False Prophets in Sheep’s Clothing Matthew 7
Posted by adventbiblestudy on July 7, 2010
KJV Matthew 7:15
15. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Most people think this parable is easy to explain, and they may provide a proper explanation, but how did they arrive at the interpretation? This study may have been compiled many years ago, afterwards handed down from word of mouth from one person to another. When information is passed along in this fashion it is common for bits and pieces to be omitted, or added.
This study will supply many of the details lost through time, which may have been included in the original study.
The first step to conducting a complete study is to write a physical description of the parable. Pay attention to the key words, how they are used, and how they relate to one another.
Beware of false prophets. A prophet is a person who speaks for God. At times God has spoken directly through prophets, such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. False prophets will come dressed in sheep’s clothing. This may be where the saying, a wolf in sheep’s clothing originated. In modern times it has come to represent a person with bad intentions, presenting themselves as trustworthy.
In most cases, this physical description is where many studies end. This study will show a portion of the information God intended to reveal through this parable and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
To understand the spiritual meaning of the key words within a parable, additional texts containing the key word and the definition must be gathered. This can be done using a concordance or computer Bible study program.
KJV Isaiah 53:7. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
Isaiah 53 is a prophecy about Christ. A sheep is a spiritual symbol which is used to represent Christ.
KJV Psalms 95:7. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,
KJV Psalms 100:3. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
KJV Psalms 119:176. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.
KJV Isaiah 53:6. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
KJV Ezekiel 34:11. For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.
Sheep are is used as a spiritual symbol to represent God’s followers.
The word sheep has always been an easy spiritual word to identify. Even though many people know what a sheep represents, few know how to find the spiritual meaning in the Bible.
The word wolf is more difficult to identify. This parable may have been constructed in this way to teach a lesson.
KJV Jeremiah 5:6. Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.
KJV Zephaniah 3:3. Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow. 4. Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.
At least two verses use the spiritual symbols of a wolf and a lion to identify physical locations. Jeremiah compared Jerusalem to both a wolf and a lion. Zephaniah used the same spiritual symbols to describe Egypt. When similar comparisons are used within the Bible, the words may be considered equals, therefore interchangeable on a spiritual level. The same spiritual definition for a lion can also be applied to the word wolf.
KJV Jeremiah 50:17. Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.
KJV Ezekiel 32:2. Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers.
The symbol of a lion is used to represent Assyria, Babylon and Egypt.
KJV Ezekiel 22:25. There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof.
A lion also represents a conspiracy of prophets. Notice Ezekiel used the word conspiracy, a word used often in the books of Kings. A conspiracy is a plot against current leadership. The following text provides additional details. Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. KJV Ezekiel 22:26. The prophets are conspiring against God.
You would think a prophet would be smarter than to rebel against God. What could make them think they could possibly win?
KJV 1 Peter 5:8. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
A lion also represents the devil. This explains why the prophets had hopes they could successfully conspire against God.
Since a wolf and lion represent Egypt and Babylon they are considered spiritual equals. A lion represents Satan, so a wolf can also represent Satan.
Once the keys words have been spiritually defined, the parable can be paraphrased by substituting the spiritual definitions for the key words.
KJV Matthew 7:15. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
The parable shows there will be false prophets, who will appear to be followers of God. The most likely place the false prophets will appear is inside churches. Camouflage is used to get as close to an enemy as possible. In this case, the prophets will be disguised as sheep. This is another way of saying, they are wearing the enemies’ uniform. The prophets of Satan will get as close to God’s followers as they are able. They will try and influence leaders, and members of every rank. They will introduce every false belief imaginable, while questioning every doctrine. They will introduce issues having little bearing on truth in an attempt to steal time from more important matters. They will discourage people from becoming involved in work within the church. They will tempt members in financial matters, ethics, relationships, and every front they can find a weakness.
The parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13 shows that weeds will grow up with the wheat until the day or harvest, the end of the world. This is also shown in the parable of the net, when the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just.
Why do false prophets dress up like sheep? If they cannot get inside the church, they chip away at the outside scraping away at the mortar to separate the bricks, the members of the church.
A wolf has only one relationship with a sheep, a short one, usually called dinner. Although the wolf in this parable dresses like a sheep, it has no intentions of becoming a sheep. But what about the wolves within the church? There are no instructions to remove the wolves from the church. Some are not aware they are Satan’s agents. How could that be? Did the Pharisees, who condemned Jesus know they were Satan’s agents? Did Pilate or Herod know? What about the common people at the cross taunting Jesus?
Jesus knew all of these things were going to happen, that may be why He added a test.
KJV Matthew 7:20. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 24. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: