luke (9:3) the apostles should not take with them on their journey. He should rather have simply copied Luke’s saying, “the worker is worthy of his wages,” but he sees in Luke’s scripture the word “eat” and “drink” mentioned so often in the context (10:7-8) that he cannot resist putting the saying in awkward agreement with its context, which unfortunately he did not even indicate in his scripture by a marking.
3. Behavior in a foreign land.
Matthew 10, 5-15.
Oh, why bother with these tiny details? The task sometimes becomes so daunting, even after Wilke’s heroic efforts, that we would gladly leave these details aside and turn to more noble pursuits. However, we must persevere, we must finish with these details, and then these small matters become not insignificant, for once we anatomize them carefully, they reveal their origin, the self-awareness of the element in which we find them, and thus the origin of the Gospels. They must be of the same value to the critic as the tiny creatures encrusted in the exudations of the sea are to the naturalist, or rather, of infinitely greater value, since in the Gospels they often constitute the only specific content.
We already know the entire speech that Mark has elaborated, and we have also seen how Luke has twice imitated the two parts of this speech, the first time by putting hospitable and inhospitable houses in opposition and dissecting them to explain how the apostolic greeting would only be appropriate in the former, the second time by following Mark’s guidance and speaking of the benevolent and unfriendly city. The confusion we encounter on these points in the Gospel of Matthew will be explained and resolved immediately after these experiences.
“Into whatever city or village you go,” the instruction on behavior in a foreign land begins (Matthew 10, 11), “inquire who is worthy in it, and stay there until you leave.” Suddenly, even though the matter is exhausted and finished with the words “until you leave” – see Mark – the speech begins again from the beginning and the matter is once again dealt with at the point where the disciples are still standing in front of the house door. “When you enter the house *), greet it; and if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you” (Matthew 10, 12-13). But it cannot be a question of whether the house is worthy or not, for this specific house, in front of whose door the disciples initially stand and into which they enter, is precisely the house that was previously discussed, whose worthiness they have ascertained, and in which they are to remain until they leave!
*) In his embarrassment, as he realized the danger, Luther translated it as “into a house.”
“And whoever does not receive you or listen to your words, then shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or that city (v. 14-15). Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that city.” However, Matthew noticed the difficulty that the direction he had taken must face and knows that he actually had to speak about the city. Therefore, he cautiously says: leave the house or that city! But he did not speak of the city before, only of an individual in the city, of the one who does not welcome the messengers, so how can the fate of the whole city be made dependent on the reception that the messengers find in one house? Matthew will justify it and, if it should become serious, will ensure the unhappy city against the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. Then, at that critical moment, on the day of judgment, he will have to admit that he exposed the city to such great danger only because he confused the proverbs from the house and from the city that Luke still kept separate. The confusion has shown itself to us in both points, namely where the first half of the proverb goes from the city to the proverb of the house, and where it transitions from this sentence to the second half of the proverb of the city.
4. The struggle with the world and the sufferings of the believers.
Matthew barely finishes writing Mark’s speech when he rushes into the general, wide, and abstract. He forgets the situation that the disciples should only go to the sheep of Israel and gives a place to Luke’s sentence about the sheep being sent among wolves, which is truly appropriate to his sense and the contrast that it contains, considering that he already has the world stage where the apostles will appear in mind (V. 16). But before he describes the world’s resistance, he adds a remark after the sentence about the sheep, using the concluding formula “therefore” – “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” At the same time, the thought that they must be careful, winding their way shrewdly through the hostile world, occupies him: hence the image of the snakes. He continues in verse 17: “Be on your guard against men” and intends to introduce the following description of their sufferings in the world with this admonition and at the same time connect it with the recommendation of snake-like shrewdness.
