These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Matthew 10:24-33  Bible Study Lesson With Discussion Questions

I. Fear God and not Man (24-33)

Discussion Questions

  • Why does Jesus make this statement in verse 24? How it connected with the rest of the text?
  • If it is enough for students to be like their teachers, then what goal should we have?
  • What should we expect to face based on the last statement in verse 25?
  • How does the statement “there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed” relate to the command “do not be afraid of them?”
  • What is Jesus telling them in verse 27? How does that apply to us?
  • Why should we not fear man?
  • In what way should we be afraid of God?
  • How does this balance with the idea that God will care for us as seen in the next few verses?
  • Why does Jesus share this illustration about sparrows? What is His point?
  • What do we learn in verses 32-33 about the importance of public professions of faith?

Cross-references

Matthew 12:22-27 – Jesus was called Beelzebul.
Psalm 118:6 – I will not be afraid, what can mere man do against me?
Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light, whom shall I fear?
Romans 8:31 – If God is for us, who can be against us?
Isaiah 51:7 – Do not fear people’s insults.
1 Peter 3:14 – Be not afraid of their terror.
Revelation 2:10 – Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer?
Deuteronomy 6:24 – Fear the Lord our God for our good.
Psalm 31:19 – He stores up goodness for those who fear Him.
Psalm 128:1-4 – Blessed is the one who fears the Lord.
Proverbs 22:4 – The reward of fearing the Lord is riches, honor, and life.
Psalm 85:9 – Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him.
Proverbs 15:16 – Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure without it.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1.Verses 24-25 – Out of context this could sound like it means that we will never be greater than Jesus. Therefore we would need to be humble and respect Jesus as our teacher and Master. While this is true, in the context the focus of the text does not seem to be on this. Rather it seems to be a warning to remind us that we will face persecution like Jesus did. If even the Master faces persecution then so will His follower.

Matthew 10:25 – 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 those of his household.

Verse 25 takes this even farther, saying that the members of the household (Jesus’ disciples) would face even more persecution than He did. Why? People were afraid of Jesus and His power. They were also afraid of how the crowds of His fans would react if they did anything to Him. These things kept them from acting and persecution Him more during His ministry. Think about the number of times they wanted to kill Jesus. They often murmured and complained together. Sometimes they hatched plans to kill Him. Once they even gathered around to stone Him.

But in the end, they were powerless to act because His divine power and presence held them back. In contrast, they were not afraid of the disciples. And the disciples did not have as many “fans” as Jesus did. Their ministries were faced with more persecution from beginning to end on a daily basis than Jesus’ was. Application: It is a warning to be prepared for persecution. Though we have not faced it yet to this extent, we are not immune to it.

2.Verses 26-27 – Therefore do not fear them. This phrase is repeated several times in this passage. We are not to fear man. Several reasons are given. The reason given in these two verses is that something which was currently concealed would be revealed, something hidden would be known. The phrase appears to be an idiom or at least part of an idiom and is also seen in Mark 4:22, but used a bit differently.

Mark 4:22 – For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret except to come to light.

What is the thing which is hidden or concealed?

Verse 27 gives us the context we need as Jesus tells His disciples to proclaim this hidden thing on the rooftops. “What I tell you in the darkness” was the thing which is hidden. Jesus’ message of salvation (the truth of the gospel) is what was hidden. It was being suppressed and denied through systemic persecution. Naturally the disciples may have worried about their mission. They may have feared that persecution would keep them from spreading the good news effectively.

When Jesus ascended to heaven He gave the task of the Great Commission to His twelve disciples. It would have been natural for them to fear that persecution and attacks from the enemies of Christ would prevent them from fulfilling this mission. And if they were silenced, the truth would be suppressed. If the disciples were killed before performing their mission, the truth would be suppressed forever. Jesus encourages them here by saying, “Don’t fear! The truth will not be suppressed! Your mission will be successful! Only be bold to speak out and let it be known everywhere.”

3.Verse 28 – Here is another command not to fear. A different reason is given. They were not to fear man, because man has no power over their soul. We often have a choice to fear God or man, to please God or the people around us. Perhaps your parents pressure you to get married to an unbeliever. Perhaps your boss tries to make you do something which you know you shouldn’t. Perhaps your friends tempt you to join in with them in some immoral activity. Perhaps authorities at your school or workplace or government tell try to forbid you from following God and your conscience.

Who will you obey? Who will you fear? Ask yourself who the judge will be?

One day when you face the judgment who will be on that throne? If the answer is your boss or your parent or the human authority then by all means obey them. Fear them. If the answer is God. Then obey and fear Him and do not worry about what the people around you will think. See some of the cross-references on fearing God. Fearing God is a principle seen throughout the Bible. It is not a popular concept these days, but it is important. We fear God because He is holy and righteous and just and all powerful and sees everything we do.

4.Verses 29-31 – We can see a simple lesson here. God cares for the sparrow. He is aware of what happens to them and sovereign over them. He cares more for you than for a sparrow. Therefore He is sovereign over your life as well. Therefore you should not fear. Here is the third command in these verses not to fear. The first was based on the fact that our opposition cannot stop us from completing the mission. The second was based on the fact that they have no power over our soul. The third is based on the fact that God is sovereign and we have value in His sight.

It does not mean that He will not allow you to be persecuted. It does mean that the persecution which you face He specifically allows for a specific and a good purpose. If you do face persecution, you can take comfort in the fact that He is watching you. He is with you when you face it. And He only allowed it because He wants to accomplish something important through it.

Reflect: Why does He state that “the very hairs of your head are numbered?” What does this teach us about God?

5.Verses 32-33 – Here we see an important application that we can make from the preceding passage. When we face persecution, we must still profess Christ in front of the people around us. If we do then it is strong evidence that our salvation is genuine and Jesus will claim us as His own in front of the Father. If we deny Him, then He will deny us. It is a strong warning. A person’s salvation is not genuine if he lives in a continual state of denying Christ publicly.

Romans 10:9-10 – Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

We must not make the mistake of saying that faith in God can be purely a matter of the heart. We must not say, “Just believe in your heart is OK. God knows your heart. He understands.”

The idea that faith needs no action or even confession is heretical and blatantly against the Bible.

I once watched a movie called “Silence.” I had read a brief review of this movie, which showed it was about missionaries to Japan who encountered serious persecution. It had high reviews so I thought it would be a good watch. The movie was terrible. The missionary “heroes” all ended up denouncing their faith. The main hero even turned to the local Japanese religions and worshiped idols. At the end of the movie, he was depicted as still having a faith in Christ in his heart even though all of his actions showed otherwise. The lesson of the movie was that actions don’t matter. You can believe in your heart and then do whatever you want. That is heretical.

James 2:17 – So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Jesus says clearly persecution is coming. And He says just as clearly that they need to be strong and confess Him publicly. He leaves no room for any other theology or any wavering. A true believer will identify as such even if the cost is high.

Application: We need to stand strong in the face of persecution. One way to prepare ourselves is to be faithful in little things now. If we compromise when facing a little pressure now, how could we hope to stand firm when we face serious persecution? Jesus said that “He who is faithful in a little thing is faithful also in much.” Let us hold fast to our faith in Christ now even when culture or people around us criticize us for it. We know that Jesus is watching and our goal is to please God rather than man.

Study Matthew 10:34-42
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