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Beware of False Teachers

Paul’s last words to the Ephesian elders, when he met with them for a farewell on the beach near Miletus, included a somber warning about inevitable false teachers. “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert” (Acts 20.29–31″ data-version=”nasb95″>Acts 20:29–31).

Those warnings are summarized in the word translated beware in Matthew 7:15).

In Palestine, wolves were the most common natural enemy of sheep. They roamed the hills and valleys, looking for a sheep that strayed away from the flock or lagged behind. When a wolf found such a sheep it quickly attacked and tore it to pieces. Even a grown, healthy sheep was utterly defenseless against a wolf.

Wolves are known for being merciless and ferocious (cf. Ezekiel 22:27; 1 Corinthians 5.10–11″ data-version=”nasb95″>1 Corinthians 5:10–11; 1 Corinthians 6.10″ data-version=”nasb95″>6:10), referring metaphorically to those who deceitfully and mercilessly ravage a person of his money and possessions. False prophets and wolves are clever and wily, and are always on the lookout for new victims.

Next time, we’ll look at what God’s Word says about identifying them.

Copyright 2011, Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
This article originally appeared here at Grace to You.

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jmacarthur@churchleaders.com'
John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and president and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry. He has written nearly 400 books and study guides, including The MacArthur Study Bible.