In our previous study, we began to focus on the response of Jesus to one of His disciples regarding the magnificence of the temple (1-8), otherwise known as the Olivet Discourse. This discourse involves all of chapter thirteen, so we are jumping back into it this week with our eyes on verses nine through thirteen.
Jesus had previously warned them about deception from false messianic impostors (v. 6) and falsely misinterpreting contemporary events (7-8). In these following verses, He warns them of the personal dangers faced while under persecution.
FOCUS ONE: BEWARE (9)
This section begins with the Lord warning them to “watch out” or “beware.” He is exhorting them to keep their eyes wide open as these days approach. This word (blepo)is the same word used in verse five. It is often used literally as “to see” or “perceive.” In this context, it has the idea of perceiving or discernment. Jesus wants these men prepared for the suffering that is to come for their obedience and allegiance to Him.
He mentions councils and synagogues because these are the places and the people that will persecute them because of Him. “Councils” is the Greek word sunedrion, translated as council, court, or Sanhedrin. “These were local Jewish courts attached to the synagogues which tried charges of heresy and normal infractions of the law.” These local councils usually administered 39 stripes as a punishment after the person was stripped bare to the waist (13 stripes to his chest and 26 to his back). The synagogue is the place where such councils would meet.
Not only would they face Jewish courts and be publicly flogged, but they would also face Gentile civil authorities (Acts 12:1; 23:24; 24:27). As these men meet courts and people who disdain their teaching, they would be a witness to the gospel during their defenses. “Their witness to the gospel during their defenses would become, in God’s judgment incriminating evidence against their persecutors.”
10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 And when they [a]arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you at that time; for you are not the ones speaking, but it is the Holy Spirit.
FOCUS TWO: BE STEADFAST
Matthew adds to verse ten, “and then the end will come.” Not only will these twelve disciples play a part in the propagation of the gospel, but so will you and I and those that follow after us until the Lord returns!
Take notice of what the Lord say’s regarding being arrested for the sake of Christ and His gospel. “Do not worry beforehand what you are to say.” I feel that many of you are, like me, a worrier. How can we not be anxious over such things? Being arrested, separated from loved ones, rights and privileges taken away, and being interrogated? Certainly, cause for anxiety.
But our Lord says that even though such persecution is terrifying (notice that He is not oblivious to our humanity), we are not to be anxious in anticipation of those events. They will happen. But God is controlling all aspects of it! Even to the extent that at “crunch time,” our very testimony before such authorities has less to do with “us” and more to do with His Holy Spirit speaking through us (v. 11).
One commentator notes: “This assistance, however, did not guarantee acquittal.” Should that encourage us?
12 And brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and [a]have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by everyone because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
FOCUS THREE: BEAR UP AGAINST
If you haven’t grasped it yet, these days will be terrible. Notice the various ways in which opposition will come to those who follow Christ.
- Brothers betraying brothers
- Parents betraying children
- Children betraying parents
- Everyone (all kinds of people) will hate you
These are tough words to hear. Believers’ family members will betray them to the authorities at this time, and they will be “put to death.” As dark and disheartening as these words are to our hearts, they are not the final word! “But it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved” (v. 13).
In other words, the person who has “remained loyal to Jesus and the gospel” until the end of his life on this earth will “experience the consummation of his salvation.”
As hard as it is presently to think about such things happening to us and those we love, Jesus encourages us with the fact that His people will Persevere (patiently suffer) through these times.
Let me be clear on this point. Our perseverance in no way produces our salvation, “It is Spirit-empowered perseverance and proof of the reality of salvation in the one who endures.” Jesus Christ promises His people that He will eventually deliver them from such evil circumstances and welcome them home to His eternal abode!
Be strengthened, dear Christian; such suffering can be endured when it’s understood in light of God’s eternal plans rather than our temporal ones when it is viewed in light of His receiving the glory due to His name and all things corrupted by sin being made new!
MacArthur Study Bible notes
The Bible Knowledge Commentary