We are studying Matthew 10:1-15 for Sunday, April 7 – a text that relates Jesus’ commissioning of “the twelve,” along with the first part of his instructions for their mission. [Notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions we might want to consider before class, or together in class:
In v1, “the twelve” are called “disciples” (literally, “students”), and also “apostles” (literally, “ones who are sent”). What do we think of as the differences between a disciple and an apostle? What do we think of as the similarities?
What are our associations with the terms “disciple” and “apostle”? For instance, do we associate these terms with church, church history or tradition, etc.? What have we learned about “the disciples” and “the apostles,” and where have we learned that? Does that learning affect the way we understand this scripture? How, do we think?
Do we ever think of ourselves as Jesus’ “disciples”? What does that mean for us? Do we ever think of ourselves as Jesus’ “apostles”? What does that mean for us?
“Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him,” is one of the apostles (v4). What are our thoughts about this?
In v5, Jesus tells the apostles to restrict their activity to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Would this instruction make the apostles’ task easier, or more difficult, do we think? Why is that?
Do we have any reactions to this instruction? What are they? Why, do we think?
If we think of Jesus’ instructions in vv7-10 as specific instructions to “the twelve,” for that time and place, what do they seem to mean for the apostles’ mission? How would we describe these instructions? (For instance, “challenging,” “empowering,” etc.) What makes us say that?
Do any of Jesus’ instructions in vv7-10 seem like instructions to Christians today? Which ones? Why those? Why not the others? What does it mean to follow these instructions today? In what ways are these instructions “the same” as the ones given to “the twelve”? In what ways are they different?
Do any of Jesus’ instructions in vv11-15 seem like instructions for Christians today? Why, or why not? Which ones? Why those, and not the others? What is our thinking here, and why do we think that?
[This might be a more personal question:] How do we think of our interactions with people? Do we ever think of them as bringing them blessings? Or curses? Or as presenting them with critical decisions? Why, or why not? What are our thoughts and feelings about that idea? (For instance, are we comfortable with it? Uncomfortable? Skeptical? Etc. …) Why, do we think?
We might want to look at some other passages of scripture in connection with the text this week:
- 1 Corinthians 12:27-31 links the apostles to the leadership structure of the church – just the early church, or The Church, do we think?
- Isaiah 49, in particular Isaiah 49:1-7, may help us understand the way Matthew’s gospel presents the development of Jesus’ mission. We would need to give some thought to how we want to understand the relationship of Isaiah to Matthew.