Guests and hosts; preachers and hearers

Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ (Luke 10: 8-9)

These are further instructions from Jesus to the seventy or seventy-two disciples whom Jesus sent out on a mission (similar to the one he had given the twelve core disciples). The complete list of commands:

  • Pray for additional people to carry out the task of mission (“pray to the Lord…to send out laborers”)
  • Travel lightly (“carry no moneybag, no knapsack…”)
  • Go quickly on your mission (“greet no one on the road”)
  • Give your hosts a blessing of peace (“First say, ‘Peace be to this house!'”)
  • Don’t move about from house to house
  • Eat what they give you
  • Heal the sick
  • Announce that God’s reign is near, whether or not you are well received

It’s hard not to see this list as a complement to the commands in the Didache (probably written at roughly the same time as the gospel of Luke) about how early Christian communities were to receive itinerant teachers, apostles and prophets who came to them:

  • Receive them, but only if they teach “so as to increase righteousness and knowledge of the Lord”
  • Don’t let them stay too long (otherwise it is clear they are out for their own good) or ask for money or other goods–especially if they request things as part of their prophecy
  • Watch how they act, to see if their life is consistent with their message
  • If their message proves true, accept it and act on it
  • Let them stay if they can provide for themselves (If he … is an artisan, let him work and eat. [But if he is unwilling to work] he is a Christ-monger.”)
  • If they do stay with you, they do deserve your support

This has been quite a ramble, so let me ramble a bit more: doesn’t all this seem to apply to our current ‘television evangelists’ and even our paid ministers of the gospel?

About Will Fitzgerald

I work on recommendation systems and lexical resources for Wordnik.

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