Harry Whittaker
Studies in the Gospels

90. In Time of Persecution (Matt. 10:16-42; Luke 12:2-12)*

The second part of this discourse contains a number of features hardly appropriate to the present mission of the twelve. There are warnings of bitter antagonism, of Gentile persecution, and of the break-up of families brought about by the gospel. Even life itself might be in danger. All this makes a different picture from that of delighted success which the disciples had to talk about when they came saying: “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name” (Lk. 10:17; 22:35-37).

So, very probably, it is correct to conclude that, according to his usual method, Matthew has assembled here other words of Jesus spoken in the Olivet prophecy and at other later occasions (cp. v.18-21 with Lk. 21:11-15; Mk. 13:12), including maybe otherwise unreported discourses of the Forty Days after his resurrection. This assembling together of material on a common theme without regard to chronological sequence is characteristic of Matthew. It is well illustrated by his chapters on miracles (8, 9) and also on parables (13).

It is advisable, then, to bear in mind that most of what now follows was intended by the Lord as exhortation and guiding principles—verses 16-23 specially for the Twelve, and the rest for disciples generally when they would be called upon to face much bitter opposition and would not have the heartening presence of their Lord to fall back on.

Warning against Enemies

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep (Lk: lambs) in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men...” (v.16, 17). These are telling similes. They compress much valuable advice into few words. But the first and most ‘surprising thing of all is that Jesus sent his followers out on this mission, knowing them to be lambs! Here is his answer, by anticipation, to those who would insist that before a man can become a missionary for Christ he must learn the job by slow patient application in more sheltered fields. There is little or no sign that the apostles acquired ability for the work in this way. The impression given in the gospels is that they were, so to speak, thrown in at the deep end. When in faith a man is prepared to take Christ at his word, the Lord does not leave him in the lurch.

As in not a few of the Lord’s parables, there is an element of unreality about this figure of speech, for it can have been but rarely that a sheep found itself in the midst of a pack of wolves. But it would not be an uncommon thing for one wolf to be ravaging a flock of sheep (Jn. 10:12). However, the figure was true enough to the spiritual circumstances.

But although these men went in their simplicity and inexperience, they were warned to be on the alert against evil in all its insidious forms: “Be ye wise as serpents”. Careful readers of the Genesis story will have noticed that the serpent insinuated doubt in the mind of the woman by simply asking questions (Gen. 3:11). It is a method which might well be copied, for a better purpose: Be as wise as the serpents you encounter, but as harmless to others as the Holy Spirit is (e.g. in my miracles). One writer has well observed that in time of danger the serpent’s first care is to provide protection for its head. As is the natural, so is the spiritual. When under attack, the Lord’s missionaries will first be on guard for their Head-the well-being of the cause of Christ will be their first concern. And all the guile of the most subtle beast of the field will be necessary, for antagonism will come from men, who ore the Serpent. Circumstances, however adverse, are not to be feared. But men are not as persecutors, but as a spiritual peril.

Paul weaves an unmistakable allusion to this saying of Jesus into what is almost a running commentary on the serpent in Eden:

“Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience is come abroad unto all men ...I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple (s.w. Mt.10:16) concerning evil. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:17-20).

Both Jesus and Paul were fearful that the Fall in Eden would be just as disastrously repeated in the New Creation. And it was.

Jewish and Gentile Persecutors

“They will deliver you up to councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues”. Unlikely as it may seem, this came literally to pass. “I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee”, Paul was to remind his Master in later days regarding that evil time when Benjamin ravined as a wolf (Acts. 22:19; Gen. 49:27). And it was even earlier than that when Peter and the others had their first taste of the bullying and browbeating which a Jewish council could lay on (Acts. 5:29-41). But the very fact that Jesus spoke of his men being punished in the synagogues for their faith carried with it the implication that they were to use the synagogues as their best opportunity of witness. Instead of an extreme separation, which would set the brethren inside their own spiritual stockade, they were to go on being Jews, but always witnessing fearlessly concerning Jesus their Messiah.

The warning: “Beware of men: for they will deliver you up (s.w. betray; v. 4, 21) to councils”, strongly suggests that the Lord foresaw much evil arising from secret enemies within the ecclesia, a kind of ‘fifth column’ working for the enemy (cp.13:25, 28; Gal. 2:4; Acts 20:29; and many other passages of this character).

A staunch insistence on Truth meant that clashes with Gentile rulers were also inevitable: ‘Ye shall be brought before governors and kings (the Caesars) for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles” (cp. Ps. 119:46). This was, of course, one of the main reasons, though by no means the only one, why Christ would allow his infant church to face the afflictions which hostile unbelievers were to bring upon it. There is good reason to believe that the main purpose behind Paul’s “Caesarem appello” was to provoke a test case which would establish the legality of the Christian Faith in Roman law.

In all such circumstances there was to be no paralysing anxiety as to what argument or evidence it would be best to advance, nor in what style it should be put forward. “It shall be given you in that same hour (as it was to Moses; Ex. 4:12) what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father, which speaketh in you”.

This is stated quite explicitly to have been the experience of Peter (Acts 4:8) and of Stephen (6:10; 7:55). Paul also knew and claimed it for himself: “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words pf truth and soberness” (26:25). In the New Testament and the LXX the Greek word translated “speak forth” invariably carries the idea of inspired utterance (or a false claim to inspiration, and that of course would be unthinkable in Paul’s case).

It has been very wisely observed that if God would guarantee His servants a Spirit-guided utterance when they were on trial for their Faith, He would all the more certainly guide by His Holy Spirit the writing of the fundamental documents of the early church ... gospels, history, epistles with authoritative rulings on doctrine and Christian behaviour. So this promise is in itself a firm evidence of the inspiration of the New Testament.

The Test then and now

Hatred and persecution, Jesus promised, would come to be the normal lot of his followers (Is.66:5). Within a hundred years “Away with the atheists” and “The Christians to the lions”, became familiar cries. But today there is practically no sign of this persecuting spirit. Then it was palpably true that “he that endureth to the end, shall be saved”.

What “end” did Jesus refer to?

The end of life — saved in the day of resurrection; v. 28.
The end of the Jewish age — saved from the tribulation of A.D. 70; 24:16, 21.
The last days — saved from its horrors.

Which of these? Or some other “end”?

Today a man is dragged away from his faith in Christ by more subtle means than violent persecution. No longer is his power of physical endurance put to the test. But his ability to stand up to the softening influences of material prosperity, his dogged holding on to faith in face of cocksure scientific gnosticism, his integrity in resisting the eroding effects of a civilisation gone morally rotten — these are the insidious tests provided by cancerous foes which destroy the red corpuscles in his blood and rot the marrow of his bones.

So today, as then, it is still true that “he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved”. Today, perhaps more than ever, “blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in me”.

The church of Christ today could well do with the bracing tonic of persecution. Nothing is more obvious than this. Yet it would be wrong to seek or to provoke hostility. In the early generations, before the time of Constantine, there came surges of almost hysterical enthusiasm for martyrdom. Christians foolishly courted it, prayed for it, and resisted reasonable attempts of their brethren to save them from the worst.


The precept and example of Jesus were all against this, “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another” (v. 23). He did this himself when rebuffed by a Samaritan village (Lk. 9:51-56). When bitter hostility erupted in Nazareth or in Jerusalem, he got .away as quickly and quietly as possible (Lk. 4:28-31; Jn. 8:59; 10:39, 40). When the Sanhedrin resolved on strong measures against him, he promptly moved out of their territory (Jn. 11:53, 54; but contrast Jn. 10:11-13, when there is a flock to be cared for).

So the early brethren were right when they “scattered abroad” because of the persecution raised by Saul of Tarsus (Acts 8:1). And they were right in insisting on the hasty and even undignified flight of Paul when the Jews were after his blood: “the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket” (Acts 9:25). “The brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea” (17:10). On both occasions it was obviously very much against the inclination of Paul’s ardent nature. However, there were plenty of other cities to preach to: “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come”.

But when silence became the price to be paid for safety, then was the time for the disciple to be resolute, no matter what the danger: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts.4:19,20). And when flight was of little use, because the same hostility in high places was to be met with everywhere (as happened eventually in the Roman Empire), then there was nothing for it but to stick one’s toes in, and doggedly testify regardless of consequences. Is it conceivable that such circumstances should happen again, in the twentieth century?

