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Matthew 10:16-23 – Sent Forth as Sheep among Wolves

|| Luke 10:3

MT10:16 “Look! I am sending you forth[1] as sheep[2] among wolves,[3] so be cautious as serpents[4] and innocent as doves.[5] MT10:17 Be alert among humans[6] for they will hand you over[7] to courts and in their synagogues[8] they will scourge[9] you. MT10:18 You will be brought before governors and kings as a testimony to them[10] as well as the Non-Jews. MT10:19 But, when they hand you over do not be overly concerned how or what you will say, for what you should speak[11] will be given to you in that hour. MT10:20 Because it is not you who speaks but your Father’s Pneuma[12] speaking in you. MT10:21 Even brother will betray brother[13] – and a father his child – to death. Children will take their stand against parents causing their deaths. MT10:22 You will be hated by everyone because of my name.[14] But, the one who endures completely[15] will be saved.[16] MT10:23 When they persecute you in this town, flee to another.[17] I tell you this truth: You will never complete the cities of Israel[18] before the Ascension[19] of the Son of Humankind.

[1] Sending you forth: The Greek is APOSTELLO, a form of “apostle.” An apostle is a representative.

[2] Sheep: The Greek is PROBATA and occurs over 216 times in the whole Bible. Usually used as a metaphor for believers the word occurs: Matthew, 11; Mark, 2; Luke, 2; John, 20; and only five times in the rest of the Christian Bible. Sheep are not adversarial predators and are very gregarious as a flock. They are among the earliest animals named in the Bible (Genesis 24:35; 26:14). They are helpless without a shepherd and easy prey for enemies (Numbers 27:16, 17; Jeremiah 23:4; Ezekiel 34:5, 6, 8; Micah 5:8). It is a metaphor for those defenseless and innocent (2Samuel 24:17; Psalm 44:11, 22; 95:7; 119:176; Matthew 10:6, 16; John 21:16, 17; Romans 8:36). Note Luke 10:3 uses “lambs.”

[3] Wolves: The word group wolf/wolves occurs in Moses and the Prophets, all as pictured by Jesus. See Matthew 7:15 and John 10:2. (Genesis 49:27; Jeremiah 5:6; Ezekiel 22:27; Habakkuk 1:8; Zephaniah 3:3) Under the Messianic rule the wolf changes its disposition (Isaiah 11:6; 65:25) Paul predicts wolves will work their way into the Christian flock (Acts 20:29).

[4] Cautious as serpents: The idea finds its roots right at the beginning of human creation (Genesis 3:1).The serpent (snake) occurs over 70 times in the Bible. The phrase “cautious as serpents” is also rendered: KJV: wise as serpents; NASB: shrewd as. Though the Friend of the Nazarene is guileless in Christian character, Jesus counsels PHRONIMOI a wise caution when among the enemy.

[5] Innocent as doves: The gentle bird occurs 35 times in the Bible. The bird Noah sent forth from the Ark (Genesis 8:8-12). It is sometimes associated with being blameless or without flaw (Canticles 5:2, 12; 6:9). Hosea 7:11 associates the dove with a simple-minded heart without a motive. The bird occurs nine times in the Gospels (Matthew 3:16; 10:16; 21:12; Mark 1:10; 11:15; Luke 3:22; John 1:32; 2:14, 16). The word “innocent” is also rendered: KJV: harmless; MOF: guileless. The name of the prophet Jonah means “Dove.” (See also pidgin or turtledove). Compare Psalm 55:6; Isaiah 60:8.

[6] Be alert among humans: Others render this phrase: KJV: beware of men; TCNT: be on your guard; KNX: do not put your trust in men; RIEU: mankind. Giving this counsel, we must think that our Lord followed his own advice. Compare Philippians 3:2.

[7] Hand you over: Or, KJV: they will deliver you up; TCNT: betray you.

[8] Synagogues: Jesus is talking to Jewish disciples. What he says is not meant as specific directives for all future Friends of the Nazarene. Compare Jesus’ prediction at Mark 13:9 (Compare Matthew 23:34). Note the fulfillment at Acts 5:40.

