Matthew 10:32
Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(32) Shall confess me.—Literally, make his confession in and for me; and so in the corresponding clause. The promise points forward to the great day when the Son of Man shall be enthroned in His kingdom, and then before His Father and before the angels of God (Luke 12:8) shall acknowledge His faithful servants. The words are remarkable (1) in their calm assertion of this final sovereignty, and (2) in extending the scope of the discourse beyond the apostles themselves to all who should receive their witness.

Matthew

THE KING’S CHARGE TO HIS AMBASSADORS

Matthew 10:32 - Matthew 10:42
.

The first mission of the apostles, important as it was, was but a short flight to try the young birds’ wings. The larger portion of this charge to them passes far beyond the immediate occasion, and deals with the permanent relations of Christ’s servants to the world in which they live, for the purpose of bringing it into subjection to its true King. These solemn closing words, which make our present subject, contain the duty and blessedness of confessing Him, the vision of the antagonisms which He excites, His demand for all-surrendering following, and the rewards of those who receive Christ’s messengers, and therein receive Himself and His Father.

I. The duty and blessedness of confessing Him {Matthew 10:32 - Matthew 10:33}.

The ‘therefore’ is significant. It attaches the promise which follows to the immediately preceding thoughts of a watchful, fatherly care, extending like a great invisible hand over the true disciple. Because each is thus guarded, each shall be preserved to receive the honour of being confessed by Christ. No matter what may befall His witnesses, the extremest disaster shall not rob them of their reward. They may be flung down from the house-tops where they lift up their bold voices, but He who does not let a sparrow fall to the ground uncared for, will give His angels charge concerning them who are so much more precious, and they shall be borne up on outstretched wings, lest they be dashed on the pavement below. Thus preserved, they shall all attain at last to their guerdon. Nothing can come between Christ’s servant and his crown. The tender providence of the Father, whose mercy is over all His works, makes sure of that. The river of the confessor’s life may plunge underground, and be lost amid persecutions, but it will emerge again into the brighter sunshine on the other side of the mountains.

The confession which is to be thus rewarded, like the denial opposed to it, is, of course, not merely a single utterance of the lip. So far Judas Iscariot confessed Christ, and Peter denied Him. But it is the habitual acknowledgment by lip and life, unwithdrawn to the end. The context implies that the confession is maintained in the face of opposition, and that the denial is a cowardly attempt to save one’s skin at the cost of treason to Jesus. The temptation does not come in that sharpest form to us. Perhaps some cowards would be made brave if it did. It is perhaps easier to face the gibbet and the fire, and screw oneself up for once to a brief endurance, than to resist the more specious blandishments of the world, especially when it has been christened, and calls itself religious. The light laugh of scorn, the silent pressure of the low average of Christian character, the close associations in trade, literature, public and domestic life which Christians have with non-Christians, make many a man’s tongue lie silent, to the sore detriment of his own religious life. ‘Ye have not yet resisted unto blood,’ and find it hard to fulfil the easier conflict to which you are called. The sun has more power than the tempest to make the pilgrim drop his garment. But the duty remains the same for all ages. Every man is bound to make the deepest springs of his life visible, and to stand to his convictions, whatever they be. If he do not, his convictions will disappear like a piece of ice hid in a hot hand, which will melt and trickle away. This obligation lies with infinitely increased weight on Christ’s servants; and the consequences of failing to discharge it are more tragic in their cases, in the exact proportion of the greater preciousness of their faith. Corn hoarded is sure to be spoiled by weevils and rust. The bread of life hidden in our sacks will certainly go mouldy.

