Matthew 10:16
Parallel Verses
New International Version
"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

New Living Translation
"Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.

English Standard Version
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

New American Standard Bible
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.

King James Bible
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
"Look, I'm sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves.

International Standard Version
"Pay attention, now! I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves.

NET Bible
"I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
“Behold, I am sending you as lambs among wolves; be therefore crafty as snakes and innocent as doves.”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"I'm sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as cunning as snakes but as innocent as doves.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye therefore prudent as serpents and innocent as doves.

King James 2000 Bible
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

American King James Version
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

American Standard Version
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves.

Darby Bible Translation
Behold, *I* send you as sheep in the midst of wolves; be therefore prudent as the serpents, and guileless as the doves.

English Revised Version
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Webster's Bible Translation
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Weymouth New Testament
"Remember it is I who am sending you out, as sheep into the midst of wolves; prove yourselves as sagacious as serpents, and as innocent as doves.

World English Bible
"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Young's Literal Translation
'Lo, I do send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, be ye therefore wise as the serpents, and simple as the doves.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

10:16-42 Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent's wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God's opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God's love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ's work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God's people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ's disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 16-39. - The internal conditions of conveying Christ's message. The subdivisions of this section are after ver. 23 and ver. 33 (cf. ver. 5b, note). Verses 16-23. - You will be in the midst; of foes, and simplicity must be accompanied by prudence (ver. 16, a summary of all); you will be ill-treated publicly (vers. 17, 18), but must conduct yourselves with calm faith that you will be guided in your defence (vers. 19, 20), with endurance of family and universal enmity. (vers. 21, 22), with common sense in avoiding unnecessary danger, for wherever you go you will find work to be done (ver. 23). Verse 16-16a, parallel passage: Luke 10:3 (the seventy); 16b, Matthew only. Behold. He calls their attention. I send you forth. I (ἐγω), with the full consciousness of all that will befall you; I, whose message you will carry, whose character you will represent. In this I lies the germ of vers. 40-42. As sheep in the midst of wolves. The 'Midrash' on Esther 8:2 (Parasha 10.) uses the same phrase of the position of Israel amidst a hostile world (cf. Edersheim, 'Life,' 1:645), adding, "How great is that Shepherd who delivers them and vanquishes the wolves?" 'Clem. Romans,' it. § 5, has an interesting addition, "The Lord saith, Ye shall be as lambs in the midst of wolves. But Peter answered and said unto him, What then, if the wolves should tear the lambs? Jesus saith unto Peter, Let not the lambs fear the wolves after they [the lambs] are dead." Be ye therefore. Prove yourselves to he (γίνεσθε). Wise. Prudent (φρόνιμοι). As serpents. אָ,with Ignat., 'Polyc.,' § 2, has the singular, perhaps taking it generically, or perhaps not without reference to the phrase in Genesis 3:1, "The serpent was more subtle," etc. (ὁ δὲ ὄφις η΅ν φρονιμώτατος κ.τ.λ.). The prudence of the serpent is specially apparent in the quickness of its perception of danger and the rapidity with which it escapes from it. Kubel gives Matthew 22:23, sqq., 34, sqq.; John 2:24; John 11:9, 10, as examples of this proper prudence in the case of our Lord. And harmless as doves. Harmless; rather, simple, with Revised Version margin, for ἀκέραιος is literally "unmixed, unadulterated" (cf Bishop Lightfoot, on Philippians 2:15), and emphasizes the idea of simplicity of character. It is thus not active, but passive. Comp. 'Shir. R.' (Song of Solomon 2:14), "With me they [Israel] are simple [תמימים; cf. the 'Etz Ya'akob, which refers to Hosea 7:11 as doves, but among the nations of the world they are subtle as serpents" (cf. Matthew 3:16, note).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Behold, I send you forth, as sheep among wolves,.... This, and the following verses, chiefly respect the troubles, afflictions, persecutions, and sufferings which should befall the apostles after the death and resurrection of Christ; when their commission was enlarged, and they afresh sent out by Christ to preach his Gospel; of which he gives a faithful account before hand, that they might be prepared for them, and not be surprised when they came upon them. He compares them to "sheep", because they were meek and humble in their spirits, harmless, and inoffensive, in their lives and conversations; were weak, and unable to protect themselves, and were sent out by him unarmed and defenceless; and their oppressors and persecutors to "wolves", because fierce and furious, voracious and ravenous, cruel and hurtful, as these creatures are, especially to sheep; wherefore Christ gives them this wholesome advice,

