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Chris wrote:

Hello Michael,

  • What's your opinion of this sentence in the Gospel?
  • What does this passage mean?:

". . . your peace will go upon him, if he is not it will return to you."

I looked it up in three or four different study Bibles and I kind of get it but not enough. It's just not sinking in and I know it's important.

Thank you,


  { What's your opinion of this sentence in the Gospel and, in context, what is the Biblical meaning of this passage? }

Mike replied:

Hi Chris,

I believe you are referring to Matthew 10:5-15 — The Mission of the Twelve.

I have a 1954 Commentary on the Holy Scriptures that I use often. It provides commentary for the entire Bible, New and Old, Chapter and verse. I have given you the complete commentary on Matthew 10:5-15 (below) which is divided into (4) parts. The portion of passages you have a question on, are addressed in verses: 11-15.       

The Mission of the Twelve states:

Instructions for the Local Mission.

10 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, "Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And preach as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without pay, give without pay. 9 Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, salute it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Matthew 10:5-15

The following has been taken from my 1954 Commentary on the Holy Scriptures for Matthew 10:5-15:

Matthew 10:5-15

(Mark 6:8-11; Luke 9:2-5; cf. Luke 10:4-12; Matthew 11:24)

Matthew 10:5-6: In the divine plan Israel was to be first beneficiary of the Messianic offer, Romans 1:16; the Apostles, therefore, are not yet to walk the roads leading to non-Jewish districts ("the way of the Gentiles") -- neither northwards to pagan Syria nor south to Samaria, mixed in population and diluted in Yahwism since the Assyrian colonization of the eighth century.; cf. John 4:7. The mission is confined to Galilean territory. Mark and Luke, writing for Gentile readers, delicately omit the prohibition.
Matthew 10:7-8: The theme of the preaching is summed up in a sentence. It is the Baptist's theme (Matthew 3:2) and our Lord's, Matthew 4:17. Miracles will guarantee the genuineness of their message.  Their missionary purpose must not be obscured or defeated by the passing of money; the power of miracles and doctrine had cost the Apostles nothing.

Matthew 10:9-10: Our Lord's advice for the journey is not "practical" in the usual sense but consists in a complete reliance of Providence. No need for gold, silver, copper in their girdle-pouches ("money in your purses"); nor food-satchel nor warm clothing (cf. Mark 6:9) but barefoot and unarmed ("nor a staff") Mark 6:8-9, allows shoes and a staff.

It would be difficult to prove that Mark and Matthew are speaking of different varieties of shoe and staff. It is more probable that the general sense, and not the actual words, is preserved by each evangelist and worded according to his scope (cf. Augustine's words quoted on 9:18-19). Thus Matthew's atmosphere is of complete detachment, Mark is more practical; the substance of each is the same, viz. no undue anxiety but reliance upon Providence.  The supernatural powers of the Apostles cannot be sold or bought, 8, but for the labor involved in their exercise, and in the preaching of the Gospel they deserve their upkeep (cf. Luke 10:7; 1 Timothy 5:17-18; Galatians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 9:13-14). Providence will see that this is provided.

Matthew 10:11-15: Arriv[ing] at his destination, the Apostle, having found a respectable ("worthy") house, should lodge there until he leaves the town lest he appear restless or fickle or over-particular in material things. "Peace!" (salom) is the common oriental greeting, but on Apostolic lips it takes a religious significance; it is efficacious if its recipients be worthy. In Biblical times, "peace" is the sum of all blessings.

This Apostolic blessing (like God's own word, cf. Isaiah 55:11.) cannot be robbed of its intrinsic power by the unworthiness of the person addressed; it returns to the giver that he may confer the rejected blessing on some worthy house. The despised blessing even becomes a curse: the last Judgement will show that such rejection of the good news of the Kingdom is a crime greater even than the typical wickedness of "the cities of the plain", Genesis 19. Meanwhile, the Apostle will show symbolically that the unworthy house, though evidently Jewish, is no better than pagan territory.

The gesture of "shaking the dust from the feet" is exclusively Jewish, practiced on return to the Holy Land after journeys on the "impure" soil of paganism. It is ironical that the gesture should be turned against Jews (cf. also Paul in Acts 13:51); the Holy Land itself is not proof against uncleanness. It becomes clear that the old order of a confident national religion is passing; cf. 3:9.

I hope this answers your question.

Take care my friend,


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