Does Matthew 10:24-23 apply to me or is it talking about someone else?

Floyd Rogers – Texas Gospel Volunteer, Christian writer

Matthew 10:24-32

24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! 26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

32 “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

Matthew records Jesus giving his apostles instructions as they get ready to preach to the lost children of the House of Israel.  Part of those instructions are recorded in Matthew 10:24-32.  Here we see Jesus telling his Apostles it will not be an easy road for them. Let’s take a close look at what else he said, and how we know his words have meaning for us today.

In verse 24, Jesus tells the apostles a, “…student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master.” (Matt. 10:24 NIV) I believe Jesus is letting them know just how bad it’s going to get for them because in the next verse he says, “It is enough for the disciple that he may become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they insult the members of his household!”  It seems clear to me He’s telling them, if people accused Jesus of this, then the apostles can expect to be called the same, or even worse. This is what Jesus told his apostles, but how do we know these verses have meaning for us?

Jesus gave these instructions to his apostles as they were heading out to preach specifically to Jewish people. Our directive today is quite different; we are to preach to all. It is also true we are disciples, not apostles. A disciple is anyone who accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior. An apostle is someone Jesus directly sent to preach. Jesus’ instructions here are clearly for his chosen apostles for a specific task. I think it’s reasonable to infer from these verses that we may face persecution, but we need to recognize that an inference from scripture is not scripture itself. I am not saying that no one today is persecuted; far from it.  My point is these verses are Jesus’ instructions to his apostles and they are told they WILL be persecuted. While we may experience persecution, we are not always going into places comparable to the places the apostles went. Today we do not always meet the kind of danger they faced. I would argue that it depends on where one goes to preach. In most countries today we are not likely to be handed over to the government for prosecution.

I think it’s important at this point to mention that the above text is from the New International Version, and it says a “student” is not above the teacher.  The NASB uses the word “disciple.” I think the word disciple, used in this context, tells us that the warning of persecution applies to us as disciples when we are in a similar situation; that is, when we present the Gospel to those who’s doctrine and authority are questioned by God’s Word. I hope my reasoning here shows just how much care we should use before saying “the Bible says” to assure we do not unknowingly add to it. This requires a close reading.

Jesus ended his set of instructions in verses 32-33 saying, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” I hope I don’t sound like I’m splitting hairs with this next question.   In this context, when Jesus says “Whoever,” does this mean to whoever the apostles spoke, or does this include anyone, including those to whom the apostles have not spoken? I think it is most likely talking about anyone who acknowledges, not just to whoever the apostles spoke, because of what we see in other scriptures. God demands acknowledgement. It doesn’t matter if we are speaking of Old or New Testament.  Proverbs tells us, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” In New Testament books like Luke we see Jesus telling people, “…everyone who confesses Me before people, the Son of Man will also confess him before the angels of God; 9 but the one who denies Me before people will be denied before the angels of God.” Is it not clear that God demands confession before others?

Do his words apply to us?  I believe so. I also believe they should not be presented without context or we risk changing their meaning.  What are your thoughts?