A Tax Collector and a Zealot

Text: Matthew 10:2-4

When Jesus sent out the twelve apostles on the “limited commission,” Matthew recorded their names. Aside from Judas who would betray Him, this record only provides us with information about previous activities for two men – Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot. As we examine the differences between these two men & how they could work together in the cause of Christ, we learn some lessons about unity, civil government, and the Christian’s relationship to it.

Matthew the Tax Collector

  • Tax collectors were associated with sinners (Matthew 9:9-11; 11:19) – Jesus condemned the self-righteous Pharisees with a parable contrasting a Pharisee with one they saw as being completely unrighteous: a tax collector (Luke 18:9-14)
  • Tax collectors were aligned with the Roman occupiers – while most Jews weren’t Zealots, they were generally looking for one who would defeat the Romans & restore the kingdom (John 6:15; Acts 1:6)

Simon the Zealot

  • Who were the Zealots? … The Zealots were a faction, headed by Judas of Galilee, who, “in the days of the enrollment” (cp. Acts 5:37; Lk. 2:1-2) bitterly opposed the threatened increase of taxation at the census of Quirinius, and would have hastened by the sword the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy (ISBE)
  • The Zealots sought the overthrow of Roman rule – not merely rebellion for the sake of rebellion (cf. Proverbs 24:21); they were motivated by zeal for God, their nation, and the promised land

Jesus Brought These Two Together

  • Before these men were called by Jesus, it would have been very unlikely to find them in a group together
  • Jesus came to bring unity for man with God & the faithful (Ephesians 2:13-16) – not based upon nationality, politics, race, class, or any other distinction; unity that would be based upon man’s adherence to the word of God (John 17:20-21)
  • Jesus was able to bring these two men together – neither was completely off track, nor was either one completely right; both had to conform to the will & rule of Christ

There is a Place for Civil Authority

  • God was using Rome to complete His plan (Daniel 2:44; Galatians 4:4; John 19:11; Acts 2:23)
  • God has ordained a role for civil government even today (Romans 13:3-4) – therefore, we are to be subject to them (Romans 13:5-7)

Our Submission to Government Has Limits

  • Obedience to God comes first (Acts 5:29)
  • God has made us free (1 Peter 2:16) – so that we might submit to the rule of God; submission to civil authorities is “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13)
  • God is over all – He proved it through the death & resurrection of Christ (Colossians 2:15)

Our Primary Citizenship is in Heaven

  • Matthew & Simon could come together as part of the kingdom of Christ – a spiritual kingdom (John 18:36)
  • Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20)
  • Any submission or rebellion to civil authorities must be “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13; Acts 5:29)
  • Besides this, we need to do all things in the name of the Lord (Colossians 3:17) – if we are obedient to Him, we can have the reward of heaven (Hebrews 5:9)

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