Matthew 10:16-25 (Serpents and Doves; The Cost of True Discipleship: Sitz Im Leben)

Mat 10:16        How does Jesus in Mat 10:16 describe the apostles in relation to the world into which He is sending them?  What is the nature of a sheep?  See Isa 53:7, Jer 11:19, Mat 26:63, 27:12-14.  What is the nature of a wolf?  See Eze 22:27, Zep 3:3, Act 20:29.  Considering how their nature differs from that of the world into which they are sent, what does Jesus say is necessary for His servants to be?  What does Jesus mean that his disciples are to be “shrewd as serpents”?  Note: “shrewd” means to be practically wise, sensible, intelligent, prudent, mindful of one’s interest.  Which beast of the field is described as being the most wise?  See Gen 3:1 where the same Greek word is used in the LXX.  For what prominent feature of its anatomy is a snake considered the most wise of beasts?  Hint: snakes have no eyelids, so their eyes are always open.  Again considering their nature as sheep in the midst of wolves, in what sense are Christ’s disciples to be prudent and keep their eyes wide open?  See Pro 14:15, 22:3, 27:12 for the same Hebrew word used in Gen 3:1.  What examples do we have in Scripture of Jesus and Paul being “shrewd as serpents”?  See Mat 21:23-27, 22:17-21, Acts 23:6-7.  Although a serpent is described as being the most wise/prudent/shrewd, what is its underlying nature?  See 2Co 11:3,14, Rev 12:9.  As the serpent is described as being the most wise of the beasts of the field, what is perhaps the least wise?  See Hos 7:11.  Although a dove is described as “silly” and “without sense” (cf. NET “easily deceived and lacking discernment”) what word in Mat 10:16 describes its underlying nature?  Note: “innocent” means literally “unmixed” in the sense of “without admixture of evil”, guileless, pure, simple; cf. again 2Co 11:3.  Did Jesus say that we are to be as “silly” and “without sense” as a dove, or have an underlying nature that is as beguiling as a serpent?  While it is necessary on our part to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, in light of our nature as sheep, what is always the most fundamental principle for our survival in the world?  See John 10:7-16.

Mat 10:17-25: Consider that Jesus’ popularity as a teacher and prophet was attracting large numbers of people (Mat 8:1,5,16,18, etc…) and causing His ministry to grow so that He was now even sending out twelve apostles to herald the kingdom of heaven; but what was the popular understanding by his many disciples at this time (including the twelve) of the kingdom Jesus was establishing?  What then would have been their expectations for acceptance as they proclaimed the kingdom?  And yet because they did not understand the full nature of His kingdom that the people would eventually reject, what did Jesus warn they would inevitably face?  See Mat 10:17-18, 21-22, 24-25.  Consider too that at this popular time of Jesus’ acceptance there is no evidence that the disciples experienced the sort of opposition during this ministry venture that Jesus had warned of, so that they were no doubt happily surprised that Jesus was “mistaken” and was just speaking metaphorically or with hyperbole; when did they begin to experience this opposition that would have called to mind His warning?  What apologetic value would His words have had at the time Matthew was writing to the Jews who were on the fence about Jesus and in danger of rejecting Him as their Messiah because of the increasing opposition to Him by so many of their brethren?  Considering that the events Jesus warned about here did not take place until many years later, what ought we to learn about the nature of prophecy and the timing and fulfillment of prophetic warnings?  What evidence do we see in Mat 10:18 that Jesus was speaking beyond the immediate future and the present ministry endeavor?  Cf. Mat 10:5.  What apologetic value would the mention of being a testimony to the Gentiles (Mat 10:18) have had at the time so many Jews were rejecting the gospel even as so many Gentiles were gladly accepting it?  What significance would Mat 10:21-22 and 24-25 have had at this time for Matthew’s readers?

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