Like Master, like servant

Jesus added an observation which was doubtless intended to be of special comfort to his followers in time of trial: “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord”. Since Jesus himself had already encountered no little censure and contumely, and was to suffer much more acutely in the days ahead, it was only to be expected that his followers, lacking his personality and power, would be treated with contempt (Jn. 15:20).

Jesus added, with a marked touch of irony: “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord”. Enough, indeed! And since the verb here really means “become”, his point is all the more pungent. As though the disciple could ever become as his Master in anything! Filling up that which is lacking of the sufferings of Christ (Col. 1:24) is about the best that he may aspire to. Not that there was anything lacking or inadequate about his sufferings. But there is a good deal lacking even in the sufferings of a Paul, denying them comparison with all that Christ endured. Then how much more must this be true for any other disciple! “If they have called the master of the house Baalzebub, how much more shall they call them Baalzebub who are of his household?” (Mt. 10:25). Nowhere do the gospels record that the Lord’s critics got so far as actually calling him Baalzebub, but evidently they had found no difficulty in escalating from the original contemptible smear (Mk. 3:22). These enemies being so much less in awe of the follower than of the Leader, it must be evident long before trials ensue that disciples can expect only short shrift from their persecutors.

Unflinching Witness

This discouraging prospect notwithstanding, they were never to flinch from their greatest responsibility of taking the message about Christ to all people everywhere: “There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops” (v. 26, 27). Paraphrased, this would appear to mean: ‘There are important truths which I have not been able to teach you as yet, but in due time all these will be made known to you. And then, what you thus learn through my private instruction and the guidance of the Holy Spirit you must make known fully and freely to all!’

“What I tell you in darkness”, may be an allusion to the Shekinah Glory of God shining forth to the high priest on the Day of Atonement in the darkness of the Holy of Holies. In that case, “speak ye in the light” continues the idea, with reference to the high priest going forth to pronounce to the assembled people the blessing of sins forgiven. Certainly, the gospel now entrusted to the disciples was a message every bit as gracious.

The parallel commandment: “What ye hear in the ear, that proclaim ye upon the housetops”, followed by the Lord’s triple exhortation to “Fear not them that kill the body,” is apparently built on the corresponding message in Isaiah, written originally to strengthen Messiah, that he might “set his face like a flint” and “not be ashamed”: “He wakeneth me morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious...Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his Servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God” (ls. 50:4, 5, 10). The next chapter continues: “Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings...I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die...and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor?” (51:7, 12, 13).

The similarity of theme here to the encouragement Jesus now offered to the preachers of his gospel is very evident through all this section of the prophecy.

“Fear them not”

The perspective in which the Lord taught the disciples to view the most extreme forms of persecution provides a sterling test of faith: “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul”. Very bluntly these words say: ‘Death does not matter. Men cannot take away your life for ever. Therefore do not fear them even for a moment’.

In sharp contrast to this: “Rather, never cease to fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”. The common misuse of these words in easily exposed by the answering of a simple question: Where is the body destroyed? Answer: In the grave. Then this defines the Gehenna of which Jesus spoke. And the “soul” is destroyed there also. The words mean that he (Jesus) can and may destroy a man’s life utterly in the grave, by sending him to it for ever. “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:18). This means that Jesus has the authority not only to unlock the grave and bring forth whom he chooses, but also to lock the grave eternally on those whom he reprobates. He only is to be feared, and then only regarding the exercise of this power.

But fear of “man that shall die” is a blatant breaking of a thrice-repeated commandment (v. 26, 28, 31). Fear even of the horrors of persecution is a sin. Since the greater includes the less, and the ungoverned excesses of religious animosity are among the most extreme evils human nature is capable of, it follows that ideally the disciple of Christ should be able to go through life completely free from fears or anxieties of any kind. Fear and the life of faith are incompatibles.

“Two Sparrows for a Farthing”

Jesus proceeded to make his point afresh by means of a telling illustration: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father”. On another occasion, with similar intention Jesus said, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings?” (Lk. 12:6). These tiny birds were of such trivial value that, if you bought two farthingsworth, they threw in an extra sparrow as ‘this week’s special’. Yet the life of even such an unimportant creature is in the hand of God. Jesus did not say that God would keep that tiny sparrow from harm. But he was at pains to emphasize that nothing of good or of evil (as it might seem to our limited human judgement) could come to it without the will and control of God.