However, he couldn’t succeed in doing that. Whether it is because he already has the twelfth chapter of the third Gospel in mind and is led to the speech of Jesus about the last things in Mark’s writing through the saying (12:11-12) that “the disciples should not worry about how they would defend themselves when they are brought before the synagogues and the authorities and rulers, for the Holy Spirit would teach them what to say,” or whether he has turned to this freely – enough, he quotes it verbatim *) – the saying that the disciples would be handed over to the synedria, flogged in the synagogues, and brought before princes and kings, the comfort that they should not worry about what they would say, for the Holy Spirit – Matthew says, the Spirit of their Father – would speak for them, and finally the saying that even the closest relatives would betray each other, that they would be hated by everyone, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:17-22, Mark 13:9-13). But it is incomprehensible how this series of sayings, which predict the inevitable and bring comfort for this hard fate at the same time, could be introduced with the admonition: “be on your guard against men.” The disciples should be prepared to be brought before all the authorities of the world; even their sufferings and persecutions should serve the cause of the gospel – (when they stand before princes and kings, it happens “for them and for the Gentiles as a testimony,” that is, the opponents should not remain without testimony of the truth, “to all nations, as Mark explains the words: as a testimony to them” (13:10) **) or as Luke says (21:13): “this will result in your being witnesses to them,” that is, you will get an opportunity to testify precisely through this situation – how can this opening be so closely connected with the admonition to be on their guard against people? “They may not, they cannot escape their fate and their destiny, to bear witness to the truth under suffering; they have nothing to fear, for the Spirit will inspire them with what to say before kings and rulers—and yet they should be cautious and examine people carefully before engaging with them? The transition is unsuccessful and had to be unsuccessful because Matthew wanted to connect the saying about the free confession of truth in the midst of persecutions directly with the saying about the wolves, which one certainly must be wary of, but he interpreted it one-sidedly and detached it from the consideration of the apostolic work. Perhaps the beginning of the twelfth chapter of the third Gospel brought him to this particular form of transition, where the disciples are also called to “beware!” (Luke 12:1). But certainly, Mark gave him the occasion and the general form for this transition. Mark also introduces the sayings we have just quoted, which in his writing combine into a separate section and round off into a whole, with the admonition: “But be on your guard yourselves!” That is, the misery of the last days, which was described before, will be great, but even greater is yet to come. But just see to it yourselves that you remain steadfast in the general affliction, where you will also have to suffer, because — the section concludes — whoever endures to the end will be saved. The beginning and the end of the section (Mark 13:9-13) harmonize together, each conceived and worked out with reference to the other— but what is the point of this transition: beware of men? What else does it prove to us except that Matthew borrowed the section (Matt. 10:17-22) from Mark but placed it in an inappropriate place? What else does it do except raise the question of whether now, when the disciples were to visit only the sheep of Israel for a short time, it was an appropriate opportunity to speak about preaching before princes, kings, and peoples, or even about the end of history?”
*) Only at one point does he change it, to make the beginning of the section uniform. Mark 13:9 παραδωσουσιν γαρ and likewise, Matthew 10:17. Mark V. 11: οταν δε αγαγωσιν υμας παραδιδοντες, for it established in Matth. V. 19: οταν δε αγαγωσιν υμας παραδιδοντες. The αγαγωσιν he previously used in V. 18 and wrote: επι ηγεμονας δε και βασιλεις αχθησεσθε. In Mark V. 9 it read: επι ηγεμονων και βασιλεων σταθησεσθε. Finally, when Mark V. 12 writes παραδωσει δε αδελφος . . . . so Matthew V. 21 keeps the same beginning of the sentence..
**) From this, Matthew formed his formula εις μαρτυριον αυτοις και τοις εθνεσιν. He has condensed the explanation and what has been explained into a formula.
