Matthew 10:14
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
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(14) Shake off the dust of your feet.—The act was a familiar symbol of the sense of indignation, as in the case of St. Paul (Acts 13:51) at Antioch in Pisidia. The Jewish maxim, that even the very dust of a heathen land brought defilement with it, added to its significance. It was a protest in act, declaring (as our Lord declares in words) that the city or house which did not receive the messengers of the Christ was below the level even of the Gentiles.

Matthew 10:14-15. Whosoever shall not receive you — That is, entertain you kindly; nor, in an obedient manner, hearken to your words, when you depart, &c., shake off the dust of your feet — The Jews thought the land of Israel so peculiarly holy, that when they came home from any heathen country they stopped at the borders, and shook or wiped off the dust of it from their feet, that the holy land might not be polluted with it. Therefore the action here enjoined was a lively intimation, that those Jews who had rejected the gospel were holy no longer, but were on a level with heathen and idolaters. Verily, It shall be more tolerable, &c. — As if he had said, And indeed you have reason to shake off the dust of your feet in such a case, for whatever profession such Jews may make of their regard to the true God, and however they may continue to boast of their national privileges, their punishment at the day of final judgment shall not only be greater than that of the generality of Gentile sinners, but even than that of those monsters of unnatural wickedness who formerly inhabited Sodom and Gomorrah, and were consumed with fire and brimstone from heaven. For the people of those cities never sinned against such extraordinary light and such singular favours as they will do who reject the gospel now to be preached to them, with great plainness and power, by you, and attested by such miracles as I shall enable you to perform.

10:5-15 The Gentiles must not have the gospel brought them, till the Jews have refused it. This restraint on the apostles was only in their first mission. Wherever they went they must proclaim, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. They preached, to establish the faith; the kingdom, to animate the hope; of heaven, to inspire the love of heavenly things, and the contempt of earthly; which is at hand, that men may prepare for it without delay. Christ gave power to work miracles for the confirming of their doctrine. This is not necessary now that the kingdom of God is come. It showed that the intent of the doctrine they preached, was to heal sick souls, and to raise those that were dead in sin. In proclaiming the gospel of free grace for the healing and saving of men's souls, we must above all avoid the appearance of the spirit of an hireling. They are directed what to do in strange towns and cities. The servant of Christ is the ambassador of peace to whatever place he is sent. His message is even to the vilest sinners, yet it behoves him to find out the best persons in every place. It becomes us to pray heartily for all, and to conduct ourselves courteously to all. They are directed how to act as to those that refused them. The whole counsel of God must be declared, and those who will not attend to the gracious message, must be shown that their state is dangerous. This should be seriously laid to heart by all that hear the gospel, lest their privileges only serve to increase their condemnation.Shake off the dust of your feet - The Jews taught uniformly that the dust of the Gentiles was impure, and was to be shaken off.

To shake off the dust from the feet, therefore, was a significant act, denoting that they regarded them as impure, profane, and paganish, and that they declined any further connection with them. It is recorded that this was actually done by some of the apostles. See Acts 13:51; Acts 18:6.

14. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city—for possibly a whole town might not furnish one "worthy."

shake off the dust of your feet—"for a testimony against them," as Mark and Luke add (Mr 6:11; Lu 10:11). By this symbolical action they vividly shook themselves from all connection with such, and all responsibility for the guilt of rejecting them and their message. Such symbolical actions were common in ancient times, even among others than the Jews, as strikingly appears in Pilate (Mt 27:24). And even to this day it prevails in the East.

See Poole on "Matthew 10:15".

And whosoever shall not receive you,.... Into their houses, and refuse to entertain them and provide for them in a friendly manner;

nor hear your words, slight their salutations, make no account of, but despise their good wishes for their welfare; and also treat with contempt the doctrines of the Gospel preached by them; and either would not attend on their ministry, or if they did, give no credit to what they should say, but deride and reject them.

When ye depart out of that house, or city; to another house, or to another city, being obliged to remove, through their contemptuous rejection of them:

shake off the dust of your feet. So Paul and Barnabas did at Antioch in Pisidia, when the Jews contradicted and blasphemed the Gospel preached by them, raised a persecution against them, and expelled them out of their coasts, Acts 13:51 which ceremony was ordered by Christ to be observed even to the cities of Judea, that should despise and reject the ministry of his apostles; and that either to show that they did not come to them with worldly views, with any design to amass riches and wealth to themselves, for they would not so much as carry away with them the dust on their feet, but it was purely with a view to their welfare, both spiritual and temporal; or to testify that they had been among them, and that that very dust they shook off their feet would rise up in judgment against them, and declare that the Gospel had been preached among them, and they had rejected it, which will be an aggravation of their condemnation; or rather to observe to them, that such was their wickedness, that even the dust of their country was infected thereby, and therefore they shook it off, as though it defiled them, as the dust of an Heathen country was thought by the Jews to do; so that by this action they signified that they would have nothing more to do with them, or say to them, and that they looked upon them as impure and unholy, as any Heathen city or country. There seems to be an allusion to some maxims and customs of the Jews, with respect to the dust of Heathen countries.

"On account of six doubts, they say (u), they burn the first offering, for a doubt of a field in which a grave might be, and for a doubt , "of the dust which comes from the land of the Gentiles", &c.''

On which Bartenora has this note;

"all dust which comes from the land of the Gentiles, is reckoned by us as the rottenness of a dead carcass; and of these two, "the land of the Gentiles", and a field in which is a grave, it is decreed that they "defile" by touching, and by carrying.''

Again (w),

"the dust of a field in which is a grave, and the dust without the land (of Israel) which comes along with an herb, are unclean.''