It may be that Jesus had in mind especially the two birds which were to be used in the ceremony of the cleansing of a leper (Lev.14:4-7). In that ritual one of the birds was slain, whilst the other went free, although daubed with the blood of the first one. Even the apparently unimportant decision as to which bird was chosen for death and which for life was a thing altogether in the hand of God. “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows”. Then, in all circumstances of adversity or opposition, let the disciple lean on his faith and relax in the over-all control of Almighty God. Even in the worst situations fear is out of place.

Time and Chance?

The somewhat odd viewpoint is met with from time to time: True, God knows about the sparrow falling to the ground, but He does not control it. This is one of the trivialities of life which He leaves to “time and chance”.

It cannot be too strongly emphasized that such a philosophy of life is not only altogether foreign to the spirit of these words of Jesus, but it is also quite without support in the rest of the v Bible. The only passage ever cited to reinforce ‘such a viewpoint (Ecc.9:11) is misused, as its ij context and a careful examination of the word „ translated “chance” very conclusively demonstrate. (For more detail on this, see ... “Through Patience and Comfort of the Scriptures” by H.A.W. ch. 1,16).

In every way possible Jesus sought to inculcate an unflagging confidence in the overruling wisdom and power of God. Far from being unimportant and providentially derelict, as the tiny sparrow might appear to be, the exact opposite is true. A long chapter at the beginning of the book of Numbers preserved before God an enumeration of the tribes of Israel coming out of Egypt. A quick glance confirms that the tribal totals of this Chosen Race are rounded off to the nearest fifty. With the chosen in Christ such a scale of accuracy is altogether inadequate: “The very hairs of your head are all numbered”. This is the way the Lord’s redeemed are taught to think of their place in the purpose of God. In time of hardship or persecution it is a philosophy of inestimable value, and not only then, for it disallows that there can be anything in the experience of the saints in Christ too small for the notice of God, too trivial for His providence and guidance.

Personal Witness

But this unlimited confidence in the leading of God is one side of a reciprocal relationship: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (v. 32). The implication of the Greek phrase is: “confess faith in me”. It would be a mistake to consider this as applicable only to those who are preachers of Christ’s gospel, or—with even more circumscribed reference—to those whom he personally appointed and sent out. The repetition of these words in other contexts in Luke and Mark shows that they have far wider reference.

There is no escaping the responsibility laid here on all who would follow Christ. The worthwhile disciple is a talking disciple, one eager to use every opportunity, however, meagre, for witness to the faith that is in him. Clandestine Christian is a contradiction in terms. It is a poor ungrateful faith that keeps itself to itself in return for the forgiveness of sins and all the other countless blessings which a man enjoys in Christ. More than this, such an attitude is foolish, for faith is a quality which feeds on testimony to others as much as on the fellowship which others give.

The build-up of emphasis in the Lord’s repetitions of this Christian duty is most impressive: “him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 10:32); “him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God” (Lk. 12:8); “I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:5 — combining the preceding two); and negatively: “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Lk. 9:26).

This dreadful converse to the promise of heavenly recognition has present force as well as omen for the future (Mt. 10:33). The logic of it seems to be that there may be many a well-meaning disciple of Christ who goes unacknowledged before the throne of heaven because of his own marked unwillingness to make open avowal of Christ. “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you”. This is the Lord’s own Lex Talionis.


It is, of course, because confession of the name of Christ can have unpleasant consequences that most of the Lord’s men have to struggle against their own reluctance to make known their faith in him. The gospel which tells of peace with God and which should be received by all with joyful eagerness somehow succeeds in stimulating opposite reactions. This is because there is a “bad news of the kingdom” about human nature, which often provokes intense resentment. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (v. 34). Jesus spoke not of the intention behind his ministry, but of its consequences.

Plenty of the Lord’s followers know how the challenge of the gospel has led to bad feeling in families: “I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law: and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (v. 35,36). The words are a straight quotation from a rather obscure passage in Micah (chapter 7), which turns out to be one of the most detailed and complete and impressive Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Jesus did not cite the words because they happened to express tersely the idea in his mind; he used them because they were inspired by God to tell beforehand the great work of the Messiah.

