Mission: peace

70Apostles“Peace to this household…” The instructions for how the disciples should receive hospitality are expanded from 9:4, which simply commanded that they stay wherever they were received. Here the instruction has two parts, with commentary on each: (1) say, “Peace to this house,” and (2) remain in the house where you are received. The peace they offer seems like a tangible gift or even a living reality with a mind of its own. This notion of peace rests on the biblical concept of the word of God as being not only a message but somehow an embodiment of God’s own personality and power (Isa 55:10–11; Jer 20:8–9). The peace-wish of the Christian missionary is more than an expression of good will — it is the offer of a gift from God of which they are privileged to be the ministers and heralds (see 1:2; Acts 6:4). Those who bring spiritual gifts can expect their physical needs to be taken care of by the beneficiaries (v. 7; see Gal 6:6 “the one who is being instructed in the Word should share all good things with his instructor.”).

The Twelve were to remain in the one house in any one town (9:4) and this applies to the seventy also. They are to have no compunction about receiving their meals free, for the laborer deserves his payment (cf. 1 Tim. 5:18). This is a principle of wide application that has sometimes been overlooked in Christian activities. But if the laborer is worth his wages he is not worth more. The disciples are not to go from house to another. That would mean engaging in a social round and being entertained long after they have done their work. There is an urgency about their mission. They must press on.

When the preachers are welcomed they are to accept hospitality, eating what is put in front of them. In the area beyond Jordan to which they were apparently going there were many Gentiles and the food offered might not always satisfy the rigorist for ceremonial purity. They were not to be sidetracked into meticulousness about food and food laws. They were to heal and to preach, the content of their message being that the kingdom of God is at hand.

Three instructions are given regarding the conduct of the mission in each village: (1) Eat what is provided, (2) heal the sick (cf. Matt 10:8), and (3) announce the kingdom. The three facets of the mission encompass the creation of community (table fellowship), care of physical needs, and proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom. The disciples, therefore, were charged to continue the three facets of Jesus’ work in Galilee.

The Woes of the Impenitent. Because the proclamation of the gospel is the word of God, it is not to be treated as a merely human message — “take it or leave it.” In rejecting the preachers they were not simply rejecting a couple of poor itinerants, but the very kingdom of God, and that has serious consequences for closing ears and hearts to the news of God’s reign – the people have drawn down judgment on themselves

Jesus makes drastic comparisons for the obstinate cities of Galilee where he centered much of his ministry. Chorazin and Bethsaida will be no better off than Sodom. And proud Capernaum, Jesus’ “headquarters” in Galilee, has learned nothing from the Jewish heritage that was preparing for the coming of the Messiah. Tyre and Sidon, Gentile cities, would have been able to read the signs that Capernaum overlooked. The conclusion of the instruction is a reminder of the deeper dimension of the mission: the disciples are bringing Jesus and the Father to their listeners.

The Return of the Seventy-two. On their return, the seventy-two are amazed at the power that has been given them through the name of Jesus. They have driven out demons, furthering Jesus’ attack on Satan’s dominion in this world. Jesus envisions Satan falling from the sky through their ministry, another way of saying that the eschatological or final battle between good and evil is taking place now; the victory is being won in Jesus’ name (John 12:31; Rom 16:20). But the disciples must not lose their perspective. The prize is not human glory through feats of power but heavenly glory through following Jesus to Jerusalem, to Calvary.


Luke 10:7 the laborer deserves his payment: This saying is well attested in the NT – Mt 10:10, 1 Cor 9:14, and 1 Tim 5:18

Luke 10:10 cure the sick: As in Luke 9:1-2, the preaching of the reign of God is signaled by the power to heal

Luke 10:11 dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you: this gesture indicates a complete disassociation from unbelievers

Luke 10:12 that day: “that day” is not explained, but it likely points to a dreadful day of judgment (cf. 21:34; Matt 7:22; 2 Thess 1:10; 2 Tim 1:12, 18; 4:8). Then it will be more tolerable … for Sodom than for the offenders. The destruction of Sodom (Gen. 19:13, 24f.; Isa 3:9; Ezek 16:48, 56) led to that city’s becoming proverbial for the judgment by God of wicked people (Dt 29:23; Isa 1:9; 13:19; Jer 23:14; Lam 4:6 – as well in the NT – Jude 7; 2 Peter 2:6; Rom 9:29; and Luke 17:29). The guilt of those who rejected the messengers of God’s kingdom is emphasized by the allusion.

