Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Proclaiming the Nearness of God's Reign

Below is a rough translation and some initial comments regarding Luke 10:1-11, the gospel reading from the Revised Common Lectionary for the seventh Sunday after Pentecost.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell of the 12 going on a missionary journey, but Luke alone records the sending of the 70 (or 72). On the one hand, it is fascinating to see that, out of the many crowds that all of the gospel writers describe, there are at least 70 who are willing to go and proclaim the nearness of the reign of God. The end of c.9 was about some whom Jesus called or who expressed a longing to follow Jesus, but who would not make the sacrifice necessary to follow. C.10, on the other hand, shows that there were others quite willing to make sacrifices in order to participate in the message of the reign of God.

Your comments are always welcomed.

1 Μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ἀνέδειξεν  κύριος ἑτέρους ἑβδομήκοντα [δύο], καὶ ἀπέστειλεν αὐτοὺς ἀνὰ δύο [δύο] πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ εἰς πᾶσαν πόλιν καὶ τόπον οὗ ἤμελλεν 
αὐτὸς ἔρχεσθαι. 
Yet after these things the lord appointed seventy [-two] others, and sent them up two [by two] before his face into every city and place where he himself intended to go.
ἀνέδειξεν: AAI 3s, ἀναδείκνυμι, 1) to proclaim any one as elected to office  2) to announce as appointed a king, general, etc.  3) to lift up anything on high and exhibit it for all to behold 
ἀπέστειλεν: AAI 3s, ἀποστέλλω, 1) to order (one) to go to a place appointed 
ἤμελλεν: IAI 3s, μέλλω, 1) to be about  1a) to be on the point of doing or suffering something  1b) to intend, have in mind, think to
ἔρχεσθαι: PMInf, ἔρχομαι, 1) to come 
1. Some manuscripts say 70, others 72. I have no skin in this debate.
2. In 9:52, Jesus “sent messengers before his face” (καὶ ἀπέστειλεν ἀγγέλους πρὸ προσώπου αὐτοῦ) when he had “set his face” to journeying into Jerusalem (αὐτὸς τὸ πρόσωπον ἐστήρισεν τοῦ πορεύεσθαι εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ, 9:51). While this pericope seems set off by a chapter division, this act of sending the seventy (-two) is still a part of the journeying story that began in 9:51. What this phrase means, exactly, is unclear to me, but it was not just a mental decision – the Samaritan village in c.9 that refused to harbor those who were making arrangements for Jesus did so “because his face was going into Jerusalem” (ὅτι τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτοῦ ἦν πορευόμενον εἰς Ἰερουσαλήμ).
3. It is curious that Jesus would send the workers into places where he himself was going to go, after having set his face toward Jerusalem. They are going where he will go. What does that say for the missional church? I usually think of the reverse, that the missional church goes to places where Christ is “always already redemptively present” (a phrase I use often in my book, Talking About Evangelism). Perhaps that term is more appropriate when speaking of the risen Christ than it was when speaking of the Christ who is making his way toward Jerusalem, and everything that is in store for him there.

2 ἔλεγεν δὲ πρὸς αὐτούς,  μὲν θερισμὸς πολύς, οἱ δὲ ἐργάται ὀλίγοι: δεήθητε οὖν 
τοῦ κυρίου τοῦ θερισμοῦ ὅπως ἐργάτας ἐκβάλῃ εἰς τὸν θερισμὸν αὐτοῦ. 
Yet he was saying to them, “The harvest plentiful, but the workers few; therefore, beg to the lord of the harvest that he might throw workers into his harvest.”
ἔλεγεν: IAI 3s, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
δεήθητε: APImpv 2p, δέομαι, to need, to want; then, to make known one's need, urgently request, supplicate, beseech.
ἐκβάλῃ: AASubj 3s, ἐκβάλλω, 1) to cast out, drive out, to send out  1a) with notion of violence  1a1) to drive out (cast out)  1a2) to cast out
1. The μὲν sets up a contrast with the δὲ that follows, so I’m leaving it untranslated.
2. It is a little curious that, as workers are being sent into the field, Jesus instructs them to pray that God would send workers into the field. This feels like Luke giving his community an example story and encouraging them to pray for others do to likewise.

