Sending the Twelve: Apostle and Sender

& Articles 8 Comments

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]

Revised: 2-January-2019

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]



To view the reconstructed text of Sending the Twelve: Apostle and Sender click on the link below:

Download (PDF, 110KB)

“Mission of the Twelve” complex
Choosing the Twelve

Sending the Twelve: Commissioning

Sending the Twelve: “The Harvest Is
Plentiful” and “A Flock Among Wolves”

Sending the Twelve: Conduct on the Road

Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town

Sending the Twelve: Apostle and Sender

Return of the Twelve

Yeshua’s Thanksgiving Hymn

Mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven

Blessedness of the Twelve

Story Placement

Both the Matthean and the Luke 10 versions of the Sending discourse conclude with the Apostle and Sender saying (Matt. 10:40 // Luke 10:16).[3] The identical placement of Apostle and Sender in Matthew and Luke strongly suggests that Apostle and Sender was the conclusion of the Sending discourse in the Anthology (Anth.), the common source of the Luke 10 and Matthew 10 versions of the Sending the Twelve pericope.[4] The Apostle and Sender saying is, moreover, a logical conclusion to the instructions given to the apostles, since it articulates and defines the relationship between Jesus and his apostles, and instills in them the gravity of their mission.[5] More is at stake than simply healing and teaching, or receiving food and lodging; the apostles are representatives of Jesus, who in turn is God’s apostle or emissary.[6]

To see an overview of the entire “Mission of the Twelve” complex, click here.


Click here to view the Map of the Conjectured Hebrew Life of Yeshua.

Conjectured Stages of Transmission

Anth-Luke-MattThe Apostle and Sender saying has reached us in various forms. The version that appears as the conclusion of Sending the Twelve in Matthew (Matt. 10:40) and of Sending the Seventy-Two in Luke (Luke 10:16) was taken from the Anthology (Anth.), a source shared by the authors of Matthew and Luke.

A second version of the saying occurs in the Dispute About Greatness pericope (Matt. 18:5; Mark 9:37; Luke 9:48). Lindsey believed that the First Reconstructor (the creator of the First Reconstruction [FR]), Luke’s second source,[7] created the Dispute About Greatness pericope by combining two stories from Anth., namely Yeshua Blesses Children (Luke 18:15-17 and parallels) and Greatness in the Kingdom of Heaven (Luke 22:24-30 and parallels).[8] Into the Dispute About Greatness pericope the First Reconstructor incorporated the Apostle and Sender saying, which he took from Anth.:

Matthew 18:5 Mark 9:37 Luke 9:48
L1 καὶ ὃς ἐὰν δέξηται ἓν παιδίον τοιοῦτο ὃς ἂν ἓν τῶν τοιούτων παιδίων δέξηται ὃς ἐὰν δέξηται τοῦτο τὸ παιδίον
L2 ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου
L3 ἐμὲ δέχεται ἐμὲ δέχεται ἐμὲ δέχεται
L4 καὶ ὃς ἂν ἐμὲ δέχηται καὶ ὃς ἂν ἐμὲ δέξηται
L5 οὐκ ἐμὲ δέχεται ἀλλὰ τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με δέχεται τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με

Despite having been adapted to fit its new context in the Dispute About Greatness pericope, the FR version of the Apostle and Sender saying remains an important witness to the wording of Anth.

Yet another form of the Apostle and Sender saying is preserved in the Gospel of John, where we read:

ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὁ λαμβάνων ἄν τινα πέμψω ἐμὲ λαμβάνει, ὁ δὲ ἐμὲ λαμβάνων λαμβάνει τὸν πέμψαντά με.

Amen! Amen! I say to you, the one who receives anyone I send receives me, and the one who receives me receives the one who sent me. (John 13:20; cf. 12:44-45)

It is uncertain whether the author of John took this saying from the Synoptic Gospels or whether it came to him via different channels.[9]

Familiarity with the Apostle and Sender saying might also be reflected in the Didache’s instructions about the reception of itinerant teachers who bore the title “apostle”:

πᾶς δὲ ἀπόστολος ἐρχόμενος πρὸς ὑμᾶς δεχθήτω ὡς κύριος

Let every Apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. (Did. 11:4; Loeb)


L137 ὁ ἀκούων ὑμῶν (Luke 10:16). Deciding between Luke’s ἀκούειν (akouein, “to listen”) and Matthew’s δέχεσθαι (dechesthai, “to receive”) is extremely difficult. Catchpole, especially, made a strong case for preferring Luke’s reading over Matthew’s.[10] Among the arguments Catchpole advanced are:

  1. The author of Luke had no aversion to the verb δέχεσθαι.
  2. The author of Matthew may have wanted to change ἀκούειν to δέχεσθαι in order to make Matt. 10:40 agree with Matt. 10:14 (which were adjacent in his source).
  3. Matthew likely conflated the Q version (which Catchpole assumes had ἀκούειν) with Mark 9:37, which has δέχεσθαι.
  4. “…the points of disagreement between Matthew x. 40 and Luke x. 16 are precisely the points of agreement between Matthew x. 40 and Mark ix. 37.”

