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Carey Assignment 3:

Exegetical study and application of a passage from the Bible

Luke 9:1-6 NRSV


Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all
demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God
and to heal. He said to them, Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor
bread, nor money-not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and
leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town
shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them. They departed and went
through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

Introduction: (note: all scripture references are from NRSV)


The main theme of this passage is the commissioning of the twelve disciples for
ministry. This means they were called by Jesus and given power and authority over
demons and to cure diseases. Their purpose was twofold: to proclaim the kingdom
of God, and to heal. They had been witnesses to Jesus preaching and healing, and
were now charged with the exciting yet daunting task of replicating his message and
miracles. Jesus was training them up by giving them an opportunity to preach and heal
under his authority, and to challenge people to either accept or reject Jesus message.
The commissioning concludes with Jesus disconcerting instructions- that they were to
be completely reliant on others for all their material needs.

In their town:
Background Details
The Gospel of Luke does not mention the authors name, but all evidence points to
Luke the doctor, Pauls companion on his missionary journeys.1 It is written to someone
called most excellent Theophilus. The title most excellent indicates Theophilus was
a man of some influence.2 The purpose of Luke is to write an orderly account detailing
the events of Jesus so that Theophilus may have confidence in the truth about which he
had been instructed (1:4). The bulk of Luke explains how Jesus prepared the disciples
for his departure and prepared them to minister in his absence.3 Our passage (Luke 9:16) gives impetus to this preparation. Jesus is giving opportunity for practical experience
in both preaching and healing. Both Matthew (ch 10) and Mark (ch 6) include the
commissioning of the twelve, and there is a rather surprising reflection in Luke 22:35
where Jesus talks about the sending of the twelve, but is outside the scope of this
exegetical study.

Verse 1-2 Authority and commission given


It is interesting to note that in the previous chapter (ch 8) Luke mentions that
Jesus went through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of
the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him(vs 1). Obviously the Twelve heard
Jesus message about the kingdom of God many times. Luke then goes on detailing the
parable of the sower, and its explanation, mentions the lamp being put on a lampstand

The Lion Handbook to the Bible (Lion Publishing plc Sandy Lane West, Oxford, England 1973), 514
Who was in the Bible (Thomas Nelson Publishers 1999), 394
3 Darrell L Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Luke 1:1-9:50 (Baker Books
1994), 2
2

rather than under a jar, that his true family are those who hear the word of God and
do it, followed by his amazing display of calmness and power over the storm, and the
unclean spirit named Legion in Gerasene. The chapter concludes with Jesus power
even over death with his raising of Jairus daughter and the healing of the woman with
bleeding. This is the setting when in chapter 9 Jesus called the twelve together and
gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. Jesus was
saying, youve seen me do all these things, now I want you to do the same, but under
my authority and in my power. In commissioning the twelve, Jesus told them to proclaim
the kingdom of God, and to heal. Proclaiming the kingdom of God meant proclaiming
the good news of the rule, or kingdom, of God. In the Old Testament the prophets
looked forward to a future era when God would act in power and set up his rule over
Israel. This hope was associated with the coming of a king (or Messiah; Greek, Christ)
who would belong to the kingly line of David.4

Verse 3-5 Instructions about provision and lodging


The disciples were given instructions regarding where they were to stay and their basic
daily needs. They were to depend on God as they journeyed, to travel with no extra
provisions. In those days travelling religious figures often carried a beggar's bag in
which they kept the money that they received or for which they had begged.5 Jesus
instructed the twelve to not take anything: no money, no bread, not even an extra tunic.

Howard Marshall, the gospels and Jesus Christ,The Lion Handbook to the Bible (Lion Publishing plc
Sandy Lane West, Oxford, England 1973), 468-473
5 Darrell L Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary, Luke 1:1-9:50, 814

A tunic was the main basic garment worn under the cloak.6 They were to rely only on
those who responded to them and their message, to supply their fundamental needs.
As they travelled, they were to stay in one place once they entered a city. If there was
no response, they were to leave, shaking the dust off their feet- a figure of speech
which symbolically says good riddance to those they leave behind.7 In the parallel
verse in Matthew 10:15 Jesus says Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land
of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town. The proclaimed
kingdom of God message challenged the hearer to make a decision, to either accept or
reject the good news of the Kingdom.

Verse 6 The Twelve take up the mission


The disciples depart and take Jesus message about the Kingdom of God and healing
the sick to the people. No longer do the people need to take the journey to find Jesus,
his message and miracles are finding their way to them.

Conclusion
In commissioning the twelve for ministry, Jesus is actively training them so they would
be prepared to proclaim the good news and to heal the sick after his departure. In
regard to their daily needs-they would ultimately have to rely on God rather than
themselves.

Howard F. Vos, New Illustrated Bible Manners & Customs (Nashville, Tennesse, Thomas Nelson, Inc
1999), 447
7 Darrell L Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary, Luke 1:1-9:50, 818-819

The width of the river:


There are a number of assumptions or presuppositions we could make that would
hinder us from understanding and interpreting this passage properly. I will list them
here.