Later, when Matthew comes to Jesus’ discourse about the last days, he remembers that he had already written this section following Mark, but he sees that he cannot leave it out altogether, and so he shortens it — with what success we shall see in its place — (Ch. 24, 9-14). Later still, Luke writes the saying again, with some modifications, out of obedience to Mark (Ch. 21, 12-15). But the confusion he introduces into it as a result of a careless striving for brevity proves that he did not form it freely in his mind in Ch. 12, 11. “But when they bring you before the synagogues, rulers, and authorities, do not worry” (because of your responsibility), he lets the Lord say. However, synagogues do not belong to the category of rulers, but to that of synods, as Mark well notes when he writes, “they will hand you over to synedria and you will be beaten in synagogues.” Luke brings the saying here only because he had previously dealt with steadfastness under persecution — still a better reason to write this saying here than the one that prompted him to insert the saying about the sin against the Holy Spirit into this context — or rather, both reasons, the better and the baseless, were the same this time. Previously (Ch. 12, 47), Jesus warned the disciples not to fear those who only kill the body, but the persecutions in which they must prove themselves steadfast can only be those in which they are targeted for their evangelical activity and for confessing their Master. Immediately, Jesus must repeat the saying about the man who confesses or denies him before people, the saying he had already presented earlier (Luke 9:26, Mark 8:28). The thought of those who deny Jesus leads the evangelist to the other saying about blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28-29), and this key phrase about the Holy Spirit, as well as the preceding context of persecution, finally leads him to the other saying of Mark, which speaks of the assistance of the Holy Spirit in persecution.
Let us note that the saying which Matthew has borrowed from Mark (Matt. 10, 17-22) deals with the proclamation of the gospel, but not with the gospel itself; rather, it makes the dangers of the last time the main focus and presents the steadfastness of the believers – “be careful! Whoever endures until the end will be saved” – only as necessary. Thus, from this perspective of the content, it is also proven that Matthew has included a saying in the instructional speech that was originally not intended to instruct the apostles about their evangelical mission. Every believer should be vigilant in the dangers of this world and prove to be steadfast until the end; everyone can have the opportunity to defend themselves before the authorities and through their testimony contribute to the truth being heard even by the adversaries; finally, everyone can experience that even their closest relatives can become enemies for the sake of the truth. In this general respect for the fate and position of the believers, Mark worked out this section. Matthew overlooked this general connection of the saying, and the catchphrase “as a testimony to them” and the parenthesis in Mark “and first, the gospel must be preached to all nations” alone caught his eye and prompted him to incorporate the whole section into this instructional speech.
A catchphrase had great power for Matthew, as the following saying (V. 23) will prove again. Although with the phrase “whoever endures until the end (τελος V. 22)” the speech about persecution has received its conclusion as strongly as possible and the thought is completely exhausted, it still says further: “but when they persecute you*) in this city – in which one? Neither of any nor of a particular one was immediately mentioned before; Matthew returns to the theme of Mark’s instructional speech, thus to a theme that he (V. 11-15) has completely exhausted and that has long been displaced by a completely new one after the new paragraph V. 16 – so flee to the other; for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel to the end τελεσητε, until the Son of Man comes.” Suddenly, and as if they had just been mentioned, we are transported to the cities of Israel after the world stage had been opened before us. Moreover, the arrival of the Son of Man is spoken of, and nothing had been said about the sufferings and death that would take the Lord away from his own for some time. Thus, the Lord could only speak in the form of a farewell when he dismissed the disciples for the immediate future, telling them that they would not see him as this individual again for a while, or when he had already spoken to them several times and in plain words about his death. Now, where he was only dismissing them for a moment and expecting them to return to him after completing their mission, where he had said nothing about his death, he could not speak to them about his return either, and the disciples would not have been able to understand him if he had. Or, to put it more intelligently and humanely, Matthew did not have a writer’s motivation for the saying; he borrowed it from a different context. According to Mark’s account, after Peter’s confession, Jesus spoke first about his sufferings, death, and resurrection (Mark 8:31), and openly and unequivocally, as Mark adds (v. 32). Immediately thereafter, he said (v. 38) that he would be ashamed of anyone who denied him and was ashamed of him when he came in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. That is natural, that is progress, as it is right and motivated: first speaking of death and resurrection, then of the return with the holy angels! Thus, it could be said immediately thereafter (9:1), “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.” Matthew also borrowed the latter saying from the same context after Peter’s confession (16:28), except that he wrote, “until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom,” and this is the same saying that he inappropriately placed in the Instructions discourse and adapted to the situation as fitting – that is, as unfitting – as he could. Having just spoken of the “end,” what more did he need to think about the return of the Son of Man? Yes, the word “end” even gave him the material that glued the two sayings together: he wrote, “you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes to the ‘end’.”