Upon which Maimonides makes this remark,

"that the dust of a field that has a grave in it, and the dust which is without the land of Israel, defile by touching and carrying; or if, when it hangs at the end of an herb, when they root it out of the dust of such a field, it is unclean.''

Hence they would not suffer herbs to be brought out of an Heathen country into the land of Israel, lest dust should be brought along with them.

"A Misnic doctor teaches (x), that they do not bring herbs from without the land (of Israel into it), but our Rabbins permit it; what difference is there between them? Says R. Jeremiah, they take care of their dust; that is the difference between them.''

On that clause, "they take care of their dust", the gloss is,


And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
Matthew 10:14. Καὶ ὃς ἐὰν, κ.τ.λ.] The nominative is a case of anacoluthon, and placed at the beginning, so as to be emphatic, as in Matthew 7:24 : Whosoever will not have received you … as you quit that house or that town, shake, and so on.

ἐξέρχεσθαι, with a simple genitive (Acts 16:39); Kühner, II. 1, p. 346. The ἔξω, which Lachmann, Tischendorf 8. insert (B D א), is a gloss upon what is a rare construction in the New Testament. Notice the present participle, thereby meaning “upon the threshold,” and relatively “at the gate.”

] or, should a whole town refuse to receive you and listen to you. The shaking off the dust is a sign of the merited contempt with which such people are reduced to the level of Gentiles, whose very dust is defiling. Iightfoot, p. 331 f.; Mischna Surenhusii, VI. p. 151; Wetstein on this passage; Acts 13:51; Acts 18:6. This forcible, meaning of the symbolical injunction is not to be weakened (Grotius, Bleek: “Nil nobis vobiscum ultra commercii est;” de Wette: “Have nothing further to do with them;” Ewald: “Calmly, as though nothing had happened”); on the contrary, it is strengthened by Matthew 10:15. Comp. Matthew 7:6.

14. shake off the dust of your feet] as St Paul did at Antioch in Pisidia, Acts 13:51. The cities of Israel that rejected the Gospel should be regarded as heathen. The very dust of them was a defilement as the dust of a heathen land. See Lightfoot, ad loc.

Matthew 10:14. Ὅς ἐὰν, whosoever) whatever householder or magistrate.—ἐξερχόμενοι, when ye depart) The ignorance of men was not yet invincible. At present, in a greater multitude of labourers and hearers, it is not necessary to depart.[462]—, or) If you should not be admitted into any house of the city.—κονιορτὸν, dust) Because punishment (Matthew 10:15) would overtake the very dust of the land trodden by the feet of the impious, from which the apostles would wish to be altogether free; see Acts 13:51; cf. Matthew 18:6; Mark 6:11. That seeing your determination, they may know it has been said to them as a testimony against them. The action combined with the word moves both spectators and auditors; see Nehemiah 5:13.—τῶν ποδῶν, your feet) This depends upon ἐκτινάξατε, shake off from. Guilt is supposed to adhere to the feet or shoes; see 1 Kings 2:5. Therefore the apostles ought to declare, by shaking the dust from their feet, that the fault of those who did not listen has been removed from them.

[462] Beng, seems to mean, There was not then, as yet, the invincible ignorance of men to contend with, that there is now: it was wilful unbelief; and in such a case it was their duty not to waste time, as the spiritual labourers were few, but to depart. In our day, on the other hand, where the numbers of both spiritual labourers and their hearers are many, it is not the duty of the former to depart, though many wilfully harden themselves, for there are others who labour under ignorance, and it is the minister’s duty to labour to overcome that ignorance, which, though invincible in itself, can be overcome by the Spirit of God.—ED.

Verses 14, 15. - If rejected, bear your solemn witness to the fact, for to reject you brings awful consequences. Verse 14. - Parallel passages: Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5 (the twelve); 10:10, 11 (the seventy). And whosoever shall not receive you - on your formal request as heralds of the kingdom - nor hear your words (Matthew 7:24, note), when (as, Revised Version, ver. 12, note) ye depart (go forth, Revised Version) out cf. At the moment of going out (cf. ver. 12), ἐξερχόμενοι ἔξω (Matthew 21:17; Acts 16:13), in this case finally. That house or (thai, Revised Version) city. "The house," rightly further defined by "that" in English, comes in Matthew only; "that city" comes also in the parallel passage, Luke 9:5 (cf. the parallel passages, Mark 6:11; Luke 10:10), and therefore belongs to the source used by St. Matthew. Shake off the dust of ("ell;" ἐκ, Westcott and Herr, margin) your feet. Treating it as a heathen place, whose pollution must be shaken off. For the very dust from a heathen land was to be reckoned as polluting, since, as Rashi says on Talm. Bab., 'Sabb.,' 15b (cf. Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.,' in loc.), "It may be doubted, of all the dust of a heathen land, whether it were not from the sepulchre of the dead." (For the apostolic fulfilment of our Lord's injunction cf. Acts 13:51 and Acts 18:6; see also Nehemiah 5:13.) Matthew 10:14Shake off (ἐκτινάξατε)

"The very dust of a heathen country was unclean, and it defiled by contact. It was regarded like a grave, or like the putrescence of death. If a spot of heathen dust had touched an offering, it must at once be burnt. More than that, if by mischance any heathen dust had been brought into Palestine, it did not and could not mingle with that of 'the land,' but remained to the end what it had been - unclean, defiled and defiling everything to which it adhered." The apostles, therefore, were not only to leave the house or city which should refuse to receive them, "but it was to be considered and treated as if it were heathen, just as in the similar case mentioned in Matthew 18:17. All contact with such must be avoided, all trace of it shaken off" (Edersheim, "Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ"). The symbolic act indicated that the apostles and their Lord regarded them not only as unclean, but as entirely responsible for their uncleanness. See Acts 18:6.

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