The Law of Moses has a rather frightening instruction how to deal with the beginnings of idolatry: “If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying. Let us go and serve other gods... thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him...but thou shalt surely kill him... because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God” (Dt. 13:6-10). But now-the irony of it!-when disciples went to their fellows with the Word of everlasting life, the salvation of their souls, they would experience an almost unbelievable inversion of the commandment. They, with the Hope of Israel on their lips, would have brought against them all the worst rigours of the Law’s penalty for idolatry.

Jesus himself had already found that they of his own household, although doubtless very well-intentioned, had done him and his cause serious damage (Studies 75, 77). Moses had had a like experience, through the jealousy of Miriam and Aaron, and also of Korah and his fellow rebels. There is reason to believe that the apostle Paul knew the same bitter discouragement (Phil. 3:7, 8).

In some families, Jesus foretold, hatred of his name would be so intense as to dry up all spirit of kinship. Rancour and opposition would displace family affection: “Brother shall deliver up brother to death, and the father the child: and children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death” (v. 21). In this century extremes of this kind are rare. Nevertheless, it would be possible to compile an impressive dossier of those who have proved the truth of the Lord’s prophecy of rejection and despite by family and closest friends because of the gospel.

This family cleavage for Christ’s sake (the Lord went on) would be accentuated by love of the Truth as well as by hatred for it. He laid it down with almost brutal clearness that if a choice has to be made, then his claims must come first, no matter how strong the ties of family affection. He put the issue in the most comprehensive way possible: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (v. 37). This is a hard saying, by which Jesus tacitly set his own authority higher than the Fifth Commandment. He was echoing the call of Moses after the sin of the golden calf: “Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me”. To those who responded, Moses said: “Put ye every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour”. But now Jesus required the spirit of self-consecration which would treat as secondary those loyalties and affections which are normally of highest intensity and value in a man’s life.

Self Denial

Indeed the disciple must be prepared to say an emphatic “No” to the strongest instinct of all — his own self-love: “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me is not worthy of me” (v. 38). Even before Jesus ever spoke to them plainly about the vile end to which the plotting of the rulers would bring him, this challenge which he made to them would carry a terrible meaning. In those days most people had seen, at some time or another, condemned men being led through the town to be crucified at its Golgotha. Picture, then, a long line of Christian “criminals” with Jesus himself at their head, each of them — like their Leader — carrying the cross on which self is to die in agony and wretchedness. The crowd stares fascinated, some in pity, others shouting their contempt or hatred, but hardly a soul disposed to help them in their plight. Yet they are content to be as they are, because they wish for no other Leader than the one have. They are satisfied that the servant should be as his Lord.

It was an austere challenge truly, which Jesus made to these men of his, that each take up his cross daily (Lk. 9:23). Yet how much more grim and repelling it would appear when they witnessed from “afar off” (Lk. 23:49) just what this meant for Jesus himself. But how heartened they became to respond to his challenge when they saw him alive again on the third day, thus adding meaning to the exhortation: “He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (v. 39).

Just as the allusion to bearing the cross of self did not mean the disciple’s literal crucifixion, so also here. The follower of Jesus is called upon to “lose his life” without necessarily having to die. For whilst this Greek word psuche normally describes a man’s natural life, it is also used not infrequently for the propensities, affections and appetites which characterize “flesh” rather than “Spirit”. This, primarily, is the “life” which a man is called upon to put away. Indeed, except he do so, he loses all: “He that findeth his life shall lose it”. What the world would deem a full, rich, satisfying existence is really selfishness. Concentration of ambition and effort on that can end only in utter loss.

The aorist tenses in which Jesus couched his ultimatum strongly suggest the idea of decision, as though giving point to the idea, that, at some time in life (and this not necessarily on the occasion of one’s baptism into Christ — it may be long after that), a deliberate choice must be made between aspirations which Jesus himself esteems and those which are illicit.

The Lord’s Envoys

Jesus now rounded off his exhortation and warnings with an amazing declaration of the high status of his disciples. Even though they should be scorned, despised and harassed by critics and persecutors, and even though called upon to forego all pomp and circumstance in favour of the regimen of a simple life, they must not forget their standing and high privilege in the sight of God: “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (v. 40). The reason why there came such blessing on the new ecclesia in Thessalonica was that they received the word of God from Paul “not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God” (1 Th. 2:13). The Galatians similarly “received him as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus” (4:14).