*) όταν δε διώκωσιν υμάς formed after 28. 19 όταν δε παραδιδώσιν υμάς.
Embarrassing situation! The duty of brevity and the duty of thoroughness both want to determine us and set us at odds with ourselves. Even more embarrassing! The most thorough proofs are almost non-existent for the theologian; he doesn’t care about them since they’re too boring for him anyway, but theological brevity, which settles everything with a yes or no!, is also impossible for us. So what to do? We write as the matter requires and as if there were no more theology in the world!
“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?” Jesus wants to say (Matt. 10:24-25) that the disciple has no better fate to expect than his master; so if I have been reviled, how much more will it happen to you? But when was Jesus called Beelzebub? “The fact,” De Wette answers *), “is otherwise never mentioned; for in Matt. 12:24 (the accusation that Jesus was in league with Beelzebub) is something similar indeed, but still different. This points to a separate source.” Matthew saw the matter differently, because for what other reason did he already let the Pharisees (Matt. 9:34) come forward with that accusation earlier than this, if not just so that the reader would know to which incident this saying of the Lord refers? He only gave the accusation a different turn, just as this whole saying is nothing more than a saying that he has taken from Luke and only turned in a different direction, but in a direction that the saying follows only very reluctantly. If it says that the disciple is not above his master, and even adds, it is enough for the disciple to be like his master, then no one, not even the saying itself, can think of a comparison of the life destinies of both – then γενηται in v. 25 would have to be constructed with the dative: it is enough for the disciple that “he” happens to him like his master – but only the degree of education of both should be compared. The general saying and its application is the relationship of the disciples to the Lord, both of which conflict with each other and go in different directions, and so it was necessary when Matthew used a saying of Luke for a new point and maintained its original structure. Luke has the Lord say (Luke 6:40): “The disciple is not above his master, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his master,” he has him say it to provide a general basis for the proverb: the blind cannot lead the blind, i.e., he brings the saying more or less in the right place, but Matthew in the wrong place.
*) De Wette, 1, 1, 104.
Quickly! Briefly! Let us not linger, for with every step we take, it is confirmed that Matthew is compiling. He wants to put together sayings that will recommend courage and fearlessness to the disciples. Just a moment ago he had the twelfth chapter of the third gospel before his eyes *), so he knows where he can find a stock of sayings of that sort and does not fail to use it diligently. His sayings in verses 26-31 are a copy of the section that Luke elaborated in chapter 12, verses 2-7. But the compiler must again reveal himself. He wants to further develop the theme – the exhortation that the disciples should be prepared for the resistance of the world – and make it clear from the outset that what follows is this development, so he hastens to write down the words for the transition (verse 26): therefore do not be afraid. But if he continues, for nothing is hidden that will not be disclosed, and if he deduces from this law the necessary consequence that the disciples would preach from the rooftops in broad daylight what their Master had whispered to them in the dark and in their ears, then there is no reason to see why the development of such a significant truth should be introduced with the exhortation not to be afraid. Should we assume that the disciples always stood trembling with fear? And has not this saying already had its true introduction in the law that nothing can remain hidden? Luke has placed the exhortation “Do not be afraid!” only after this saying and knew well that it had nothing to do with its point, which is why he also makes a new, very strongly marked paragraph before he turns to it. “But I tell you, my friends,” he lets the Lord say, and thus draws a similar boundary mark as in chapter 6, verse 39.
*) Luk. 12, 11: μη μεριμνάτε πώς ήτί απολογήσεσθε, ή τι είπατε. Matth. 10, 19: μη μεριμνησητε πως η τι λαλησητε Mark 13, 11: μη προμεριμνάτε τί λαλήσητε.