Luke 10:13 Woe to you: Woe is not a call for vengeance, but an expression of deep regret

Luke 10:13 repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes: The call to repentance that is a part of the proclamation of the kingdom brings with it a severe judgment for those who hear it and reject it. “Sackcloth and ashes” are often mentioned in contexts of mourning (Esther 4:1, 3; Jer. 6:26) and petition (Isa. 58:5; Dan. 9:3). This expression survives in Jewish traditions (cf. 1 Macc. 3:47; Josephus, Ant. 11.221; 20.123; Jos. Asen. 13:2; T. Jos. 15:2), although in the NT it appears only in this passage (and its parallel, Matt. 11:21).

Luke 10:13 Chorazin: Ancient Jewish sources describe it as a medium-sized town (t. Mak.  3:8) noted for its remarkable wheat production (b. Menah. 85a). Eusebius and Jerome the ruins of the town 2 mi north of Capernaum. C. W. M. Van de Velde’s identification of Khirbet Karazeh as ancient Chorazin in the 1850s has been generally accepted. Bethsaida is on the north end of Lake Gennesaret east of the mouth of the Jordan.

Luke 10:14 Tyre and Sidon: The NT frequently mentions the Phoenician city Tyre together with Sidon. In the OT Tyre and Sidon came to be cities condemned for their worship of foreign gods (Isa. 23; Ezek. 26–28; Joel 3:4–8; Amos 1:9–10). Their arrogance is best captured in Ezek. 28:2, where Tyre is described as claiming, “I am a god; I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas.” It may be no coincidence that the following verse, concerning Capernaum (Luke 10:15), also focuses on the issue of pride.

Luke 10:15 the netherworld: the underworld, the place of the dead (Acts 2:27,31) here contrasted with heaven. The evocation of OT symbols of judgment and destruction continue with this verse, which contains an allusion to Isa. 14:13–15 in the prophetic oracle against Babylon: “You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God … I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the pit.” A similar pattern of thought is found in Ezek. 28:2–10. In Acts 12:22–23 the fall of King Herod is described in similar terms. What is striking is that warnings once directed against Israel’s neighbors are now applied to Israel as they too refuse to acknowledge their God.

Luke 10:18 I have observed Satan fall like lightning:  This is Luke’s first use of the name Satan for the chide of the demons; he earlier used “the devil” (4:13; 8:12).  The role of Satan as tester is established in the Book of Job.  The effect of the mission of the seventy-two is characterized as a symbolic fall of Satan. As the kingdom of God is gradually being established, evil in all its forms is being defeated; the dominion of Satan over humanity is at an end.

The fall of Satan draws on Isa. 14:12 which seems to have used ancient Near Eastern mythic language in portraying the downfall of Babylon. Jesus’ use of similar language to apply to Satan may recall the background behind Isaiah’s language. Jewish interpretive traditions also apply Isa. 14:12 to the fall of Satan/Lucifer (2 En. 29:3; L.A.E. 12:1). In the Qumran documents the fall of the evil one is accompanied by the exaltation of the righteous in cosmic battles (cf. 11Q13).

Luke 10:19 snakes and scorpions: The pairing of opheōn kai skorpiōn (“snakes and scorpions”) may allude to ophis daknōn kai skorpios (“biting snakes and scorpions”) in Deut. 8:15, where God’s protection of Israel in the wilderness is noted. AS well it may be a reference back to Ps. 91:13. Deut. 8 and Ps. 91 have already appeared together in the Lucan temptation narrative (4:4, 11–12) and in 10:19 Luke may have alluded to both texts in reference to the promise of divine protection.

Luke 10:20 names are written in heaven: The idea of a heavenly book in which the names and deeds of the righteous are recorded in found in Ex 32:32-33; Ps 69:28; Ps 138:16, Phil 4:3, Heb 12:24, Rev 3:5.  Luke also has similar ideas “merit in heaven” (6:3) and “treasures in heaven” (12:33; 18:22)


  • R. Alan Culpepper, Luke in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. IX (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1995)
  • Joe B. Green, The Gospel of Luke in The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997) 410-420

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