Sending the Twelve: Apostle and Sender

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The Apostle and Sender saying (Matt. 10:40; Luke 10:16) not only gave assurance to Jesus' emissaries as he sent them out on their first healing and teaching mission, it also offers us an extraordinary glimpse into Jesus' high self-awareness as the shāliaḥ, or official representative, of Israel's God. In this segment of the Life of Yeshua commentary, David N. Bivin, JP's editor-in-chief, and Joshua N. Tilton envision how Jesus' Apostle and Sender saying may have been worded in Hebrew and explore the Jewish backgrounds of this profound saying.

Matt. 10:40-42; Mark 9:41; Luke 10:16

(Huck 63, 130b, 139b; Aland 104, 167b, 179; Crook 119-120, 185b, 203)[1]

הַמְּקַבֵּל אֶתְכֶם אוֹתִי מְקַבֵּל וְהַמְּקַבֵּל אוֹתִי מְקַבֵּל אֶת הַשּׁוֹלֵחַ אוֹתִי וְהַמּוֹאֵס אֶתְכֶם אוֹתִי מוֹאֵס וְהַמּוֹאֵס אוֹתִי מוֹאֵס אֶת הַשּׁוֹלֵחַ אוֹתִי

“If anyone receives you, it is as if he has received me, and if anyone receives me, it is as if he has received the one who sent me. But if anyone rejects you, it is as if he has rejected me, and if anyone rejects me, it is as if he has rejected the one who sent me.”[2]


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Reconstruction

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Conclusion

The Apostle and Sender saying (Matt. 10:40 // Luke 10:16) formed the conclusion to the instructions Jesus gave the twelve apostles as he sent them out on a mission to heal the sick, cast out demons, and to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven, God’s rescue mission to redeem Israel. In this concluding statement of the Sending the Twelve discourse, Jesus impressed upon the apostles that they were Jesus’ official representatives. As such, Jesus would regard whatever treatment his messengers received as though it had been done to him personally.

The Apostle and Sender saying also reveals something about Jesus’ self-perception that is often underappreciated by readers of the New Testament Gospels. Jesus understood himself to be an apostle, someone whom God had appointed to be his official representative to the people of Israel. An apostle (shāliaḥ in Hebrew) was an agent who was commissioned to fulfill specific tasks on behalf of the sender. As God’s shāliaḥ, Jesus understood himself to be God’s agent of redemption. The divinely-appointed agent of Israel’s redemption is perhaps one of the best definitions that could be given for the concept of the Messiah in ancient Jewish sources.