Only one noteworthy change is made by Matthew in this passage *): that he contrasts not the still limited activity of the disciples with the later free proclamation of the Gospel, as Luke does, but rather the preaching of the Lord kept secret and the free public arena which the disciples would find for their preaching. Whether Matthew objected to the anachronism that Jesus speaks of the disciples’ activity as if it were already past, or whether he even noticed it, cannot be determined with certainty. Suffice it to say that it seemed more appropriate to him to contrast the still limited and the future, freer activity of the apostles with the situation in which Jesus instructed the disciples for the future and had just spoken of the time when they would bear witness before kings and princes.
*) The other changes in the second half of the passage, we leave to the theologian to investigate and appreciate. We must be brief, after all. Let him decide which is original: for example, the beautiful progression in Luke from the admonition (12:4), “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more,” to the warning that they should rather fear the judge of the world: “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” Or the confusion in Matthew, who has brought the word “kill” into both parts of the verse, when the killing attributed to the judge of the world is quite different from that which is within the power of human murderers. “Do not be afraid,” Matthew says (v. 28), “of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” How beautiful in Luke: “who can do nothing further!” How hasty the point in Matthew: “who cannot kill the soul!” The latter belonged more in a consoling speech, which Matthew certainly wants to give, but then the conclusion does not fit: fear him who has power over both body and soul. But we have anticipated the theologian. Let him now decide for himself on the structure of the following two passages: Luke 12:6 ουχι πεντε στρουθια πωλειται ασσαριων δυο ; και εν εξ αυτων ουκ εστιν επιλελησμενον ενωπιον θεου. Matth. 10:29 ουχι δυο στρουθια ασσαριου πωλειται ; και εν εξ αυτων ου πεσειται επι την γην , ανευ του πατρος υμων. But also the hairs of your head are numbered, Luke continues, so do not be afraid, you are more than many sparrows. Matthew writes the same – only not with the beautiful substitution αλλα και αι τριχες – but “the hair” gives him the word “fall, fall to the earth” in the stylus and he now writes of the sparrows: ου τεσειται επι την γην. Luke has the saying from the hair – ου μη αποληται C. 21:18 — once again, in the discourse of the last things, but not well inserted between the sentence: they will kill some of you(l), you will be hated, and the sentence: “procure your souls (seek to win them) by patience! “
The reference to the future success of the apostles’ preaching and the exhortation to fearlessness was linked by Luke to the occasion when the crowd ran together in the tens of thousands, so that they trampled on one another when Jesus was invited to a breakfast by a Pharisee whose caste had had a fierce dispute and the Pharisees began to provoke him so that they could obtain an accusation against him (Luke 11:37-54; 12). Naturally, Schleiermacher*) claims that this discourse “develops entirely from what preceded.” “Jesus could fear that his disciples might become anxious about how they could manage to withdraw from these opponents.” However, that quarrel at breakfast will later prove to be a pure invention of Luke’s, the note that the Pharisees began to lay wait for Jesus is formed according to Mark 12:13, so the danger was not great, and if Jesus had really wanted to give the disciples an instruction on how to protect themselves against these people, it would have had to be completely different, namely consist of a characterization of these opponents. Indeed, the Lord begins his speech with the warning: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,” but first of all this saying about the leaven of the Pharisees is borrowed from Mark 8:15, and secondly, it does not even relate to the following saying about the mission of the disciples, since it solely concerns the personal conduct of the disciples. The leaven of the Pharisees only represents the place of the connective tissue to link the following section to the preceding one; but if we were to indicate what even weaker binding agents in Luke’s head held together the following sayings (12:2-7), which created inconveniences because they were supposed to have been delivered in the midst of tens of thousands who trampled on one another, we would have to write volumes – and who knows if we could even characterize the confusion thoroughly enough. At any rate, we would not convince the theologians, since they will insist doggedly on their claim: there is coherence there!
*) p. 185
However, what’s the point of arguing with stubborn people? Let the theologian insist on his interpretation! It is clear where Luke got his statement about the unstoppable spread of the apostolic preaching. After explaining the parable of the sower and the statement that one should put the light on the lampstand and not under a bushel or under a bed, Jesus says (Mark 4:22) to support this statement: “For there is nothing hidden, which shall not be revealed; and there is nothing secret, which shall not come to light.” In the same context, Luke writes the same sentence (Luke 8:17) and later in chapter 12, he explains it in terms of the successes of the apostolic preaching.
