A sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS, 19 February 2012
10:16 Look, I myself am commissioning you like sheep in the midst of wolves;
therefore be as smart as the snakes and as untainted as the doves.
10:17 Keep away from certain men,
for they will deliver y’all over to courts, and they will whip y’all in their synagogues,
10:18 also y’all will be brought before governors and even kings for my sake to be a witness to them and to the nations.
10:19 Now, whenever they deliver y’all over, don’t start getting distracted over how or what you might speak, for it shall be given to you in that hour what you may speak.
10:20 For it’s not you who are the speakers, but rather the Spirit of your Father who does the speaking through you.
10:21 Even so, brother will deliver brother over to death, and a father [will do the same to his] child, and children will rise up against parents and put them to death,
10:22 and it will continue to be that you are hated by all on account of my name, but the one who has persevered into the end, this one will be saved.
10:23 So, whenever they hunt y’all down in this city, flee into the other4, for really, I tell you, you definitely won’t finish the [circuit of] cities of Israel until whenever the Son of Man comes.
· In this Chapter (10), Jesus is briefing His 12 disciples before sending them out in pairs to publiccize the kingdom of heaven among the Jews - not only with words but also with actions of healing. So far He has told them
1) What their mission is (vs. 5-8)
2) What to pack (vs. 9-10), and
3) How to handle logistics (vs. 11-12)
· and He has begun to prepare them to handle rejection (vs. 13-15)
1) Take comfort in God’s sovereign control
2) Disassociate from those who reject you and God’s message, and
3) Live like God’s word is really as serious a matter as God says it is.
· Now, Jesus continues in the next 8 verses to advise them of the dangers and the difficulties that they will face and gives them three more instructions on the strategy of dealing with rejection. All three of these instructions can apply to us as Christians today, whether or not the persecution we experience is very severe. These three things are:
1) Avoid trouble in the first place by being smart and staying clean (vs. 16-17)
2) If you do get into trouble, stay focused on your gospel mission and don’t get distracted from your devotion to Jesus. (vs. 18-20)
3) Endure whatever persecution you must face while also taking the opportunity to re-locate. (vs. 21-23)
10:16 ᾿Ιδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω ὑμᾶς ὡς πρόβατα ἐν μέσῳ λύκων· γίνεσθε οὖν φρόνιμοι ὡς οἱ ὄφεις καὶ ἀκέραιοι ὡς αἱ περιστεραί.
Look, I myself am commissioning you like sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be as smart as the snakes and as untainted as the doves.
· λύκων Jesus has already mentioned these “wolves” in 7:15 when He said “Beware/stay away from the false prophets which come in sheep’s clothing, but inside are sheep-snatching wolves.”
· So we must be…φρόνιμοι – wiseKJV,ESV/ shrewdNAS,NIV/ smart/ cunning/ waryWycl/ intelligent… prudentThay/ discreet… cautiousStrong
· We are pitted against the cunning of Satan and of men, so we need to be on our toes mentally to match wits. Christians can’t afford to be ditzes who are intellectually lazy, and we can’t afford to be naively ignorant of the issues either. There’s a dragon out there that wants to eat you for breakfast!
One way to exercise wisdom is to be evasive when people are antagonistic: Jesus says in v.17:
10:17 Προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων· παραδώσουσι γὰρ ὑμᾶς εἰς συνέδρια καὶ ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς αὐτῶν μαστιγώσουσιν ὑμᾶς·
Beware ofKJV/Watch out for/Be on your guard againstNIV/Keep away from certain men, for they will deliver y’all over to courts, and they will whip y’all in their synagogues,
· When we studied Matt. 7:15, I explained why I think this command, Προσέχετε δὲ ἀπὸ – literally “keep close away” would be best translated, “Keep away from,” and I used the illustration of playing cards “close to your chest” so that your opponents can’t see what’s in your hand and beat you.
o “The men” to watch out for are apparently Jews, since they are connected to the Sanhedrin (translated “councils” or “courts”) and to synagogues. They are the “wolves” among which Jesus said He was sending His disciples.
· WHY? Because they will bring you up on charges in their religious assemblies and take it out on you with their whips.
ILLUSTRATION: When the Apostle Paul went to
Ephesus, the idol-makers started getting nervous about loosing business because
so many people were turning from idols to follow Jesus through Paul’s
preaching, so the idol-makers union called a town meeting. Now, what’s going
through Paul’s head? “Check it out! The entire population of Ephesus is
gathered together in the theater at this very moment, talking about religion!
There couldn’t be a more perfect opportunity to preach the gospel!! Let’s go!!!
