ABC:Matthew 10

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Verse 5, Who to Convert?[edit]

Patheos' Bob Seidensticker claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[1]

Who should the disciples convert?

At the end of the gospel story, Jesus has risen and is giving the disciples their final instructions.

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

This is the familiar Great Commission, and it’s a lot more generous than what has been called the lesser commission that appears earlier in the same gospel:

Matthew 10:5-6 ¶ These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

This was not a universal message. We see it again in his encounter with the Canaanite woman:

Matthew 15:24-26 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.

You might say that a ministry with limited resources had to prioritize, but that doesn’t apply here. Don’t forget that Jesus was omnipotent. Going back to the Old Testament, we don’t find an all-inclusive message there, either. The Israelites were God’s “Chosen People,” and God had harsh things to say about neighboring tribes.

Deuteronomy 23:3 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:

God also forbids intermarriage with these foreign tribes (Deut. 7:3; Ezra 9:2, 10:10; Nehemiah 13). Let’s revisit the fact that Matthew is contradictory when it says both “Make disciples of all nations” and “Do not go among the Gentiles [but only] to the lost sheep of Israel.” There are no early papyrus copies of Matthew 28 (the “Make disciples of all nations” chapter), and the earliest copies of this chapter are in the codices copied in the mid-300s. That’s almost three centuries of silence from original to our best copies, a lot of opportunity for the Great Commission to get “improved” by copyists. I’m not saying it was, of course; I’m simply offering one explanation for why the gospel in Matthew has Jesus change so fundamental a tenet as who he came to save.

There is no contradiction here, just a critic ignoring chronology and context. Because of the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it was necessary that the Gospel had to first be delivered to the Jews; only after rejecting it was it made available to the Gentiles. (Acts 3:25-26; 13:46; Luke 24:47) Nonetheless, it was not God's will that this should cause the downfall of the Jews, but that their rejection would lead to mercy for the Gentiles, who by then showing mercy to the Jews and preaching the Gospel to them, God might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11:30-32)

As such, the disciples were originally sent to the Jews specifically (Matthew 10:5-6) but Jesus then gradually showed them that His salvation would also be to the Gentiles (Matthew 15:24-28); culminating in the Great Commission telling them to witness to all nations. (Matthew 28:19) When the disciples try to send the Canaanite woman away, Jesus refuses, telling them that He's not sent only to the House of Israel. (Matthew 15:24) He then uses the situation to show mercy on her, healing her daughter because of her faith, verses that the critic dishonestly omits. (Matthew 15:27-28) Jesus continued to heal and preach to the Gentiles, (Luke 17:16; John 4:9-42) while using parables to teach against the long-held Jewish biases against the Gentiles. (Luke 10:33-36)

With the Ammonites and Moabites, they were kept from becoming Israelites because as a nation they had persecuted the Israelites, refusing them food and water while hiring Balaam to curse them. (Deuteronomy 23:3-4; Nehemiah 13:1-2) The critic once again omits the explanatory verses which provide context. However, foreigners/Gentiles in general could become Israelites, as Rahab and Ruth did (Joshua 6:25; Ruth 1:16; Matthew 1:5), by entering Israel and adopting Israelite practices. (Exodus 12:48; Numbers 9:14; Deuteronomy 31:12) Indeed, there were numerous commandments by God prohibiting discrimination against these foreigners/immigrants dwelling in Israel (KJV strangers) since Israel had themselves been immigrants oppressed in the land of Egypt, requiring that they be treated fairly like Israelites and allowed to harvest food when they needed it. (Exodus 12:49; 20:10; 22:21; 23:9; Leviticus 19:10,33-34; 23:22; 24:22; 25:6; Numbers 9:14; 15:15-16; Deuteronomy 1:16; 5:14; 10:18-19; 14:29; 16:11,14; 23:7; 24:17,19-21; 26:11-13; 27:19) Jesus in the New Testament states that how others treat them will be used as a basis for God's judgment at the Final Judgment. (Matthew 23:35,38,43)

Intermarriage into Canaanite nations specifically was forbidden to prevent Israelites from adopting their practices, such as cannibalistic child sacrifice to idols like Baal and Molech. (Deuteronomy 12:31; Exodus 34:12-16) See Destruction of Canaanites. However, again, members of those nations could become Israelites by abandoning their pagan practices and becoming Israelite citizens. When Aaron and Miriam discriminated against Moses' Ethiopian wife because of her skin color, God ironically punished Miriam by giving her leprosy so that her skin turned white, forcing her to live in exile for a week as punishment. (Numbers 12) In Song of Solomon 1:6, we are specifically commanded against judging others based on dark skin, and told that it is caused by exposure to the sun. See Dawkins' Criticisms for what the Bible teaches about racism.

