The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ

By Johann Peter Lange

Edited by Rev. Marcus Dods







preparations for a new journey. the separation of the twelve apostles. the instructions given to the apostles

(Mat 9:35 -chap. 10:42; chap. 11:1. Mar 3:14-19; chap. 6:6-16. Luk 6:12-16; chap. 9:1-6)

Jesus had not now any intention of tarrying a longer time in Capernaum; He only returned to this centre of His wanderings in order to prepare for a fresh expedition. Apparently it was known at Capernaum from the first that He would soon again take His departure; hence it was that the paralytic man, and also the woman with the issue of blood, had hastened to obtain His help in an extraordinary manner. The calling of Matthew also points to a fresh departure. As the Lord had already now visited the high mountainous district of Galilee, and the opposite shore of the lake, so He now desired to pass through the towns and villages of the lake district which lay below Capernaum, especially the neighbourhood of Capernaum, which was in the direction of Jerusalem, all the more since, no doubt, the spring had now come, and companies were already forming to go up to the feast of Purim, at which Jesus also intended to be present.

And now, as He approached this thickly inhabited district, the throng of people in His way kept on increasing. From city to city, from synagogue to synagogue, crowds flocked around Him. He saw the multitude, and compassion moved His soul. They were driven about and scattered abroad as sheep which have no shepherd, and which, therefore, cannot form a true flock. Jesus felt that this people needed real shepherds, spiritual pastors. But the more they pressed round Him, the more did one step in the other’s way. They could not all hear Him, they could not all get at Him. Jesus might well have sighed when He saw the people’s need. So we gather from what He said to the disciples: ‘The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that He will quickly send forth (ἐκβάλῃ) labourers into His harvest.’ If He thus urgently desired His disciples to make this prayer, we may well imagine how earnestly He Himself prayed. And we also learn from the Evangelist Luke, that His great solicitude on behalf of the people occupied Him throughout a whole night in prayer to God. On this occasion He had quite separated Himself from the circle of His disciples; He tarried alone on a mountain top. On the next day, when He again joined the disciples, He made His selection of the twelve apostles.

In the life and doings of Jesus we ever find a view of the most distant joined to a view of what was nearest, a most universal care to a most special care. So also here. He selected His twelve apostles with the immediate object, during His present missionary journey, and on His way to Jerusalem, of working upon and subduing, through their co-operation, the masses of people who were following, and who were awaiting Him. Thus, as the disciples, in His power, and in oneness of spirit with Him, radiated forth as it were from Him, His agency must have been multiplied by their means, whilst at the same time the mass of people which surrounded Himself was in some measure divided off from Him by the disciples as they went forth, and thus the pressure of the multitude was abated. But that which had occupied His mind during that great night of prayer went far away beyond this present preaching tour and its needs. These men, whom He now immediately appointed to only a small missionary service, had also the large and universal destination of being His apostles and representatives in Israel, and in all the world. For this purpose they were, in the first place, called to abide henceforth in continual personal fellowship with Him, to live with Him, to eat and drink with Him, to form with Him a spiritual family, to be, in short, ever near Him, excepting only during their short missions into the neighbourhood, which they might consider as preparatory practice for their great future embassy. For, secondly, they would have by and by to come before the world as His witnesses, as witnesses of His life, of His death and resurrection, as witnesses of His Spirit and His power. But in order to their giving this testimony, they were to receive the Spirit of Christ; and in the power of this Spirit they were to form the finished representation of His life in the world, the first whole of that presence of His in the world which spiritually is eternal. And when Christ chose out exactly twelve disciples, it had surely an especial reference to the twelve tribes of Israel. This number was to express the immediate vital connection in which His work attached itself to the Old Testament theocracy. It was to make known that Jesus, as the Messiah, the spiritual King of Israel, designed to work through His twelve judges and vicegerents upon the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat 19:28). But the twelve tribes themselves were all along not merely historical, but at the same time also typical branches of the theocratic people; and the number Twelve pointed out the completeness of the theocratic life which was in them, manifesting itself in the multiplicity of their gifts (Rev. 21.) And viewed thus, the twelve apostles represent the life of Christ itself in its development, in its rich manifoldness, in its strong outlines, in its completed unity (Joh 20:21). Therefore we must surely believe that this very selection was founded on the most glorious combination in the spiritual life of Christ. It behoved Him to select a number of men in whom the riches of His life might be unfolded in every direction. For this end He needed above all things people in whom the glory of His Spirit and the peculiarity of His work might be distinctly identified; laymen, who would not chain His work to existing priestly habits; unlearned men, who would not mix up His wisdom with traditional schemes of philosophy; yes, even comparatively uneducated men, at any rate, homely men, in order that the dulled taste of a diseased worldly civilization might not disturb the culture which the Spirit of the Image of God operating from within was to impart to them.1 His Spirit thus sought for itself pure vessels, that is to say, vessels who should not have been made unfit, through a traditional habit of mind fashioned by worldly formulas, to exhibit His Spirit in all its heavenly purity, even though they all needed, as much as any other men, regeneration through this Spirit. It was through these fishermen, country people, and publicans, that the work of God, the life and doings of Christ, was to be declared in all its purity. Truly these negative qualities of the disciples did not suffice to make them qualified bearers of Christ’s apostolic office. But yet it was only upon the stock of a pious Israelitish mind that Jesus could graft the branch of His New Testament life. And it was just this mind which brought the disciples to Jesus. They were simple, pious men, taken from among the Galileans, in whom the Old Testament life of the post-prophetic time, the freshness (we will say) of the Maccabean faith, was still working in the strength of popular simplicity, whilst the same life in the hierarchical atmosphere of Judea had been much more distorted and corrupted. Their piety, on the contrary, had already gained a somewhat freer character. The free spirit of a mercantile country had affected them; intercourse with heathen foreigners had given them, in various respects, a freer disposition. Notwithstanding that their origin was socially lowly, they yet doubtless belonged in many respects to the spiritual, religious noblesse of their native place. The sons of Zebedee stood in early relation to John the Baptist. The sons of Jonas or John of Bethsaida were friends of the sons of Zebedee, and their house at Capernaum was for a long time the centre to which all the religious people in the country turned. James the Less, together with his brother Jude, and apparently also the disciple Simon, belonged to the family of Mary. And, finally, Philip stood in a friendly relation to Nathanael, which was founded upon the Hope of Israel. Thus, for the most part distinctly, we find the circle of disciples resting upon a popular base of a noble character. But yet all that could not make apostles of the disciples. There must have Jain a positive motive in the individuality of each one to induce the Lord to receive him into this circle. They, one and all, must have been Spirits, Talents, and Characters in a pre-eminent sense, strong Pillars, which might be able to become the bearers of an especial power of Christ’s Spirit. And for this purpose it was especially requisite that they should all perfectly complete one another; that therefore, on the one hand, they should qualify, restrain, and neutralize one another; and, on the other hand, should encourage, strengthen, and perfect one another, in order to exhibit the richest collective individuality as the organ of Christ’s life. And therefore Christ could not receive many disciples of one and the same cast of mind into this circle. As then He formed this circle with a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel, with a reference to the completeness of His own life, and to the spiritual foundations of His eternal City of God, this selection must appear to us to be the highest master-work of the Divine organizing Spirit. We are not disturbed in this opinion by the fact that we know so little respecting the character of several of the apostles. Rather this affords us assurance of the fact, that the weaker exponent types held a right relation towards the strong primary foundation-types, which were Peter, James, and John. But the way in which these three supply and complete one another clearly bespeaks the spiritual harmony of the whole apostolic circle. Thus we see in the Twelve the founding of the organization of Christ’s Church; and in this view, as being the representatives, yes, one solid entire representation of His life, they are His apostles, the messengers to the world of the heavenly King, invested with authority to represent Him through the glory of life in His Spirit.

But the objection has long sought to interrupt us, how one would find a place for Judas Iscariot in such an ideal construction, or how his call into the apostolic office at all can be explained. We shall endeavour later to meet this question, when we follow the order of the catalogue of the apostles given by Matthew (10:1, &c.) with reference to that given by the other Evangelists (Mar 3:16, &c.; Luk 6:12, &c.), as also that in the Acts of the Apostles (1:13).

At the head of every list of the apostles stands Simon Peter. The place which is here given to Peter is evidently not merely a whim of the Evangelists; it rather points to the position which Jesus Himself assigned to him in conformity with his inward calling. Peter therefore stood before the soul of Christ as the foreman of His band; an eagle mind, fitted by its depth and ardour strongly and clearly to feel the whole character of Christ, and to receive it into its own depths (Mat 16:17); a popular spirit in the noblest sense, who could work upon the people with the most popular arguments, and deeply penetrate into the world (Act 2:15; Act 2:29; chap. 3:16); an heroic, fiery, energetic man, who was ever ready to strike at the decisive moment, and, regardless of consequences, to send forth his blows first in a fleshly, and afterwards in a spiritual manner; in his large elastic sympathy now constituted as a pioneer (Acts 10), and now as a mediator (Acts 15); in the firm rock-like solidity of his inmost character as the first leader, founder, and guide of the Church of Christ, yes, as the living type of the unchangeableness of her nature, of Christ’s pure foundation. With regard to earnestness, depth, and nobility of soul, John, it is true, towers above him; but just for that very reason John was not popular enough to cause the influence of the apostolic circle to bear upon the world. The talent of a conservative and conciliating dignitary of the Church was possessed in a very high degree by James the Less (Act 15:13), but the pioneering power was altogether wanting in him. That which made Peter the leader of the apostles was the lofty symmetry and the symmetrical loftiness of his gifts, when changed by the Spirit of Christ into gifts of grace. But as to his having been formally entrusted with the superintendence of Jesus’ apostles, nothing can be said on that point with any regard to the Spirit of Christ, or to anything that Christ said.

