Questions From Readers
◼ At Matthew 10:21, was Jesus warning us that many brothers in the congregation will turn against their spiritual brothers?
No, that is not the point of Jesus’ warning, which reads: “Further, brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and will have them put to death.”—Matthew 10:21.
The context shows that Jesus said this to the 12 apostles as he sent them on a preaching tour in Israel. Much of what he said had primary meaning for the apostles. For example, he said that they were empowered to perform miraculous cures, exorcisms, and even resurrections. (Matthew 10:1, 8; 11:1) History proves that not all Christians received such miraculous powers, confirming that Jesus was here addressing one definite audience—his apostles.
Yet, some of what Jesus said did extend beyond the apostles’ preaching tour. He told them: “Be on your guard against men; . . . you will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations.” (Matthew 10:17, 18) On that tour, the 12 likely faced opposition, but there is no evidence that they were taken “before governors and kings” to give a witness to “the nations.”* In later years, the apostles appeared before rulers, such as Kings Herod Agrippa I and II, Sergius Paulus, Gallio, and even Emperor Nero. (Acts 12:1, 2; 13:6, 7; 18:12; 25:8-12, 21; 26:1-3) So Jesus’ words had some application later.
Jesus’ advice continued with the warning: “Brother will deliver up brother to death.” He was not referring to spiritual brothers any more than he was to spiritual fathers or children with his next words in Mt 10 verse 21: “A father [will deliver up] his child, and children will rise up against parents and will have them put to death.” Jesus meant that the apostles could expect hostility or opposition even from relatives.—Matthew 10:35, 36.
The apostles would need endurance on that preaching tour. Jesus continued: “You will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name; but he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”—Matthew 10:22.
Some of what Jesus said on that occasion has import for us as Jehovah’s Witnesses today. The emphasis of our preaching is on the Kingdom. We perform our ministry free of charge and look for people who are interested in the message or who are worthy of it. Caution is appropriate. Opposers abound. Sometimes relatives, neighbors, or workmates cause severe problems, especially for sincere ones who are beginning to pursue the course of true Christianity. Jesus repeated a warning about such opposition when describing “the sign” of his presence. (Matthew 24:3, 9, 10; Luke 21:16, 17) He also restated our need to ‘endure to the end in order to be saved.’ Yes, we need to endure until the end of our present life or until this system of things ends and we can enter the new world.—Matthew 24:13.
Other translations render this “the pagans” (The Jerusalem Bible), “the Gentiles” (New International Version and versions by Moffatt and Lamsa), and “the heathen” (The New English Bible).