Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
3) Matthew 10 - Persecution by the State "Church"
Matthew 10:16 - Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. Jesus, knowing the risks and dangers in
which He is sending His men, still demanded of them such unfailing loyalty. Jesus is sending His finest disciples into
the face of moral evil and spiritual, wicked powers. These humble followers are armed only with the truth embodied
in frail, human clay.
A man can be made to do almost anything when he knows for whom he suffers. So, throughout this passage Jesus
continues to reiterate this relationship with Himself (read Matthew 10 - verses 16, 22, 24 - 25, 27, 32 - 40, 42).
One point to notice is that Jesus is not sending the Apostles, but sheep into a howling wolf pack.
Sheep, what a figure of relative helplessness, in no respect vicious like the attackers. Because of the Gospel they
must preach, but with the humble character of one who serves.
The wolves they faced were not the slum dwellers or other segments of the common rabble, but the polished men of
the cloth, the pious leaders of organized religion, the theologians. In fact, it was not the common people that
engineered His crucifixion (John 19:11).
This picture of sheep in the midst of wolves reminds us of that continual condition in which the Church has always
found herself. Luke wrote about this when he wrote down the sermon preached at the time of the commissioning of
the Twelve (Luke 6:12-17 and 20-49, especially Luke 6:26).
Wise as serpents. Skilled in sensing and avoiding danger is the characteristic of snakes alludes to Paul's division of
the Sanhedrin against itself. Acts 23:1-9 is a good example.
The Apostles were to be constantly surrounded by and exposed to evil; they are not to tempt themselves to use evil
methods to protect themselves. Even though they must be extremely wary they themselves must carry out their
work with boldness and perfect honesty, even though this course may expose them ultimately to suffering. This is
clearly implied in later verses. But guilelessness is not a synonym of gullibility.
Every town had its Sanhedrin, consisting of 23 members if the place numbered at least 120 men, or 3 members if
the population were smaller. These Sanhedrists were appointed directly by the supreme authority, or Greek
Sanhedrin, "the council," at Jerusalem, which consisted of 71 members. It is difficult to know the limits of the actual
power wielded by these Sanhedrins in criminal cases. However, in all religious questions these councils were all
They must learn to depend upon God for the revelation at the right moment, not upon their own wisdom, talents,
courage or faith.
This helps our confidence that the Apolstles' words are the Word of God.