The reward and punishment of confession and denial come to them not as separate acts, but as each being the revelation of the spiritual condition of the doers. Christ implies that a true disciple cannot but be a confessor, and that therefore the denier must certainly be one whom He has never known. Because, therefore, each act is symptomatic of the doer, each receives the congruous and correspondent reward. The confessor is confessed; the denier is denied. What calm and assured consciousness of His place as Judge underlies these words! His recognition is God’s acceptance; His denial is darkness and misery. The correspondence between the work and the reward is beautifully brought out by the use of the same word to express each. And yet what a difference between our confession of Him and His of us! And what a hope is here for all who have tremblingly, and in the consciousness of much unworthiness, ventured to say that they were Christ’s subjects, and He their King, brother, and all! Their poor, feeble confession will be endorsed by His. He will say, ‘Yes, this man is mine, and I am his.’ That will be glory, honour, blessedness, life, heaven.

II. The vision of the discord which follows the coming of the King of peace.

It is not enough to interpret these words as meaning that our Lord’s purpose indeed was to bring peace, but that the result of His coming was strife. The ultimate purpose is peace; but an immediate purpose is conflict, as the only road to the peace. He is first King of righteousness, and after that also King of peace. But, if His kingdom be righteousness, purity, love, then unrighteousness, filthiness, and selfishness will fight against it for their lives. The ultimate purpose of Christ’s coming is to transform the world into the likeness of heaven; and all in the world which hates such likeness is embattled against Him. He saw realities, and knew men’s hearts, and was under no illusion, such as many an ardent reformer has cherished, that the fair form of truth need only be shown to men, and they will take her to their hearts. Incessant struggle is the law for the individual and for society till Christ’s purpose for both is realised.

That conflict ranges the dearest in opposite ranks. The gospel is the great solvent. As when a substance is brought into contact with some chemical compound, which has greater affinity for one of its elements than the other element has, the old combination is dissolved, and a new and more stable one is formed, so Christianity analyses and destroys in order to synthesis and construction. In Matthew 10:21 our Lord had foretold that brother should deliver up brother to death. Here the severance is considered from the opposite side. The persons who are ‘set at variance’ with their kindred are here Christians. Perhaps it is fanciful to observe that they are all junior members of families, as if the young would be more likely to flock to the new light. But however that may be, the separation is mutual, but the hate is all on one side. The ‘man’s foes’ are of his own household; but he is not their foe, though he be parted from them.

III. Earthly love may be a worse foe to a true Christian than even the enmity of the dearest; and that enmity may often be excited by the Christian subordination of earthly to heavenly love. So our Lord passes from the warnings of discord and hate to the danger of the opposite-undue love.

He claims absolute supremacy in our hearts. He goes still farther, and claims the surrender, not only of affections, but of self and life to Him. What a strange claim this is! A Jewish peasant, dead nineteen hundred years since, fronts the whole race of man, and asserts His right to their love, which is strange, and to their supreme love, which is stranger still. Why should we love Him at all, if He were only a man, however pure and benevolent? We may admire, as we do many another fair nature in the past; but is there any possibility of evoking anything as warm as love to an unseen person, who can have had no knowledge of or love to us? And why should we love Him more than our dearest, from whom we have drawn, or to whom we have given, life? What explanation or justification does He give of this unexampled demand? Absolutely none. He seems to think that its reasonableness needs no elucidation. Surely never did teacher professing wisdom, modesty, and, still more, religion, put forward such a claim of right; and surely never besides did any succeed in persuading generations unborn to yield His demand, when they heard it. The strangest thing in the world’s history is that to-day there are millions who do love Jesus Christ more than all besides, and whose chief self-accusation is that they do not love Him more. The strange, audacious claim is most reasonable, if we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, who died for each of us, and that each man and woman to the last of the generations had a separate place in His divine human love when He died. It is meet to love Him, if that be true; it is not, unless it be. The requirement is as stringent as strange. If the two ever seem to conflict, the earthly must give way. If the earthly be withdrawn, there must be found sufficiency for comfort and peace in the heavenly. The lower must not be permitted to hinder the flight of the heavenly to its home. ‘More than Me’ is a rebuke to most of us. What a contrast between the warmth of our earthly and the tepidity or coldness of our heavenly love! How spontaneously our thoughts, when left free, turn to the one; how hard we find it to keep them fixed on the other! How sweet service is to the dear ones here; how reluctantly it is given to Christ! How we long, when parted, to rejoin them; how little we are drawn to the place where He is! We have all to confess that we are ‘not worthy of’ Him; that we requite His love with inadequate returns, and live lives which tax His love for its highest exercise, the free forgiveness of sins against itself. Compliance with that stringent law, and subordinating all earthly love to His, is the true elevating and ennobling of the earthly. It is promoted, not degraded, when it is made second, and is infinitely sweeter and deeper then than when it was set in the place of supremacy, where it had no right to be.