His brother Andrew comes second in the list given by Matthew. For Matthew appears generally to have grouped the apostles according to brotherhoods and friendships. Now Andrew is decidedly in the background on the stage of the Gospel history. But the traits which we have of his life are characteristic; they bespeak the eager spirit, anxious for others, a true herald’s nature. Before his connection with Christ he was one of John’s disciples. With the younger John, he was the first to follow Jesus, and then immediately went and announced to his brother Peter, ‘We have found the Messias.’ The same Andrew, together with Philip, introduces the first Greeks, who were desirous of being admitted to nearer intercourse with Jesus (Joh 12:22). And in connection with this circumstance, it must be remarked that he as well as Philip bears a name which is probably Greek.2 In an especial juncture we see him and the three chosen disciples of Jesus forming a quaternion of confidential ones; being with this group upon the Mount of Olives, over against the temple, he joins with the rest in asking the Lord when the judgment should descend upon Jerusalem (Mar 13:3). He, together with his brother Andrew and his friend Philip, lived at Bethsaida. Bethsaida3 was a small city or town (Joh 1:44; Mar 8:23) on the west shore of the Lake of Gennesaret, not far from Capernaum. Thus this place contributed three distinguished disciples to the apostolic circle. But heedless of this high distinction, there was no readiness on the part of its inhabitants in general to accept the salvation, and at length we hear the Lord uttering woe even over Bethsaida (Mat 11:21).4 Andrew and Peter had later, as it appears, a common residence in Capernaum, from which we may conclude that at that place they carried on their fishing business on the Lake of Gennesaret (Mar 1:29).

After the sons of John of Bethsaida come the sons of Zebedee. They too were fishermen with their father Zebedee, and abode on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, we may almost conjecture at Capernaum (Mat 4:21-22). We find the two brothers, the sons of the pious and faithful Salome, joined together on many occasions. It was they who wanted to destroy a Samaritan village with fire from heaven, like as Elias did, because the inhabitants refused to receive their Master (Luk 9:54).

But even if this were the occasion of their being afterwards called the Sons of Thunder (Mar 3:17), yet we dare not say that this designation is a term of reproach, but rather a designation of character.5 For a name which expresses a fault cannot be radically a real name; for this cause alone, Christ could not have laid such names upon His disciples. We have seen before how well this appellation was fitted to characterize the refined, high-soaring, and quietly burning soul of John, with whom James in spirit also must have been nearly related. We find both the Sons of Thunder, together with Peter, raised above the other disciples as those whom Jesus admitted to His inmost confidence.6 James appears at first to have acted with the greatest authority of any in the church at Jerusalem, holding a position answering to that of a bishop. And this appears to be a sufficient explanation of his being placed before John in the enumeration of the apostles; a circumstance which has, however, generally been explained by the supposition that James was the elder brother. At any rate, he fell, as the first martyr amongst the apostles, by the sword of Herod Agrippa (Act 12:1); whilst, according to tradition, John closed the whole line of the apostles by dying last of all. One might from this form a conjecture in reference to the question, which of the two brothers practically most displayed the character of Thunder; although truly it is John who appears to us to be theoretically the truest Son of Thunder amongst the apostles, in so far as it is most especially his spirit which, in the most important crises of thought, like lightning flashes forth, like lightning awes and subdues, like thunder shakes, and always refreshes like a storm.

Philip of Bethsaida also belongs to the earliest confessors of Jesus (Joh 1:43). In every situation under which he comes before us, he always displays a quick and vigorous mind, joined with the tendency to assure himself of the invisible as much as possible through concrete evidence and sensuous experience.7 He had invited Nathanael to come to Jesus with the words, Come and see! and yet afterwards he could grieve the Lord by the request, Show us the Father! But it was the same craving of the soul for outward matter-of-fact evidence which lay at the bottom of both extremes.

As, according to the Gospel history, Philip enlists Nathanael, so also we find Nathanael joined with him in the synoptical enumeration of the apostles under the name of Bartholomew. If we take in connection with each other the grounds upon which we suppose the apostle Bartholomew to be identical with the disciple Nathanael, we can hardly regard this supposition as very doubtful. For not only is it favoured by the circumstance8 that, in the passage in Joh 1:46, Nathanael comes forward in conjunction with Philip, whilst in the enumeration Bartholomew appears in the same conjunction with Philip; but also by the fact that, after the resurrection, we find Nathanael in the innermost circle of disciples. Besides which, we may remark that the name of Bartholomew can, properly, only be considered as a surname, and as such designates the son of Tholmai בַּר תָּלְמי).9 ) Taking, then, this identity for granted, Bartholomew is clearly enough known to us through the scene of his first meeting with Jesus.

But still more distinctly is the character of Thomas to be discerned in the Gospel narrative. His name has been explained by the Evangelist John (11:16) to mean the Twin (תֻּאֺם, Δίδυμος). This word, the Twin, or the Double, might perhaps remind us of his doubting; but he certainly could have had no name given him from that. That which was contradictory, twofold in his character, was besides not double-mindedness of heart, but that mixture of scepticism and heroic courage which is often found in tender, deep-feeling souls of a melancholy temperament, and yet requiring to be loved. This contrast shows itself plainly in his behaviour.10 His doubting was the fruit not of a frivolous, but rather of a desponding turn of mind; that fiery doubting of the struggling soul which God guides to certainty.

Matthew introduces his own name into the apostolic list with the humble addition, The Publican. He has already come before us as an important character with its own peculiar features (Book I. vii. 2). In James the son of Alpheus we have seen above the first among those brethren of Jesus who were called to the apostolic office. His character is that of devoted Christian legality, or practical Christianity itself,—of conciliating wisdom in opposition to all that is gloomy, unclean, or untimely—in opposition to all vehemence, precipitancy, ambition, or imperiousness. Such is his distinguishing feature. Thus he appears in the Acts of the Apostles, and so also in his Epistle. This gift made him the chief leader of the Church at Jerusalem, after the death of the elder James. His lofty calmness governed the fiery heat of his brother Jude with almost paternal power: Jude loved to call himself after his brother, Jude the brother of James.11 We have before considered Jude’s distinguishing trait. This characteristic fully confirms the ancient supposition, that Judas the brother of James, in Luke’s Gospel, is the same person as the Lebbeus of the first Gospel12 and the Thaddeus of the second, apart from the nearly parallel position which the name of Jude holds in the third Gospel as compared with that of the names of Lebbeus and Thaddeus in the two first. As we have seen, Jude, when he appears before us in the Gospel history, as well as in his Epistle, quite exhibits the character which the two last names import.13

In a certain sense, Simon Zelotes appears to have surpassed even the brave, hearty, fiery zeal of Jude. For the appellation, the Canaanite, which is given him by the two first Evangelists,14 we find again in Luke under the name Zelotes (or the Zealot); concerning which De Wette remarks: ‘He had been a Zealot, i.e., one who, after the example of Phinehas (Num 25:7), and afterwards of Saul, interfered to put down offences and abuses, not only as the prophets did, by words, but also by deeds. The party of the Zealots, which afterwards, during the Jewish war, distracted Jerusalem, had at that time not as yet been formed, but its germ was already in existence.’15 We must remember, however, that any Israelite, at any time, might rise up as a Zealot in the spirit of Phinehas, as was the case with John the Baptist when he baptized, and with Jesus when He cleansed the temple. And so, perhaps, also the Apostle Simon might have gained for himself this name by some such single act. In any case, we must believe that he had exhibited an especial measure of that theocratic zeal in rebuking, and that it was from this characteristic that he received his name. Eusebius, in his Church History (iii. 11), identifies this Simon with the Bishop of the Jewish Christians called Simeon, who, according to Church tradition, succeeded James the younger in his office after this latter had suffered martyrdom. For he observes respecting this Simeon, that according to every testimony he was the son of that Cleophas who was the brother of Joseph, and consequently cousin to the Lord. Now, if there are no weighty reasons against this tradition of Church history, which Eusebius describes as being quite unanimous on the subject, and in which the ancient Church historian Hegesippus also concurred, then we may have grounds for observing likewise the mark of relationship which is exhibited between the Zealot as such and Judas Lebbeus, and which is further shown in the quiet theocratic earnestness of James. Probably these three sons of Alpheus, who form the group of those disciples which so earnestly contended for what was eternal in the theocracy, were the latest to arrive at the perfect surrender of themselves to the new spiritual economy of Jesus; whilst the two sons of Jonas, whom we may also class with the kindred mind of Philip, designating all three as the Bethsaidites, represent the pioneering group amongst the disciples. If we join to these the group of the two sons of Zebedee, we shall have a third order of spirit, which, soaring beyond the opposition between Judaism and heathenism, desires only to see the Lord glorified throughout the world; and to this temper of mind Nathanael Bartholomew seems also to belong.

