Thursday, July 12, 2012

Matthew 10:16-23 Insight into the Persecution of the Early Church

Jesus said to his Apostles:
"Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves;
so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.
But beware of men,
for they will hand you over to courts
and scourge you in their synagogues,
and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
as a witness before them and the pagans.
When they hand you over,
do not worry about how you are to speak
or what you are to say.
You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
For it will not be you who speak
but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Brother will hand over brother to death,
and the father his child;
children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but whoever endures to the end will be saved.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.
Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel
before the Son of Man comes."

In this passage we see Jesus foreshadowing the fate of the early Christian community. What likely is happening here is Matthew explaining the suffering of the early Christian community with theological terms. It is likely the early Christians were expelled from the synagogues and conflicts among Christians and their Jewish neighbours were increasing. Family members were turning on family members and Matthew is trying to interpret its meaning theologically. Matthew highlights the Father and Spirit's role in our suffering and explains that grace is given to those who are working for the Kingdom of God. 

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