Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Matthew 10:23

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

But when they persecute you - It is prudence and humility (when charity or righteousness obliges us not to the contrary) to avoid persecution. To deprive those who are disposed to do evil of the opportunities of doing it; to convey the grace which they despise to others; to accomplish God's designs of justice on the former, and of mercy on the latter, are consequences of the flight of a persecuted preacher. This flight is a precept to those who are highly necessary to the Church of Christ, an advice to those who might imprudently draw upon themselves persecution, and of indulgence for those who are weak. But this flight is highly criminal in those mercenary preachers who, through love to their flesh and their property, abandon the flock of Christ to the wolf. See Quesnel.

In this city, flee ye into another - There is a remarkable repetition of this clause found in the MSS. DL and eight others; the Armenian, Saxon, all the Italia except three; Athan., Theodor., Tertul., August., Ambr., Hilar., and Juvencus. Bengel, in his gnomon approves of this reading. On the above authorities Griesbach has inserted it in the text. It probably made a portion of this Gospel as written by Matthew. The verse in the MSS. is as follows: - But when they shall persecute you in this city, flee ye into another; and if they persecute in the other, flee ye unto another.

Ye shall not have gone over (ended or finished, margin) the cities, etc. - The word τελεσητε here is generally understood as implying to go over or through, intimating that there should not be time for the disciples to travel over the cities of Judea before the destruction predicted by Christ should take place. But this is very far from being the truth, as there were not less than forty years after this was spoken, before Jerusalem was destroyed: τελειων και μανθαναντων are used by the Septuagint. 1 Chronicles 25:8, for those who teach and those who learn. And τοις τελειοις is used by the apostle, 1 Corinthians 2:6, for those who are perfectly instructed in the things of God. Ovid has used the Latin perficio, which answers to the Greek τελειοω in exactly the same sense.

Phillyrides puerum cithara perfecit Achillem.

"Chiron Taught the young Achilles to play on the harp."

For these reasons some contend that the passage should be translated, Ye shall not have Instructed, i.e. preached the Gospel in the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come. The Greek divines call baptism τελειωσις or initiation. See Leigh. Crit. sacr. Edit. Amst. p. 326, 328.

Dr. Lightfoot supposes the meaning to be: "Ye shall not have traveled over the cities of Israel, preaching the Gospel, before the Son of man is revealed by his resurrection, Romans 1:4; compare Acts 3:19, Acts 3:20; Acts 5:26. To you first, God, raising up his Son, sent him to bless you, etc. The epoch of the Messiah is dated from the resurrection of Christ." After all, the place may be understood literally; for τελειν τας πολεις, to finish the cities, is only a concise mode of speech, for τελειν οδον δια τας πολεις, to complete the journey through the cities. To finish the survey, to preach in every one: - till the Son of man be come, may refer either to the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of pentecost, or to the subversion of the Jewish state. See Rosenmuller.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

When they persecute … - The apostles were not permitted to “throw away” their lives. Where they could preserve them without denying their Lord, they were to do it. Yet all the commands of Christ, as well as their conduct, show that they were rather to lay down their lives than deny their Saviour. We are to preserve our lives by all proper means, but we are rather to die than save ourselves by doing anything wrong.

Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel … - That is, in fleeing from persecutors from one city to another, you shall not have gone to every city in Judea until the end of the Jewish economy shall occur. See the notes at Matthew 24:28-30. By “the coming of the Son of Man,” that is, of “Christ,” is probably meant the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened about thirty years after this was spoken. The words are often used in this sense. See Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27, Luke 21:32.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent's wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God's opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God's love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ's work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God's people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ's disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.
Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 364.6

Not a sparrow falleth to the ground without the notice of your heavenly Father. Then let men be careful how, by word or action, they cause one of God's little ones sorrow or grief. If the little sparrow that has no soul cannot fall to the ground without the notice of our heavenly Father, surely the souls of those for whom Christ has died are precious; and will not God judge those who cause pain or disappointment to the hearts of those for whom Christ has given His life? ... UL 364.6

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Ellen G. White
Maranatha, 199.3

The two armies will stand distinct and separate, and this distinction will be so marked that many who shall be convinced of truth will come on the side of God's commandment-keeping people. When this grand work is to take place in the battle, prior to the last closing conflict, many will be imprisoned, many will flee for their lives from cities and towns, and many will be martyrs for Christ's sake in standing in defense of the truth. Mar 199.3

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Ellen G. White
Counsels on Health, 527-8

The enmity kindled in the human heart against the gospel was keenly felt by the Son of God, and it was most painful to Him in His home; for His own heart was full of kindness and love, and He appreciated tender regard in the family relation. But with their short measuring line His brothers could not fathom the mission that He came to fulfill and therefore could not sympathize with Him in His trials. CH 527.1

Some of those whom Christ healed He charged to tell no man. He knew that the more the Pharisees and Sadducees and rulers heard of His miracles, the more they would try to hedge up His way. But notwithstanding His precautions, “so much the more went there a fame abroad of Him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.” Luke 5:15. Again and again He was followed by the priests, who expressed their violent sentiments against Him in order to stir up the enmity of the people. But when He could no longer safely remain in one place He went to another. CH 527.2

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 541

Satan told them that in order to maintain their authority, they must put Jesus to death. This counsel they followed. The fact that they might lose the power they then exercised, was, they thought, sufficient reason for coming to some decision. With the exception of a few who dared not speak their minds, the Sanhedrin received the words of Caiaphas as the words of God. Relief came to the council; the discord ceased. They resolved to put Christ to death at the first favorable opportunity. In rejecting the proof of the divinity of Jesus, these priests and rulers had locked themselves in impenetrable darkness. They had come wholly under the sway of Satan, to be hurried by him over the brink of eternal ruin. Yet such was their deception that they were well pleased with themselves. They regarded themselves as patriots, who were seeking the nation's salvation. DA 541.1

The Sanhedrin feared, however, to take rash measures against Jesus, lest the people should become incensed, and the violence meditated toward Him should fall upon themselves. On this account the council delayed to execute the sentence they had pronounced. The Saviour understood the plotting of the priests. He knew that they longed to remove Him, and that their purpose would soon be accomplished. But it was not His place to hasten the crisis, and He withdrew from that region, taking the disciples with Him. Thus by His own example Jesus again enforced the instruction He had given to the disciples, “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another.” Matthew 10:23. There was a wide field in which to work for the salvation of souls; and unless loyalty to Him required it, the Lord's servants were not to imperil their lives. DA 541.2

Jesus had now given three years of public labor to the world. His example of self-denial and disinterested benevolence was before them. His life of purity, of suffering and devotion, was known to all. Yet this short period of three years was as long as the world could endure the presence of its Redeemer. DA 541.3

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