be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Much such an expression as this God is represented as saying of Israel (a):

"Says R. Judah, in the name of R. Simon, the holy blessed God said, concerning Israel, with me they are , "harmless as doves"; but among the nations of the world, they are , "subtle as serpents".''

The serpent is a very sharp sighted, cunning creature, and uses various arts and stratagems for its own preservation, and especially of its head; and is so far to be imitated by the followers of Christ, as to make use of all proper methods to preserve themselves from the insults and rage of men, and not expose themselves to unnecessary dangers: and, as much as in them lies, they should be careful to give no just occasion of offence, or irritate, and provoke them to use them ill, and to avoid all snares and traps that are laid for them; and, at the same time, maintain the innocence and harmlessness of the dove, being free from all wicked cunning and craftiness, without rancour, malice, and wrath; not meditating and seeking revenge, but meek and humble in their deportment, leading inoffensive lives, and proceeding in the course of their calling, though liable to many insults, and much oppression.

(a) Shirhashirim Rabba, c. 2. 14. fol. 12. 1.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

16. Behold, I send you forth—The "I" here is emphatic, holding up Himself as the Fountain of the Gospel ministry, as He is also the Great Burden of it.

as sheep—defenseless.

in the midst of wolves—ready to make a prey of you (Joh 10:12). To be left exposed, as sheep to wolves, would have been startling enough; but that the sheep should be sent among the wolves would sound strange indeed. No wonder this announcement begins with the exclamation, "Behold."

be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves—Wonderful combination this! Alone, the wisdom of the serpent is mere cunning, and the harmlessness of the dove little better than weakness: but in combination, the wisdom of the serpent would save them from unnecessary exposure to danger; the harmlessness of the dove, from sinful expedients to escape it. In the apostolic age of Christianity, how harmoniously were these qualities displayed! Instead of the fanatical thirst for martyrdom, to which a later age gave birth, there was a manly combination of unflinching zeal and calm discretion, before which nothing was able to stand.

Matthew 10:16 Additional Commentaries
Context
Comfort in Persecution
16"Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17"But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues;…
Cross References
Genesis 3:1
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

Jeremiah 40:16
But Gedaliah son of Ahikam said to Johanan son of Kareah, "Don't do such a thing! What you are saying about Ishmael is not true."

Hosea 7:11
"Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless-- now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria.

Matthew 24:25
See, I have told you ahead of time.

Matthew 24:45
"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?

Matthew 25:2
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.

Matthew 25:4
The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.

Matthew 25:9
"'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'

Luke 10:3
Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

Romans 16:19
Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
Treasury of Scripture

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

as sheep.

Luke 10:3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

Acts 20:29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter …

wise.

Genesis 3:1,13 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which …

Luke 21:15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries …

Romans 16:19 For your obedience is come abroad to all men. I am glad therefore …

1 Corinthians 14:20 Brothers, be not children in understanding: however, in malice be …

2 Corinthians 11:3,14 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through …

Ephesians 5:15-17 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise…

Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease …

Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

harmless. or, simple.

Romans 16:18,19 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly…

2 Corinthians 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that …

2 Corinthians 8:20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which …

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through …

Philippians 2:15 That you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without …

1 Thessalonians 2:10 You are witnesses, and God also, how piously and justly and blamelessly …

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

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