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Wolves and Sheep (Matthew 10:16) Thoughts?

Discussion in 'Christian Scriptures' started by ArtosGalleries, May 26, 2019.

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  1. ArtosGalleries

    ArtosGalleries New Member

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    Hi guys,

    The next artwork/theology study write up this week is Matthew 10:16.

    "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be ye therefore as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.”

    Some questions to generate discussion:

    Who are the wolves, who are the sheep?
    How does one identify a wolf without turning into a wolf?
    Can a wolf think it is a sheep?
    Why do you think Christ uses the image of wolves and sheep? (Any references to OT)
    What is the cultural context of this verse?

    (open to other questions) :)
     
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  2. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    To get an understanding of the verse, you have to read the whole of Matthew 10. It seems to me that Jesus is giving instructions to His disciples when He is preparing to send them out to preach the good news on His behalf. But when we examine the instructions closely we see that there will be things happening to the disciples which seem more widespread than just the limited ministry the disciples were going to perform at that time. There seems to be something prophetic in what Jesus is saying to them that will happen when they go out to spread the good news of the gospel in the future. As we see in the book of Acts, and subsequent church history, we see that His prophetic word has come true and still is coming through to this day.

    The "wolves" in Jesus time were the unbelieving Jews who had Him crucified. The ones in Acts were the unbelieving Jews who persecuted Stephen, Peter, Paul, Barnabas and Silas, among others. Later, the emperor-worshiping Romans were the "wolves". These days we have "wolves" who seek to destroy Christianity in our schools and societies in favour of the occult and other religions. Paul talked about grievous wolves invading the church with false teaching and deception, turning people away from Christ to selfism, occult practices masquerading as Holy Spirit manifestations, etc.

    Those who are people of the Word and of prayer will recognise the wolves when they encounter them, because the witness in their spirit from the Holy Spirit will alert them.

    I don't think that a wolf will think it is a sheep. It can and will pass itself off as a sheep to deceive others. A sheep can be brainwashed and deceived, but that doesn't make it a wolf. A wolf is a predator, working alongside the devil who goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

    I think I answered the next question in my last comment.

    From what I am reading, what Jesus is saying in Matthew 10 is mainly transcultural, in that the principles He is outlining can apply in any culture - First, or 21st Century. Although, verse 5 and 6 is limited to that environment and therefore is culture-limited to those particular disciples in the time of Jesus' earthly ministry. Verse 5 and 6 have now been replaced by, "Go into all the nations and make disciples of everyone".

    Verse 9 has to be seen as First Century, and not to be taken literally in the 21st Century. We have paper money, credit and eftpos card these days. Also, going around with no travel bag or extra clothing, and expecting individuals to open their homes, may be appropriate in First Century Jewish culture, but could be quite foreign to our 21st Century culture, but I have heard of outreach teams being billeted in the homes of local believers who are supportive of the ministry.

    So, when we do an exegesis of a passage like Matthew 10, we have to know the culture and mind-set of the people in the society of the time and to see, as in Matthew 10, there are things said that are culture-limited to the time, and other things that are transcultural; statements made that are for that present time, and others that a prophetic for the future.
     
  3. Brian Mcnamee

    Brian Mcnamee Well-Known Member

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    Hi the wolf and the sheep have a different nature. The born again believer is being sent out among wolves which may be a reminder that Jesus also predicted persecution would come. The admonition was to be wise and yet harmless as a dove. The dove is bringing peace so the wisdom is how to navigate the mission knowing the risks. The verse in the old testament speaks of a future time where the nature of the wolf is changed. How great is the the conversion of a soul.


    [​IMG] Isa 11:6

    “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
    The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
    The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
    And a little child shall lead them.
     
  4. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    I agree with most of your post, but am uncertain about your exegesis of the word "wolf" in your last sentence, linking it with the Isaiah passage. Jesus wasn't talking about the wolf as an animal, but using a simile to describe spiritual predators whose intention is to block and destroy the gospel of Christ.

    To say that spiritual predators will be converted to Christ is faulty hermaneutics by trying to link two totally different passages in two different contexts together. It's like taking "And Judas went out and hanged himself", then adding "Go and do thou likewise."
     
  5. ArtosGalleries

    ArtosGalleries New Member

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    Very interesting Oscarr. I love your thinking. Will definitely be researching what you say. I am finding a lot of what Christ says (the imagery he uses) are references from the OT so it will be interesting to investigate the Hebrew/scholar research behind any linkages.

    What do you make of:

    "Be ye therefore as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.”
     
  6. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

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    The serpent analogy goes right back to the garden of Eden when the serpent deceived Eve. In Jewish thinking, the serpent was a figure of wisdom in the way we look at the owl as a symbol of wisdom in our culture. If Jesus was speaking today He might have said, "Be as wise as owls". The Jews saw a serpent as a cunning and crafty creature, and therefore anyone who was the same was termed "As crafty as a serpent".

    So Jesus was saying that we should be as wise, having our eyes wide open so we are not deceived, and not take anything for granted. In other words, don't let anyone take advantage of you, and don't be naive when someone tells you either a sob story, or encourages you with a deal that seems too good to be true.

    To be harmless as a dove, is using the dove as the most harmless and non-threatening creature in Jewish culture. Doves will come right up to you and feed right out of your hand. Just sit in the city square where there are a lot of pigeons and throw a few gains of seed on the ground and see how many will come right to your feet! Not like the magpies we have in some areas of our country that if you walk under a tree where they are nesting, they will swoop down and just about peck your head off with their sharp beaks!

    What Jesus is saying is that we be non-threatening to everyone, but not be taken advantage of because we are that way. The fruit of the Spirit shows us how to be harmless as doves - kind and gentle.

    Once, I asked the Lord that I would like to be the type of person that a child and a dog could trust me. Consequently, I have never been attacked by a dog, although I nearly get licked to death by my daughter's pug!
     
  7. ArtosGalleries

    ArtosGalleries New Member

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    haha great answers. Particularly the dove/magpie imagery. Thank you for taking the time to discuss this.
     
  8. dqhall

    dqhall Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A wolf is like a violent person. Wolves sometimes attacked at night. They had a reputation of killing more sheep than they could eat. A wolf is a greedy thief. A wolf carried away a lamb in its jaws. Shepherds had to tether their lambs to wooden stakes at nights to prevent wolves from snatching them. Shepherds had to build sheep pens with rock walls to protect their sheep overnight.

    A dove is mainly vegetarian, except they ate snails. The dove will not attack people near its nest like a mockingbird does. A dove does not search out prey like a hawk or eagle.

    The Book of Acts records some of the apostles were sentenced to death. The ones who killed them or consented to their deaths were like wolves. Jesus did come with weapons of war, but with knowledge of God's healing power. He did make a whip of cords to drive out thieves. By that time his enemies had already sought to kill him anyway.
     
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