Key Verse | Matthew 10:16b

". . . [B]e wise as serpents and innocent as doves."

Scripture | Matthew 10

The Twelve Apostles

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 1 10:3 Some manuscripts Lebbaeus, or Lebbaeus called Thaddaeus Simon the Zealot, 2 10:4 Greek kananaios, meaning zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 3 10:7 Or The kingdom of heaven has come near Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, 4 10:8 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics 5 10:10 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Persecution Will Come

16 Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant 6 10:24 Or bondservant; also verse 25 above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign 7 10:25 Greek lacks will they malign those of his household.

Have No Fear

26 So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 8 10:28 Greek Gehenna 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? 9 10:29 Greek assarion, Roman copper coin (Latin quadrans) worth about 1/16 of a denarius (which was a day's wage for a laborer) And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Not Peace, but a Sword

34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.


40 Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”


[1] 10:3 Some manuscripts Lebbaeus, or Lebbaeus called Thaddaeus
[2] 10:4 Greek kananaios, meaning zealot
[3] 10:7 Or The kingdom of heaven has come near
[4] 10:8 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
[5] 10:10 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin
[6] 10:24 Or bondservant; also verse 25
[7] 10:25 Greek lacks will they malign
[8] 10:28 Greek Gehenna
[9] 10:29 Greek assarion, Roman copper coin (Latin quadrans) worth about 1/16 of a denarius (which was a day's wage for a laborer)

Be Wise as Serpents and Innocent as Doves

Devo | Matthew 10

According to Nielsen, the average American spends over 11 hours per day watching, reading, and interacting with media. In a world filled with distractions and deceptions, how do we separate the signal from the...

According to Nielsen, the average American spends over 11 hours per day watching, reading, and interacting with media. In a world filled with distractions and deceptions, how do we separate the signal from the noise? How can we better receive Christ's eternal truth and tune out the garbled static?

In today's passage, Jesus directs His disciples to:

1. travel light (Matthew 10:9).

2. be shrewd about the world, yet free from worldly entanglements (Matthew 10:16).

3. know they will be persecuted (Matthew 10:22).

4. not fear (Matthew 10:28).

5. know ultimate truth will prevail (Matthew 10:34). 

Matthew 10:16 shows Jesus calling his disciples to "be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." In today's media-saturated age, this verse strikes a particularly strong chord. We can also see similar versions of this exhortation from Paul in Romans 16:19 and 1 Corinthians 14:20.  

In reflecting on how we can apply these appeals in our own walk, consider these two media facts:

1. Instagram's algorithms are slyly designed to keep the user scrolling and interacting with the app. More scrolling means more advertisements. More advertisements mean more revenue for Instagram. As they say, if the product is free, you're the product.

2. According to research, typical people pick up their smart phone every 15 minutes or less. In half of these moments, there is no alert or notification. How could this be?

Once we put our phones down, our brains begin telling us we may be missing something. In response, our bodies release cortisol which creates anxiety. We want to get rid of the anxiety, so we check our phone. This hijacked neurological state is akin to a gambling addict on the floor of a casino.

It may sound shocking, but our phones can be fairly described as dopamine dispensing slot machines.

Yet, in Christ we can be in the world, but not of the world. Masters of our tools, not mastered by our tools. Focused on the eternal, not chasing man's approval.

May God bless our discernment as we seek and receive the grace of Christ above all else!

Discussion Questions

1. Use these basic media literacy questions to intentionally filter media messages. By increasing our media literacy skills, we can better separate truth from fiction.

Media literacy questions:

• Who created this message?

• Who paid to create and disseminate this message? Why did they create the message?

• Is there a target audience for the message?

• Are any noteworthy techniques being used to create the perception of credibility?

• What details or perspectives are left out?

• How did the message make you feel?

• How does the message attempt to persuade or influence the audience?

2. Biblical literacy question: What does Scripture say about a particular topic? Jesus, who is "the truth" (John 14:6), tells us in John 8:31-32: "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

Meet Doug Wilks

Good morning! My name is Doug Wilks. I have the honor of serving on Watermark's Believe Team and welcoming new members with the ultimate truth of John 5:24.

I've been a member of Watermark since 2008, a Lakewooder since 2006, and a Dallas lifer since the beginning.

Let's do this.

10 Comments available

Hugh Stephenson 11 months ago

Scene: Career Day at Capernaum High School

Leader 1: “Hello everyone and welcome to the class on following Jesus as your career. Come on in and sit. Lots of room up front here”

Leader 2: “OK. Let’s get started. I’ll begin by telling you all what you’ll be doing and what the setting will be.”