A word about the exhortations to fearlessness! Luke adds one in chapter 12, verses 4-7, and specifically addresses them to the apostles, although they are generally applicable to every believer. But when Matthew puts together a collection of such exhortations, the nature of them, which is also evident in each individual one, becomes clear. How? By sending the disciples on their mission, did Jesus have nothing more important to do than to talk about dangers and to instill courage in the disciples? Were there no other topics that would have been much more worthy of discussion? Certainly, Jesus would have made himself guilty of anxiety and worry, which he should warn against. Such a sermon on fear, which Matthew puts into his mouth, Jesus not only did not give, but he also did not speak so often about future dangers and reassure the disciples as Luke and Matthew would have us believe. Why do we not hear this fear, this anxious concern in the scripture of Mark? Why do we not hear it even at the end of the last battles of history? Because Mark has not yet disturbed the calm dignity and noble self-assurance of the Lord with the views that only form later, in the struggles of a community. We do not deny that these statements also express the self-assurance of the principle, but this self-reflection, this opposition of consciousness to be an indestructible purpose against the hostile powers of the world, this achievement of self-assurance in the struggle with the opposing party, this enjoyment of oneself in contrast and in the ironic contemplation of the contrast – all of these are only phenomena that form only when a compact party has gathered around a principle and initially sees itself as the oppressed, persecuted, and doomed to be destroyed, and loves to see itself as such. Luke and Matthew have picked up on the reflection of this phenomenon and spread it over the entire life of their Lord, while Mark has truly artistically restricted himself to the one point, the speech about the last battles of history.
5. Still the sufferings of the believers.
The sufferings of the believers still form the theme or at least the presupposition of the discourse. “Therefore, whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” That is, as you behave towards me in the collisions of this world, so will I behave towards you before my Father.
Matthew borrowed the saying from elsewhere, for had it just been invented by him, he would have known that it has an independent point and cannot be attached as a mere consequence to another statement (v. 31) that is already fully closed. Luke first created it. He knew that with it, a new turn of thought occurs (he separated it from the previous consolation saying through the new introduction “but I tell you” in chapter 12, verse 8), and then he also reveals through the formula “the Son of Man will acknowledge him before the angels of God” that he used a source this time. After Peter’s confession, Jesus says that whoever is ashamed of him, he will also be ashamed of them “when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Luke simultaneously created the complement for this saying: “whoever acknowledges me, etc.,” while Matthew copied the whole and replaced only “the Son of Man” with “I” and “the angels” with “my heavenly Father.”
Moreover, the fact that the saying in Mark’s scripture has its origin is demonstrated by the full rhythm that the other two did not appreciate anymore: “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
There is no word about the fact that the following saying (v. 34-36) about the crisis and general division that the new principle will bring about, is not related to the preceding one, unless one were to say that sayings that have the thought of struggle as a presupposition, but with their point turned in completely different directions, were related or could have been preached as mechanically become formulaic.
Although Luke did not put the saying particularly nicely, he did put it abruptly enough, that is, better than Matthew. Moreover, he proves to us through the liveliness of the construction and the rhythm of the clauses that he was the first to create the saying, while Matthew must betray himself as an unskilled epitomizer through the confusion of the expressions and the recalcitrance of the clauses. “Do not think,” it says in Matthew, “that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, etc.” What an expression, “to bring peace on earth”! Not even a sword can appropriately be said to be thrown on the earth! Then “sword” without an article! One sword! In battle, several swords are needed! At least it had to be said: “the sword” as a symbol of war! And how does the sword fit in here, if only the separation of the son from the father, the daughter from the mother, the bride from her mother-in-law are mentioned? Do daughters and brides carry swords? Or do they require them against them?