In addition to Catchpole’s arguments we note that the early Christian apologist, Justin Martyr (ca. 100-165 C.E.), cites a version of the Apostle and Sender saying with ἀκούειν, but this version is not identical to the version in Luke 10:16:

Ὁ ἐμοῦ ἀκούων ἀκούει τοῦ ἀποστείλαντός με

The one who listens to me listens to the one who sent me. (Justin, 1 Apol. 63:5 [ed. Blunt, 94]; cf. 16:10 [ed. Blunt, 27])

In fact, Justin quotes the very line of the step-parallelism that Luke omitted (L139-140), and it is tempting to suppose that Justin’s quotation attests to the source behind Luke 10:16, a source that had ἀκούειν.[11]

Nevertheless, for GR we have adopted Matthew’s δέχεσθαι for the following reasons:

  1. Although the Luke 10 version of the Sending discourse is based on Anth., we have witnessed several editorial changes that the author of Luke made to his source, including introducing an entire speech that the apostles were to deliver when departing from an inhospitable town (Luke 10:11).[12] By introducing this speech, the author Luke made the apostles’ spoken message a much more prominent part of their mission than was the case in Anth. Changing “receive” to “listen” continues to place the emphasis on the spoken word, and as such betrays Luke’s editorial interests.
  2. Matthew’s “receive” continues the theme of hospitality, which links the Conduct in Town pericope to the Apostle and Sender saying.[13] Luke’s “listen” obscures the connection, moving the focus away from the theme of hospitality and onto the content of the apostles’ message.
  3. FR’s version of the Apostle and Sender saying (Luke 9:48), like the version in Matt. 10:40, also has the verb δέχεσθαι. Despite the changes involved in working the Apostle and Sender saying into a new context, it appears that FR preserved the verb found in Anth.[14] In other words, the FR version of the Apostle and Sender saying is independent confirmation for adopting δέχεσθαι for GR.
  4. John’s version of the Apostle and Sender saying (John 13:20) uses a synonym for δέχεσθαι, λαμβάνειν (lambanein, “to receive”), which suggests that “receive” was the original form of the saying.[15]
  5. Matthew’s “the one who receives you” reconstructs into Hebrew much better than Luke’s “the one who listens to you,” for whereas ὁ δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς can be reconstructed word-for-word as הַמְּקַבֵּל אֶתְכֶם, ὁ ἀκούων ὑμῶν must be reconstructed either as הַשּׁוֹמֵעַ אֲלֵיכֶם‎[16] or הַשּׁוֹמֵעַ לָכֶם, but Luke 10:16 has no preposition corresponding to אֶל or -לְ. Moreover, adopting ὁ δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς in GR allows us to maintain the אֶתכֶם…אוֹתִי…אֶת הַשּׁוֹלֵחַ אוֹתִי pattern throughout HR in L137-144. Supposing that a Hebrew source stands behind both the positive and the negative formulations of the Apostle and Sender saying, a consistent pattern throughout would be expected.

הַמְּקַבֵּל אֶתְכֶם (HR). On reconstructing δέχεσθαι with קִבֵּל (qibēl, “receive”), see Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L101.

L139-140 For some reason, the author of Luke omitted this line of the step-parallelism. As noted above (Comment to L137), Justin Martyr quotes precisely this missing line of the Lukan form of the Apostle and Sender saying.[17]

L140 מְקַבֵּל אֶת הַשּׁוֹלֵחַ אוֹתִי (HR). Although the term “apostle” (ἀπόστολος = שָׁלִיחַ)[18] does not occur in Matt. 10:40 or Luke 10:16, Jesus’ reference to “the one who sent me” establishes that the ancient Jewish shāliaḥ institution,[19] according to which “a man’s apostle is like the man himself” (שְׁלוּחוֹ שֶׁלָּאָדָם כְּמוֹתוֹ; m. Ber. 5:5),[20] is what is described in the Apostle and Sender saying.[21] In other words, Jesus regarded himself as God’s apostle or emissary who was legally authorized to act on God’s behalf.[22] With the appointment of the Twelve Jesus shared this authority with his apostles.[23] Henceforth, they too would be God’s official representatives inasmuch as they pursued the tasks of healing, exorcising demons and teaching, which Jesus had commissioned them to do.