The further expansion of this principle now given by Jesus is susceptible of more than one interpretation: “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (v.41). This might mean that he who receives the message of the gospel from one of Christ’s men, recognizing it for the divine message which it is, shall receive the reward which only the Truth can bring into a man’s life. The widow of Zarephath gave her widow’s mite of food and hospitality to Elijah, believing him to be a true prophet of Jehovah, and was blessed for her faith and generosity (1 Kgs. 17).

Or can it be that Jesus was enunciating for the benefit of his ecclesia in later days the spiritual equivalent of the principle David had laid down for Israel’s campaign: “As his share is that goeth down to the battle so shall his share be that tarrieth by the stuff: they shall share alike” (1 Sam. 30:24)? All too easily it can be overlooked that this holds good in spiritual activity for the Lord also. Not all are equipped to be front rank exponents of the Truth of Christ. Nor are all as well endowed as others in opportunity, disposition or circumstances for a life prolific in good works or witness for the Lord. Nevertheless it stands true that when a man uses his time and ability well and worthily in Christ’s service, even though he have no more than one talent to work with, his reward shall be comparable to that of the best.

Even a cup of cold water given to one of Christ’s “little ones” (Mt. 18:10) for the specific reason that they belong to Christ (Mk. 9:41), shall most certainly have due recognition from God. It was for this very reason — a cup of cold water-that David’s men (2 Sam. 23:16) have their place for all time in the Book of Holy Scripture. Jesus now says: ‘What those heroes would do for their great king you are to be ready to do for the least of my disciples’.

This is also the Lord’s re-statement of the promise made to Abraham: “I will bless them that bless thee” (Gen.12:3). Christ’s disciples are the true Israel of God, the most important people in the world. Almighty God takes notice of the disposition of men towards His chosen, and He deals with them accordingly.

Notes: Mt. 10:16-42

Harmless as doves. In Rom. 16:19 Paul’s specific interpretation of this phrase appears to be: Uncontaminated by evil company in the ecclesia!
The Spirit of your Father. .Cp: “l will give you” (Lk. 21:15; 12:11, 12; 2 Cor. 13:3; Pr. 16:1).
Children. The term of special affection! Jesus may have used these phrases in the sense of spiritual fathers and children, as in 1 Jn2:12-14.
From v. 23 this surely applies to saints in Israel.

He. The pronoun is emphatic: he and no other.
One of the problem passages of the N.T., raising too big an issue to be discussed here. See “Revelation”, by H.A.W., p. 259ff.
Lk. 6:40 has a very different context.
It is enough. Cp. the irony in Mt. 6:34; 1 Pet. 4:3 s.w.

Baalzebub. The name Baalzebul means ’master of the dwelling’ — hence the Lord’s phrasing here.
Note Jn. 18:20, Christ’s own memorable example.

The version in Lk. 12:2, 3 has future tenses, to be read as Hebraistic imperatives, like the Ten Commandments.
Fear him, as in Gen. 31:42.
In Lk. 12:6, “forgotten” seems to come from Ps. 9:18.
Confess before my Father, as in Jn. 17:9. Mark the sharp contrast between Rev. 3:5 and 3:16.

A few examples of this use of psuche: Lk. 12:19; Acts 14:2; Heb. 4:12; 1 Pet. 1:22; Rev. 18:14. And now consider: Jn. 10:15; 1 Jn. 3:16; Mt. 26:38; Jn. 12:27; 15:13.
The sayings in these verses are remarkable for the number of separate occasions Jesus said them:

v.38: 3 times: Lk. 9:23; 14:27.

v.39: 4 times: Mt. 16:25; Lk. 17:33; Jn. 12:25.

v.40: 5 times: Mt. 18:5; Lk. 10:16; Jn. 12:44; 13:20.
A righteous man. This is added because there are false prophets as well as true.
There is a suggestion that these verses belong with v. 5-15, whilst v. 16-39 are part of a later discourse

A cup of cold water. Contrast Rev. 3:15.

His reward. Yet this is not to be the motive for the kindness, but: “in the name of (i.e. because he is) a disciple”.

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