Listen to Luke! Chapter 12, verses 49-53: “I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth (δουναι)? No, I tell you, but rather division! For from now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” When Matthew saw these sentences, he immediately jumped to the question, “Do you think?” (δοκειτε), and transformed it into the formula that he had heard since the Sermon on the Mount, then he took the word “throw” from the skipped sentence about fire, combined it clumsily enough with peace, and instead of translating abstract into concrete and sensory-imagery, he used the exaggerated term “division” sword.
*) C. 5, 17: μη νομισητε οτι ηλθον. Literally the same in Ch. 10, 34.
The saying arose when the community had experienced the divisive and dissolving power of the new principle, and the sufferings and death of Jesus were associated with the symbol of baptism through a process that we will later learn about. Luke used Mark 10:38, which he had omitted along with its occasion, as the basis for a new point.
Nothing more than the external resemblance that the discussion had just been about father and mother prompted Matthew to add a saying that mentions parents in a completely different sense, namely that love for relatives should not compromise love for the Lord (v. 37): “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” “And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me (v. 38) is not worthy of me.” Taken from Luke *)! The mention of the cross led Matthew to the text of Mark; furthermore, in the saying (Luke 14:26-27) that Matthew had just transcribed, Luke had said that the true follower of Jesus must not love his own life either, which prompted Matthew to linger longer at the source of these sayings, and so he now writes down the other saying from Mark (Mark 8:35) immediately (v. 39): “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Unfortunately or fortunately, he reveals to us again through an awkward change that he did not create the saying himself, but rather copied it and made an insensitive substitution of an expression. In the second part of the saying he can say “will find it,” but in the first part the expression is not in its place. “Whoever wants to save their life,” says Mark, “and so says a man who knows what he’s saying, will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Later, when he must write the saying again (C. 16, 25), Matthew has taken better precautions and only exchanges the expression in the second part, keeping the words of Mark in the first part.
*) Only Luke has formed the first two parts into one and offered a stronger expression for the sacrifice of family considerations that Matthew softened because it was too bold. Luke 14:26: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” 23, 27: και όστις ου βαστάζει τον σταυρόν αυτού και έρχεται οπίσω μου, ου δύναται είναι μου μαθητής. For the second saying, Luke borrowed Jesus’ declaration from Mark 8:34, οστις θελει οπισω μου ελθειν απαρνησασθω εαυτον και αρατω τον σταυρον αυτου και ακολουθειτω μοι. The απαρνησασθω εαυτον is extending it to family relationships. After Peter’s confession, Luke also included the saying about the cross (Luke 9:23). When Matthew copied Luke 14:27, he copied Luke’s version of the saying about the cross. When he copied Luke 14:27, he turned to Mark’s text and wrote ερχετ. Οπισ. μου instead of the word of Mark: ακολουθει οπισ. μ.
6. Conclusion of the speech.
Finally, the disciples, through their expressions, made it very clear to the Lord that they did not understand why he was giving them sayings that were appropriate for all believers except for this occasion, when they would much rather hear a saying that would enlighten them about their apostolic destiny and serve as a guide for their behavior towards people. In fact, Matthew sees how impatient they have already become, and therefore hastens to give them another saying that relates to their position in the world. That is, he feels the need to somehow trace the conclusion of the speech back to the assumed occasion, and thus lets the Lord say the following at the end: “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward!”
That a saying of this kind should give us so much trouble, if we do not want to consider it theologically superficial!
We might possibly accept the beginning – no! no! not even possibly! Could that really enlighten the disciples about their duty, purpose, and mission if they heard what reward the person who received them would receive? Was that the right conclusion to a speech with which they were to be sent off on their apostolic journey? Could that saying be spoken behind the backs of the people to whom it was addressed? The others would have had to hear it, so that they would know how to entertain traveling apostles and what merit they would acquire for the Lord and for God if they received an apostle. The others had to hear that they were receiving the Lord and God himself in an apostle! Not the apostles, or did they always have to hear a saying at the end that inspired and moved them, reminding them of their infinite worth!
One should not forcibly close one’s eyes to the enormous inconvenience when the recommendation – for it is a recommendation – of love and compassionate help is led to a new twist to the point (v. 41) that the one who receives the holy men and righteous ones as such and because they are such will receive a reward as they themselves determine. All those concerned must hear it, but the apostles had nothing to do with it at this moment. The others, who are not prophets, must hear it!