L141-144 The author of Matthew omitted the negative corollary of the Apostle and Sender saying, probably because this would have interrupted the theme of rewards for offering hospitality to Church leaders that the author of Matthew wished to develop in the following verses (Matt. 10:41-42).[24] Luke’s version, with both the positive and negative implications of the apostle-sender relationship spelled out, has a strong parallel in rabbinic literature:

ויאמינו ביי ובמשה עבדו אם במשה האמינו קל וחומר ביי אלא ללמדך שכל המאמין ברועה ישראל כאלו מאמין במי שאמר והיה העולם כיוצא בו אתה אומר וידבר העם באלהים ובמשה אם באלהים דברו קל וחומר במשה אלא זה בא ללמדך שכל המדבר ברועה ישראל כאלו מדבר במי שאמר והיה העולם

And they trusted in the LORD and in Moses his servant [Exod. 14:31]. If they trusted in Moses, then all the more so did they trust in the LORD, but this verse is here to teach you that for everyone who trusts in the shepherd of Israel, it is as if they trusted in the one who spoke and the world came into being. It is the same with the verse that says, And the people spoke against God and against Moses [Num. 21:5]. If they spoke against God, then all the more so did they speak against Moses, but this verse is here to teach that for everyone who speaks against the shepherd of Israel, it is as if he spoke against the one who spoke and the world came into being. (Mechilta de-Rabbi Ishmael, Beshallaḥ chpt. 7 [ed. Lauterbach, 1:166-167])

This rabbinic homily is similar to Matt. 10:40 and Luke 10:16, but it is not as clearly related to the shāliaḥ institution as is the Apostle and Sender saying.

L141 וְהַמּוֹאֵס אֶתְכֶם (HR).[25] In LXX ἀθετεῖν (athetein, “to render invalid,” “to reject”) translates many different Hebrew verbs including בָּגַד (bāgad, “act treacherously”; e.g., Jer. 3:20 [2xx]; 5:11 [2xx]; 9:1), מָעַל (mā‘al, “act unfaithfully”; e.g., 2 Chr. 36:14; Ezek. 39:23), מָרַד (mārad, “rebel”; e.g., 4 Kgdms. 18:7, 20; 24:1, 20) and פָּשַׁע (pāsha‘, “transgress”; e.g., 3 Kgdms. 8:50; 12:19; 4 Kgdms. 1:1), as well as several others. None of the Hebrew verbs translated with ἀθετεῖν in LXX, however, seem suitable for reconstructing ἀθετεῖν in Apostle and Sender. Other candidates for reconstructing ἀθετεῖν include בָּזָה (bāzāh, “despise”; e.g., Num. 15:31)[26] and טֵרֵף (ṭērēf). The latter, טֵרֵף, usually means “tear,” but in a saying of the first-century Galilean sage Hanina ben Dosa we find a passive form of טֵרֵף in the sense of “reject,” which is used in parallel with the root ק-ב-ל:

אִם שָׁגְרָה תְפִילָּתִי בְּפִי יוֹדֵעַ אֲנִי שֶׁהוּא מְקוּבַּל וְאִם לָאו יוֹדֵעַ אֲנִי שֶׁהוּא מְטוֹרַף

If my prayer is fluent in my mouth I know that he [i.e., the sick person—DNB and JNT] is accepted [מְקוּבַּל], and if not, I know that he is rejected [מְטוֹרַף]. (m. Ber. 5:5)

Despite this fascinating parallel, טֵרֵף in the sense of “reject” is quite rare, and we have preferred to use מָאַס (mā’as) for HR, which is the usual verb for “reject” in MT and rabbinic sources.[27] Thus, in the story of Israel’s demand for a king the LORD says to Samuel:

כִּי לֹא אֹתְךָ מָאָסוּ כִּי אֹתִי מָאֲסוּ מִמְּלֹךְ עֲלֵיהֶם

For they did not reject you. It is me they have rejected from reigning over them. (1 Sam. 8:7)

As with טֵרֵף, we also find examples of מָאַס used in parallel with קִבֵּל, as in the following rabbinic comment:

ולא שמע אלי ולא קיבל תפלתי ר′ נתן אומר הרי הוא אומר הן אל כביר לא ימאס תם אין הקב″ה מואס תפלתם של רבים אבל כאן לא קיבל תפלתי

[The LORD was angry with me because of you] and he did not listen to me [Deut. 3:26] and did not receive [קיבל] my prayer. Rabbi Natan says, “Behold, he says, Look, God is mighty and will not reject [ימאס] the blameless [Job 36:5]: the Holy one, blessed be he, does not reject [מואס] the prayers of the majority, but here [he says] he did not receive [קיבל] my prayer.” (Sifre Num. §135 [ed. Horovitz, 181])

In HR we have used מָאַס with the direct object marker אֶת rather than the preposition -בְּ, which often accompanies this verb. We believe אֶת is preferable because this reconstruction allows us to preserve the אֶתכֶם…אוֹתִי…אֶת הַשּׁוֹלֵחַ אוֹתִי pattern throughout HR (see above, Comment to L137), which yields a saying similar in form to אַרְבַּע מִידּוֹת בְּאָדָם הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלִּי וְשֶׁלָּךְ שֶׁלָּךְ…שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלָּךְ וְשֶׁלָּךְ שֶׁלֶּי…שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלָּךְ [[וְשֶׁלַּךְ שְׁלַּךְ]]…{ו}שֶׁלָּךְ שֶׁלִּי [וְשֶׁלִּי שְׁלִּי] (“There are four types among human beings: The one who says, ‘What is mine is mine and what is yours is yours,’…‘What is mine is yours and what is yours is mine,’… ‘What is mine is yours and what is yours is yours,’…and ‘What is yours is mine and what is mine is mine’”; m. Avot 5:10). In addition, examples such as 1 Sam. 8:7 (cited above), which Jesus may have alluded to in the Apostle and Sender saying, demonstrate that מָאַס could be used with the direct object marker אֶת,‎[28] a usage that continued in MH, as we see in the following examples:

ששה דברים נאמרים בסוס אוהב את הזנות ואוהב את המלחמה ורוחו גסה ומואס את השינה ואוכל הרבה ומוציא קמעה

Six things are said of the horse: It loves fornication, and it loves battle, and its spirit is proud, and it rejects sleep [מואס את השינה] and it eats much and excretes little. (b. Pes. 113b)

והלא מאס את האלילים ושבר את המצבות וגדע את הפסילים וכרת את האשרים

And did he [i.e., King Josiah] not reject the idols [מאס את האלילים] and break the sacred pillars and smash the images and cut down the Asherah poles? (Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, chpt. 17)

Byzantine illustration of a man sending someone on a journey. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Byzantine illustration of a man sending someone on a journey. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

L145-150 There is no parallel to Matt. 10:41 in Luke 10, nor in any of the other versions of the Sending discourse, nor, indeed, anywhere else in the Gospels. The lack of parallels to Matt. 10:41 in the other versions of the Sending discourse raises the question whether Matt. 10:41 originally appeared in the context of the Mission Charge or whether the author of Matthew inserted it here from some other context. An important clue is the shift in audience that takes place between Matt. 10:40 // Luke 10:16 and Matt. 10:41, for whereas the former addresses the apostles, the latter addresses the people who might potentially offer hospitality to an apostle or other follower of Jesus.[29] This shift in audience is inappropriate as the conclusion of the Mission Charge to the apostles, but it makes an excellent conclusion to a discourse about how apostles are to behave and how they will fare, and how they are to be treated by Jesus’ followers. Creating such a discourse was precisely the aim of the author of Matthew, who achieved his purpose by bringing together materials from many different contexts and incorporating them into the Mission Charge.[30] For these reasons we have concluded that Matt. 10:41 was not originally the continuation of the Apostle and Sender saying and that it did not originally appear in the Sending discourse. We have accordingly omitted Matt. 10:41 from GR and HR.

Whether Matt. 10:41 goes back to a Hebraic source, however, is a different question from whether it originally belonged to the Sending discourse. To answer this question in the affirmative we must demonstrate that Matt. 10:41 has features that are characteristic of Hebraic-Greek. Features of Matt. 10:41 that might be described as Hebraic include the parallel structure of the verse, εἰς ὄνομα (eis onoma, “to [the] name”) in the sense of “in the capacity of,” and the phrases μισθὸν προφήτου (misthon profētou, “wage of a prophet”) and μισθὸν δικαίου (misthon dikaiou, “wage of a righteous person”), which could conceivably represent the construct phrases שְׂכַר נָבִיא (sechar nāvi’, “wage of a prophet”) and שְׂכַר צַדִּיק (sechar tzadiq, “wage of a righteous person”), respectively. Nevertheless, the supposition that Matt. 10:41 is derived from a Hebraic source must be able to overcome several weighty objections.

First, the pairing of prophets with righteous persons in the Gospels is unique to Matthew, occurring in Matt. 10:41; 13:17; 23:29. Since, however, the Lukan parallels to Matt. 13:17 and 23:29 omit “righteous persons” (cf. Luke 10:24; 11:47), it appears that the pairing of prophets and righteous persons in Matthew is redactional.[31] Moreover, in Matt. 10:41 prophets are assumed to be active in the present, which is in tension with the commonly-held belief in the first century that prophecy in Israel had ceased.[32] The probability that someone would have the opportunity to entertain a prophet, therefore, would have been thought in Jesus’ time to have been almost zero. Matthew 10:41 is better suited to post-Pentecost circumstances, when the early followers of Jesus believed that prophecy had been renewed. For the Matthean community, like the Didache community (cf. Did. 11:3-12), receiving prophets was a familiar experience, so much so that measures were put in place to safeguard their communities from false prophets, but this would not have been the case when Jesus and his earliest disciples were active in the Galilee prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Second, scholars have noted that Matt. 10:41 appears to combine elements taken from Matt. 10:40 // Luke 10:16 with elements from Matt. 10:42 // Mark 9:41,[33] such that Matt. 10:41 serves as a kind of literary bridge between the two verses. The following diagram highlights the vocabulary in Matt. 10:41 that is shared in the preceding and following verses:

Matt. 10:40 Matt. 10:41 Matt. 10:42
ὁ δεχόμενος ὑμᾶς ἐμὲ δέχεται, καὶ ἐμὲ δεχόμενος δέχεται τὸν ἀποστείλαντά με. ὁ δεχόμενος προφήτην εἰς ὄνομα προφήτου μισθὸν προφήτου λήμψεται, καὶ ὁ δεχόμενος δίκαιον εἰς ὄνομα δικαίου μισθὸν δικαίου λήμψεται. καὶ ὃς ἂν ποτίσῃ ἕνα τῶν μεικρῶν τούτων ποτήριον ψυχροῦ μόνον εἰς ὄνομα μαθητοῦ, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ ἀπολέσῃ τὸν μισθὸν αὐτοῦ.