Thankfully the new Christians talked some sense into Paul’s head. The crowd in
the theater was completely irrational; they had been chanting “Great is Artemis
of the Ephesians” for two hours, and they would have just as soon fed Paul to
the lions as listen to him. That was the time to be smart as a snake and avoid
· But there’s another thing that is just as important as smarts to staying out of trouble, and that is being as innocent as a dove:
§ the Greek word for “mixed/mingled/poured out of its original container”
§ together with the negative prefix “not,”
§ thus the English versions translate this word using negative suffixes like harm-lessKJV/spot-less/guile-lessVinc or negative prefixes like in-nocentNAS,NIV/un-adulteratedATR/un-tainted.
§ Romans 16:19 “…be knowledgeable in what is good, and be untainted in what is bad.”
§ Philippians 2:14-16 “Do all things without grumbling or argument; so that you may become blameless and unadulterated children of God, unblemished in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, in which you appear as stars in the world, holding fast the word of life…
· This word “innocent” continues in the theme of what true smarts are – that is, sticking to Jesus and His word rather than human ideas. It warns us not to try to mix a little bit of worldliness in with our Christianity.
o The Apostle Peter warned later than when persecution comes, your accusers had better not find skeletons in your closet: “If you are reviled for the name of Christ… make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler…” (1 Peter 4:14-16 NASB)
· The point in verses 16-17, then, is to be discrete in how you share your faith. “It’s a jungle out there,” Jesus is saying in effect, “there are some real dangers, so use your head, keep clean, and stay out of trouble.” However, it’s not always possible to stay out of trouble, as we see in the life of Jesus. So what do you do when you get in hot water over your faith?
10:18 καὶ ἐπὶ ἡγεμόνας δὲ καὶ βασιλεῖς ἀχθήσεσθε ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν.
Also y’all will be brought before governors and even kings for my sake to be a witness to them and to the nations.
This wording could be taken one of two ways:
o Jesus went first and modeled how to do it as He was brought up on charges before Gov. Pilate.
o John had also preached to King Herod.
o Later, the Apostle James would be brought before King Herod Agrippa… and be put to death by the sword. (Acts 12:2)
o Paul got to present the gospel to governors Felix and Festus, to King Herod Agrippa II (Acts 25-26), and eventually to emperor Nero!
o According to historians who wrote after the time of the Bible, the other apostles and their disciples also got to testify to kings and governors of other countries throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, but I don’t have time to tell all those stories now.
· I think that Jesus is reminding His disciples to stay focused on the big picture.
o If you get thrown into jail or accused in court, don’t be fooled into thinking your life circumstance is the focus of history. It’s not. The glory of God is the focus of history, and your life is meant to contribute to that main story.
o Jesus is reminding the apostles that they are being sent on a mission that is bigger than themselves; not only are they to preach the kingdom of God among the Jews, but their message about these blessings from God is intended by God to reach all the nations in time, just as God promised Abraham in Genesis 12:3.
o Furthermore, Jesus had already promised that they would be persecuted in this process: Matt. 5:10-12 Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of [ἕνεκεν] righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Y’all are being blessed whenever liars reproach and persecute you and speak every evil against you for my sake [ἕνεκεν]. Keep rejoicing and leaping for joy, because your reward is bountiful in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way. (cf. 10:39)
o The point is to live “for the sake of” Jesus, and if you are persecuted, be persecuted “for the sake of” His righteousness – His purposes on this earth, not your own. Stay focused.
o Now, what’s the opposite of staying focused? Getting distracted…
10:19 ὅταν δὲ παραδιδῶσιν ὑμᾶς, μὴ μεριμνήσητε πῶς ἢ τί λαλήσητε· δοθήσεται γὰρ ὑμῖν ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ τί λαλήσετε.
Now, whenever they deliver y’all over, don’t start getting distracted over how or what you might speak, for it shall be given to you in that hour what you may speak.
· ὅταν … παραδιδῶσιν – whenever they deliver upKJV/hand you overNAS/arrestNIV/betray/haul you up on charges
o Same word as v.17 “they will deliver you over to courts”
o this could happen more than once, but whenever it does happen, here’s what NOT to do:
· μὴ μεριμνήσητε - don’t start getting distracted/ don’t worry/don’t be anxiousESV/don’t let your thinkingKJV become consumed with how or what you’re going to say to defend yourself.
o The root word is merizw, to divide, so the idea is that by thinking about what to say to defend yourself, you will divide your mind; your attention will be distracted.
o Sin starts in your thoughts, and so fighting sin must also start in your thoughts.
o What should our mind be undistractedly preoccupied with instead? What did Paul and Silas do when they were thrown into prison for disturbing the peace in Phillipi? They sang hymns! Our mind should be preoccupied with the honoring of God, the spread of His kingdom, and the doing of His will.