We come at length to the dark, mysterious form of Judas Iscariot.16 The question has been often discussed, how it could happen that Jesus received this man, who was His betrayer in so horrible a manner, amongst the number of the disciples? If He did not foresee Judas’ fall, how does that agree with His spiritual discernment, and especially with John’s statement, that He ‘knew from the beginning who should betray Him?’17 But if He had this foresight, how could Jesus place this man in such a position, which seemed precisely calculated to plunge him into the deepest destruction? Certainly this question cannot be answered by saying that Judas was chosen by Jesus with foresight on that very account, because some such instrument was necessary to bring about His death. For in this sense men are never treated by Providence as means, and sacrificed to a higher object. This, however, is a fact, that, quite apart from Jesus, and Judas and his election, Providence a thousand times brings men into critical circumstances which they make their destruction. And this difference is always to be seen, that little spirits have to prove themselves in smaller temptations, whilst no great spirit is spared the great temptation. Therefore, surely it can hardly be disputed, that Judas, considering the importance of his character, might be supposed to have been brought by God into this fateful situation. But this suggests to us already the inference, that the God-man must also be supposed to have thus placed him. Yes, and this last is in a way more easily to be explained than the first, insomuch as Jesus, as being God-man, did not act immediately from divine omniscience.18 In the peculiar character of His consciousness of things, He might with divine penetration have looked into the dangerously impure bottom of Judas’ soul, and yet with human hope He might have been bent upon winning him and preserving him. For, as we saw before, it belonged to the rhythm of His life that He did not prematurely remove the veil from the obscurity of the future. Hence He might have had from the first a distinct foreboding of the miserable end of the twelfth apostle, and yet in His love He might have wished to try to save him. Here we must least of all forget that the leading principle which rules all dealings in the kingdom of Christ is not wise, carefully calculating foresight, but the boldest love which ventures all. And on this account, Jesus, as a man, might yet have felt a ray of hope in considering Judas’ future, because as yet He was able to view him with love and pity. For where love is put forth, it is of necessity ever accompanied by hope. It might especially have appeared to Him in the highest degree desirable, ay, and even necessary, for the condition of Judas’ soul, that He should receive him amongst the number of the Twelve. For if we once suppose that Judas declared a great attachment to Him, we must also consider that Jesus certainly made Himself perfectly clear concerning the consequences that would ensue if He at once repelled this man. It is not, however, generally taken into account, that in this case Jesus, in all probability, had before Him from the very first a hard alternative. Perhaps He clearly foresaw that this strong ambiguous man, if He were to reject him, would mar His plan of life. Now, if He saw in His rejection of Judas certain destruction, whilst in His acceptance of him He beheld a possibility of his deliverance, because His love prevented Him from prematurely withdrawing the veil from before the complete image of his fate which lay in the obscurity of the future, then He must have felt Himself induced to receive him with the rest into His society. Inasmuch as Judas raised hopes concerning him by any better impulses at work within him, this was an endeavour to give certainty to those hopes by the best tending that could be applied to his case. But inasmuch as he was already dangerous to the cause of Christ, he was through his present state of mind unconsciously seized hold of for a time, and rendered harmless. Like a lion or a wolf subdued by the power of mind, Jesus led him about with Him in order that he might not scatter His flock before the time. But probably also there was great consideration paid to the disciples in the election of Judas. For some time Judas appears to have been much thought of by most of the disciples. We may gather this from the fact that many of the disciples allowed themselves to be so carried away by him as to join with him in blaming Mary’s deed at Bethany-the anointing by which she glorified her Master. Even in this matter he appeared to them to prove himself the competent, skilful, and pious treasurer. Probably he owed their especial recognition of him to his vehement expressions concerning the importance, in the new theocracy, of the right management of money matters. From his position towards the disciples, we may therefore conclude that, on his first approach to Jesus, most of them urgently pleaded his cause, probably attracted by his dazzling conception and description of theocratic views. But if the majority of the disciples thus urgently recommended him to the Lord, or were even willing to be answerable for him, it surely belonged to the manner in which Jesus, in His love, dealt as a Master with their weakness, that He did not risk losing with Judas a portion also of His disciples, but that He rather left them to find out Judas’ character by the bitter way of experience. For this also would explain in the clearest manner Jesus proceeding, when afterwards He subjected them to an inward judgment, by including them for a time with Judas in the words: ‘One of you shall betray Me!’ But here, too, we see again how blind most of them were to Judas’ knavery. The betrayer lay, so to speak, on their bosom, as John lay on Jesus’ bosom; and they well deserved that their Master’s fearful word should terrify them one and all.19

But a ‘critic’20 reminds us that, according to John, Jesus distinctly anticipated the treachery, and not only the treachery itself, but also the motive which led to it—covetousness and avarice. And on this hypothesis he then proceeds to attack the moral permissibility of Judas’ election, not certainly in order to contest the election itself, but to dispute John’s account. At last he heightens the Evangelist’s words (6:64), that ‘Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him,’ with a definite assertion that Jesus knew this from the beginning of His acquaintance with Judas. We, however, cannot but see that the Evangelist speaks more indefinitely. And if we recall the scene to which he refers, we find that an important turn had come in the life of Jesus. Already, at the feast of Purim, the great conflict had taken place with the Jewish authorities, which was bringing on His open persecution, and even the Galilean Pharisees were already beginning openly to assault Him. At that time many of His disciples deserted Him. Jesus appeared desirous of taking advantage of this juncture to free the circle of His disciples from the impure spirit which He might have more and more plainly discerned, and which might be getting more and more opposed to Him. ‘Will ye also go away?’ He says to the Twelve. Peter answered this question by a glorious declaration, but he had not entirely perceived what Jesus meant. Therefore Jesus now explains Himself more clearly: ‘One of you is a devil!’ This shows that He was deeply oppressed by the presence of this one, and that the end of this one was even now present to His soul. But it also shows how incapable most of the disciples, as yet, were of mistrusting Judas. They remarked nothing, and Judas remained, without giving a sign that he had felt himself hit. John, however, appears to have understood the spiritual bearing of those words of Jesus. Even on this subject he was, no doubt, the confidant of Jesus, in that, with his high moral sensitiveness, and with his finer sympathy for the moods and gestures of Jesus, he had begun also to see through the traitor. We feel in his Gospel how oppressive the presence of the unhappy man in the apostolic circle became to him; and also, this peculiarity of his Gospel is a distinct though commonly overlooked proof of its Johannic character.21 John, then, deeply felt that this connection of the Lord with the traitor, ‘viewed from the side of inclination,’22 was not easy to bear; but he also understood that his Master was moved by high motives to sacrifice the intensity of inclination, which generally in important affairs affecting the world’s history is not wont to find readily what is to its taste.

The character of Judas exhibits a remarkable energy. He is certainly, in certain respects, though not in gnostic extravagance, to be considered as the veriest antipodes of Jesus. Just as in Jesus the light side of humanity stands in its completeness before us in individual being, so in Judas does the shadow side of the same come before us—not in his essential nature indeed, but in his activity. In the first we see the glorification of the Israelite into a perfected God-man; in the latter, the obscuration of the Jew into an organ of hellish power. We find Judas in the circle of the Twelve, and we are forced thereby to the conclusion, independent of any nearer tokens, that he had obtained his entrance through strong expressions of his zeal for the cause of Jesus. We see him largely enjoying the confidence of the majority of the disciples. The fact of their entrusting him with the small travelling purse signified, no doubt, in their theocratic expectations, that they had also already marked him out to be treasurer in their Master’s kingdom. We see how deeply excitable this nature is for forming extraordinary expectations. He shares for a long time in the doubtful position which the disciples of Jesus occupied with the Sanhedrim and with the popular mind, because he forebodes that something great, something extraordinary, would arise from his thus acting. How great must this man’s gifts have been, who could so deeply insinuate himself into the disciples’ friendship that he even succeeded in prejudicing them against their Master’s anointing, that most beautiful glorification of His life, and thus in some degree shaking their faith in the Lord! In his power of outward self-control he exhibits the strength of a demon. The clearest references made to him by Jesus do not discompose him, do not cause him to move a muscle. With fearful consistency, he prosecutes his purpose of forcing a gain out of his connection with Jesus; even to the frenzy of guilt, one might say. So also is testimony borne to his great energy by his soiled repentance, discomposed as it was by worldly sorrow from all saving elements. But it testifies also to his horrible distraction of soul. In this colossal passion of his, in his way of exhibiting it with pathos, ay, even with poetry, in the striking mock-heroism with which he goes and proclaims his evil deed to the priests, in that fearful irony with which he throws down the thirty pieces of silver in the temple, and in the manner in which he rushes upon suicide, hanging himself over an abyss, seeking death in a twofold way,—in all this there gleams out upon us the gloomy glare of a certain demonish and eccentric geniality—not unfashionable in modern experience. In the synoptical catalogue of the apostles, Judas always stands at the end, as the last. In the list of the apostles in the Acts, his name has disappeared.

