Q&A: Staff or no Staff - Matthew 10:9-10; Mark 6:8 and Luke 9:3

Staff or no Staff - Matthew 10:9-10; Mark 6:8 and Luke 9:3

Question

Were the disciples to carry a staff or not? Matthew 10:9-10; Mark 6:8 and Luke 9:3

Answer

Matthew 10:9-10 Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts - no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.

Mark 6:8 These were his instructions: Take nothing for the journey except a staff - no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.

Luke 9:3 He told them: Take nothing for the journey - no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt.

There are slight differences in the Gospels accounts (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Mark 6:8 prohibited everything except a staff; however, in Matthew 10:9-10 and Luke 9:3 the disciples were not to take staffs. Mark 6:9 included instructions to wear sandals; however, in Matthew 10:10 they were not to carry sandals.

Now, I believe what is actually being said is that "extra" staffs and sandals were prohibited. The disciples were not to go out and "acquire" anything else for their respective journeys (compare "take" (airo) in both Mark 6:8 and Luke 9:3 and "aquire" (ktaomai) in Matthew 10:9). So only that which was absolutely necessary was to be taken along on their mission(s), because God would provide.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).