“Having summoned His twelve disciples, He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these . . .” (Matt. 10:1–2).
Every disciple must also be a discipler.
Have you ever met someone who constantly absorbs what the church has to offer, yet never seems to plug into a ministry where he can give to others? I’ve met many people like that. Some have attended church for many years, and have even taken evangelism and other special training classes. But they never quite feel qualified to minister to others or even to share their testimony. Eventually that has a crippling effect on their spiritual lives and on the life of the church in general.
When Jesus called the disciples to Himself, He did so in order to train them for ministry. We see this in Matthew 10:1–2. The Greek word translated “disciples” means “learners.” “Apostles” translates a Greek word meaning “to dispatch away from” or “to send.” In classical Greek it refers to a naval expedition dispatched to serve a foreign city or country. Disciples are learners; apostles are emissaries. Jesus called untrained disciples, but He dispatched trained apostles. That’s the normal training process.
In Matthew 28:19–20 Jesus says, “Go … and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” Paul said to Timothy, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).
As wonderful and important as it is to learn of Christ, you must never be content to be a disciple only. You must also be a discipler!
Suggestions for Prayer: Memorize Matthew 28:18–20. If you aren’t currently discipling someone, ask the Lord for an opportunity to do so.
For Further Study: An important part of discipleship is spending time with Christ. One way to do that is to read through the Gospels on a regular basis. You might want to obtain a harmony of the Gospels to help in your study. Tell a friend of your plan so he or she can encourage you and hold you accountable.
10:1 In the last verse of chapter 9, the Lord instructed His disciples to pray for more laborers. To make that request sincerely, believers must be willing to go themselves. So here we find the Lord calling His twelve disciples. He had previously chosen them, but now He calls them to a special evangelistic mission to the nation of Israel. With the call went authority to cast out unclean spirits and to heal all kinds of diseases. The uniqueness of Jesus is seen here. Other men had performed miracles, but no other man ever conferred the power on others.
1 He whose word (chs. 5–7) and deed (chs. 8–9) were characterized by authority now delegates something of that authority to twelve men. This is the first time Matthew has explicitly mentioned the Twelve (cf. v. 2; 11:1; 20:17; 26:14, 20, 47), who are introduced a little earlier in Mark (3:16–19). This commission appears to be the culmination of several previous steps (Jn 1:35–51; see comments at 4:18–22). Indeed, Matthew’s language suggests that the Twelve became a recognized group somewhat earlier. At the same time, this commission was a stage in the training and preparation of those who, after Pentecost, would lead the earliest thrust of the fledgling church. Twelve were chosen, probably on an analogy to the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. the council of twelve at Qumran, 1QS 8:1 ff.), and they point to the eschatological renewal of the people of God (see comments at 19:28–30).
The authority the Twelve received enabled them to heal and drive out “evil [akathartos, lit., ‘unclean,’ GK 176] spirits”—spirits in rebellion against God, hostile to man, and capable of inflicting mental, moral, and physical harm, directly or indirectly. This is the first time in Matthew that demons are so described, and only again at 12:43 (but see comments at 8:16). “Every kind of disease and sickness” is exactly the expression in 4:23; 9:35. The authority granted the Twelve is in sharp contrast to the charismatic “gifts [plural] of healing” at Corinth (1 Co 12:9, 28), which apparently were individually more restricted in what diseases each could cure.
10:1 gave them authority. See note on 2Co 12:12. Jesus delegated His power and authority to the apostles to show clearly that He and His kingdom were sovereign over the physical and spiritual realms, the effects of sin, and the efforts of Satan. This was an unheard of display of power, never before seen in all redemptive history, to announce Messiah’s arrival and authenticate Him plus His apostles who preached His gospel. This power was a preview of the power Christ will exhibit in His earthly kingdom, when Satan will be bound (Rev 20) and the curse on physical life curtailed (Is 65:20–25).
10:2 the names of the twelve apostles. The 12 are always listed in a similar order (cf. Mk 3:16–19; Lk 6:13–16; Ac 1:13). Peter is always named first. The list contains 3 groups of 4. The 3 subgroups are always listed in the same order, and the first name in each subgroup is always the same, though there is some variation in the order within the subgroups—but Judas Iscariot is always named last. Peter … Andrew … James … John. The first subgroup of 4 are the most familiar to us. These two sets of brothers, all fishermen, represent an inner circle of disciples often seen closest to Jesus (see note on 17:1).
10:1 Jesus calls the disciples to him as an initial answer to the prayer for the Lord to send workers (9:38). twelve. Probably reflective of the 12 tribes of Israel and symbolic of the continuity of God’s plan of salvation. The disciples will have authority … to heal every disease just as Jesus did (e.g., 4:23; 9:35).
10:2 Apostles (plural of Gk. apostolos; used only here in Matthew; see note on Rom. 1:1) describes those commissioned to be Jesus’ special representatives, while “disciples” (Matt. 10:1) was also used more broadly to refer to anyone who believed in Jesus. Peter heads all the lists of the Twelve (cf. Mark 3:16–19; Luke 6:13–16; Acts 1:13) and serves as their spokesman. Peter, along with James and John, made up Jesus’ inner circle.
10:1 summoning his twelve disciples So far, Matthew has described the calling of only five disciples (Matt 4:18–22; 9:9). Jesus had many followers, but these were His leaders—those whom He commissioned to build His Church.
unclean spirits Refers to evil spirits or demons. According to Jewish purity laws, people inhabited by such spirits were unclean.
10:2 the twelve apostles Matthew initially refers to this group as disciples. Here, he calls them “apostles”—those who are sent out with the authority of the sender (Jesus).
No explicit reason is given here for the choice of 12 disciples, but it may have been in part to reflect the fact that there were twelve tribes of Israel. Matthew later presents the 12 disciples as Israel’s new leaders (19:28).
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 137). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1238). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 276). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mt 10:1–2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1839). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Mt 10:1–2). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.