The term “Ambassador” is drawn from Ephesians 6:20 where Paul spoke of himself as “An ambassador in chains.” The word “ambassador” is a form of the word for “old” or “older.” As a rule, secular ambassadors of that day were older men. If Paul was “an ambassador,” so were the other apostles. Matthew 10 stresses that the apostles represented Jesus. The primary task of an ambassador is to represent the one who sends them.
Christ’s special one-time ambassadors were called “apostles” (Matt. 10:2-4). The word “apostle” is a transliterated Greek word that literally means “one sent.” The word was sometimes used in a general sense to refer to anyone sent forth – especially one sent by the Lord (2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25), but these twelve men were special. They had to meet unique qualifications (Acts 1:21, 22; 1 Cor. 9:1; Eph. 4:11). This was not a position that could be passed on to succeeding generations.
Viewed from the standpoint of the world, these were ordinary men. They had no elevated social status, no special training, and no unique talents. They were ordinary men called to an extraordinary task.
The apostles were given special credentials (Acts 2:43; 2 Co. 2:12; Heb. 2:1-4). They were given power to cast out demons, to heal sickness, and to raise the dead (Matt. 10:1, 8). For the first time, Jesus shared His miraculous powers. He bestowed upon them what they needed to carry out their mission.
The apostles were given a special commission, one we generally call the “Limited Commission”. It was limited in scope: They were to go to the Jews only, not to the Gentiles or the Samaritans (Matt. 10:5, 6). It was also limited in its message: They were to preach, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 10:7). They urged men to repent in order to prepare for the coming kingdom.
The apostles were given special instructions: They were to travel light (Matt. 10:9, 10) and stay in the homes of the receptive (Matt. 10:11-13a). They were not to waste time on the unreceptive, but to move on when they were rejected (Matt. 10:13b-15). They were to use wisdom in their teaching (Matt. 10:16b).
The apostles were given special encouragement: They were encouraged by being told that when they were arrested, the Holy Spirit would tell them what to say (Matt. 10:19, 20). They were also encouraged by Christ’s assurance that, as His special ambassadors, they were representing Him. He told them that anyone who received them was also receiving Him (Matt. 10:40-42; John 13:20). To be commissioned by the king or the president of a nation would be a great honor. The honor of being commissioned by the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16) is far greater!
The apostles were Jesus’ special ambassadors. Distinctive instructions to them (such as giving no thought to what they would say) do not apply to us. However, there are also lessons in this chapter for us.
Jesus’ Every Day Ambassadors
We are not ambassadors in the special sense that the apostles were, but we still represent the Lord on earth today. Every Christian has the responsibility of reconciling men to God and that when we do; we speak “on behalf of Christ.”
The New Testament teaches that it is impossible to separate Christ and His faithful followers. When someone gives a cup of cold water to one of Jesus’ disciples, it is as though he were doing this service to Jesus Himself (Matt. 10:42; 25:25, 40). When Saul persecuted members of the church (Acts 8:3), he was actually persecuting Christ (Acts 9:4). We have been baptized into His body (1 Cor. 12:13), the church, which is spoken of as His “fullness” (Eph. 1:22, 23). When we are baptized, we “clothe ourselves” with the Lord (Gal. 3:27). We are in Jesus, and He is in us (Rom. 8:1; Col. 1:27).
As Christ’s ambassadors, we should live a special kind of life:
(1) A life characterized by boldness in proclaiming the Lord. Christ said in Matthew 10:32-33, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” We are to acknowledge Him in word. We should also acknowledge Him in deed (Titus 1:16). The president of the US may have his Secret Service, but Jesus does not. We should openly acknowledge that we are servants of our King.
(2) A life characterized by right priorities. God, Jesus, and the kingdom must be placed above all else. They are more important than our families. Jesus said in Matthew 10:37, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” The Lord’s kingdom is more important than our very lives. Again Christ said in Matthew 10:39, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” This promise comforted early Christians as they faced Roman persecution.
(3) A life characterized by self-denial. Jesus said in Matthew 10:38, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” This is the first mention of the cross in the Book of Matthew. Jesus later “took up His cross” – literally. We are to be willing to follow Him.
As Christ’s “ambassadors,” we can expect persecution:
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). The chapter mentions three types of persecution:
(1) Persecution from the organized religion of the day: “But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues” (Matt. 10:17). Christians in some parts of the world today understand what it is like to be persecuted by organized religion.
(2) Persecution from governmental authorities: “You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles” (Matt. 10:18). Immediately we think of Paul’s persecution, and of the first martyrs. Again, some of our brethren today have undergone, and are undergoing, this type of persecution.
(3) Persecution from the family: “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death” (Matt. 10:31). He also said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; 36 "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household'” (Matt. 10:34-36). Jesus frankly told His followers in Matthew 10:22, “And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” He was starkly honest with them. He gave the job description and then, in effect, asked, “Do you want the job?”
As Jesus’ “Ambassadors,” we have the power and resources of the King at our disposal. Three times in the chapter, the Lord told His disciples not to fear.
(1) Do not fear when you are maligned because, in the end, the truth will triumph: “Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known (Matt. 10:26). The gospel would be proclaimed “upon the housetops” (Matt. 10:27).
(2) Do not fear when your life is threatened, because all that men can do is kill the body: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
(3) Do not fear because the all-powerful God is on your side: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. 30 "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 "Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29-31).
Jesus challenged His apostles: His Ambassadors Past and He challenges us: His every Day Ambassadors, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:39). Let each of us say as Paul said, “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20).
Use Your Bible!
Using your Bible answer the questions below
Theme: The Gift of Prophecy
How did god communicate with man in Eden? (Gen. 3:9)
Since the fall, by what means has God generally made known His will to man? (Hosea 12:10)
What things belong to God, and what to us? (Deut. 29:29)
How fully and to whom does God reveal His purposes? (Amos 3:7)
Can the wise men of the world foretell the future? (Dan. 2:27)
Who did Daniel say could reveal secrets? (Dan. 2:28)
How did the prophet Daniel acknowledge the insufficiency of human wisdom? (Dan. 2:30)
After revealing and interpreting the dream, what did Daniel say? (Dan. 2:45)
How does God show His foreknowledge? (Isa. 42:9)
How does the Lord reveal Himself to His prophets? (Num. 12:6)
Under what influence did the prophets of old speak? (2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Sam. 23:2)
How are both the origin of prophecy and the means of communicating it still further shown? (Rev. 1:1)
What angel revealed to Daniel his visions and dreams? (Dan. 9:21, 22; Dan. 10)
What Spirit was in the prophets indicting their utterances? (1 Pet. 1:10, 11)
How were the Lord’s words to the prophets preserved? (Dan. 7:1; Jer. 51:60)
By Whom has God spoken to us in these last days? (Heb. 1:1, 2)
What was one of the offices to be filled by the Messiah? (Deut. 18:15)
What was foretold through the prophet Joel? (Joel 2:28)