3 ὑπάγετε: ἰδοὺ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς ἄρνας ἐν μέσῳ λύκων. 
Go; behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. 
ὑπάγετε: PAImpv 2p, ὑπάγω, 1) to lead under, bring under  2) to withdraw one's self, to go away, depart
ἰδοὺ: An aorist middle imperative of εἶδον (to see) which, serves as a particle serving to call attention. Some dictionaries will not list it as a verb.
ἀποστέλλω: PAI 1s, ἀποστέλλω, 1) to order (one) to go to a place appointed 
1. The metaphor changes dramatically here, making the case that either v.2 or v.3 might be an insertion. The scarcity motif of great harvest/few workers is a different kind of challenge than the danger motif of sheep/wolves. One interpretive question is whether we read vv. 4-11 as describing the work of the harvest (for which there is need of more workers) or the danger of being sent out as sheep among wolves. I am opting for the 2nd metaphor as the reigning lens for reading vv.4-11, since v.4 begins with emphasizing the sent ones’ vulnerability and dependence. Even if we read the following verses through the metaphor of sheep among wolves, the danger seems to be in being rejected, rather than being eaten alive or killed. We may be looking at two layers of meaning: Jesus’ seventy (-two) disciples facing possible rejection and Luke’s community facing possible death. 

4 μὴ βαστάζετε βαλλάντιον, μὴ πήραν, μὴ ὑποδήματα, καὶ μηδένα κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν 
Do not carry a moneybag, or wallet, or water skin, and you are not to greet anyone along the way.
βαστάζετε: PAImpv 2p, βαστάζω, 1) to take up with the hands
ἀσπάσησθε: AMSubj 2p, ἀσπάζομαι, 1) to draw to one's self 1a) to salute one, greet, bid welcome, wish well to  1b) to receive joyfully, welcome
1. The response to the scarcity and/or danger of workers is for the seventy (-two) to go out with their own scarcity and vulnerability – in total dependence on others for food, shelter, drink and protection.
2. The definitions of ἀσπάζομαι seem to indicate that “greeting anyone along the way” is an elaborate process, not just a brief stopping to say “Hi.”

5 εἰς ἣν δ' ἂν εἰσέλθητε οἰκίαν, πρῶτον λέγετε, Εἰρήνη τῷ οἴκῳ τούτῳ.
Into whatever house you may enter, first say, “Peace to this house.”
εἰσέλθητε: AASubj 2p, εἰσέρχομαι, 1) to go out or come in: to enter
λέγετε: PAImpv 2p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
1. Here, Jesus begins the instructions on entering the house. In v.10, he uses identical language on entering the city.

 6 καὶ ἐὰν ἐκεῖ  υἱὸς εἰρήνης, ἐπαναπαήσεται ἐπ' αὐτὸν  εἰρήνη ὑμῶν: εἰ δὲ μήγε, 
ἐφ' ὑμᾶς ἀνακάμψει.
And if a son of peace should be there, your peace will be settled on him; but if not, it will return to you.
: PASubj, εἰμί, 1) to be, to exist, to happen, to be present 
ἐπαναπαήσεται: FPI 3s, ἐπαναπαύομαι, 1) to cause to rest upon anything  2) to rest upon anything  3) to settle upon, fix its abode upon
ἀνακάμψει: FAI 3s, ἀνακάμπτω, 1) to bend back, to turn back  2) to return
1. The phrase, “a son of peace,” seems to need no explanation to the seventy (-two) or to Luke’s readers. I could use an explanation myself. 
2. The reification of peace is curious language. Pronouncing “Peace” is not just speaking a word or expressing a sentiment, it is conferring a real entity that either rests on someone or returns to someone. In the story of “Legion,” demons also seem to need a place and are not just sent off ‘wherever’ when cast out. There is a sense of a closed universe, in which things like “peace” do not just ‘disappear’ but only re-locate. This verse also challenges our nominal tendencies to imagine that words are mere words.