If we compare these catalogues together, we see that a triple dividing of the Twelve into groups of four persons (quaternions) is common to them all.23 This arrangement no doubt rests on a recollection on the part of the Evangelists of the order in which Jesus arranged the apostles. But besides this, it no doubt shows that they had before their eyes the significance of the number Twelve. The number Three is the number of the Spirit, the number Four is the number of the world; but the number Twelve must surely represent the world in her spiritual fulness, in the spiritual unity of her various powers. And hence the life of Israel ramified itself into the life of his twelve sons, the life of Christ into that of His twelve apostles, and the riches of the city of God, which represents the fulness of riches which belongs to Christ’s life (Rev. 21), into her twelve gates—her ways of entrance and exit—which adorn in threes the four sides of the city. Hence it is not to be wondered at, that also in the apostolic catalogue the number Twelve should appear interwoven with the number Three. Each group in its unity has the Spirit of Christ, each stands forth a little world entire in its number four. In each group is found an adjustment of different gifts. But in the third group rule the sons of Alpheus, mighty in the law: hence this group appears naturally to point forward to a completion not merely through Matthias, but also through Saul. In single details transpositions are found, such as the several Evangelists might be disposed to adopt. Since the Evangelist Mark has preserved the fact that Jesus sent forth His disciples by twos, we may presume that he has borne this in mind in setting down the order of the apostles. According to that, the creeping disposition of Judas Iscariot would in a most fitting manner be neutralized by the daring, fiery spirit of Simon Zelotes, whilst perhaps, further, the politic acuteness of the former might preserve the latter from falling into blindness. But the Lord’s sending His disciples out in twos surely points to this, that as yet He considered no one of them as an individual to be strong and pure and rich enough to represent His cause. In each one there was something to encourage, to keep under, to control, and to supply; and thus, in this respect, the one must conduce to the other’s perfection. So of old Moses and Aaron were united that they might carry on Jehovah’s cause against Pharaoh; as also in the Reformation, Luther and Melanchthon.

The synoptic Evangelists explicitly declare that Jesus now selected His disciples to form the number Twelve. Also in John’s Gospel we find somewhere about this time the Twelve first mentioned as a select and determinate body (chap. 6:67). At the same time, it is clear that the Twelve were now chosen by Jesus to be in a definite sense His apostles. Concerning diplomatic affairs in Judea, Von Ammon remarks (vol. ii. p. 1): ‘Ambassadors (שלוחים) who are charged by any authority with an important commission had, according to Jewish laws, a title to the same dignity which the sender possessed (ברכות v. 3, Mishna); hence also Christ, who is Himself called an apostle (Heb 3:1) by virtue of His heavenly mission, asserts in His person the majesty of His Father (Joh 5:23).24 Hence in Judea they more especially distinguished the ambassadors of the king, and of the high priest and Sanhedrim, or the great council, as taking precedence of others. After these followed the authorized agents of single churches (הצבוד שׁלוחי, ἀπόστολοι τῆς ἐκκλησίας), who even in the New Testament bear this name (Act 13:2; 2Co 8:23). From these remarks, it is already clear that among the Israelites the dignity of an apostle had important gradations.’ We now plainly see that, considering the clearly defined principles concerning ambassadors and messengers which existed amongst His people, Christ also could not make His apostles His messengers in an uncertain, indefinite sense. Rather the number Twelve, as well as His more explicit declaration later (Joh 20:21), points to the inference that they were through the Spirit to be the representatives in the world of Himself, in the fulness and power of His life.

With the mission itself is joined an endowment which is in keeping with the stage of spiritual development at which the apostles had now arrived, and with the object of their mission. They have, namely, to replace and to diffuse the present activity of Jesus; therefore, in conjunction with the commission of preaching the Gospel, He gives them the power of casting out unclean spirits and healing the sick. This power they receive in its real force by hiding in their heart His wonder-working word of authority, and by working in accordance therewith, in faith on His name and in fellowship with His Spirit.

This consideration, then, also makes us see all through into the instructions which Matthew represents the ‘Lord as giving the Twelve on the occasion of His separating them for this service. The distinctness of their instructions corresponds to the distinctness of their commission. The more public delivery of the latter corresponds with the more public significance of the former. But also in its whole connection this discourse bears the stamp of unity; although even here the Evangelist may in the details have occasionally heightened the colouring by recollections of other discourses. But even with reference to such appearances, we ought, no doubt, to bear in mind that it is the Lord’s custom to blend with what is special some kindred general subject, and to set forth the union of the two in a symbolical form of expression which is more or less like that of the prophetical writings.25

First the route is marked out (Mat 10:5-6). The disciples are not to go into the way of the Gentiles, neither are they to enter any cities of the Samaritans; but rather they are to turn to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This rather shows that the direction is an economical one. During the present journey there is no time whatever for working as yet outside Israel. The first thing above all is to bring salvation to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Subsequently the same rule is followed, though in a different wording. First they were to preach the name of Christ in Jerusalem and in Judea, then in Samaria, and afterwards to all nations (Act 1:8). But this direction, in its inmost sense, remains still an unchanging law of the kingdom: we are to turn with the message of God’s kingdom first to those who are ready to receive it, who are prepared for it, who are positively longing for it; then to those who are less susceptible, less prepared, who feel less longing for it; and last of all to those who are in all respects the least predisposed to receive it. Hence even this rule in its spiritual application can so shape itself, that it appears to contradict its first literal expression (Act 17:18); but even in this case were to be held sacred the great historical preparations of God’s grace in nations and individuals (Act 28:17).

They now know the way; next they receive their commission. They are to announce the approach of the kingdom of God, with its salvation; and they are to confirm this announcement of salvation through certain acts of healing: on the one hand, through quickening cures, in healing the sick and raising the dead; on the other hand, through purifying cures, in cleansing the lepers and in the healing of possessed persons, whereby they purged the world of unclean spirits, of demons. This is briefly the instruction for Christ’s messengers for every time. They have to proclaim the approach of God’s kingdom. Herein is contained a threefold direction: first, that they should, in the spirit of pious devotion and of concern for the welfare of men, preach of the kingdom of God as of a great and glorious reality, which they bring, and which they must confirm with the word and Spirit of Christ; secondly, that in the spreading of this message they deal as circumstances require it, training, preparing, and pioneering; thirdly, that they ever retain the consciousness that the establishment and perfecting of this kingdom in its full character is not their own affair, but Christ’s, who throughout follows up and seals their work in the glorious riches of His Spirit and of His being. But everywhere they must confirm their healing words by healing works in the sphere of natural human life. The preaching of the Gospel must never cease to exhibit healing power. It is radically a healing of the sick, even a raising of the dead, wherever it is really alive, even when it performs no immediate miracles of this kind, and especially no raisings from the dead. It is likewise a constant purification of life from its chronic evils, from leprosy, ay, a freeing of mankind from demons, even when no immediate and miraculous exorcising of devils takes place. For with the restoration of hearts through the Gospel begins in truth a healing which streams through life on every side. But this truth must also be verified by the messengers of the Gospel always, in some way or other, showing themselves the guardian spirits of men in their bodily misery. The commission, then, is given to the disciples in all its fulness, even though they did not at once” possess faith to raise the dead, and though they even experienced failure in some attempts to cast out demons through a want of fulness of faith. For it is indeed the apostolic authority which is here given; consequently it is in part a direction for the present, and in part a promise for the future,—a call not merely to outward individual acts of deliverance, but to the spiritual operations which culminate in those individual acts, and therefore are also symbolized by them.

After this the Lord specifies the terms upon which they are to proclaim the Gospel to the world (Mat 10:8). Freely they have received it, freely they are to give it. The messengers of Christ must ever move in the same element of free love in which they are born. Nowhere, either publicly or privately, directly or indirectly, must they make payment or recompense a condition of their ministry; for they are just bound to preach as truly and certainly as that they exist as Christians, whether men give them money for doing it, or death. The preaching of the Gospel is ever to retain this impress, that it will not be paid for, that it cannot be paid for, that it is the highest, freest expression of love and of redeemed life. The Apostle Peter showed how carefully he had preserved this word of Christ’s when he indignantly bid away from him Simon Magus with his money. But everywhere, wherever spiritual offices in the Church were sold, there also had disappeared the remembrance of this blessed kingdom of free love and mercy; and as men traded with the spiritual office, so did the spiritual office trade with the good things of the kingdom of heaven. The one is ever closely connected with the other. In proportion as men have became acquainted with free grace in its perfect glory, they are driven to proclaim it freely out of real love to the work; in proportion, on the contrary, as men turn grace into a reward of works, into a price for venality, they also consider the office which proclaims such an obscured kingdom of heaven, which they have made into a sanctimonious legality, as a marketable affair, a business bringing in income. But yet, afterwards the Lord shows His disciples in what way their maintenance is to be provided for. Above all things it is expedient and necessary that they should go forth free from cares; for in proportion as they carefully and anxiously provide for their journey, they cease to be cheerful, spirit-free evangelists. The first journey upon which He sent them was eminently fitted to make this clear to them. Now, on their departure, they were literally not to trouble themselves about any kind of provision. They were not to make provision first as if they were going into a strange country; consequently, they were not to be careful about a previous supply of money for their support, or of provisions in scrips, or of a change of raiment,26 or of travelling shoes27 and pilgrims’ staves,28 as if they were going from one foreign country into another, whereas they were rather travelling from the kingdom of love into the kingdom of love, everywhere with the Gospel finding a new home and their maintenance. Therefore they were to go just as they were; for they would wander through friendly regions close in front of the Lord, where they would be everywhere received with open arms. But these directions, as they applied literally to the first missionary expedition of the apostles, apply too in their spiritual meaning to the whole futurity of the missionary office; ay, and even with respect to the Christian’s pilgrimage through life, they are of the highest significance.29 The messengers of Christ must not lose their time, their courage, their strength, their thoughts, the solid unity of their inner and outer life, in over-anxious preparations for their mission. They must not go forth either with the many wants of the lover of comfort, nor with the much-ado of excited eagerness, still less with the dread of entering an utterly strange world. In order to remove from their minds this apprehension, the Lord assigns them their proper subsistence with the words: The labourer is worthy of his hire. They must not allow themselves to be paid for the Gospel; but wherever they labour, the Lord will provide for their labour being requited them. They must place their confidence in Him that He would accompany them everywhere, and everywhere provide for them. But they must trust likewise to their work, that it will everywhere find its hire in connection with success and its recognition, that with the hearts of men it will gain its hospitality and its compensation. In this sense, therefore, the apostles are boldly to regard themselves as labourers, as artizans or artists of the new world, who everywhere, surely, are properly appreciated, valued, and compensated, so as never to have to suffer want. In this spirit they are to traverse the world as the birds soar through the air, and as the bards used to wander free from care in the beautiful days of poesy, light of wing, lyre in hand, like blessed spirits soaring above the world’s sorrow and unrest.30