· This is just a repeat of Jesus’ earlier instruction about worrying in chapter 6:25-34 “…stop being distracted about your life (What might you eat? and What might you drink?) and about your body (How might you clothe yourselves?). Isn’t life about more than food and the body than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky… study the lilies of the field… continue seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added onto you. Therefore don’t start getting distracted about tomorrow…” Stay focused on the kingdom of God and His righteousness!
· Note, that this is not an absolute prohibition from thinking at all about what to say. Jesus didn’t say, “Do not even think about what to say or how to say it;” instead He uses a word that indicates caring overmuch, or putting too much thought into a matter, such that that it becomes a distraction from your devotion to Christ.
· Have you ever been accused of doing something wrong when you didn’t actually do anything wrong? Remember those feelings of panic and outrage?
o Satan knows how effective it is to accuse people falsely and get them distracted by their own fears and self-righteousness. That’s why he is called “the accuser” in Rev. 12:10. That’s his modus operandi, so be forewarned; he will try accusing you too!
o The good news is that Jesus also understands our feelings, and that is why He says, “Don’t worry – don’t be anxious… I’ve got this under control and I will give you what you need when you need it. I will cause all things to work together for good (Rom. 8:28), so if you get into a situation, just keep fulfilling the life mission I’ve given you.”
10:20 οὐ γὰρ ὑμεῖς ἐστε οἱ λαλοῦντες, ἀλλὰ τὸ Πνεῦμα τοῦ πατρὸς ὑμῶν τὸ λαλοῦν ἐν ὑμῖν.
For it’s not you who are the speakers, but rather the Spirit of your Father who does the speaking through you.
Who is the Word of God (John 1:1)? Is it you?
Who is the one who reveals knowledge and understanding (Job 12:22); is it you?
No, it is God, who reveals Himself in words through Jesus.
It is the Holy Spirit who reveals the thoughts and intentions of God (I Cor 1).
You are just a messenger, a representative of this God who communicates to mankind.
So whatever happens, the message is not yours to create; is God’s professional responsibility to give you His message. Your role is to simply carry God’s words and deliver them when it’s time.
· Scripture teaches us that the Holy Spirit is closely connected to human speech which is of God: Eph. 5:18-20 “…be filled with the Spirit, speaking… singing… always giving thanks…” (cf. John 3:34, John 16:13, Acts 2:4, Acts 4:31, Acts 6:9-10, Acts 16:6)
· It is also clear that one of the ways the Holy Spirit expresses God’s words to us is through the written Bible: 2 Peter 1:21 “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke* from God.” (NASB cf. Acts 28:25, 1 Cor. 2:13)
· Parallel passage: Mark 13:11 “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say*, but say* whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak*, but it is the Holy Spirit.”
ILLUSTRATION: What if you were in Asia Bibi’s shoes
in Pakistan? This wife and mother of two girls has spent
almost three years in prison on trumped-up charges that she said something bad
about Islam’s prophet Muhammad. She was convicted and sentenced to death, and
she now awaits the ruling on her appeal. To protect her from other Muslims who
have been encouraged to assasinate her, she has been kept in solitary
confinement. She cooks her own food to ensure that no one tries to poison her.
Asia is allowed to walk in the courtyard every day for a few minutes, but she
is always accompanied by guards. Other prisoners attend religious services in
the jail every week, but Asia is not allowed to attend.
So what does she do in her loneliness? She prays. A prison minister who visited her recently passed on in a news article some insights into Asia’s thought life during this time. “I am praying every day,” she said. “…I know that this is a test of my faith and I know to make gold, it must be purified; it has to be put in the fire. I am not worried about myself, but I am worried about the workers who are helping me, which is very dangerous. I pray for them every day… I know the people from USA are helping me; I pray for them also. I pray for the people around the world who are praying for me.” Asia also prays for the families of the two officials who were assasinated for their support of Asia… She also prays for the court, the judge, the attorneys and the jail’s staff. She has even prayed that God will forgive the people who accused her in the first place...” She also mentioned her gratitude and thankfulness to God multiple times in the interview. Asia Bibi is a shining modern-day example of an undistracted, God-preoccupied way to think!
· We’ve seen so far two ways to deal with persecution, one is to avoid trouble by being wise and living a clean life, and the other is to remain undistracted if you ever do get persecuted because God is at work accomplishing His bigger plan through you, and He will make the words come out right. But what if harm actually comes to you? What if they schedule Asia Bibi for beheading? What are we to be thinking about then?