Like Matt. 10:40 // Luke 10:16, Matt. 10:41 is structured as a parallelism, and it concerns hospitality given to itinerant teachers. But like Matt. 10:42 // Mark 9:41, Matt. 10:41 is focused on the getting (or not losing) of rewards, and in both verses the grounds for action is the respect shown for the person’s title, whether that be “prophet,” “righteous person” or “disciple.” The way in which Matt. 10:41 combines elements from the immediately adjacent verses suggests that the author of Matthew either composed this verse himself, or that he edited the saying extensively in order to make it serve as a bridge between Matt. 10:40 and 10:42.[34]

Third, the features in Matt. 10:41 that are possibly Hebraic are by no means certain. Parallelism is hardly decisive, since parallelisms are not unique to Hebrew, and in Matt. 10:41 the author of Matthew could have borrowed the parallel structure from the preceding verse. That the εἰς ὄνομα formula is Hebraic is not self-evident,[35] first, because in the Gospels the εἰς ὄνομα formula is unique to Matthew, where it occurs only in highly redactional passages,[36] and second, because the use of ὄνομα (onoma, “name”) in the sense of “on the grounds that…” is attested in Greek sources.[37] Regarding “wage of a prophet” and “wage of a righteous person,” it is to be noted that the Gospel of Matthew refers to a reward from God by the term μισθός (misthos, “wage”) much more frequently than either Mark or Luke.[38] A reward from God expressed as μισθός was a particular concern of the author of Matthew, and although this does not disprove the possibility that “wage of a prophet” or “wage of a righteous person” reflects a Hebrew construct phrase, it undermines our confidence that this was the case.

Fourth, in Matt. 10:41 we find two different verbs for “receive”: δέχεσθαι for “receive a prophet/righteous person” and λαμβάνειν for “receive a reward.” The use of two different verbs for “receive” is strange if Matt. 10:41 goes back to a Hebrew source, since the same verb, קִבֵּל (qibēl, “receive”), would likely stand behind both δέχεσθαι and λαμβάνειν. The oscillation between δέχεσθαι and λαμβάνειν is probably a sign of Matthean composition or at least Matthean redaction.

In summary, it is unlikely that Matt. 10:41 is based on a Hebraic source. The pairing of prophets with righteous persons, the emphasis on reward from God, the use of synonyms for “receive,” and the overlap of themes and vocabulary in the adjacent verses all point to Matthean composition rather than reliance on Anth.

L151-156 Matthew 10:42 is clearly based on Mark 9:41,[39] a saying that the author of Mark tacked onto the end of the Lukan-Markan Strange Exorcist pericope. The author of Matthew incorporated the saying about giving a disciple a cup of water here, at the end of chapter 10, because he regarded it as a fitting conclusion to the Sending discourse: Not everyone can be an apostle or a prophet, but it is encouraging to think that even a small act of kindness shown to one of Jesus’ disciples will not be overlooked. Since the saying about giving a cup of water to a disciple did not originally belong to the Sending discourse, we have omitted it from GR and HR.

Did the author of Mark copy the saying about giving a cup of water to a disciple from the Anthology? It seems unlikely. The use of “amen” in this saying is un-Hebraic, since it is neither a response to someone else’s comment, nor does it introduce a reinforcement of a surprising statement of Jesus.[40] Coming as it does in the middle of a sentence, ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν (“amen, I say to you”) appears secondary. Mark’s phrase ἐν ὀνόματι ὅτι Χριστοῦ ἐστε (“in [the] name because of Christ you are”) is likewise un-Hebraic. Although ἐν ὀνόματι (en onomati, “in [the] name”) could be reconstructed as בְּשֵׁם (beshēm, “in [the] name [of]”), בְּשֵׁם ordinarily means “on behalf of,” “on the commission of” or “on the authority of,”[41] whereas Mark’s ἐν ὀνόματι ὅτι Χριστοῦ ἐστε means “on the grounds that you are Christ’s,” which does not conform to Hebraic usage, but which does have parallels in Koine Greek.[42]

L152 ἕνα τῶν μεικρῶν τούτων (Matt. 10:42). It is rather surprising that the author of Matthew changed Mark’s ὑμᾶς (hūmas, “you [plur.]”) to “one of these little ones,” since, as Nolland noted, in the Sending discourse “Jesus is ostensibly talking to and not about the gathered disciples.”[43] Gundry supposed that the change to ἕνα τῶν μεικρῶν τούτων was intended to create a hierarchy of ecclesiastical leaders, from apostles at the head of the Church (Matt. 10:40) to prophets and righteous persons as mid-level functionaries (Matt. 10:41) to average disciples (Matt. 10:42).[44]

The author of Matthew picked up the phrase “one of these little ones” from Mark 9:42, the verse immediately following the saying about giving a disciple a cup of water.[45] In Matthew’s Gospel “these little ones” has become a technical term for the vulnerable members of the Matthean community.[46]

L153 ποτήριον ψυχροῦ μόνον (Matt. 10:42). The author of Matthew changed Mark’s “cup of water” to “only a cup of cold [water].” Although some scholars have suggested that Matthew’s ψυχρός (psūchros, “cold”) is more original,[47] and may even reflect the underlying Hebrew term צוֹנִין (tzōnin, “cold”),[48] ψυχρός used as a substantive in the sense of “cold water” is perfectly natural in Greek,[49] and it appears that the changes Matthew made to Mark in L153 were simply intended to deepen the saying’s impact.[50] In Jesus and a Canaanite Woman we observed similar changes Matthew made to Mark in order to achieve greater dramatic effect.

