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Persecution of Disciples

16 “I[a] am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves,[b] so be wise as serpents[c] and innocent as doves.[d]

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  1. Matthew 10:16 tn Grk “Behold I.” The Greek word ἰδού (idou) has not been translated because it has no exact English equivalent here, but adds interest and emphasis (BDAG 468 s.v. 1).
  2. Matthew 10:16 sn This imagery of wolves is found in intertestamental Judaism (see Pss. Sol. 8:23, 30; also 1 Enoch 89:55). For more on the sheep imagery see H. Preisker and S. Schulz, TDNT 6:690. The imagery of sheep surrounded by wolves suggests violence, and prepares the hearers for the persecutions of disciples described in vv. 17-26.
  3. Matthew 10:16 sn The craftiness of serpents is proverbial and can be traced as far back as Gen 3:1. As for how it applies to Jesus’ disciples sent out with the message of the coming kingdom, interpreters have been far less certain, and there is a great diversity of opinion.
  4. Matthew 10:16 sn Doves were regarded in both Greek and Jewish culture of the first century as symbols of purity, integrity, and harmlessness (see H. Greeven, TDNT 6:65-67).