7 ἐν αὐτῇ δὲ τῇ οἰκίᾳ μένετε, ἐσθίοντες καὶ πίνοντες τὰ παρ' αὐτῶν, ἄξιος γὰρ  
ἐργάτης τοῦ μισθοῦ αὐτοῦ. μὴ μεταβαίνετε ἐξ οἰκίας εἰς οἰκίαν. 
Yet remain in the house itself, eating and drinking the things from them, for the worker worthy of his wages. Do not move around out of a house into a house.
μένετε: PAImpv 2p, μένω, 1) to remain, abide 
ἐσθίοντες: PAPart npm, ἐσθίω, 1) to eat 
πίνοντες: PAPart npm, πίνω, 1) to drink 
μεταβαίνετε: PAImpv 2p, μεταβαίνω, 1) to pass over from one place to another, to remove, depart
1. There is a delightful presumption built into this verse that relies partly, I assume, on a 1st century understanding of hospitality. One might think that an uninvited guest, who shows up needing hospitality in order to bring the message that the reign of God is near, would want to stay only a day or two and act as a supplicant, not wanting to be a burden. Jesus prescribes, instead, that the guest is a worker, worthy of room and board as wages and that s/he should stay put. It presumes that the ‘peace’ that is conferred is a valuable gift, not simply a nice thing to say when asking for a place to stay. 

8 καὶ εἰς ἣν ἂν πόλιν εἰσέρχησθε καὶ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς, ἐσθίετε τὰ παρατιθέμενα ὑμῖν, 
And into whatever place you may enter and which may welcome you, eat that which is set before you,
εἰσέρχησθε: PMSubj 2p, εἰσέρχομαι, 1) to go out or come in: to enter  
δέχωνται: PMSubj 3p, δέχομαι, 1) to take with the hand  1a) to take hold of, take up  2) to take up, receive  2a) used of a place receiving one
ἐσθίετε: PAImpv, ἐσθίω, 1) to eat 
παρατιθέμενα: PPPart apn, παρατίθημι, 1) to place beside or near or set before  1a) food, i.e. food placed on a table  1b) to set before
1. The ‘eating’ here seems to carry a different connotation than in v.7. There, the issue is that the missionary is entitled to eat, without feeling as if s/he is asking too much. Here, it seems that the missionary is encouraged to accept hospitality, perhaps without regard to scruples about what one eats. Maybe I’m taking that too far, but it has ever been an ongoing question for missionaries (near and far) whether or not to maintain a personal scruple or to adopt the habits of those to whom they have been sent. For Luke’s community, particularly if one keeps the story of Acts 10 in mind, perhaps it was more of an issue.
2. The word “welcome” (δέχομαι) is important in 9:48 regarding how whoever welcomes one sent in Jesus’ name welcomes Jesus and the God who sent Jesus. It also appears in 9:53, about a Samaritan town who did not receive Jesus because his face was set toward Jerusalem.
3. The combination of the place where the disciple may enter and where they may be welcomed shows the active and receptive sides of missional work. The sent one goes out vulnerable and yet confident that s/he is bringing genuine peace, a gift that is worthy of expecting hospitality and provisions. At the same time, the recipient has the freedom to welcome and host or to reject. The disciple does not intrude like an empire.

9καὶ θεραπεύετε τοὺς ἐν αὐτῇ ἀσθενεῖς, καὶ λέγετε αὐτοῖς, Ἤγγικεν ἐφ' ὑμᾶς  
βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ. 
And heal the sick in it, and say to them, “The Reign of God has come near to you.”
θεραπεύετε: PAImpv, 2p, θεραπεύω, 1) to serve, do service  2) to heal, cure, restore to health
λέγετε : PAImpv, 2p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
Ἤγγικεν: PerfAI 3s, ἐγγίζω, 1) to bring near, to join one thing to another  2) to draw or come near to, to approach
1. By the way, heal the sick wherever you stay. Sounds too easy? It should be no easier to say, “The Reign of God has come near to you.”  

10 εἰς ἣν δ' ἂν πόλιν εἰσέλθητε καὶ μὴ δέχωνται ὑμᾶς, ἐξελθόντες εἰς τὰς πλατείας 
αὐτῆς εἴπατε, 
Into whatever city you may enter and may not welcome you, having gone out into their street say,
εἰσέλθητε: AASubj 2p, εἰσέρχομαι, 1) to go out or come in: to enter
δέχωνται: PMSubj 3p, δέχομαι, 1) to take with the hand  1a) to take hold of, take up  2) to take up, receive  2a) used of a place receiving one
ἐξελθόντες: AAPart npm, ἐξέρχομαι, 1) to go or come forth of 
εἴπατε: AAImpv 2p, λέγω, 1) to say, to speak
v.5:      εἰς ἣν δ' ἂν εἰσέλθητε οἰκίαν “Into whatever house you may enter”
v.10:   εἰς ἣν δ' ἂν πόλιν εἰσέλθητε  “Into whatever city you may enter”

