This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: Luke 10:1 ‘and sent them two and two before his face into every city and

This Week’s Focus Passage: Luke 10:1

‘and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place.’

The context out of which the above citation is to be found, is Luke 10:1-3, where we read; Now after these things the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself was about to come. And he said unto them, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest. Go your ways; behold, I send you forth as lambs in the midst of wolves.


    There is much in the way of instruction in these words of Jesus, as He sends these seventy out into His harvest. There is much discussion, among commentators, about the numbers of those sent out. Some contend that is was actually seventy-two, while others maintain that it was seventy. Much ink has probably been spilt over this matter. But, much less, it seems, has been spilt over the question of their being sent out ‘two and two,’ or, ‘two by two.’ The  point being, of course, that they were sent out in pairs, two together. If inquiry is made, why two and two, the answer is very simple, and very practical as well. The commentator, William Hendriksen, of the Christian Reformed Church, has offered his assistance in the matter, with the following thoughts and suggestions in his comments upon Luke.

“When the question is asked, ‘Why two by two?’ practical considerations such as: to help and encourage each other (cf. Eccles. 4:9); and to be valid witnesses (Num. 35:30; Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:16; John 8:17; II Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19; Heb. 10:28) occur to the mind immediately. The same practical considerations undoubted-ly also explain why the seventy were sent out ‘two by two.’ Indeed, it is worthy, and of note, that Hendriksen cites the passage found in Ecclesiastes 4:9ff;

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  

    Did not also John the Baptist send two of his disciples to Jesus with an important question (Luke 7:19)? At a later time, we notice that Peter and John bring their united testimony (Act 3:1; 4:1, 13, 19); that Barnabas and Saul are sent out together on their missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3); and that afterward Paul and Silas are together ‘commended by the brothers to the grace of God (15:40). And let us not forget Barnabas and Mark (15:39), Judas and Silas (15:27), Timothy and Silas (17:14), and Timothy and Erastus (19:22). 

    Some writers have spoken of these men, as heralds, other have referred to them, as ambassadors; we may think of them, in our own day, as missionaries. What is a herald? Webster’s New World Dictionary defines a herald, as ‘1. an official who made proclamations, carried state messages, etc. 2. One who announces significant news, etc; a forerunner.’ And what is an ambassador? The same dictionary defines for us, an ambassador, as ‘a high-ranking diplomatic representative of one country to another.’ We can easily recognize these definitions in the persons sent out by Jesus. More important, we believe, by far, is the fact that we are told they were sent out ‘two by two.’ This was not some singular occasion in the ministry of Christ with His disciples. We may read the very same behavior with regard to the ‘twelve,’ as His disciples were, more often than not, spoken of in the Word. In the gospel according to Mark, and chapter six, we find in verse seven, the following words:

And he calleth unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth, by two and two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 

This was, evidently, His usual practice. This was wisdom from Wisdom Himself. Even when, amid most sad and perplexing circumstances, Paul and Barnabas were divided from one another because of some disagreement, we find, that when they returned ‘to the field, they went not by themselves alone, but secured other ‘partners’ to attend them in the work. Luke has written of this in his book of Acts, as found in chapter 15:36ff. In this place we are informed of the separation of Paul and Barnabas.

And after some days Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us return now and visit the brethren in every city wherein we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they fare. And Barnabas was minded to take with them John also, who was called Mark. But Paul thought not good to take with them him who withdrew from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And there arose a sharp contention, so that they parted asunder one from the other, and Barnabas took Mark with him, and sailed away unto Cyprus: but Paul chose Silas, and went forth, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.

Surely, there are a number of lessons for us in this passage, concerning a sad event of brothers in the Lord having a disagreement, and such as even separated them apart. But that which perhaps has been little noticed by the readers of the Scriptures, and even relatively unnoticed by many commentators, is the continuation of the charge given them to preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Savior of sinners. Though, sadly, they were separated the one from the other, yet we discover that they knew better than to go alone on the business of proclaiming the gospel of salvation. Yea, we don’t read of Paul going off by himself in one direction, and Barnabas going off alone in another direction. But they, each of them, chose another partner, another co-worker, another brother to work together for the sake of the gospel. We are not going to make any attempt with regard to what caused the division, much less to attempt to assign the greater blame to one, over the other. The main point is that they knew better than to ‘go it alone.’ 

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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