CAN YOU EXPLAIN MATTHEW 10:41-42?
by Shawn Brasseaux
We read in Matthew chapter 10: “ He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.  And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
These are the closing verses of the first installment of the “Great Commission” (the other installments are in chapter 28, Mark chapter 16, Luke chapter 24, John chapter 20, and Acts chapter 1). In order to get the context, let us start at the beginning of the chapter: “ And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.  Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;  Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;  Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
“ These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.  Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses,  Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
“ And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence.  And when ye come into an house, salute it.  And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you.  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.  Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.  Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
Skip to verses 41-42 now: “ He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.  And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
The idea here is Jews receiving Jewish preachers of the Gospel of the Kingdom—especially inviting the 12 Apostles into their homes. Firstly, when the Bible says, “in the name of a prophet/righteous man,” it is in the sense of “in the authority of a prophet [spokesman for God]/righteous man [saint], because he is a prophet/righteous man.” They are acknowledging the office the man is holding. Secondly, when Scripture says “he shall receive a prophet’s/righteous man’s reward,” it refers to sharing in the eternal reward of that prophet or righteous man. There is a reward system of which all Jewish believers in Israel’s prophetic program partake. Let us consider the following sample of verses.
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven…. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly…. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly…. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:1,4,6,18).
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:27). “Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets” (Luke 6:23). “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).
The reward is a particular role or job to play—a governmental office to hold—within God’s earthly kingdom. Go to Matthew chapter 19: “ And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”
See now Luke chapter 19, which also applies to the restructuring of Israel’s government when Jesus Christ returns to set up His kingdom on Earth: “ And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.  He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.  And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.  But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
“ And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.  Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.  And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.  And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.  And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.  And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:  For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.  And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:  Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?  And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds.  (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.)  For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.  But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”
In a similar manner, when we as members of the Church the Body of Christ support (with prayer, money, time, et cetera) a pastor, missionary, or Bible teacher, we are sharing in his reward. Our resources were useful in him publishing God’s Word—especially the Gospel of Grace. His converts are not only his fruit but our fruit too. We share in his ministry, so we will share in his reward. As touching the Body of Christ, the reward is a role or job within Heaven’s governments (see Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 2:6-7; Ephesians 3:10-11; Colossians 1:16-20). There is a reward system in both the prophetic program and the mystery program.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians chapter 4: “ Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.  Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.  For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.  Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.  But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.” Paul was not a greedy man, yet he gladly received the gifts or offerings from fellow saints. These Christians were taking the opportunity to serve him, and were really accumulating reward in Heaven. Like us, they will see their reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Colossians 3:23-25)!