10:21 Παραδώσει δὲ ἀδελφὸς ἀδελφὸν εἰς θάνατον καὶ πατὴρ τέκνον, καὶ ἐπαναστήσονται τέκνα ἐπὶ γονεῖς καὶ θανατώσουσιν αὐτούς·
Even so, brother will deliver brother over to death, and a father [will do the same to his] child, and children will rise up against parents and put them to death,
· In this verse, Jesus may be warning them, that even if they do rely properly upon the Holy Spirit to speak through them, they might still be sentenced to death and killed. This would not indicate failure on their part or on the part of God; it is just the sort of thing that the people of the world will want to do to the people of God, and it is the sort of thing that God will allow for a time, so we should not get our knickers in a knot puzzling over why some Christians get killed.
· Death is the fruit of life apart from God, and those who hate others because of religious differences and try to kill them are bearing the natural fruit of their sinful life. Hatred and selfishness are so strong that they can overcome the natural love that should be present between siblings and between parents and their children.
o We’ve seen this in Catholic countries like Spain and France during the Inquisition – and even Mexico today where conscientious, Bible-believing Christians have been killed by humanistic Roman Catholics.
o We saw it in Sri Lanka over the past decade as Buddhist monks have terrorized Christians.
o In 1999, Hindus burned a missionary, Stanley Jones, and his two sons alive inside their car.
o We’ve seen it in many Islamic countries in the last decades, such as Indonesia, Sudan, and Nigeria, when believers in Jesus were murdered by Muslims for worshipping God in a Christian church building.
o Often it will be family members who are the aggressors:
§ In 2008, a Saudi girl by the name of Fatima Al-Mutairi (aka “Rania”) published some comments about her Christian faith on the Internet. Her father cut her tongue out and burned her to death for it.
§ There are many other cases I could share, but they would only further serve to illustrate what Jesus already said.
· In fact, I think Jesus was quoting from the O.T. book of Micah, where the prophet was grieving over the bloodshed in his own country of Israel at a time when there were few godly people. He wrote, “the son dishonours his father, the daughter will rise up against [same word as here in Mat 10:21] her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: those in his house shall be all a man's enemies. But I will look to the Lord; I will wait upon God my Saviour...” (Mic. 7:5-7, Brenton)
· This allusion serves to prove that this kind of wickedness and injustice should not surprise us among ungodly people. We should therefore expect persecution and be wise in how much fire we try to draw. And we should continue to look to God in faith for salvation, just as the prophet Micah did in the midst of a terribly dysfunctional society.
10:22 καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου· ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος, οὗτος σωθήσεται.
and it will continue to be that you are hated by all on account of my name, but the one who has persevered into the end, this one will be saved.
· This also refers back to the Sermon on the Mount: Luke 6:22-23 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.”
· Jesus already set the pattern for us, and we can follow His example: Heb 12:2-3 looking unto Jesus the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him ENDURED the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that hath ENDURED such gainsaying of sinners against himself, that you wax not weary, fainting in your souls.
· This is not mere white-knuckled endurance of being hurt and ostracized, it is the enduring of these things as an outworking of faith in Jesus: Rom. 12:11-12 [Be] diligent, not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; PERSEVERING in tribulation; continuing steadfastly in prayer;
· Also, this is no excuse for being obnoxious. Jesus here is talking about the kind of hate that comes from people who hate God and His righteousness and light, whose own darkness and sin are threatened by us. The Apostle John talked a lot about that in his contributions to the Bible: John 3:20 “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed… John 7:7 The world… hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil... John 15:18-25 If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you… but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also… 'THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE (Ps. 69:4)…' 1 John 3:13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.”
· John the Baptiser was thrown into jail because he told King Herod that it was wrong for him to get rid of his first wife and get rid of his brother in order to marry his brother’s wife. Darkness is threatened by light and tries to snuff the light out.