Finally, the outcry of contradiction becomes terrifying when, at the very end, it is spoken of those who receive a disciple in the name of a disciple – εις ονομα μαθητου V.42 – when the disciples are spoken of as if others were being pointed out and made aware of them – while no strangers are present – and when finally the disciples are referred to as “the little ones.”
Let the theologians strangle reason if they wish to assume that the apostles could have been called “the little ones” because the rabbis called their disciples *) “the little ones,” or **) because they were insignificant and unremarkable. Let them make nonsense of language ***) and smother reason. We are freed from this torment when we have shown how this entire section (v. 40-42) contradicts itself and when we show how it came into being.
*) Even if the apostles were adults?!
**) De Wette still says so (1, 1, 106). He naively suggests that the word “children” is used in chapter 18 of Matthew. Theology! Are not children “the little ones” from the outset? And if it is said “of” them, can it then be said “of” the apostles without further ado? Can one passage where it is said of children explain another where the apostles are called “the little ones”? As if the former passage did not make the latter null and void! The children are “the little ones” from the outset, not only because of the “subsidiary notion” of being insignificant and unremarkable.
***) Fritzsche, who relies on the Jewish use of language and makes the apostles “the little ones,” refers (to Matthew, p. 391) to Wetstein, who cites a proof text from Berechith Rabba, which reads: si oon suot parvuli von suot äiseipuli, si nou suot äisoipuli von saut sapientes, si nou suat sapientes non sunt seniores, si non sunt seniores non sunt propdetae, si uon sunt pro- pdetae non est äeus. Do we not see that if the “little ones” are the disciples, then according to the same proof text and “according to the Jewish use of language” disciples should mean wise men and prophets should mean God? How can theological anxiety make one blind and theological fever make one mad!
Matthew wants to give the conclusion of the discourse, and what does he do now? The wisest thing he could do, or at least the least he could do, if he had done it properly, was to transcribe literally the conclusion of the Instruction-Address to the seventy. He now wants to take up this conclusion (Luke 10:16), but cannot resist reshaping it according to the original type, which he himself imitated, and thus confusing it properly because he brings the two together mechanically.
We can still tolerate this best if Luke ends the address to the seventy with the remark: “He who hears you hears me, and he who despises you despises me, and he who despises me despises him who sent me.” Although we would still wish that the others who have to follow it would have heard the saying, but in this brevity it may still – if it should be so – be addressed only to the disciples, so that they – but we can hardly write it down! – would be made aware of the importance of their preaching.
Matthew saw at first glance from where Luke had borrowed this saying. When the disciples argued about who was the greatest, Jesus placed a child among them and said (Mark 9:37): “Whoever receives one of these little children in my name receives me, and whoever receives me does not receive me, but him who sent me.” Luke kept this saying in the parallel passage, Mark 9:48, and only left out the antithesis, “he does not receive me, but” and inappropriately placed “this child” instead of “one of these little children.” In the simpler form he had already given to the saying, Luke used it for the Instruction Address to the seventy, but did so freely and thoughtfully that he adapted it quite well to the new situation in which he placed it. Matthew now took it from Luke as one that had also been spoken to the disciples on the occasion of their sending, but in the scripture of Mark, he looked up the original passage, restored the original form, even worked out the thought of what value it would have in heavenly accounting if one received a prophet as such, and had to come back to the disciples at the end, saying that their reward was certain if anyone gave even a drink of water to one on the name of a disciple. However, he sees in the scripture of Mark at the place where he looked it up – forgive the long sentence, but it only resembles the process that created the saying of Matthew – that it speaks of “little ones” and now, regardless of all consequences, brings these little ones into the conclusion of the Instruction Address. In the scripture of Mark (Mark 9:42), the disciples are made aware of the importance of the little ones; Matthew retains this form of reference and even makes it more specific, although he has made the disciples the little ones and there is no one present who could be pointed to as “these little ones.”