28 And do not be afraid of those killing the body, but are unable to kill the soul, but fear instead the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In this post we will look at Matthew 10:16-33 which is part of our Lord’s instructions to His disciples as He prepared them for what was coming when they were eventually sent on their worldwide mission to the Gentiles. They had to understand that persecution would inevitably accompany their mission wherever God sent them.
16 Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 And beware of men. For they will deliver you up to the councils and in their synagogues, 18 they will scourge you. And you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a testimony to them and to the gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not be anxious about how or what you are to say for it will be given to you in that hour what you are to say 20 for you are not the ones speaking, but the Spirit of your Father will be the one speaking in you. 21 And brother will deliver up brother to death and a father will deliver up his child and children will rise up against their parents and put them to death. 22 And you will be hated by all on account of my name, but the one having endured to the end, this one will be saved. 23 And when they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For amen I say to you, you will by no means finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. 24 A disciple is not above the teacher. Neither is a slave above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be like his teacher and for the slave to be like his master. If the master of the house they called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household. Matthew 10:16-25 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
What do wolves do to unprotected sheep? This analogy is a contrast of those whom Christ sends with His truth who will be attacked and be persecuted by “wolves.” These false prophets persecute the true ones and seek to destroy the church. We are to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves in dealing with them. The serpent was the symbol of shrewdness and intellectual cunning while the dove was emblematic of simple innocence. I know some professing Christians who abhor anything we do that smacks of what has been derisively referred to as “discernment stuff.” My brethren, this is necessary work. We must not stoop to the level of some of these jokers, but neither Paul nor John had a problem naming names of those whom they were warning the Body of Christ about in their epistles. Neither should we. On the other hand, we had better be sure of our facts and we should always approach these things prayerfully and innocently not bearing grudges.