of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.
Matthew 7 [13.] “Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How[a] narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it.
Matthew 7 [15.] “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
- Beware of False Prophets:
The opening exhortation, "Beware of false prophets," is a clear directive to exercise vigilance and discernment. Jesus, recognizing the vulnerability of his followers to misleading influences, calls for a heightened awareness of those who claim to be spokespersons for God but may be driven by ulterior motives.
- Sheep’s Clothing but Inwardly Wolves:
The imagery of "sheep's clothing" and "inwardly ravening wolves" is striking. False prophets may outwardly appear gentle, harmless, and aligned with the flock, symbolized by the sheep. However, the contrasting truth lies within—their true nature is predatory, akin to ravening wolves. This visual metaphor underscores the potential danger of deception within seemingly benign or religious contexts.
Deceptive External Appearances: The warning highlights the deceptive nature of appearances. False prophets may exhibit traits that mimic genuine spirituality, emphasizing the need for discernment beyond superficial characteristics.
The Importance of Discernment: Jesus' call to "beware" underscores the significance of discernment within the spiritual journey. It acknowledges the existence of deceptive influences and urges followers to be vigilant in evaluating the authenticity of spiritual leaders and teachings.
Contrast of Outward and Inward: The juxtaposition of outward appearances with inner motives serves as a cautionary reminder. It encourages believers to go beyond surface-level observations and assess the underlying intentions and character of those who claim spiritual authority.
Predatory Nature of Deception: The choice of "ravening wolves" as the contrasting image emphasizes the potentially harmful impact of false prophets. The predatory nature of wolves suggests that deceptive influences can cause significant harm to the spiritual well-being of individuals and communities.
2 Peter 2:1: "But false prophets also arose among the people, as false teachers will also be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction." This New Testament passage aligns with Jesus' warning, addressing the presence of false prophets and their potential impact on the Christian community.
1 John 4:1: "Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." John's letter echoes the call for discernment, emphasizing the need to test the authenticity of spiritual influences.
In Conclusion: Matthew 7:15 stands as a timeless admonition from Jesus, urging us to be discerning and cautious in our spiritual journey. It underscores the potential for deception within religious contexts and encourages us to look beyond outward appearances to discern the true nature and intentions of those claiming to be spiritual leaders.
PIB Scriptures are derived from the World English Bible