But Christ’s demand is not only for the surrender of the heart, but for the giving up of self, and, in a very profound sense, for the surrender of life. How enigmatical that saying about taking up the cross must have sounded to the disciples! They knew little about the cross, as a punishment; they had not yet associated it in any way with their Lord. This seems to have been the first occasion of His mentioning it, and the allusion is so veiled as to be but partially intelligible. But what was intelligible was bewildering. A strange royal procession that, of the King with a cross on His shoulder, and all His subjects behind Him with similar burdens! Through the ages that procession has marched, and it marches still. Self-denial for Christ’s sake is ‘the badge of all our tribe.’ Observe that word ‘take.’ The cross must be willingly and by ourselves assumed. No other can lay it on our shoulders. Observe that other word ‘his.’ Each man has his own special form in which self-denial is needful for him. We require pure eyes, and hearts kept in very close communion with Jesus, to ascertain what our particular cross is. He has them of many patterns, shapes, sizes, and materials. We can always make sure of strength to carry the one which He means us to carry, but not of strength to bear what is not ours.

IV. We have the rewards of those who receive Christ’s messengers, and therein receive Him and His Father.

Our Lord first identifies these twelve with Himself in a manner which must have sounded strange to them then, but have heartened them for their work by the consciousness of His mysterious oneness with them. The whole doctrine of Christ’s unity with His people lay in germ in these words, though much more was needed, both of teaching and of experience, before their depth of blessing and strengthening could be apprehended. We know that He dwells in His true subjects by His Spirit, and that a most real union subsists between the head and the members, of which the closest unions of earth are but faint shadows, so as that not only those who receive His followers receive Him, but, more wonderful still, His followers are received at the last by God Himself as joined to Him, and portions of His very self, and therefore ‘accepted in the Beloved.’ Our Lord adds to these words the thought that, in like manner, to receive Him is to receive the Father, and so implies that our relation to Him is in certain real respects parallel with His relation to the Father. We too are sent. He who sends abides with us, as the Son ever abode in God, and God in Him. We are sent to be the brightness of Christ’s glory, and to manifest Him to men, as He was sent to reveal the Father.Matthew 10:32-33. Whosoever, &c. — As a further encouragement to you to cast off all unnecessary cares and fears, to trust in God, and arm yourselves with courage to encounter, and resolution to endure whatever persecutions, injuries, or other trials he in his providence may permit to befall you, be assured, whatever you may now suffer for your fidelity to me, it will, on the whole, be most amply rewarded. For whosoever shall confess me — That is, publicly acknowledge me for the promised Messiah, receiving my whole doctrine for the rule of his faith and practice, obeying all my precepts, relying on my promises, revering my threatenings, and imitating my example: him will I confess before my Father — Him will I own as my true disciple in the presence of my Father at the day of final judgment, and will claim for him the rewards which my Father has promised to such. But whosoever shall deny me — Whosoever shall be ashamed or afraid to acknowledge his relation to me, or shall not confess me before men, in the sense now mentioned, him will I also deny, &c. — As having any relation to me, in that awful day. “There is an unspeakable majesty in this article of our Lord’s discourse. Although he was now in the lowest state of humanity, he declares that his confessing us before God is the greatest happiness, and his denying us the greatest misery that can possibly befall us.”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.Whosoever therefore shall confess me ... - The same word in the original is translated "confess" and "profess," 1 Timothy 6:12-13; 2 John 1:7; Romans 10:10. It means to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ, and our dependence on him for salvation, and our attachment to him, in every proper manner. This profession may be made in uniting with a church, at the communion, in conversation, and in conduct. The Scriptures mean, by a profession of religion, an exhibition of it in every circumstance of the life and before all people. It is not merely in one act that we must do it, but in every act. We must be ashamed neither of the person, the character, the doctrines, nor the requirements of Christ. If we are; if we deny him in these things before people; if we are unwilling to express our attachment to him in every way possible, then it is right that he should "disown all connection with us," or deny us before God, and he will do it. 32. Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men—despising the shame.