11Καὶ τὸν κονιορτὸν τὸν κολληθέντα ἡμῖν ἐκ τῆς πόλεως ὑμῶν εἰς τοὺς πόδας ἀπομασσόμεθα ὑμῖν: πλὴν τοῦτο γινώσκετε ὅτι ἤγγικεν  βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ.
“Even the dust which has joined to us out of your city into the feet we wipe off to you; but know this that the reign of God has come near.”
κολληθέντα: APPart asm κολλάω, to glue together. In NT middle or passive aorist, to adhere, cleave to; to become one's servant or follower.
ἀπομασσόμεθα: PMI 1p, ἀπομάσσομαι, 1) to wipe off  
γινώσκετε: PAImpv 2p, γινώσκω, 1) to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel  
ἤγγικεν: PerfAI 3s, ἐγγίζω, 1) to bring near, to join one thing to another  2) to draw or come near to, to approach 
1. In Matt. 10:14 and Luke 9:5, Jesus gives this same instruction about wiping dust off of one’s feet, adding in Lk.9:5 “as a testimony to/against them.” In Acts 13:51, we see only occasion when a disciple actually does this – Paul and Barnabas in Antioch Pisidia.
2. Most commentators agree that this is a form of giving a testimony, but it is not clear whether it is ‘against’ or ‘to’ them. If ‘against,’ it could be a public dissing, which is how many commentators see it. However, it could be a testimony ‘to’ them: To those who have refused to offer hospitality, this could be a public sign that one is not there to take anything, not even the dust that accumulates on one’s feet. It is a public shaming, one would think, as a way of showing the extreme failure of the city as hosts. A guest might be rejected if the potential hosts surmised that the guest was there to take advantage of them. But, if they only receive what is due to them and nothing more, not even the city’s dust, the shame falls on the host. 


  1. Mark -- Thank you for your work...even on vacation! I especially found your v. 6 work helpful...and thought provoking...if I were to invoke Peace on my church each time I enter might that change the dynamics?

  2. Thanks, M.C. It is a fascinating verse and I love your suggestion.

  3. Thank you for your insights on the texts. They are inspiring.

  4. Laura Hall-SchordjeJuly 7, 2013 at 2:56 AM

    Thank you for the work you do each week. I turn to your blog knowing I will find something that will help me understand the text better or open me up to a new perspective. Thank you!

  5. Thanks, Laura and Frank! Blessings on your ministries today.

  6. Vr. 6 "Son of Peace." One commentator suggested to be a son of peace is to be one inclined to the the value of peace in life. Here is a helpful quote from Mikael Parsons on "Preaching this Week:" The pronouncement of peace will find fulfillment if within the house there is a “peaceful person,” literally, a “son of peace.” To be a “son” (or child) of X is to be characterized by or inclined toward that attribute. Thus, Absalom’s command to his servants to “be sons of power” (huioi dunameos) is equivalent to being a person who is strong or valiant11. Similar expressions are found in Greek literature and inscriptions12. Analagous constructions are also found elsewhere in Luke (16:8; 20:36) and in the New Testament13. What does the idiom mean here? Jesus “when he asked his disciples to go out to gather the sons of peace, was sending them out to identify with those in Galilee who were bent on pursuing peace”14. With such as these, peace will reside. If there is no one “worthy of peace”15, Jesus warns, the peace will return to the sender.

    1. Thanks, Joe. I'll spend some time digesting that this week. Blessings.

  7. Was struck with the possibility of translating 'therapeuo' as 'serve' and 'asthenia' as 'weak.' Different process/less magical.

  8. I'm inclined to believe it was 72 people, just because that's a multiple of 12.

    1. I'm thinking that we're seeing a competition between a school that is invested in 7 and one that is invested in 12.

  9. It strikes me that it's clear that Jesus and the disciples are in an area where there are Samaritan settlements (given last week's reading). Yet Jesus tells the disciples to eat what is given to them. Thus mission, it would seem, takes precedence over dietary laws. It also prefigures Peter's dream in Acts.


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