Upon these general instructions for the apostolic office, there now follow more particular directions. First, they learn in what way, within their sphere of labour, they are to deliver their message to the world, that is to say, the method of their ministry. But this method, again, is entirely a way of the spirit and the heart. They must everywhere faithfully follow the delicate susceptibility for their ministry, and they must everywhere give way of their own free will before the hard repulse of unsusceptibility, that they may lose no time and strength, but—most delicately making their way between the attracting and repelling powers of the world, moving like the lightnings of heaven in a zigzag fashion, delicate and yet triumphantly strong in the right drawings of spiritual life—force their way everywhere; and thus, in rapid progress from place to place, conquer the world.31 Yet with this delicate flexibility is to be joined the most faithful perseverance. On their entrance into a place, they must first inquire who there is willing to receive them. And into the house thus recommended to them they are to enter with the Gospel greeting of peace, with the wishing to others of that peace which they possess and proclaim.32 This greeting will never be lost. In the most favourable case, the house will receive it, or, at all events, some single member in the house (Luk 10:6); and then their peace shall rest upon that house (ἐλθέτω). He blesses that house already in spirit. In the other case, the house will refuse their greeting; and then they themselves gain the blessing of this greeting,—their apostolic energy, that is to say, will only be fanned into a brighter flame. Of course, here it is understood that they do not by their own fault incur an unfavourable reception. Taking this for granted, He enters into the position in which they would find themselves as rejected ones, and speaks the comforting word of power: Let your peace return to you!

But when a house receives well both them and their message, they are to remain there until they leave that place. Thus they are not to act with fickleness, and least of all with ambiguity in respect to worldly relations. They must give no one up lightly and hastily. But above all things they must seek to gain the house as such, the whole family circle as a natural foundation-pillar of the Church. In the form of domestic life they must erect inextinguishable hearths of faith. But if no one in the place is willing to receive them, they must at once depart, and shake off the dust from their feet as a sign that that place has become an unclean, Gentile place, even though it should lie in the midst of Judea; real heathen ground, worse than Sodom and Gomorrah, and doomed to heavy judgment.33

Upon this the Lord prepares them for the truth, that a bad reception, which they did not expect, awaited them from men, and gives them directions for their right behaviour towards their adversaries. It is indeed true, as has been remarked, that most of the persecutions which He here predicts did not befall them until afterwards, when they went forth as apostles. But none the less did they feel immediately, even now, the beginning of these sufferings as Christ’s disciples. As from the first the Lord had to deal with dangerous opposers, so also had they: they too must at once learn that an eternal opposition exists between what is evil in man and their message of salvation. And for this it was necessary that they should be prepared. Young evangelists, when they commence, are apt to think that the world is after all not so bad; they will set forth the kingdom of heaven so beautifully, so comprehensibly, so irresistibly, that all must come to the faith.34 They go forth into the world without any adequate foreboding of the demoniacal depth of the world’s depravity; and thus they are in danger of committing great errors, and in consequence meeting with experiences by which they may become shaken, and even perish. The disciples of Jesus were still full of excessive worldly hopes, for as yet they knew but little of Christ’s path of the cross. Therefore it was that He told them in plain and strong terms what lay before them, and opened up to them the whole perspective of suffering far beyond their present journey.

They might be expecting to shine in the synagogues, and to stand before governors and kings as all-subduing defenders of Israel’s glory; therefore He tells them how they have to look forward to the exact opposite of all this. Here also it may have been His intention to prove and sift His circle of apostles through these predictions. ‘Behold,’ He says with increasing emphasis, ‘I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.’ Thus, according to human view, they are clean lost from the very first, if they were to venture amongst enemies; a few amongst so many, the defenceless amongst the strong, the good amongst the evil, the guileless amongst those practised in cunning. What are they to do? Whilst in the den of wolves, they must transform themselves, so to say, into serpents and doves, by imitating the wisdom of the former and the harmlessness of the latter. These are opposite virtues, such as nature does not exhibit in their unity, nor yet does the natural life of man; but the Spirit of Christ does. For this Spirit ever comprehends all natural qualities into a living unity and a glorified form; and therefore also that swiftness of the serpent’s wisdom, wherein the threatened one fearfully at a distance keeps his eyes fixed upon his opponent, and, winding himself away in a thousand ways, disappears; as also that pious true-heartedness of the dove’s simplicity, wherein he confidingly approaches his opposer, never harms him, at worst, only like a happy spirit soars above him. ‘Beware of men!’ is then added, without reserve, without qualification. ‘They will deliver you up to the councils, they will scourge you in their synagogues, and ye shall be brought before governors and kings. And this will happen to you for this one cause, because ye belong to Christ. And this God will permit to happen, not that ye may be judged, but the world,—for a testimony against them and the Gentiles whom they represent.’ But now Jesus tells them how they are to behave in these fearful positions,—namely, that again they are only not to be anxious. They must take no thought what they shall speak in the decisive moment: no thought as to the how, or the form which they shall choose; no thought as to the what, or the appropriate matter. But, on the contrary, they must live and breathe in the full persuasion that the right thing will be given to them in the decisive hour. Yes, they would, so to speak, have nothing to do, and they would entirely disappear from the scene; the Spirit of the Father would speak through them. Christ knew, as no man could know, how studied and premeditated oratory can check and confine and kill the genuine life of the Spirit, and how easily the anxiety for the right word deadens the faith which supplies the right word; how, on the contrary, He, the most faithful life, produces in the deepest inward being of His communion those streams of the Spirit which for every situation furnish the right word and the right form.

Thus did He seek to suppress in His disciples that world of anxieties for oratory and fine eloquence which, even in its remains up to the present day, is doing such unspeakable harm to His cause. Certainly He therewith supposes that His disciples harbour no other worldly thoughts in their heart, but that they really live in His cause, ever thinking, and therefore preparing, meditating, and inwardly musing therein, and consequently living in the most thorough preparation: pure and susceptible organs of His eternal Spirit.35 And, moreover, in these persecutions they must not imagine, as they perhaps might, that they could only be persecuted by the powerful of the earth. It may happen, either to them or to those whom they have converted, that they may be persecuted even by their nearest relations. They must be prepared even for such a horrible thing as that the brother should prepare the heretic’s death for his brother, the father for the son; or that children should act as zealous persecutors of their parents,—that they should rise up to exterminate them from the earth. Even amid such terrible manifestations, when they should be tried in their tenderest feelings, in their sensitiveness with regard to the great blessings of domestic life, of domestic peace, they yet must hold their ground—by His name, by His truth and love, which is superior to all else. This is endurance to the utmost; it does not allow itself to be scared away even by the most frightful appearances from the standard in which it has recognized true life and the rescue of life for all, even for enemies. Only they are at once clearly to understand the worst, that they must be hated for His name’s sake, and from the first make up their minds to the highest and most difficult enterprise of all: to continue steadfast to the end.

But now, after thus holding up before them their mission in all its difficulty, the Lord proceeds to give them all the consolation of which they stand in need.

