apostles: Or “sent ones.” The Greek word a·poʹsto·los is derived from the verb a·po·stelʹlo, meaning “to send away (out).” (Mt 10:5; Lu 11:49; 14:32) Its basic meaning is clearly illustrated in Jesus’ statement at Joh 13:16, where it is rendered “one who is sent.”
Simon, the one called Peter: Peter is named in five different ways in the Scriptures: (1) the Greek form “Symeon,” which closely reflects the Hebrew form of the name (Simeon); (2) the Greek “Simon” (both Symeon and Simon come from a Hebrew verb meaning “hear; listen”); (3) “Peter” (a Greek name that means “A Piece of Rock” and that he alone bears in the Scriptures); (4) “Cephas,” which is the Semitic equivalent of Peter (perhaps related to the Hebrew ke·phimʹ [rocks] used at Job 30:6; Jer 4:29); and (5) the combination “Simon Peter.”—Ac 15:14; Joh 1:42; Mt 16:16.
Bartholomew: Meaning “Son of Tolmai.” He is thought to be the Nathanael mentioned by John. (Joh 1:45, 46) A comparison of the Gospels shows that Matthew and Luke link Bartholomew and Philip in the same way that John associates Nathanael with Philip.—Mt 10:3; Lu 6:14.
the tax collector: As a former tax collector, Matthew, the writer of this Gospel, makes numerous references to numbers and money values. (Mt 17:27; 26:15; 27:3) He is also more explicit with numbers. He broke up his genealogy of Jesus into three sets of 14 generations (Mt 1:1-17) and listed seven petitions in the Lord’s prayer (Mt 6:9-13), seven illustrations in Mt 13, and seven woes at Mt 23:13-36. As for the term “tax collector,” see study note on Mt 5:46.
James the son of Alphaeus: See study note on Mr 3:18.
Thaddaeus: In the listings of the apostles at Lu 6:16 and Ac 1:13, the name Thaddaeus is not included; instead, we find “Judas the son of James,” leading to the conclusion that Thaddaeus is another name for the apostle whom John calls “Judas, not Iscariot.” (Joh 14:22) The possibility of confusing this Judas with the traitor, Judas Iscariot, might be a reason why the name Thaddaeus is sometimes used.
the Cananaean: A designation distinguishing the apostle Simon from the apostle Simon Peter. (Mr 3:18) This term is thought to be of Hebrew or Aramaic origin, meaning “Zealot; Enthusiast.” Luke referred to this Simon as “the zealous one,” using the Greek word ze·lo·tesʹ, also meaning “zealot; enthusiast.” (Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13) While it is possible that Simon once belonged to the Zealots, a Jewish party opposed to the Romans, he may have been given this designation because of his zeal and enthusiasm.
Iscariot: Possibly meaning “Man From Kerioth.” Judas’ father, Simon, is also called “Iscariot.” (Joh 6:71) This term has commonly been understood to indicate that Simon and Judas were from the Judean town of Kerioth-hezron. (Jos 15:25) If this is so, Judas was the only Judean among the 12 apostles, the rest being Galileans.
preach: That is, make an open, public declaration.—See study note on Mt 3:1.
The Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near: See study note on Mt 4:17.
stay there: See study note on Mr 6:10.
shake the dust off your feet: This gesture would signify that the disciples disclaimed responsibility for the consequences that would come from God. A similar expression occurs at Mr 6:11 and Lu 9:5. Mark and Luke add the expression “for a witness to [or, “against”] them.” Paul and Barnabas applied this instruction in Pisidian Antioch (Ac 13:51), and when Paul did something similar in Corinth by shaking out his garments, he added the explanatory words: “Let your blood be on your own heads. I am clean.” (Ac 18:6) Such gestures may already have been familiar to the disciples; pious Jews who had traveled through Gentile country would shake what they perceived to be unclean dust off their sandals before reentering Jewish territory. However, Jesus evidently had a different meaning in mind when giving these instructions to his disciples.
Truly: See study note on Mt 5:18.
it will be more endurable for: See study note on Lu 10:12.
