A Moment with the Bible
In this text, Jesus prepares the apostles for how they should go about their work of bringing back the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As they preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, they are to use the powers Jesus gave them to heal those suffering from infirmities. Such use of miraculous powers would not only show the compassion of the Lord but also confirm the teaching of the apostles to be from God. We must remember that the use of the miraculous in the first century was critical to spreading the gospel. Without miracles to authenticate the teaching, no Jew would have given up following the Law of Moses and no Gentile would have been convinced to leave paganism. Notice that Jesus encourages the apostles to freely use these gifts since they had been freely given to them. In other words, these gifts were not for their own personal encouragement or as proof to themselves that God was with them. The gifts were to be used for the benefit of others and as proof of apostolic authority. Those today who claim miraculous powers neither demonstrate such by authentic gifts (“heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers”, vs. 8), nor do they do it for the benefit of others but instead to draw people to themselves and line their pockets with their money.
There is a significant difference in how the apostles were to go on this limited commission to Israel and how they would later go to the whole world in the Great Commission. Since Israel was considered within the covenant relationship of God, the Lord expected worthy Jewish people to provide for the apostles as they did their work: “for a worker is worthy of his food” (vs. 10). However, when the apostles took the gospel to the whole world they would either provide for themselves by their own labor or churches/Christians would take care of their support. They did not attempt to take money from those to whom they were bringing the gospel. This is one of the critical differences between a true teacher of God and a false teacher. False teachers are constantly trying to make money off those they teach (2 Peter 2:1-3). True teachers do not exploit the lost people they teach but instead rely on their own brethren for support (1 Cor. 9:14) or the labor of their own hands (Acts 20:33-34).