Authority over all demons. People of the first century had an entirely different
understanding of the spiritual world than most do today. Demonic powers were believed
to be the cause of illness and trouble. Infant mortality was attributed to demonic
influence, and demons were believed to be prowling about not only in dark or deserted
places, but also in alleys and doorways.8 Mark 1:27 details the peoples amazement
at Jesus authority over demons. Such power over demonic forces had never before
been seen in the history of the world. Jesus explains in Matt 12:28, that his power over
demons is a distinguishing mark on his ministry to inaugurate the reign of the kingdom
of God among mankind in a new and powerful way.9

Kingdom of God. Gods kingdom was the dominant theme in Jesus teaching. But
what did Jesus message about the Kingdom of God mean to the original audiencebefore Jesus rose from the grave and ascended to heaven, before any of Pauls

8
9

John H Walton, Andrew E Hill, Old Testament Today (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2004), 210
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (InterVarsity Press 1994), 418

letters were written? We might miss the significance to the Jewish audience. Jesus
taught that his mission was to introduce the kingdom in fulfillment of the prophecies
of the Old Testament.10 Jesus message about the Kingdom of God would have been
enthusiastically received by those who were hoping and waiting for the anointed Son of
David to free them from Roman oppression and restore Israels glory.

Significance of not taking provisions. Jesus makes a list of items that the disciples
were instructed not to take. We could miss the point today if we think that was the
cultural norm of the day. The fact is, Jesus instructions were radically different to the
travelling religious preachers of the day. It would have been very disconcerting to the
disciples heading out with no food, no money and no extra clothes except the clothes on
their back.

The Principlizing bridge:


The main message is Jesus himself calls and prepares his disciples for ministry. This
he does in three ways: Firstly Jesus wants us to go out and minister under his authority
and power. Jesus has prepared work in advance for us to do, and as part of that
preparation he has given us his power and authority.

Second, Jesus wants us to be interested in both the spiritual and physical needs of
people. The disciples were instructed not only to preach but to heal, not only to heal,
but to preach. Each person we come in contact with has a specific set of needs. It

10

Vaughan Roberts, Gods Big Picture (InterVarsity Press 2002), 21

is important not to focus on one without the other. Jesus is our example, he was
interested in the person as a whole, not just as a potential disciple.

And third, central to the call and preparation, is the importance of learning reliance on
God. We are to look to him for our daily needs; learn to live a life of dependence on him,
and let God be the one to take care of us.

That principle in the wider Biblical context:


Right throughout the four Gospels, Jesus spends time with his disciples, teaching them
and demonstrating his power and authority, but also shows his love and care for the lost
and the downtrodden of society.

In the great commission (Matt 28:18-20) Jesus disciples are told to go under his
authority. Also in Luke 10, Jesus commissions the seventy to go town to town preaching
about the kingdom and healing the sick. In Ephesians 2:10 Paul talks about good
works which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. It is clear that Jesus wants
us to go and minister in his name, to be a light to the world, and that we are to live a
life of good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do. These good works
include telling others the Good News of Jesus Christ, and helping others wherever and
whenever we can.

Reliance on God is also a major theme of the Bible, both in the Old and New
Testament. In Deuteronomy 8:3 Moses sums up this theme of reliance on God

saying one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth
of the LORD; and in 1st Peter 5:7 we read Cast all your anxiety on him because
he cares for you. Jesus tells us to seek his kingdom first, and all these things, such
as food and clothing, will be given to us as well. (Matt 6:33) From scripture we get a
strong sense that Jesus himself calls and prepares us for ministry. He wants us to
be interested in both the spiritual and physical needs of people, and to live a life of
dependence on him.

In our town:
There was a woman who had been attending her local church for a few years. One
morning the pastor stood up the front of church and announced that he felt that God
wanted them as a church to be more involved in their community. He asked the
congregation if any of them would be interested in starting an outreach programme
that would engage the community and meet some of the needs in the area. The
woman thought it sounded like a great idea and could think of several people in the
congregation that would be perfectly suited for the job. However over the week, God
spoke to her saying what about you, are you willing to serve me in this way?. But
Lord, I dont have any experience in outreach or evangelism, she said. But through the
day, God made it quite clear that he had called her to this ministry and would help her
every step of the way. That she would have to step out and rely fully on him. The next
Sunday to the Pastors delight, the woman accepted the challenge and made herself
available to head up a new community programme.

There was a young man who had grown up in the church. His father was a pastor and
a preacher and had got him involved in church activities from a young age. The young
man was quite talented and was quite successful at what ever he turned his hand to.
He quickly rose through the church ranks as a good communicator, worship leader
and organiser. However over time he began to become more and more discouraged,
his obligation to church, and church ministry had become more of a burden than a
blessing. What was it all for, he thought, what do I get out of all this work?. The
young man had made the mistake that ministry is all about him, about what he got out
of it. Through his many talents he had become self reliant. Rather than being interested
in others spiritual and physical needs, he was interested in trying to convert everyone
to think like him. But we dont enter into ministry because of obligation, we have a much
higher calling- a calling from Jesus himself. Jesus doesnt want us to be self reliant, but
to learn to rely on him in every area of our lives. He doesnt want us to convert everyone
to think like us, he wants us to meet people where they are at, and present the ultimate
answer to lifes big questions- which is found in no other than Jesus Christ himself.

Bibliography:
The Lion Handbook to the Bible (Lion Publishing plc Sandy Lane West, Oxford, England
1973)
Who was in the Bible (Thomas Nelson Publishers 1999)
Darrell L Bock, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Luke 1:1-9:50

(Baker Books 1994)


Howard F. Vos, New Illustrated Bible Manners & Customs (Nashville, Tennesse,
Thomas Nelson, Inc 1999)
John H Walton, Andrew E Hill, Old Testament Today (Zondervan, Grand Rapids,
Michigan 2004)
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (InterVarsity Press 1994)
Vaughan Roberts, Gods Big Picture (InterVarsity Press 2002)
Charles H Talbert, Reading Luke (The Crossroad Publishing Company 1982)