Look!: See study note on Mt 1:20.
cautious as serpents: To be cautious here means to be prudent, sensible, shrewd. Zoologists note that most snakes are wary, preferring to flee rather than attack. Likewise, Jesus warns his disciples to remain cautious toward opposers and avoid possible dangers as they carry out their preaching work.
yet innocent as doves: The two parts of Jesus’ admonition (to be cautious and to be innocent) complement each other. (See study note on cautious as serpents in this verse.) The Greek word rendered “innocent” (lit., “unmixed,” that is, “unspoiled; pure”) also occurs at Ro 16:19 (“innocent as to what is evil”) and Php 2:15 (“be blameless and innocent, children of God”). Here at Mt 10:16, being “innocent” apparently includes being genuine, honest, free of deceit and having pure motives. The dove is sometimes used in Hebrew word pictures and poetry to symbolize these and related qualities. (Ca 2:14; 5:2; compare study note on Mt 3:16.) Jesus’ point was that when his sheeplike followers faced persecution as sheep among wolves, they needed to combine the characteristics of serpents and doves by being cautious, shrewd, pure of heart, blameless, and innocent.—Lu 10:3.
local courts: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word sy·neʹdri·on, here used in plural and rendered “local courts,” is most often used with reference to the Jewish high court in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin. (See Glossary, “Sanhedrin,” and study notes on Mt 5:22; 26:59.) However, it was also a general term for an assembly or a meeting, and here it refers to local courts that were attached to the synagogues and had the power to inflict the penalties of scourging and excommunication.—Mt 23:34; Mr 13:9; Lu 21:12; Joh 9:22; 12:42; 16:2.
on account of my name: See study note on Mt 24:9.
has endured: Or “endures.”—See study note on Mt 24:13.
Son of man: See study note on Mt 8:20.
Beelzebub: Possibly an alteration of Baal-zebub, meaning “Owner (Lord) of the Flies,” the Baal worshipped by the Philistines at Ekron. (2Ki 1:3) Some Greek manuscripts use the alternate forms Beelzeboul or Beezeboul, possibly meaning “Owner (Lord) of the Lofty Abode (Habitation)” or if a play on the non-Biblical Hebrew word zeʹvel (dung), “Owner (Lord) of the Dung.” As shown at Mt 12:24, this is a designation applied to Satan—the prince, or ruler, of the demons.
how much more: See study note on Mt 7:11.
in the light: That is, openly, publicly.
preach from the housetops: An idiom with the meaning “to proclaim publicly.” In Bible times, houses had flat roofs from which announcements could be made and certain actions could become widely known.—2Sa 16:22.
soul: Or “life,” that is, a person’s future life by means of a resurrection. The Greek word psy·kheʹ and its corresponding Hebrew word neʹphesh (both traditionally rendered “soul”) basically refer to (1) people, (2) animals, or (3) the life that a person or an animal has. (Ge 1:20; 2:7; Nu 31:28; 1Pe 3:20; ftns.) Examples of the use of the Greek psy·kheʹ to mean “life that a person has” may be found at Mt 6:25; 10:39; 16:25, 26; Mr 8:35-37; Lu 12:20; Joh 10:11, 15; 12:25; 13:37, 38; 15:13; Ac 20:10. Bible texts like these help to show the correct understanding of Jesus’ words here.—See Glossary.
him who can destroy both soul and body: It is only God who is able to destroy a person’s “soul” (in this context, referring to his prospects for life) or who can resurrect him to enjoy everlasting life. This is one example of where the Greek word rendered “soul” is referred to as mortal and destructible. Other examples are Mr 3:4; Lu 17:33; Joh 12:25; Ac 3:23.
sparrows: The Greek word strou·thiʹon is a diminutive form meaning any small bird, but it often referred to sparrows, the cheapest of all birds sold as food.
for a coin of small value: Lit., “for an assarion,” which was the wage a man earned for 45 minutes’ work. (See App. B14.) On this occasion, during his third Galilean tour, Jesus says that two sparrows cost an assarion. On another occasion, evidently about a year later during his ministry in Judea, Jesus says that five sparrows could be obtained for double this price. (Lu 12:6) Comparing these accounts, we learn that sparrows were of such little value to the merchants that the fifth one would be included free of charge.
even the hairs of your head are all numbered: The number of hairs on the human head is said to average more than 100,000. Jehovah’s intimate knowledge of such minute details guarantees that he is keenly interested in each follower of Christ.
accept: Lit., “take (up); take hold of.” Here used figuratively in the sense of taking on oneself the responsibilities and consequences connected with becoming a disciple of Jesus.
torture stake: Or “execution stake.” This is the first occurrence of the Greek word stau·rosʹ. In classical Greek, it primarily referred to an upright stake or pole. Used figuratively, it sometimes stood for the suffering, shame, torture, and even death that a person experienced because of being a follower of Jesus.—See Glossary.
soul: Or “life.” See Glossary.
because he is a prophet: Lit., “in the name of a prophet.” In this context, the Greek idiom “in the name of” indicates a recognition of the office and work of a prophet.—Compare study note on Mt 28:19.
a prophet’s reward: Those who accept and support true prophets from God will be richly rewarded. The account of the widow in 1Ki 17 is an example of this.