What does the Bible mean, “Shake the dust from your feet?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, you have likely heard the expression, “Shake the dust from your feet,” in Christian contexts. It is indeed derived from the Scriptures. Have you ever wondered what it means?

The phrase (or a slight variation) appears five times in the King James Bible:

  • Matthew 10:14: “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.”
  • Mark 6:11: “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.”
  • Luke 9:5: “And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.”
  • Luke 10:11: “Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.”
  • Acts 13:51: “But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium.”

According to Bible historians, when a Jew returned from traveling in a Gentile land, he literally shook the dust from his clothes and feet because he did not want to bring heathen soil into Judaea. It was a gesture of disgust. Similarly, when the Apostles (led by Peter) in Israel’s program went around preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, or when the Apostles (led by Paul) in our mystery program went around preaching the Gospel of the Grace of God, they “shook the dust” to show God’s disapproval of their unbelieving audiences. It was an insult for a Jewish town to be treated as though it were Gentile (and, in fact, those unsaved Jews were just as unbelieving as the unsaved pagans)!

The dust cleaving to the shoes of these Gospel preachers was proof that Almighty God’s spokesmen had been present in the cities and houses but the citizens had rejected those Divine messages. Such preachers of Christ were not to linger indefinitely in one place, wasting precious time with people who did not want to hear the truth and had no interest in believing God’s Word anyway. They were to shake the dust as a sign of condemnation!

Also see:
» “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant?”
» How long should we keep witnessing to the same person?
» Did Paul engage in “missionary journeys?”