him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven—I will not be ashamed of him, but will own him before the most august of all assemblies.

See Poole on "Matthew 10:33". Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men,.... The confession of Christ here, more especially designed, does not so much intend, though it may include, that which is less public, and is necessary to be made by every believer in Christ: for it is not enough to believe in him, with the heart, but confession of him must also be made with the mouth; and which lies in ascribing their whole salvation to him, giving him the glory of it; declaring their faith in him to others, and what he has done for their souls; and subjecting themselves to his ordinances, and joining in fellowship with his church and people: which confession, as it ought to be both by words and deeds, and to be hearty and sincere, so likewise visible, open, and before men. This, I say, may be included in the sense of these words; but what they chiefly relate to, is a confession of Christ by his ministers, in the public preaching of the Gospel; who ought openly, and boldly, to acknowledge, and declare, that Christ is truly and properly God, the eternal Son of God, the only mediator between God and men, the Saviour and Redeemer of lost sinners; through whose blood alone is the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of grace; by whose righteousness only men can be justified before God; and by whose sacrifice and satisfaction sin is only expiated; that he died for, and in the room and stead of his people, rose again for their justification, ascended to heaven in their name, is set down at the right hand of God, and ever lives to make intercession for them, and will come again, and judge both quick and dead: such a free and open confession of Christ ought to be made by all his ministers before men, and in spite of all the rage and opposition of earth and hell; and such shall not fail of being taken notice of, and requited by Christ; for he himself says,

him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven: as he has a perfect knowledge of them, and bears an affectionate love to them; so he will openly own, and acknowledge them as his ministers, and speak in the praise and commendation of their works and labours; though they have been performed through the gifts, grace, and strength, which he has communicated to them: he will introduce them into his Father's presence, and recommend them to him, to be honoured, blessed, and glorified by him.

{7} Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

(7) The necessity and reward of openly confessing Christ.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 10:32 f. Πᾶς οὖν, κ.τ.λ.] Nominative, like Matthew 10:14.

ἐν ἐμοί] is neither a Hebraism nor a Syriac mode of expression; nor does it stand for the dative of advantage; nor does it mean through me (Chrysostom); but the personal object of confession is conceived of as the one to whom the confession cleaves. Exactly as in Luke 12:8. Similar to ὀμνύειν ἐν, Matthew 5:34.

In the apodosis, notice the order: confess will I also him (as really one of mine, and so on).

ἔμπροσθενοὐρανοῖς] namely, after my ascension to the glory of heaven as σύνθρονος of the Father, Matthew 26:64; comp. Revelation 3:5.

Matthew 10:32-33 contain, as an inference from all that has been said since Matthew 10:16, a final observation in the form of a promise and a threatening, and expressed in so general a way that the disciples are left to make the special application for themselves.