· What does it mean to persevere to the end to be saved? I believe that this can have multiple layers of fulfillment:
o In the near term, there will be times when you trust God, and people hate you for it. We must persevere and keep on trusting God.
o Sometimes when people hate us enough to try to put us to death, God will literally save our lives and put those who hate us to shame, like God did with Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego (Daniel 3), when the king threw them into the fiery furnace. Instead of being burned to a crisp like their guards were, these three godly men emerged unscathed and became important officials in the kingdom.
o But for others, salvation will come in a different way. Our earthly life may be terminated by the hands of men, but God will bring us to live with Him in heaven – which is just as much a rescue as an escape from a fiery furnace on earth! That’s why Shadrach, Mesach, and Abednego told the king that they didn’t know whether God would deliver them from death in the fiery furnace or not, but either way, they still wouldn’t worship the king’s idol. They would persevere to the end, whatever that end might be.
o There is also an ultimate ending which the Bible talks about, in which everyone in the world will be judged by Jesus and either thrown into the lake of fire or taken into the joy of heaven. When we hear that final judgment, “I never knew you,” or “I know you; I died to pay the price for your sin, and you have done well as my servant,” that will be the final step in our salvation.
o Fair-weather “Christians” will not be saved. Those who turn away from God because their friends made fun of them – or even because an attempt was made on their life will bear the wrath of God forever without mercy. Don’t give in to the temptation to forsake God in order to keep some worldly benefit! What should you do instead? Should you just take it sitting down and accept all the abuse that the world can dish out against you? NO!
10:23 ὅταν δὲ διώκωσιν ὑμᾶς ἐν τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ, φεύγετε εἰς τὴν ἄλληνC,D,Maj/ ‘ετερανא,B,W,f1,f13 [] ἀμὴν γὰρ λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ τελέσητε τὰς πόλεις [τοῦ-B,D] ᾿Ισραὴλ ἕως [ἂν-א,B] ἔλθῃ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.
So, whenever they hunt y’all down in this city, flee into the other5, for really, I tell you, you definitely won’t finish the [circuit of] cities of Israel until whenever the Son of Man comes.
· Jesus does not encourage us to be masochists. He says, when we are persecuted, flee. If you are able to preserve your life, do so. More than one country has started that way:
· The million dollar question is, “When will they complete the circuit of the cities of Israel, and when will the Son of Man come?” I’m afraid I don’t have time to give a very satisfying answer, but here’s my opinion briefly:
· But in the excitement of pinning the date down here, it would be easy to miss the point. What is the main point? Jesus is basically saying that “you won’t run out of optionsMSG” there will always be another city you can relocate to. The persecution will not be longer than you can endure. This will be doable.
o This point, of course, goes for the trip that the 12 disciples took back in 30AD as well as for any time in history when Christians are persecuted.
o If you can’t avoid persecution, at least don’t lose your focus on Christ, endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ and get up and go somewhere else. As a general rule, Christians will not run out of options before God rescues us, whether it be through the second coming of Christ or some other providential event in history.
This poem was composed by a missionary friend of mine who trains Filipino church planters and missionaries. This month, one of his students got a visa to move to China, where he hopes to do church planting and training, and my friend wrote the following poem in his excitement about this sending out of this disciple:
Princes resisted the advance of your servants,
Principalities, powers all thwarted Your will,
Yet Your glory swept on, inundating all nations;
At the tsunami crest rode Your messengers still.
The least of Your servants overcame all defenses,
By the might of Your power and the strength of Your hand;
For what can withstand fervent prayers of Your people?
Each fortress must topple when You give the command.
For the poorest of servants, pour out wealth of nations,
Make them ride eagles' wings, 'til Your witness breaks through;
May they know You, their strength, and so carry out exploits,
In their weakness find strength so all boasts are of You;
From glory to glory may Your Light in them brighten,
Like phosphorus cast on each dark, distant shore,
'Til the surge of Your glory floods back into Zion,
And falls at Your feet at Your coming once more.
 cf. “lead a quiet life” in 1Thess. 4:11 and 1Tim. 2:2
 There is a lot of disagreement among the Greek manuscripts over whether this verb is Future, Aorist, or Present. The critical text goes with the Aorist Subjunctive, and the Majority text is Present Subjunctive. The only difference would be mere shades of emphasis: either the certainty of being delivered over (Future), or the necessity of not being distracted even during the time that you are being delivered over (Present), or no particular emphasis (Aorist).
http://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx?story_ID=NDY5&featuredstory_ID=MzEy&clickfrom=ZmVhdHVyZWRzdG9yaWVz , Feb 12, 2012.
 The first two instances of this verb in the O.T. are in Deut. 19:11 & 22:26 where it is clearly with an intent to kill. The next couple of instances are in the Psalms, in the context of war between groups of people. The ensuing verb, thanatw- seems to be used throughout scripture generally to indicate an execution by a civil authority, thus, although the verb is active and may thus be translated “kill,” most English versions translate indirectly “put to death.”
 Several significant early manuscripts, including the Vaticanus, Theta, Lambda, and Families one and thirteen add the following “and if they persecute you in that city, flee to yet another.”