First, He tells them that they may flee from the places where they are persecuted. It is true that they must only flee in order that the Gospel may not be forced upon men, in order that they may lose no unnecessary time and strength, in order that they may with the more speed carry salvation to other places where it will be received. And here He gives them the great consolation, that they will not have gone over the cities of Israel in their evangelizing mission until the Son of man be come. First, that applies to the immediate tour which they were about to take, in which He will soon join them; then, further, it applies to their apostolical ministry in Judea, which will be followed by His glorious coming in judgment upon Judea; and lastly, it applies to the operations of His messengers in the towns of the spiritual Israel throughout the world, who will be interrupted in the gradual unfolding of their mission in the world’s history by the great coming of the Son of man in His glory.36 The peculiar point of this consolation consists in this, that they shall ever find new spheres of work full of untried susceptibility, that the Lord will everywhere follow them with the spiritual baptism of His grace, with the fiery baptism of His judgment. But the theocratic ground-thought of this assurance is, we may consider, this: It is not in a career of idyllic peacefulness that the work of Christ shall be accomplished, in a tranquil development of the work of conversion down to the last place and the last man; but in a career of epic conflict, which, through combined operations of salvation on a large scale, calls forth mighty variances between light and darkness in the world, and through these at last the sudden and decisive catastrophes of the divine judgment. But a second consolation they are to find in this, that in the persecutions which they endure, they share His own fate; as disciples, as servants, as belonging to His household. The disciple is not above his master; therefore as His disciples they must be willing to renounce the world’s approbation, for the master-works of their Master it has criticized as unprofitable and hurtful labour. The servant is not above his lord; therefore they must look for no brilliant position in the world, in which so grievous a fate awaits their Lord. The members of the household know that they must share the same fortunes as the master of the house, and it is their pride and delight so to do. If, then, they are faithful members of His household, they must remember that the Master of the house has already been called Beelzebub,37 and accordingly they must joyfully accept their lot.

The third consolation they next receive in the summons to that fearless, supernaturally high and independent behaviour which Jesus now marks out for them. Above all things, they must not carry about with them the misery of timidity, of pusillanimous dejection. They are to know that there is a time when everything that is covered shall be revealed, and everything that is hid in the world shall be known. Then shall all the wicked secrets of their opposers come to light. Therefore, in diffusing their faith, that most precious of all mysteries, they should least of all do it with an endeavour after secrecy, as if it were some bad mystery. They are to know that His Gospel will fain become a revelation for all nations; He will have them make no secret society, no lodge, no party or school out of His mission. What He imparts to them in the darkness of the quiet, solitary, or nightly intercourse, they are to speak out in the world’s daylight. What He whispers, so to speak, in their ear as a secret, they must proclaim from the house-tops. To be sure, He appears from this to expect that they should work with greater openness than He Himself saw fit to do. But in this direction the Lord simply expresses the vital law of the unfolding of His revelation. He must first have established His work in them, before they can establish it in the world. Therefore, He forms in them at first a school; but they, on the other hand, must not again form schools, but found a congregation, just because His salvation is meant for all the world. Until His life was closed, even to His glorification, the most profound words and facts of His life, with which He had made them acquainted, could not become the common property, through His Spirit, of the world; but when that time has come, then they are commissioned to proclaim to the world these secrets which had been entrusted to them. We shall understand exactly this direction of the Lord’s, if we call in the aid of the Gospel narrative. The real sermon on the mount, for example, the account of the transfiguration of Jesus, His conflict in Gethsemane, were such secrets, which at the right time they published to all the world. They too must certainly not neglect the rules of proceeding which the Spirit dictates; they must with caution and prudence commence and establish and bring about their preaching of His salvation in the world. In particular must they attend to the command not to make that which is holy common, through too hastily communicating it. But from the very first they must fully understand that the whole Gospel is joyously struggling to become the world’s light; and, urged on by this vital impulse, they are fearlessly to work, with the confidence that a time will come when all the secrets of the Gospel will shine forth in God’s perfect lustre, accompanied by the perfect evidence of the Spirit, throughout the world; and when all the wicked secrets of the world will be disclosed and judged; and that then, too, the sanctuary of their inner life will stand revealed before the world in its right light.38

And even the danger of being put to death by men must not cause them to stumble in this matter. They must not tremble before any of those clumsy persecutors who can only kill the body. There is only one fear that they must know, and that is, the fear of the wicked enemy who, as dwelling within the soul, and ever able to make her plastic powers the basis of his operations, is able to destroy the soul with the body in hell.39 If, in holy watchfulness, in spirit-like earnestness, they keep themselves ever prepared for this formidable adversary, they will then become ever more and more completely free from all fear of men. And this, too, they must not even so much as imagine, namely, that men can put them to death at their pleasure. No man can dispose even of the fate of sparrows with his arrow, without being permitted to do it by God, although two of these sparrows may be bought for one farthing.40 Still less, therefore, can a man dispose of the life of the Christian without God’s permission; indeed, unless He ordains it. ‘The very hairs of your head are all numbered,’ the Lord says to His disciples, making use of the strongest figure He could find. Which means to say: Your life cannot be injured even in the smallest part. But when this does happen, it happens under God’s disposal, who does away with the injury, and renews your whole life in eternity. You are not, then, allowed to be anxious even about a hair of your head, to say nothing of your head itself. In the most serene and cheerful spirit of confidence it is added, ‘Ye are of more value than many sparrows,’ than a whole flight of sparrows. If you once try to estimate yourself by this standard, it will become clear to you with what mighty power the God who even counts up the sparrows has secured and fixed your life; you will then feel quite secure that He will deliver your life from all injury and from martyrdom itself, and will restore it in the most perfect splendour in which it can appear.

The fifth is still more important. They have only in His name to confess themselves His without shrinking, and to be assured of this, that He too will confess them before His heavenly Father, that He will welcome them and bless them as His own before the throne of God. And the Lord gives still greater strength to this promise by representing the fearful contrast, that whoever denies Him, who persists in the denial of His name, him at the judgment-day will He also deny before God, that is, will thrust him away from Him as a stranger. But He explains why the bearing witness of Him must be called a confession even to the world’s end. The world, in her unchanging mediocrity, and her undecided vacillation betwixt heaven and hell, punishes two different kinds of things: worldly crime and—heavenly virtues, or the vital utterances of faith, of the god-like mind, of the higher knowledge. These last she even punishes with especial zeal, considering them to be the worst worldly crimes. Therefore the witness concerning Christ is ever a risk in the world; it is very likely to be treated and punished as a criminal act, and thus it continues to be a confession. This Jesus now explains by a distinct illustration. The peace which He brings to earth can only become peace to all mankind through manifold kinds of strife. It is not to be so easily cast upon the earth (ver. 34) as one throws alms to a beggar. Concerning this the Prince of peace was quite clear Himself, and He will not in the very least hide it from His disciples; therefore He expresses Himself strongly, and says, that He is not come to bring peace, but the sword. With the holy sword of His word He combats the corruptions of the world; the unholy sword of misrepresentation and persecution from the world’s side He brings upon Himself and His disciples. And not only on the large scale, but also on the small, must He give rise to this war, ay, from house to house. Everywhere shall discord arise on His account: between son and father, between daughter and mother, between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law; and some of His confessors will be hated by all their household. And in such cases their witness of Him must become throughout a difficult confession. But that must cause them no perplexity. For He is bold sovereignly to lay down the rule: he that loveth any one of his relations more than Me is not worthy of Me. Such an one is not worthy of Him, for He loves not his relations in Him; therefore he loves Him not in His truest character as embracing humanity: and such an one again loves not Him in his relations, loves not that which in them is best and eternal; therefore them too he does not truly love. True love has pleasure in the eternal, essential traits belonging to personalities, viewed in their relation to the personality of Christ, which unites all; therefore it loves Him above all, whose image reappears in the character of all, who saves them all. And He who loves in this pure sense can cheerfully bear all the misunderstanding of men, and thus he is worthy of Him.

And now the Lord utters a fearfully solemn word, the word of the cross. ‘And he that taketh not his cross and followeth after Me, cannot be My disciple.’ In this form, in this tide of the discourse, this word looks as if it were a presentiment of His innermost being which had escaped Him. But perhaps just in this way He would most prefer for the first time to announce to them the horror which lay before Him and before them. For Him, certainly, the future of His suffering on the cross was no longer any secret. They, however, could, and most probably they would, consider the expression first of all as a figure, which was only meant to announce to them heavy suffering, and especially the suffering of the extremest worldly disgrace, and of the most painful sentences of their judges; and in this sense they could easily understand this word, since they were well acquainted with the most painful kind of Roman execution. But if here, again, the Lord saw fit to declare the worst at once, in order to prove and to purify His disciples, yet the requirement only served in its further purpose to call forth the sixth word of comfort: ‘He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.’ Judas found his life, the life of his self-will, in the thirty pieces of silver; but for that he lost his true life. The other disciples, on the contrary, lost their life, the life of their worldly hope, when Jesus was crucified; and they sought not to save fragments of it by deserting to the enemy; they gave up their old life as clean lost to God’s disposal, and thus they gained the new and the true life. The maxim which Christ here lays down is so comprehensive, so unfathomably deep, that we could not dare to hope to exhaust its meaning, even if we had time and room sufficient for it. All the mysteries of the worldly as well as of the divine life are here compressed into one short contrast. To every man is his cross assigned. Divine guidance cuts through and crosses the way of his heart. Now he who, resolute in his own ways of selfishness, withdraws himself from this crossing, which may reach even to crucifixion, such an one loses his life. Every day he loses the life of life, the peace of God; further, also, the life which he wanted to save, the prosperity of his temporal existence; and at length, too, the life in glory, which can only take its being from the cross; and ever, all through, does he lose the vital principle of all life, Christ Himself. But he, on the contrary, who is able to give up his life for Christ’s sake, having known Him to be the Life of life, such an one only gains fresh divine assurance of life out of every death agony; he rescues his existence from amongst a host of mortal dangers, and at length he will have gained in death itself the glorification of his life, because he has found in his Redeemer the Prince of life. And this life is the fundamental thought, the promise, in which Christ’s solemn maxim issues: the sixth word of comfort.

