Friday, February 17, 2023

Handout - Matthew Chapter 10:16-25 - Persecution

by Stan Feldsine (

Matthew 10:16-22 - The Coming Persecution

The Messianic Kingdom is being rejected by the religious leaders and giving rise to persecution. Jesus begins preparing the apostles to deal with persecution with an analogy. Being sent like sheep among wolves is a warning against being naive and allowing wolves to destroy them. They were to be smart and aware of what is going on around them. They will face opposition from both the religious and the secular as their message of the Kingdom, healing and casting out demons would identify them with Jesus, whom the religious were already making plans to have killed.

Their persecution was to be a witness to the officials, religious and secular. In courtrooms, their testimony would be a witness to those around them. They would testify regarding the King and Kingdom (1Pe 4:12-16).

The statement "... the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." needs some explanation and context. "Standing firm" conveys the idea of persistence in following Jesus in the midst of persecution. It does not denote perfection, as those standing firm from day to day can experience falling short and stumbling. Standing firm indicates that one would rise from their fall and continue on the path. The idea is not that we never fail, but that we bear up under the oppression and continue regardless. Consider Peter, who denied Christ, and yet overall persisted to the end (Joh 18:25-27).

"to the end" conveys the end of some time period or event. Jesus is speaking to His apostles, warning them of the impending persecution as they are sent out as His ambassadors. The time frame for the "end" of this ambassadorship is 70AD, some 40 years in the future. The promise here is that if they persist, they will not die in the siege (Mat 24:1-2, Mat 24:3, Luk 21:20-24)

Some see "the end" from an individual point of view, which would be the end of their life. Others see this from a global point of view as the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom. Once we are in the Kingdom, the persecution would end.

"will be saved" is not a presentation of a condition of salvation, but rather a promise that persecution will indeed end. Standing firm until the end is a fruit of our relationship with Christ, not a cause of it.

The apostles were not only to expect persecution from the religious and the secular leaders and people, but also from their own families. They would have been reassured when Jesus told them that when they were to be brought to account for their teachings, they did not have to worry about what to say, but that the Holy Spirit would speak through them.

Matthew 10:23-25 - Persecution Guide

As wise as serpents, can be seen in shaking the dust off their boots and going to another city when experiencing persecution. The teaching on persecution was not a call to martyrdom. There is nothing wrong with fleeing (Act 13:50-51).

Verse 23 is disputed, as it seems to plainly state that Jesus would come back before all the cities of Israel would hear the message of the Kingdom, but this has clearly taken place.

Jesus taught the general principle that if the leader was falsely accused, then the followers should expect the same treatment. Jesus had indeed been referred to as Beelzebul, a demon, and the apostles should expect the same if they were to stand firm. A final thought on this passage is that in many cases it is the religious that will be the persecutors. Note that in vs. 17, this persecution will occur in the synagogue (Mat 10:17).

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