“You’ll go only to really lost sheep. However, beware of wolves; they surround you.

“Heal the sick Raise the dead, Cast out demons”

Student 1 “Sounds cool. I’m excited.”

Leader 2: “Just wait”

“No pay; gold silver or copper No bags No extra coat, shoes etc Find your own lodging Imitate doves when you can and snakes when you must.”

Student 2: “Wait a minute. Wolves? Snakes?”

Stay with me:

“Beware, because…

You will be dragged into court before kings and governors, flogged, then delivered over.”

Hugh Stephenson 11 months ago


“Your enemies will be in your own household Brother will deliver brother Father will deliver his children Children will rise against parents and kill them Flee from town to town as you will be persecuted.”

“No matter what they say or do to you tell them what I have told you. They can kill your body but don’t fear that. No peace but swords.”

Student 1 “Why would we do this?

(People begin leaving)

Leader 2: “Because the rewards are many and manifold.”

Student 2: “Betrayal? Persecution? Flogging? Wolves? Snakes?

(Most of the rest leave except for a few in the back of the room.)

Leader 1: (Looking at remaining students),

“Do you want to go away as well?”

Student 3: “To whom would we go. You have the words of eternal life”.

Leader 2: “What’s your name, son?”

Student 3: “Simon, but my friends call me Peter.”

Shawn Foster 11 months ago

Doug, I sincerely like your questions and find them super useful. Great to see you. This chapter seems to be an amazing pre battle pep talk on steroids! “You will be flogged…v17, All men will hate you because of me…v22 but don’t be afraid. You will be rewarded.” V42. Full stop. Be tough but innocent! Wow. It is a pleasure to know you Doug, Thank you for serving and sharing. I hope you have a great week of worship. Shout out of gratitude to the JTJ team for the new format!!!

Jermaine Harrison 11 months ago

The last 3 verses of this chapter are really challenging: God is paying attention to how we treat his disciples. He’s paying attention to what we say about them on social media. He’s paying attention to our generosity toward them.

What a challenge to be mindful and intentional in how I treat other disciples that Jesus has sent out.

Greg Jones 11 months ago

2/2 VV5-6 Don’t go among the gentiles only the lost sheep of Israel? Why not?

Matthew25:31-33 judging the nations, God has already sent his sinners into the nations (OT) and observed how they were received. Now Israelite sinners are being sent to, Israel. How they, receive them, is how they, receive the One who sent the One who is sending the sinners. Again Matthew10:40 along with Matthew25:34-46, Matthew10:41-42.

Emma, Thank you for that challenge yesterday.

Greg Jones 11 months ago

1/1 Appreciated how Emma informed in the podcast yesterday that Jesus never asked us to receive him into our heart, he asked us to follow him.

Today I see he’s sending 12 followers out with instructions. First two, 1-proclaim The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 2-Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. In chapter 5 Jesus went up a mountain and taught his followers. Toward the end he taught a day would come where some of his followers would be judged and why, Matthew7:21-23. The earlier teaching and that warning are preparing his followers for this mission.

Matthew10:40 now I see the receiving Jesus component of the gospel. Receive the sinners and tax collectors he’s called and is sending is receiving him. Receiving him/them leads to a reward.

Sue Bohlin 11 months ago

Wow, Doug. Exceptionally insightful devo on how to be wise as serpents when it comes to media immersion!

Jesus’ instruction to the Twelve on how to handle rejection has become even more salient in these days of cancel culture. “Shake the dust off your feet” means to refuse to let the shame of rejection settle personally: rejecting the messenger means people are actually rejecting the One who sent the messenger. (And He knows what to do about it!) Similarly, He called for takebacks on the blessing (“Peace be upon this house”) if the people in a house or city were not worthy of it. Something really important happens here in the spirit realm we need to be aware of!

Michael Scaman 11 months ago

“…the one who endures to the end will be saved…”

That suggests perseverance and endurance is important.

In one way it looks like abiding with Christ getting life from the tree

Linda Green 11 months ago

Traveling light is so countercultural for us-but less stuff generally equals more freedom.

Do not fear is repeated several times in this chapter- think we can’t hear those words enough.

JP, when he was the teaching pastor in Dallas, said something about entertainment that changed what I watch. He said he didn’t want to be entertained by what Jesus had to die for- so true!

Elizabeth Erickson 11 months ago

Doug, excellent journey devo. It was thought provoking and informative and convicting. Really appreciate those questions as so much media today is fear mongering. May we seek the truth and may it set us free. May we be wise about God’s ideals and innocent about the worlds. Thanks again Doug!

View More Comments

Download the App

Listen to the Podcast