L154 ἐν ὀνόματι ὅτι Χριστοῦ ἐστε (Mark 9:41). Not only is Mark’s use of ἐν ὀνόματι (en onomati, “in [the] name”) un-Hebraic, but the use of χριστός (christos, “anointed”) not as a title with the definite article, but as a name (“on the grounds that you are Christ’s”), is a strong indication that this saying is secondary.[51] The author of Matthew changed ἐν ὀνόματι ὅτι Χριστοῦ ἐστε to εἰς ὄνομα μαθητοῦ in order to conform this saying to the pattern of the preceding verse.

Redaction Analysis

The Apostle and Sender saying has been preserved in several forms and appears not only in the Synoptic Gospels but also in the Gospel of John and in other early Christian sources. It is one of the most well-attested sayings of Jesus.

Luke’s Versions

The Gospel of Luke preserves two versions of the Apostle and Sender saying; the version in Luke 10:16 was copied from Anth., while the version in Luke 9:48 was adapted by the First Reconstructor. The version of the Apostle and Sender saying preserved in Luke 10:16 is the most complete of all the versions, but even this version suffered a limited degree of editorial activity. It is likely that the author of Luke changed the wording from “receive” to “hear” in L137, since the version in Matt. 10:40 and the FR version in Luke 9:48 have the verb δέχεσθαι. Perhaps the author of Luke introduced this change in order to emphasize the content of the apostles’ message, whereas originally the Apostle and Sender saying continued the theme of hospitality, which was so central to the core of the instructions given to the apostles in the Conduct in Town pericope. The Luke 10:16 version of the Apostle and Sender saying also omitted one half of the step-parallelism in the positive formulation of the saying. It is difficult to discern a motive for this omission; perhaps Luke felt that by omitting it in the positive half of the saying, the effect of “the one who sent me” was increased overall. One other editorial change we suspect Luke made to his source is in L143, where we suppose Anth. had καί instead of δέ (cf. Matt. 10:40; L139). None of these changes significantly affect the meaning of the Apostle and Sender saying.

The FR version of Apostle and Sender in Luke 9:48 occurs in a pericope that is the secondary creation of the First Reconstructor. The First Reconstructor adapted the saying to fit its new context such that it is no longer about receiving the apostles, but about receiving a child. This new application of the saying does affect the meaning, since the shāliaḥ principle upon which the Apostle and Sender saying was originally based is lost, but it is likely that the FR version preserves the original verb “receive” as opposed to “hear” in the Luke 10:16 version. The FR version in Luke 9:48 was subsequently copied by the author of Mark in Mark 9:37. Finally, the author of Matthew abbreviated Mark’s version in Matt. 18:5.

Matthew’s Version

The portion of the Apostle and Sender saying that the author of Matthew copied from the Anthology adheres more closely to the Anthology’s wording than the parallel version in Luke 10:16. Nevertheless, the author of Matthew significantly altered the meaning of the Apostle and Sender saying. By including only the positive half of the saying, and by adding two verses that focus on rewards, the author of Matthew also turned Apostle and Sender into a saying about reward. Whereas, originally, Apostle and Sender was intended to impress upon the apostles the gravity of their commission, in Matthew the Apostle and Sender saying has become a promise to believers in a settled community that if they offer hospitality to apostles or other ecclesiastical leaders, then, in addition to receiving their guests, they will receive Jesus and God himself. Thus, a saying addressed to itinerant emissaries was transformed into a saying about rewards that will be granted for offering Church leaders hospitality.


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.

Click here to return to “The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction” main page.

Premium Members
If you are not a Premium Member, please consider becoming one starting at $10/month (paid monthly) or only $5/month (paid annually):

One Time Purchase Rather Than Membership
Rather than a membership, you may also purchase access to this entire page for $1.99 USD. (If you do not have an account select "Register & Purchase.")