At length the Lord dismisses His messengers with the seventh word of comfort, wherein He tells them with what dignity they are surrounded, and what blessings they diffuse. Their dignity consists in this, that they represent Him, and in Him the heavenly Father Himself. They go forth in the name of the Father, and in the name of Christ. And as this name is high which as messengers they proclaim, so is the blessing glorious which they diffuse in the world. With them the Father comes to men, to such as receive them; and therewith Christ’s salvation, the peace of God. This rests upon a fixed law of life. By receiving a man in the name of a certain spiritual life, that is, in the disposition and determination to receive the particular kind of life which that man is extending abroad, one puts into activity thereby a congeniality of spirit with him; one enters into spiritual fellowship with him as the bearer of this life; and one becomes a sharer in his spiritual enjoyment, in his spiritual life thereby, and therefore in his reward. Thus it is in every department of life. Receptive spirits enter into spiritual fellowship with productive spirits, into the enjoyment and possession of the same life: they become one with them, as a bride with her bridegroom. He who thus receives the poet by entering into the spirit of his mood and poetry, anticipating, loving, and revering, he enters with him in spirit into the beautiful realm of poesy. Jesus first illustrates this universal law of life by the example of a prophet. He who receives a prophet of the kingdom of God, and thus acknowledges his divine mission and enters into his divine lore, becomes a partner in his supermundane mind and in his blessed hope. The same applies to the reception of a righteous man. Christ can hardly have meant here a righteous man in the Old Testament sense, since He was not only proclaiming the New Testament fulfilment of righteousness, but was also showing it forth in His life. Rather, when taken in connection with the rest of His doctrine, His word must surely contain a reference to the intrinsic righteousness of His life. And, accordingly, we find in this passage a general reference to the righteousness of faith, which is the proper key-note of life in His kingdom, and salvation in this righteousness. The righteous man’s reward is salvation. Now, if a man receives a really righteous man in the name of a righteous man, that is, with a real view of intrinsic righteousness, and with devotion to it, then he enters into spiritual fellowship with him and his reward, and thus becomes a sharer in the glory of his life and in his salvation. After this come the little ones who are only now beginning in the school of Christ to become His apostles, but who already, even as His disciples, are to be esteemed in the world according to the commission which they hold from Him. Whoever receives them as such, as disciples of Christ, shall receive a disciple’s reward. He will thus become a partner in their apostolic spiritual life. In all these cases, the distinction of caste or the distinction of order between the different members in the kingdom of God, is in the main throughout set aside. The prophet is indeed distinguished from the receiver of his prophecy in respect to his official calling, or even in his individual talent; but with respect to the reward, to the quality, and to the enjoyment of the spiritual life, they stand together on the same level. And thus it is likewise with respect to the operations of the righteous man, as also of the apostles. Wherever the Spirit of God brings about true spiritual fellowship between the officially working mind and the receiving mind, there there is perfected a parity of rank, and an elective affinity in sonship with God and spiritual fellowship; there the distinction is at an end between priests and laymen. But through this threefold illustration of the same law of life, Christ has vouchsafed us a precious view of the extension of God’s kingdom. Not only in the prophets, but also in all who understand them, therefore in a rich world of the prophetical inner life, does the dawn of this kingdom break. Not only in the Righteous Man, in Christ, does the bright day of His intrinsic righteousness shine forth, but also in a whole world of His believers. And not only in His messengers does this light-life unfold itself, but in all those likewise who receive them as His messengers. That in His illustration of this law of life, the Lord must have had a motive in the particular examples which He made use of41—that He drew in them a distinct sketch of the spreading of God’s kingdom, is shown by the fact that He finally returns again to His disciples and their mission. He has now made it clear to them that they go forth from Him in order to spread His heavenly life. But now in His concluding sentence He brings forward a special thought: ‘Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward.’ The fact is here expressed, that the disciples are as yet but little beginners with respect to their apostolic mission. But apparently the word has also an especial reference to the blemishes in their circle, particularly to Judas. The Lord called them little ones in order that they might not imagine that He considered them as perfected, or as all, one with another, pure bearers of His name. And in both allusions He expresses the truth, that His blessing is not merely dependent upon their individuality, but also upon the readiness of men to receive them as His disciples. They were to know what an important contrast with them might present itself in this susceptibility in individual cases, carrying with it a blessing of Christ, so that they would stand there as little ones in face of such chosen spirits. Thus, for example, any one, like Mary at Bethany, with a susceptibility which towered far above the spiritual power of an inferior apostle, viewed in his individual character, might receive a greater fulness of spiritual blessing out of his message than he himself might individually be capable of. Yes, even he who received Judas Iscariot as a disciple, received a disciple’s reward, although Judas himself was no true disciple. And even the smallest outward token that one receives a disciple, is a proof of spiritual fellowship with Him whom He proclaims. At first sight these grand instructions of Christ’s appear to end with a very small and trivial remark, when Christ adds, that whoever shall refresh them with a cup of cold water, because they are disciples, shall not lose his reward. But in this apparent littleness, we only seem to see the delicacy and the grandeur of this last word of Jesus’ concerning His disciples’ ministry. If we rightly understand this concluding word, it seems to look like the tip of an oak-tree. Such a tip is nothing but a tender twig, but it rests on a mighty foundation, it stands forth on high, it displays the very strongest vitality of the oak itself. And so, in this concluding word, Christ says to His disciples that His name, His word and Spirit, may soar far beyond the official bearers of His work; that everywhere His life may already meet them in susceptible hearts, may strengthen and refresh their own selves, ay, and may even instruct and reprove them; that His kingdom is not merely spread by services of love which they render to men, but also through such as are shown to them; and finally, not only by great popular sermons, by counsels, by systems of doctrine, or by great institutions, but also upon the dusty highway, in the juncture of an outward cursory greeting, or of a single demonstration of love, provided only that His friends and His disciples or witnesses bless and greet one another in His name, in the fellowship of His Spirit. The Lord here gives His apostles the assurance, that as messengers of peace from the mountains of the Lord (Isa 52:7), they are going down into the dark and gloomy world, but also a world which has generally attained some dim knowledge of Him, and which is already expecting their message, and that therefore His salvation will spread in a measure far surpassing all their thoughts. This last word of comfort must have encouraged them more powerfully than all the others to go forth upon their mission, and to meet all the sufferings attending it with cheerfulness and joy.



1. It is wrong, though it is often done, to identify the apostolic with the episcopal office. For the apostolate represents in its completeness that fulness of Christ’s life which is being brought into union with the world, or even the ideal Church itself; whilst the episcopate only forms a particular branch amongst the official functions of life in the organism of the Church, which organism is integrated by other branches (Act 15:36; Act 16:4; 1Co 12:28), and which is conditioned by the presbytery (Act 20:17; Act 20:28). Here it must not be overlooked that the apostolic office sought to interpret itself by the co-operation of the congregation, so soon as a congregation or a real church existed (Act 15:22; 1Co 12:28).

The totality of the apostolic office continues, doubtless, through all times of the Church, because the life of Christ in its fulness is ever present in the Church; but it has spread itself throughout the whole living organism of the Church, and reappears in its several characteristics in all genuine functions of active life put forth by the Church.

The collective entirety of the true witness of Christ in the world is the ideal, eternal apostolate.

2. Concerning the identity of the names Lebbeus, Thaddeus, and Judas, comp. again Ebrard, p. 271, where also reference is made to the similarity between the character which is displayed in Jude’s Epistle and the notion of a Lebbeus.

3. If the question is raised, why the name of Nathanael may have been interchanged with the name of Bartholomew, we must consider the significance of the word תלמי. Fürst, in his Hebrew Concordance, translates the word by audax, and thus Bartholomew would be the son of the bold man—the resolute. But if we might suppose that the name was given to him with reference to a derivation from תֶלֶם, then it might perhaps denote the son of the furrowed field, or of the nation cultivated by God, of God’s field; thus, a true Israelitish plant, a true Israelite.

4. According to Von Ammon (ii. 14, &c.), Luke, in his account of the Lord’s instructions to His disciples, had Matthew before his eyes, and ‘sought in his way to improve upon him;’ and upon this Mark has again made improvements. Here, therefore, the leaf of ‘criticism’ again turns over, or rather the wheel of ‘criticism:’ Mark, who for a long time formed the basis for the other two synoptic Evangelists, becomes the reviser of their accounts. We only quote this in order to show the newest position of ‘criticism’ in reference to this.

