Shaking the Dust from their Feet

When the message of the kingdom was rejected in towns and villages, Yeshua told His disciples to shake the dust from their feet as they left.

Locked door (Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash)

Yeshua’s words about hosting his disciples alluded to the story of Lot and the two angels. The LORD sent two angels as His agents to investigate Sodom and Gomorrah. When the two angels entered the city of Sodom, Lot received them into his home with Abrahamic hospitality. Likewise, the two disciples were to enter the village and seek out a reputable man who would offer them lodging.

Like Rabbi Yeshua’s disciples, the two angels the LORD sent to Sodom in Genesis 19 received two different receptions. Abraham and Lot received them warmly. They greeted them humbly. They prepared food. They brought water for them to wash. They provided the best of the household for them. The people of Sodom, by contrast, were not gracious hosts. Had it not been for Lot (who was of the house of Abraham), the two visitors would have had to spend the night in the town square. The same concern over hospitality persisted into apostolic tradition:

On account of his hospitality and godliness, Lot was saved out of Sodom when all the country round was punished by means of fire and brimstone. (1 Clement 11:1)

Yeshua alluded to the story of Lot’s hospitality when He told His disciples to seek hospitality in the homes and villages they entered. He told them, “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words … it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” (Matthew 10:14-15).

With these words, Yeshua warned His disciples that not every place would receive their message. He told them not to waste time arguing or trying to persuade people. Instead, He told them to leave that place, and He said, “As you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them” (Mark 6:11).

Yeshua explained to His disciples that the villages of the Galilee would be held to a higher standard of judgment because of the supernatural evidences and exceptional revelation they had received: “If the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in [the villages of the Galilee] it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment” (Matthew 11:23-24)

When the disciples encountered places that resisted their message and refused to receive them, they went out into the streets of that city and said, “Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near” (Luke 10:11). The disciples wiped the dust from their feet as a prophetic sign-act to demonstrate that they did not want any share in the judgment due for such a place. Sodom and Gomorrah will fare better in the final judgment than the people of the villages that rejected the disciples’ message about the kingdom.

The apostle Paul had many opportunities to obey this directive. For example, after being driven out of the district of Pisidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas “shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them” on their way out of town (Act 13:51). Another example: after Paul wore out his welcome at the synagogue in Corinth, “he shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean’” (Act 18:6).

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