Login & Purchase
  • [1] For abbreviations and bibliographical references, see “Introduction to ‘The Life of Yeshua: A Suggested Reconstruction.’
  • [2] This translation is a dynamic rendition of our reconstruction of the conjectured Hebrew source that stands behind the Greek of the Synoptic Gospels. It is not a translation of the Greek text of a canonical source.
  • [3] See Vincent Taylor, “The Original Order of Q,” in New Testament Essays: Studies in Memory of Thomas Walter Manson (ed. A. J. B. Higgins; Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1959), 246-269, esp. 255-256.
  • [4] See Bundy, 165, 335; Knox, 2:53; Fitzmyer, 2:856; Davies-Allison, 2:225.
  • [5] See David R. Catchpole, “The Mission Charge in Q,” Semeia 55 (1991): 147-174, esp. 166.
  • [6] On Jesus as an apostle, see Comment to L140.
  • [7] Lindsey described FR as a chronologically arranged epitome of Anth. with improved Greek style.
  • [8] See Robert L. Lindsey, “From Luke to Mark to Matthew: A Discussion of the Sources of Markan ‘Pick-ups’ and the Use of a Basic Non-canonical Source by All the Synoptists,” under the subheading “Lukan Doublets: Narrative Doublets.”
  • [9] For an argument that John’s version of the Apostle and Sender saying is independent of the Synoptic Gospels, see C. H. Dodd, Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), 343-347. On the Gospel of John’s relationship to the Synoptic tradition, see also David Flusser, “The Gospel of John’s Jewish-Christian Source,” under the subheading “The Sources of John’s Gospel.”
  • [10] See David R. Catchpole, “The Poor on Earth and the Son of Man in Heaven. A Re-Appraisal of Matthew XXV. 31-46,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 61 (1979): 355-397, esp. 358. Other scholars who argued in favor of Luke’s ἀκούειν include Streeter, 278; Manson, Sayings 78; Knox, 2:53.
  • [11] While it is possible that Justin copied a written source, it is possible that he simply quoted the Apostle and Sender saying from memory.
  • [12] See Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L109.
  • [13] See Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, L101, L107.
  • [14] We have had occasion to observe that FR occasionally preserved the Anthology’s wording better than did the author of Luke when copying Anth. in the Sending the Twelve pericopae. See, for example, Sending the Twelve: Commissioning, Comment to L29; Sending the Twelve: Conduct in Town, Comment to L109.
  • [15] See Harnack, 89.
  • [16] So Delitzsch, Luke 10:16.
  • [17] For Justin’s version of the Apostle and Sender saying, see above, Comment to L137.
  • [18] On the equivalence of the terms ἀπόστολος and שָׁלִיחַ, see Choosing the Twelve, Comment to L10-11.
  • [19] See Walter Grundmann, “δέχομαι,” TDNT, 2:53; Davies-Allison, 2:226; Fitzmyer, 2:857; Tomson, 133; France, Matt., 413. N.B.: In Nazi Germany Walter Grundmann served as director of the Institut zur Erforschung und Beseitigung des jüdischen Einflusses auf das deutsche kirchliche Leben (Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Church Life). Consequently, Grundmann’s scholarship should be approached with due caution as his judgments were colored by his anti-Semitic worldview. On Grundmann, see Susannah Heschel, “Nazifying Christian Theology: Walter Grundmann and the Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Church Life,” Church History 63.4 (1994): 587-605.
  • [20] In rabbinic sources שָׁלִיחַ and שָׁלוּחַ are synonymous and interchangeable.
  • [21] It is unlikely that the shāliaḥ institution would have been a completely foreign concept to non-Jewish Greek readers. The principle that a servant should be treated with the dignity due to his master appears to have been widespread. See, for example, Ignatius’ exhortation to the Ephesians:

    πάντα γὰρ ὃν πέμπει ὁ οἰκοδεσπότης εἰς ἰδίαν οἰκονομίαν, οὕτως δεῖ ἡμᾶς αὐτὸν δέχεσθαι, ὡς αὐτὸν τὸν πέμψαντα

    For everyone whom the master of the house sends to do his business ought we to receive as him who sent him. (Ign. Eph. 6:1; Loeb)