The address, which is drawing to a close in Matthew 10:33, pursues still further the same lofty tone, and that in vivid imagery, in Matthew 10:34, so full is Jesus of the thought of the profound excitement which He feels He is destined to create.Matthew 10:32-33. Solemn reference to the final Judgment. οὖν points back to Matthew 10:27, containing injunction to make open proclamation of the truth.—πᾶς ὅστις: nominative absolute at the head of the sentence.—ἐν ἐμοὶ, ἐν αὐτῷ: observe these phrases after the verb in Matthew 10:32, compared with the use of the accusative με, αὐτὸν in the following verse: “confess in me,” “deny me,” “confess in him,” “deny him”. Chrysostom’s comment is: we confess by the grace of Christ, we deny destitute of grace. Origen (Cremer, Catenae, i. p. 80) interprets the varying construction as indicating that the profit of the faithful disciple lies in fellowship with Christ and the loss of the unfaithful in the lack of such fellowship. (ὅρα δὲ, εἰ μὴ τὸ πλεονέκτημα τοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ ὁμολογοῦντος, ἤδη ὄντως ἐν χριστῷ δηλοῦται, ἐκ τοῦ, “κἀγὼ ἐν αὐτῷὁμολογεῖν· τὸ δὲ κακὸν τοῦ ἀρνουμένου, ἐκ τοῦ μὴ συνῆφθαι τῇ ἀρνήσει τὸἐν ἐμοὶ,” ἢ τὸἐν αὐτῷ”.)32. shall confess me] Literally, confess in me: make me the central point and object of his confession.Matthew 10:32. Ἐν, in, on) i.e., when the question is raised concerning Me. This ἐν Ἐμοὶ” “on Me,” differs from Με,” “Me,” and αὐτὸν,” “him,” in the next verse; cf. Luke 12:8-9.—ἀνθρώπων, men) Our Lord is speaking especially of persecutors.Verses 32, 33. -

(2) The result of confessing and of denying Christ. (Cf. ver. 24, note.) Verse 32. - Whosoever; every one... who (Revised Version); Matthew 7:24, note. Therefore. Summing up the thought of vers. 24-31, that he who suffers with Christ is only receiving such treatment as he ought to expect, and is never forgotten. Shall confess me (ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοί). Ὁμολογεῖν ἐν occurs only in this verse (twice) and in the parallel passage, Luke 12:8 (cf. Bishop Westcott, on 1 John 2:23). Though the exact phrase is doubtless due to Hebrew influence (cf. Ewald, § 217, f. 2), yet its choice here is determined by an instinctive feeling that it expresses the union of him who confesses with him who is confessed, while the plain accusative makes no such implication, but only sums up the confession. Bishop Westcott ('Canon,' p. 275, edit. 1870) quotes Heracleon's comment on Luke 12:8. "With good reason Christ says of those who confess him in me (ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοί), but of those who deny him me (ἀρνήσηταί με) only. For these even it' they confess him with their voice deny him, since they confess him not in their action. But they alone make confession in him who live in the confession and action that accords with him; in whom also he makes confession, having himself embraced them, and being held first by them" (Clem. Alex., 'Strom.,' 4:9, Fragment 50 in Sir. A. E. Brooke's edition of Heraeleon). Before men (τῶν ἀνθρώπων); ver. 17, note, and Matthew 6:1, note. Him. Not in any position of emphasis in the Greek. Will I confess also (cf. Revelation 3:5) before my Father. Not merely "the Father," but him who is in the closest relationship to me; the thought is of salvation as well as of creation. Which is in heaven. In nature, love; in position, majesty and omnipotence. Confess me (ὁμολογήσει ἐν ἐμοὶ)

A peculiar but very significant expression. Lit., "Confess in me." The idea is that of confessing Christ out of a state of oneness with him. "Abide in me, and being in me, confess me." It implies identification of the confessor with the confessed, and thus takes confession out of the category of mere formal or verbal acknowledgment. "Not every one that saith unto me, ' Lord! Lord!' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." The true confessor of Christ is one whose faith rests in him. Observe that this gives great force to the corresponding clause, in which Christ places himself in a similar relation with those whom he confesses. "I will confess in him." It shall be as if I spoke abiding in him. "I in them and thou in me, that they may be perfected into one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me" (John 17:23).

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