As for Matthew 28, it is quoted by numerous church fathers well before 300 A.D., including Ignatius, Tertullian, and Hippolytus, as pointed out by J.P. Holding of Tektonics.[2]

Verse 23, Should Jesus Have Returned?[edit]

Patheos' Bob Seidensticker claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[1]

Jesus should've returned already.

Jesus promised to return within the lifetimes of those listening to him. This Apocalyptic message (Apocalypticism claims that the end times are very close) is found in the three synoptic gospels. It takes a passage in Isaiah 13 that predicts calamity for Babylon—that the sun and moon will darken and the stars will fall—and repurposes it as a prediction of the end. It also predicts:

Matthew 24:30-31 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The prediction ends saying that this will all happen soon.

Matthew 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

Let me emphasize those two points: “these things” will happen soon (within months or years, not centuries), and “these things” are obvious and world-destroyingly calamitous. The popular Christian response that this referred to the fall of the Temple won’t fly. Earlier in the same gospel, we find other references to the imminent coming of the Son of Man:

Matthew 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Matthew 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

It’s been a lot longer than one generation. Jesus made a mistake.

Matthew 24, was a response to two questions: 1) when the Temple of Jerusalem would be destroyed, and 2) when Christ's coming would occur. (Luke 21:5-7; Matthew 24:1-3) The Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed within one generation of Christ speaking when Nero destroyed it in 70 A.D.[3] Thus the first response was definitely fulfilled within one generation. Furthermore, because John saw all that occurred as recorded in the book of Revelation, and Stephen witnessed the return of Christ (Acts 7:56), the second response can be considered fulfilled as well.

Jesus clearly told the apostles what had to happen first before His return in Matthew 24. Jesus told them there would be numerous wars, famines, earthquakes, and false prophets first. (vv. 7-11) The Gospel would first be preached throughout the entire world followed by a massive tribulation perpetrated by the antichrist against Christians. (vv. 14-22) Jesus plainly told them that the exact time of His return was not known even to Him, only to God the Father. (v. 36) Just because the apostles warned one another to be constantly ready for His return as Jesus had urged them to do (Matthew 24:36-51) does not mean they claimed a return would occur during their own lifetimes.

As for Matthew 10:23, it states that the cities of Israel won't be finished by the apostles by the time of Jesus' return, presumably referring to the Gospel being preached there. Given the upheaval in Israel over the last 2,000 years ago, there is no reason to assume that will prove untrue.

Verse 35[edit]

TheThinkingAtheist.com claims the Bible is wrong about the following passage, and makes the following comments:[4]

Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Part of the Ten Commandments.

Deuteronomy 5:16 Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Honor your parents.

Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

Curse your parents and be executed.

Matthew 10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

What, exactly, happened to "Honor your father and mother?"

Luke 12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

Division, parent against child.

Notice that Jesus nowhere contradicts the commandment to honor one's parents, He simply prophesies that because of Christianity division of families will occur where the families of Christians persecute them. In other words, this has nothing to do with a commandment, but rather Jesus prophesying that Christians would be put to death for their belief in Him. Had TheThinkingAtheist.com observed the passage's context, they would have noticed this, e.g. the verses immediately preceding Matthew 10:35-37:

Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.
27 What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

When read in context with proper reading comprehension it is very obvious Jesus was never saying one shouldn't honor their parents, but warning His disciples they would be put to death for believing in Him, see especially Matthew 10:22 which sums it up, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." Jesus told His disciples to flee into other cities if persecuted (v. 23), told them "the disciple is not above his master" and if they hated Jesus they'll hate His followers also (vv. 24-25), that Christians should not fear those who can kill the body but not the soul (v. 28), that God watches over even the number of hairs on our heads (vv.30-31), and that those who deny Jesus under such persecution He will deny, and those who confess Him He will confess. (vv. 32-33)

The entire chapter, read in context, shows the subject was persecution Christians would endure, even from their own families, and certainly not a commandment to disobey one's parents and one of the 10 commandments. Jesus elsewhere reaffirmed that children should honor their parents, see also Matthew 19:19; Mark 7:10, and 10:19.

Matthew 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

Luke 18:19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
18:20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.

John 8:49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.

Sources[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Seidensticker, P. (2018, October 20). "Top 20 Most Damning Bible Contradictions." Patheos.
  2. Holding, J.P. (2019). "Matthew 28:19 is Genuine." Tektonics.
  3. Religious Literacy Project (2019). "Destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE." Harvard Divinity School.
  4. TheThinkingAtheist. Bible Contradictions. Retrieved from http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/page/bible-contradictions.