When talking about the Bible and the doctrine of inerrancy (no errors) one set of verses that come up in rebuttal are Matthew 10:9-10; Mark 6:8-9; Luke 10:4. These three passages outline Jesus instructions to disciples about what to take or not take with them when going out on their prescribed missionary journey. Matthew quotes Jesus as instructing “no sandals and no staff,” Mark relates that they should take a staff and wear sandals, and finally Luke tells us that Jesus prescribed no sandals without any mention of staffs. So what is the Christian to make of this supposed contradiction?
Whereas some are quick to point out that Luke is a different sending out of seventy rather than the sending out of the twelve in Mark and Matthew, it still does not relieve the tension. The conclusion of Luke is still the same that they are workers worthy of their wages. We could try to conclude that someone made a mistake in the copies we have, because who would ever tell someone not to wear sandals in such a sharp rocky region as Palestine. Although a possibility, it is not something we need to jump to this conclusion about.
Simply put the Greek (especially in Mathew) gives us the key to these three passages existing in harmony. The word translated “to take” can have a multitude of meanings such as “to provide” or “to acquire.” The ESV version of the Bible picks up on this and uses the distinction to provide us our solution. Mathew is relating that Jesus advised the disciples not to acquire new things for their journey. They are not to go shopping to get a staff or new sandals for this journey, the way we would go shopping in our time in preparation for a vacation. They are messengers/laborers who are worthy of their wages. In other words the grace of God via the gratitude of people will provide for them along the way. If sandals wear out, someone will donate some to them and so forth. Mark’s gospel then relates that the disciples are instructed to wear the sandals and take along the staff that they already possess. Luke then, like Matthew, is not instructing to travel barefoot but to not pack (carry) additional sandals. So the three passages can be affirmed to be in harmony with a little work.