[9] Scourge: Or, BECK: whip; WEY: flog (Acts 5:40ff).

[10] A testimony to them: See the Acts of the Apostles chapter 4, 5, 7 and others for the actual fulfillment.

[11] What you should speak: This is spoken to the apostles and may not necessarily be applied to all Christians. Note the cases of Peter (Acts 5), Stephen (Acts 7), and Paul (Acts 17), inspired speeches preserved in the Christian Bible.

[12] Your Father’s Pneuma: Or, the spirit of your Father. The Greek is PNEUMA which may also mean breath or wind. The Pneuma is God’s Mind exerting mental pressure to accomplish his will. So we find Peter, for example, speaking by the Pneuma (Acts 5:3, 4).

[13] Brother will betray brother: Compare Matthew 24:10.

[14] Hated by everyone because of my name: The name “Christian” in history becomes a terrible stigma leading to an enormous number of deaths. Note Jesus does not say His Father’s Name, Jehovah, but his own, “Jesus Christ.” WEY: objects of universal hatred; WMS: because you bear my name; NEB: for your allegiance to me.

[15] The one who endures completely: The Greek TELOS is without the article and thus “an end” with regard to each individual’s endurance, often in martyrdom. Compare Matthew 24:13. The word group “endurance” occurs over 30 times in the Christian Bible. Compare (Matthew 5:10-12; 10:16-22; 24:9, 10, 39; Mark 13:9, 12, 13; Luke 21:19; Romans 2:7; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 12:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Timothy 3:10-12; Hebrews 10:36; James 5:10, 11; Revelation 1:9; Revelation 13:10; Revelation 14:12) The English word “endurance” is drawn from the root dru that is the oak tree and those “druids” as well as “trust.”

[16] Saved: There are two states in the procession of salvation: a) the initial by escape from the judgment on the world; and, b) the final by endurance unto death. See a concordance on the word group “save(d)” and “salvation.” It may be compared to being saved by a lifeguard which does not ensure a future drowning. Compare Matthew 19:25; 24:13, 22; Luke 8:2; John 3:17; 5:34; 10:9; Acts 2:40, 47; 4:12; 11:14; 15:11; 16:30, 31; Romans 5:9, 10; 8:24; 10:9.

[17] Flee to another: The Nazarene’s disciples are not to remain and battle with opposers but move into a more fruitful territory. This advice is seen in the Book of Acts (Acts 8:1, 2).

[18] Never complete the cities of Israel: Jesus has sent out his 12 apostles, and later the 70 disciples, and he tells them they will never preach to all the land of Israel before the fulfillment of Daniel 7:13.

[19] Before the Ascension: This rendering will receive considerable judgment. The Greek is ELTHE a word taken from Daniel 7:13 where the same phrase occurs in the Jewish Greek Septuagint (LXX). Judging from the context and reading of Daniel 7:13 the prophet sees the ascension of a human being to the very Throne-room of the Most High. The Greek word ELTHE and the related word ERCHOMENOM is generally rendered “coming.” However, the word also means “to go” or “leave.” The English word “ascend” means “to go up.” It has been generally misunderstood that this word infers a “coming” in the direction of those disciples on earth, when, in fact, it means the arrival in heaven to become King. Daniel 7:13 and Psalm 110:1 are often combined by Jesus in a conflate or paraphrase. Compare Matthew 22:44; 26:64; Mark 14:62; 16:19; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:33, 34; 5:31; 7:55-57; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Hebrews 10:12, 13. It is possible that Jesus actually used the Hebrew/Aramaic word athah which means to arrive and be present at a certain location.

 

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Preceding

Matthew 10:1-4 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Twelve Given Authority

Matthew 10:1-4 – Calling of the apostles – by Calvin

Matthew 10:5-10 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus’ Orders: Territory, Theme, Trust

Matthew 10:11-15 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Searching for the Sheep

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Ezekiel 34.31 - Our Shepherd and God

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