5. The instructions which Christ here gives to the twelve apostles, we find again in a shorter form in Luke as directions for the seventy disciples. We shall exhibit the place in the history of Jesus’ life where the sending forth of the seventy disciples appears in its proper place and completely accounted for, and then we shall also have to consider the relation which the two accounts bear to one another. We find in Luke another part of these instructions in another connection as a discourse of Christ’s to His disciples (chap. 12); the consideration of this part too, in its relation to the instructions, we must defer to its proper place. In the meantime we are justified in considering these instructions in themselves alone as a separate whole, complete in itself, for we might lay ample stress on the close connection, the living unity of all its parts; as also this unity is denoted by the conclusion in ch. 11:1: καὶ ἐγένετο ὅτε ἐτέλεσεν, κ. τ. λ. Compare Strauss, i. 615. Concerning the sentence, ‘Whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name,’ &c., which Mark has given in a different connection (chap. 9:41), it will be shown in its proper place that he does not introduce the words in an ‘endless confusion,’ as Strauss imagines (i. 618), but in a well-founded connection, which has certainly escaped the critic, so that he thinks himself justified in charging upon the Evangelist a connection resting upon mere assonance of words, which however lies far beyond the range of any such pitiable lexical connection.



1) See 1 Cor. i. 26, &c. Hobl, Bruchsüicke ausdem Leben und den Schriften, E. Irving's, p. 48.

2) According to Winer, the name is ancient Greek. Olshausen prefers a Hebrew derivation ʻἉνδρίας= אַנְדְרִיָה, perhaps from נָדַר to vow.

3) Fish-house.

4) The place has disappeared from the earth, even the site is not exactly known, See Robinson, ii. 405, [In vol. ii, 858, Robinson gives reasons for fixing upon et-Tàbighah as its site. Thomson, however, seems with greater justice (and certainly with a very accurate personal knowledge of the whole district, pp. 359, 374) to place it on the east side of Jordan, and near its mouth. Its being called a city of Galilee he accounts for by the supposition that it had houses on the west side of the river as well.—ED.]

5) See I. vii. 2, Note 4, and the works there cited.

6) [‘Jean, surtout, parait avoir été avec Jésus sur le pied dune certaine familiarité, Peut-étre ce disciple, qui devait plus tard écrire ses souvenirs d'une fagon ou Tintérct personnel ne se dissimule pas assez, a-t-il exauéré laffeetion de eaeur que son maitre lui aurait portée.’—Renan, Vie de Jésus, p. 155. Reference to such a sentence may, we think, exonerate us from frequent reference to this writer. —ED.]

7) See John i. 46, vi. 7, xii. 22, xiv. 8

8) As De Wette states in his Comment, zn Matth., p. 98

9) Comp. Strauss, i. 591; Winer, R. W. B, Art. Bartholomäus.

10) See John xi. 16; chap. xx. 25 comp. with ver. 28.

11) It is likely that, owing to his designating himself as Jude the brother of James (see Epistle of Jude 1), it gradually became the apostolic custom thus to designate him. This would explain Luke’s giving him this later appellation in Acts i, 13.

12) De Wette conjectures that the addition ὀ ἐπικληθείς Θαδδαῖος to Λεββαῖος in Matthew is not genuine, On the other hand, Lachmann, in his edition of the New Testament, gives in Matthew the reading, Thaddeus, instead of Lebbeus.

13) Although De Wette in his Comment. zu Maith.. p. 99, vemonstrates against the received signification of the word Thaddeus, yet we cannot fail to see that this signification is decidedly supported by the signification of the word Lebbeus,

14) קַנְאַן, Hebr. קַנָּא

15) Comment. zu Matth., p. 99. Comp. Josephus, De Bello Jud. iv. 3, 9.

16) Concerning the different derivations of the name, see De Wette zu Matth., p. 99.

17) John vi. 64, 71; comp. Strauss, ii. 367.

18) Compare Neander on this question.

19) In general terms, Weisse, in vol. i. p. 395, has strikingly expressed the thought, that through various concatenations of everyday circumstances, even without the express design of the Master, a relation between Him and an individual might have been formed; a relation in which the Master recognized a design of Providence that He should not repel that individual from the number of His disciples, although He might know him to be not morally worthy. Weisse also has suggested the probability, how that Judas might have been attracted by the spiritual power of the Lord's personality, by all that was imaginative and poetical about His appearance, and how that Jesus might very possibly have found it inexpedient to repel such a character, which even at that time might have turned its strength against Him, and whose repulsion might have occasioned discord among His disciples and followers (p. 396).

20) Strauss.

21) Strauss thinks that it is contrary to St John's account, when we read in the synoptic Evangelists that Jesus, shortly before His death, promises to them all, as they then were, that in the Regeneration they should sit on twelve thrones of judgment (Matt. xix. 28).

22) See Strauss, ii. 309.

23) See Olshausen on Matt. ii. 20.

24) Of course here it must be remembered that the peculiar character of Christ s mission arises from the peculiar character of His nature as being identical with His Father's.

25) Stier, ii. p. 1.

26) According to Mark, they are not to put on two coats. This truly gives the command, as found in Matthew, a heightened colouring. Not even on their backs are they to desire to take two coats, so far as they might possibly imagine such a travelling attire to be only necessary.

27) Perhaps the ὑποδήματα are distinguished from σανδάλια as the proper shoes for travelling. The ὑπόδημα κοῖλον means the Roman calceus, and latterly they used the term in this sense without the addition of κοῖλον.

28) According to Mark, one staff was the only piece of equipment which the Lord allowed the travellers, "His expression (ῥάβδον μόνον). is, however, not opposed to the idea of more staves (which supposition seems to have brought the reading ῥάρδους into the text of Luke), but to the idea of a more extensive travelling apparatus; so that Mark's expression may be considered as a discriminating interpretation of the direction in Matthew. According to Matthew, it runs thus: Ye are to abstain from all preparations, even from providing yourselves with a staff, According to Mark: Ye shall take with yon no necessaries for your journey, except at the furthest a staff. The identity of these two commands may be thus explained: If they had no staff, they were not anxiously to seek for one, or to make it a requisite for their journey ; but if there was a staff all ready, or easily to be had, then they might go forth with their staff in their hand. They must not too punctiliously stick to the letter even with regard to the travelling staff; for an over-scrupulous avoidance of that which comes to their hands unsought, would only make them in that way transgressors of their instructions.

29) [This is finely elaborated by Clement of Alexandria in the chapter of the Paidasgogue entitled ‘Simplicity the best Viaticum for the Christian.’—ED.]

30) Yon Ammon makes the remark (ii, 9), that the Rabbis forbade any one to tread the mount on which the temple was with scrip, shoes, staff, or with dust on their feet ; and thus he thinks that this command of Jesus only means that the disciples are to lay aside all this in their public addresses, and, whilst giving instruction, are to behave with the same dignity as the Israelites in the temple. But this view entirely overlooks the real aim of these instructions of Jesus. It was not a question of encumbering the disciples with a painful ceremonial, which as travelling preachers they could hardly have kept, but it was a question of setting them free from the fuss and anxiety of preparing for a journey in view of which they might so easily fall into making great preparations, because this journey would appear to them of such infinite moment, For the rest, Olshausen (ii, 26), with reason, draws attention to the contrast with this passage in Luke xxii. 53, During the time that the Light held sway, remarks Olshausen, they had no need of any preparations whatever; Love had prepared the way for them; but it was different in the hour when Darkness held sway, Bat it must not be forgotten that the Lord forbids any careful preparation even for this time. See ver. 19.

31) Compare the lightning-like movement of the Apostle Paul, Acts xvi. 6-9.

32) Every one should wish a good-day to his neighbour, as good a day as he knows of in his own heart. The Christian, as such, wishes, therefore, to his neighbour the day of salvation. The monotheistic Oriental gives his neighbour the greeting of peace (see John xx. 19). The wish לכם שֹלום is, as Schöttgen shows, the sum of all the blessings of the law amongst the Israelites, as of all the promises of the prophet among the Mohammedans. Von Ammon, ii. 10. With Christ and His apostles, then, it is the sum-total of all the promises of the Gospel.

33) Von Ammon, ii. p. 10.

34) [ʻMelanchthon was a romantic youth when he began to preach. He expected that all must be inevitably and immediately persuaded, when they should hear what he had to tell them. But he soon discovered, as he said, that old Adam was too hard for young Melanchthon. John Foster, Essay on the Epithet Romantic. —ED.]

35) See the noble address which Paul, under a sudden inspiration of the Spirit, delivered in answer to the well-prepared speech of his accuser Tertullus before the governor Felix, Acts xxiv.

36) See Stier, ii. 29.

37) Since Jesus drove out devils through the power of His being, those who accused Him, as some already had done, of casting out devils through the prince of the devils (Matt. ix. 34), by so doing had called His peculiar being, and therefore in reality Himself, Satan. The reading Βεελζεβούλ, which is here considered as the true one is made clear, if we suppose that the name of the Ekronite deity Beelzebub (fly-god) was in mockery changed by the Jews into the name of Beelzebul (Lord of Dung, from and זבל and בּעל). See Olshausen, ii. 34.

38) ʻNot merely in themselves before God, and in the consciences of believers, are the ministers of God's word approved as sent by Him, but in the consciences of all men, even unbelieving men in the sight of God; and this will one day become fully manifest.ʼ—Stier, ii. 37.

39) That the expression in ver. 28, Fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell, can only refer to Satan, is shown at length by Stier, ii. 41.

40) The στρουθίον signifies small birds in general; and the ἀσσάριον signifies the smallest coin.

41) And the connection of the passage forbids us also from seeing in the prophets, righteous men and little ones, who are at the same time disciples, different gradations of the New Testament life under the rank of the apostles.