  • [22] Whenever Jesus spoke of himself as being “sent” (e.g., Luke 4:18) or referred to “the one who sent me” (Matt. 10:40; Luke 10:16; John 20:21), the natural inference was that Jesus regarded himself as God’s shāliaḥ (“apostle,” “emissary”). Although there is no record in the Gospels of Jesus explicitly claiming “I am God’s apostle,” Jesus is referred to as an apostle in Heb. 3:1. In other NT passages, the assumption that Jesus was an apostle is implicit. Cf., e.g., Eph. 2:20 in which the apostles are foundation stones and Jesus is the chief cornerstone. Jesus and the (other) apostles are classed as the same type of object: stones. Justin Martyr was emphatic that Jesus was God’s apostle (1 Apol. 63:5, 10, 14).
  • [23] Scenarios in which one apostle or emissary appoints another apostle or emissary in his place are contemplated in Sifre Num. Zuta, on Num. 14:34 (ed. Horovitz, 279).
  • [24] Manson (Sayings, 78) suggested that “It is possible that the original form of the saying was fuller than any of the three existing versions. Perhaps it ran:
    He that heareth you heareth me;
    [And he that heareth me heareth him that sent me:]
    And he that rejecteth you rejecteth me;
    And he that rejecteth me rejecteth him that sent me.”
  • [25] Catchpole, noting that ἀθετεῖν is not typical of Lukan reaction, since this verb never occurs in Acts and only twice in his Gospel (Luke 7:30; 10:16), concluded that Luke 10:16 probably reflects the wording of the pre-synoptic source known to the authors of Matthew and Luke. See David R. Catchpole, “On Doing Violence to the Kingdom,” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 25 (1978): 50-61, esp. 55.
  • [26] Delitzsch translated ἀθετεῖν with בָּזָה in Luke 10:16.
  • [27] From a hand-written note in the margins of his copy of Morton Smith’s Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels, 80, we find that Lindsey contemplated using מָאַס to reconstruct Luke 10:16.
  • [28] Other examples where מָאַס is used with the direct object marker אֶת rather than the preposition -בְּ include Num. 11:20; 1 Sam. 10:19; 15:23, 26; 2 Kgs. 17:15; 23:27; Isa. 5:24; 8:6; Jer. 14:19; Ezek. 20:13; Amos 2:4.
  • [29] Knox, 2:53.
  • [30] See Sending the Twelve: Commissioning, under the subheading “Conjectured Stages of Transmission,” and Comment to L1-7.
  • [31] Hill has suggested that “righteous person” was a title borne by leaders in the Matthean community. See David Hill, “ΔΙΚΑΙΟΙ as a Quasi-Technical Term,” New Testament Studies 11.3 (1965): 296-302.
  • [32] On the cessation of prophecy, see Widow’s Son in Nain, Comment to L22.
  • [33] See Catchpole, “Poor on Earth,” 360.
  • [34] See Gundry, Matt., 202.
  • [35] See Luz, 2:119; Nolland, Matt., 444.
  • [36] See Catchpole, “Poor on Earth,” 359; Gundry, Matt., 202. Aside from Matt. 10:41, the εἰς ὄνομα formula occurs in Matt. 10:42, where Matthew’s source had ἐν ὀνόματι (Mark 9:41); Matt. 18:20, in a pericope where the author of Matthew twice mentions the Church (Matt. 18:17); and Matt. 28:19, in which the author of Matthew includes a trinitarian baptismal formula.
  • [37] See Moulton-Milligan, 451.
  • [38] In Matthew μισθός refers to a reward from God in Matt. 5:12, 46; 6:1, 2, 5, 16; 10:41 (2xx), 42. Mark uses μισθός in the sense of reward from God only in Mark 9:41 (// Matt. 10:42). Luke uses μισθός in the sense of reward from God in Luke 6:23 (// Matt. 5:12) and Luke 6:35 (// Matt. 5:46).
  • [39] See Streeter, 263; Catchpole, “Poor on Earth,” 359-360.
  • [40] See Robert L. Lindsey, “‘Verily’ or ‘Amen’—What Did Jesus Say?
  • [41] See Hans Bietenhard, “ὄνομα,” TDNT, 5:258-261; Hans Kosmala, “In My Name,” Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute 5 (1966/67): 87-109, esp. 91-93.
  • [42] See Swete, 208; Moulton-Milligan, 451.
  • [43] See Nolland, Matt., 445.
  • [44] See Gundry, Matt., 203.
  • [45] See Streeter, 263-264.
  • [46] See Lost Sheep and Lost Coin, Comment to L2.
  • [47] Hawkins, 152 n. 2.
  • [48] See Gill, 7:115. In the Mishnah we find the following statement:

    הָיָה מְסָרֵב בַּחֲבֵירוֹ שֶׁיֹּאכַל אֶצְלוֹ אָמַ′ קוּנַּם לְבֵיתָךָ שֶׁאֵנִי נִכְנַס טִיפַּת צוֹנִין שֶׁאֵנִי טוֹעֵם לָךְ מוּתָּר לִיכָּנֵס לְבֵיתוֹ וְלִשְׁתּוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ צוֹנִין שֶׁלֹּא נִתְכַּוַּון זֶה אֶלָּא לְּשֵׁם אֲכִילָה וּשְׁתִייָּה

    If someone urged his friend to eat with him and his friend said, “Konam if I enter your house!” or “…if I taste a drop of cold [water] [טִיפַּת צוֹנִין]!” it is permitted for him to enter his house and to drink cold [water] [צוֹנִין] since he did not intend his vow except for the purpose of eating and drinking [one particular meal]. (m. Ned. 8:7)

  • [49] See Luz, 2:122 n. 31.
  • [50] See Gundry, Matt., 202.
  • [51] See Hawkins, 152 n. 2.
  • David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin

    David N. Bivin is founder and editor of Jerusalem Perspective. A native of Cleveland, Oklahoma, U.S.A., Bivin has lived in Israel since 1963, when he came to Jerusalem on a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to do postgraduate work at the Hebrew University. He studied at the Hebrew…
    [Read more about author]

    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton

    Joshua N. Tilton grew up in St. George, a small town on the coast of Maine. For his undergraduate degree he studied at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies (2002). There he studied Biblical Hebrew and…
    [Read more about author]

  • Online Hebrew Course

    Do you want to learn Hebrew? Check out our online Hebrew course Aleph-Bet: Hebrew Reading and Writing for Christians in 17 Easy Lessons.