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David's Commentaries

Matthew 10:16: Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.

Weeks Focus Passage: Matthew 10:16

‘Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.’

 

    We wish to consider the direction that our Lord Jesus has given to His church as He sent out His twelve disciples. He has informed them, in this passage from Matthew, that they are being sent out into a dangerous world. He sent them forth as sheep in the midst of wolves. He further advises them, be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Extending His concerns for their safety, He goes on to advise them, But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and in their synagogues they will scourge you; yea and before governors and kings shall ye be brought for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. These are the first New Testament ‘missionaries; sent out to the world by Christ. But Mark adds, in his parallel account of the same occasion, that Jesus would send them out ‘by two and two.’ In His infinite wisdom, the God-man sent them out in pairs. The Lucan account of our Lord appointing and sending out seventy others also defines the manner of their being sent out, namely, again ‘two and two.’ Is this not a prescription given us by our Lord Jesus Christ as to one of the important features of ‘outreach’ evangelism? That is, that they should go out ‘two by two,’ namely, in pairs. Does this not constitute a biblical framework for the sending forth of folks out into the ‘mission field’? Should they be sent out in pairs; two by two? We would certainly expect nothing less from the Man whose Spirit inspired the writing of the Scriptures.

    And while there are some who suggest that this involves a question regarding the supposed necessity that a missionary be a man having a wife to accompany him in the work of missions, we do not see that taught in the Word of God; certainly not by Paul. And, yet, Christ sent men to proclaim the Gospel in pairs, ‘two by two.’ Another strong argument is from the Older Testament scriptures when they make frequent reference to the requirement of ‘two, or three witnesses.’ This requirement was adduced by Jesus, in Matthew 18:16, and by Paul, in 2 Corinthians 13:1. And these arguments, do, in and of themselves, offer some ground for the missionary case. 

    We are convinced, however, that there are even better arguments to be found in God’s Word; arguments both biblical and practical. Koheleth has made a very strong case for ‘two by two’ in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12. In the verses, 9-10, he has written, simply, Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth, and hath not another to lift him up. It is as obvious as it is clear, that this admonitory advisement could and should be applied toward both physical and spiritual ‘falls.’ Further, in the following verse, 12, the Preacher goes on to say, And if a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him. This advice is not only biblical, but, in addition, it makes common sense. “Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up,” is a common thread in a popular advertisement for items that would, hopefully, provide assistance to persons ‘alone, and fallen.’

     But these things are even further biblically supported. In the helpful book of Proverbs, the authors of these ‘oracles,’ and such, has presented to the reader, the reality of ‘more than one’ in a number of these ‘words of wisdom’ given to us by God the Holy Spirit. In Proverbs 15:22, we may read, Where there is no counsel, purposes are disappointed; but IN THE MULTITUDE OF COUNSELLORS they are established. This is something that is, and has been, understood among mankind for as long as there has been mankind. How often is the expression employed, ‘Well, then, let’s get our heads together.’? Does that not imply, certainly, the employment of a ‘multitude of counsellors.’? Scripture has employed, as it often does, the repetition of this truth, in Proverbs 24:6. We read in this Proverb, For by wise guidance thou shalt make thy war; and IN THE MULTITUDE OF COUNSELLORS there is safety, upon which, one judicial commentator has penned this fine remark, “Though the Scriptures are without error, the Christian’s understanding of them is not perfect, therefore he needs the confirmation of fellow believers of like mind and heart upon important doctrines, decisions, and actions. Let them confess together: ‘For this God is our God, for ever and ever. He will be our Guide even unto death. Ps. 48:14.”

    Another Proverb that is apropos for our discussion is Proverbs 27:17. This is that metaphorical statement that is conspicuously and obviously true when any thought is given to its’ latent force. The wise man here has spoken; Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpenerth the countenance of his friend. Who is there that does not understand the point here? Who doesn’t get it? There are sometimes connections made between two individuals that just click, as they say. This was the case with David and Jonathan; we are told that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.—1 Samuel 18:1. It is conspicuous in the narratives that follow, regarding their relationship, that they sharpened one another as iron sharpens iron. 

    Proverbs 13:20 provides still one more rather well-known statement from the book of Proverbs. We ought not allow familiarity to breed contempt however. This sage advice from God the Holy Spirit informs us very happily:

Walk with wise men and thou shalt be wise; But the companion of fools shall smart for it. Just in case the reader didn’t sufficiently appreciate the second part of this statement that compares those who are companions of fools with those who choose to walk with men that are wise, the apostle Paul makes it, possibly, more pointed, in 1 Corinthians 15:33, when he wrote this strong advice; Be not deceived, evil companionships corrupt good morals. A more modern writer has well written, speaking of the effect of evil companions upon Joash in 2 Chronicles 24, this somber warning; “If we can live in a worldly element, without feeling out of our own element; if we can breathe a tainted atmosphere, without sensibility of infection; if we can familiarize ourselves with the absence of religion in the ordinary intercourse of life, is there no ground of alarm, lest unsubdued worldliness should be regaining dominion?” Is not this sufficient reason for walking with wise men, and avoiding evil companionships? Is this not enough to convince one of the need for adhering to the caution of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10; Two are better than one…

….For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow? Should it not also be the desiderata for men going on the mission field? Two are better than one.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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