Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 32: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
1. And after these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two by two before his face into every city and place, to which he was to come 2. He said, therefore to them, The harvest is indeed abundant, but the laborers are few; pray ye, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out the laborers into his harvest 3. Go: behold, I send you as lambs among wolves. 4. Carry neither purse, nor bag nor shoes, and salute no man by the way. 5. Into whatsoever house you shall enter, first say, Peace be to this house. 6. And if the son of peace will remain upon it: but if not, it will return to you. 7. And remain in the same house eating and drinking those things which shall be given by them; 29 for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8. And into whatsoever city you shall enter, and they shall receive you, eat those things which are set before you: 9. And cure the diseased who are in it, and say to them, The kingdom of God is nigh to you. 10. And in whatsoever city you shall enter, and they shall not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11. Even the dust, which has cleaved to us from your city, we wipe off against you: yet know this, that the kingdom of God is nigh to you. 12. I say to you, That in that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that day.
Luke 10:1. And after these things the Lord appointed That the Apostles had returned to Christ before these seventy were substituted in their room, may be inferred from many circumstances. The twelve, therefore, were sent to awaken in the Jews the hope of an approaching salvation. After their return, as it was necessary that higher expectation should be excited, others were sent in greater numbers, as secondary heralds, to spread universally in every place the report of Christ’s coming. Strictly speaking, they received no commission, but were only sent by Christ as heralds, to prepare the minds of the people for receiving his doctrine. As to the number seventy, he appears to have followed that order to which the people had already been long accustomed. We must bear in mind what has been already said about the twelve Apostles, 30 that as this was the number of the tribes when the people were in a flourishing condition, so an equal number of apostles or patriarchs was chosen, to reassemble the members of the lacerated body, that the restoration of the Church might thus be complete.
There was a similar reason for these seventy. We know that Moses, finding himself insufficient for the burden, took seventy judges to be associated with him in governing the people, (Exod. 18:22, Exod. 24:1.) But when the Jews returned from the Babylonish captivity, they had a council or συνέδριον—which was corrupted into Sanedrin 31 —consisting of seventy-two judges. As usually happens with such numbers, when they spoke of the council, they called them only the seventy judges; and Philo assures us, that they were chosen out of the posterity of David, that there might be some remaining authority in the royal line. After various calamities, this was the finishing stroke, when Herod abolished that council, and thus deprived the people of a legitimate share in the government. Now as the return from Babylon prefigured a true and complete redemption, the reason why our Lord chooses seventy heralds of his coming appears to be, to hold out the restoration of their fallen state; and as the people were to be united under one head, he does not give them authority as judges, but only commands them to go before him, that he may possess the sole power. And sent them by two and two. He appears to have done so on account of their weakness. There was reason to fear, that individually they would not have the boldness necessary for the vigorous discharge of their office; and therefore, that they may encourage one another, they are sent by two and two
2. The harvest is indeed abundant. I have explained this passage under the ninth chapter of Matthew; 32 but it was proper to insert it again in this place, because it is related for a different purpose. In order to stimulate his disciples the more powerfully to apply with diligence to their work, he declares that the harvest is abundant: and hence it follows, that their labor will not be fruitless, but that they will find, in abundance, opportunities of employment, and means of usefulness. He afterwards reminds them of dangers, contests, and annoyances, and bids them go and prepare themselves for traversing with speed the whole of Judea. 33 In short, he repeats the same injunctions which he had given to the Apostles; and, therefore, it would serve no good purpose to trouble the reader here with many words, since a full exposition of all these matters may be found in the passage already quoted. We may notice briefly, however, the meaning of that expression, salute no man by the way. It indicates extreme haste, when, on meeting a person in the way, we pass on without speaking to him, lest he should detain us even for a short time. Thus, when Elisha sent his servant to the Shunamite woman, he charged him not to salute any person whom he met:
if thou meet any man, salute him not;
and if any salute thee, answer not again, (2Ki 4:31.)
Christ does not intend that his disciples shall be so unkind 34 as not to deign to salute persons whom they meet, but bids them hasten forward, so as to pass by every thing that would detain them.
7. Eating and drinking those things which they shall give you This is another circumstance expressly mentioned by Luke. By these words Christ not only enjoins them to be satisfied with ordinary and plain food, but allows them to eat at another man’s table. Their plain and natural meaning is: “you will be at liberty to live at the expense of others, so long as you shall be on this journey; for it is proper that those for whose benefit you labor should supply you with food.” Some think that they were intended to remove scruples of conscience, that the disciples might not find fault with any kind of food. 35 But nothing of this kind was intended, and it was not even his object to enjoin frugality, but merely to permit them to accept of a reward, by living, during this commission, at the expense of those by whom they were entertained.
“Mangeans et beuvans de ce qui sera mis devant vous;” — “eating and drinking of what shall be set before you.”
Harmony, volume 1 p. 438.
“Lequel les Grecs nomment Synedrion, et eux l’appeloyent par une prononciation corrompue Sanedrin;” — “which the Greeks denominate Synedrion, and which they, by a corrupt pronunciation, called Sanedrin.”
Harmony, volume 1 p. 421.
“Et leur commande d’aller alaigrement et en diligence, a fin que bien tost ils ayent fait une course par tout le pays de Iudee;” — “and commands them to go with alacrity and diligence, that they may soon have performed a circuit through the whole country of Judea.”
“Si inhumains et mal-gracieux;” — “so barbarous and uncivil.”
“A fin que les disciples ne facent conscience d’aucune sorte de viande;” — “in order that the disciples may not make conscience of any kind of food.”