Matthew 10:17

17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.

Matthew 10:17 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 10:17

But beware of men
Of these men, comparable to wolves, before spoken of: the phrase is somewhat uncommon and emphatical, and designs not merely wicked men in common, the men of the world, and enemies of the Gospel; but chiefly such of them as were men of note and authority, ecclesiastical and civil governors of the people, the Scribes, Pharisees, elders, and chief priests, and other rulers; and the advice to the apostles is, to take care how they came into their company, and put themselves into their hands; who would seek all opportunities and occasions against them, and use their power and interest to do them hurt:

for they will deliver you up to the councils,
or sanhedrim, of which there were three sorts; the greater, which consisted of seventy one persons, and was only held in Jerusalem; the lesser one, which was made up of twenty three members, and was kept in every place where there were an hundred and twenty Israelites; and the third, where there was not that number, and was a triumvirate, or a bench of three judges only F2.

And they will scourge you in their synagogues;
where the triumvirate, or bench of three Judges kept their court; under whose cognizance were pecuniary judgments, and such as related to thefts, damages, restitutions, ravishing, and enticing of virgins, and defamation; also to plucking off of the shoe, and refusing a brother's wife, to the plant of the fourth year, second tithes whose price is unknown, holy things, and the estimations of goods; to these belonged also laying on of hands, the beheading of the heifer, and, among the rest, (hvlvb twkm) , "scourging was by the bench of three" F3. The manner of performing it was this F4:

``they bind both his hands to a pillar, here and there; and the minister of the synagogue takes hold of his clothes, and if they are rent, they are rent; and if they are ripped in the seam, they are ripped till his breast is uncovered; for he is not to beat him on his clothes, as it is said, "he shall beat him", but not his clothes: and a stone is placed behind him, on which the minister that scourges stands, and a white leather whip in his hand, doubled two and two with four, and two lashes of an ass's hide, going up and down: the breadth of the whip was an hand's breadth, and the length of it, so as to reach to the navel, and the handle of the whip, by which he took hold, was the length of an hand; and he lifts up the whip with both his hands, and strikes with one hand, with all his might; and gives him the third part of his stripes before, upon his breast, between his paps, and two thirds behind him; one third upon this shoulder, and the other upon the other shoulder. He that scourges neither stands, nor sits, but bows; as it is said, "the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face"; for the eyes of the judge shall be upon him, that he do not look upon anything else, and smite him from thence; for no two strokes are as one; the greatest of the judges reads all the time he is scourging, viz. these passages; "if thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law" and "the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful", &c. and he intends to finish the verses with the stripes; but if he does not finish, he returns to the beginning of the Scripture, and reads, and returns, and reads until the whole scourging is over: and the second of the judges numbers the stripes; and the third says to the minister strike: every time he strikes, it is at his orders he strikes.''

Now, as this punishment was inflicted by the chazan, or minister of the synagogue, who was a sort of sexton, so it was done in the synagogue itself: and according to our Lord's predictions here, and in ( Matthew 23:34 ) as the former of these, delivering up to councils, had its accomplishment in part, in the apostles, ( Acts 4:1-5:42 ) so the latter, scourging in their synagogues, was fulfilled both by Paul, ( Acts 22:19 Acts 26:11 ) and upon him, ( 2 Corinthians 11:24 ) . Epiphanius tells F5 us of one Joseph, a Jew, who was caught by the Jews reading the Gospels in his own house; upon which they dragged him away, and had him to the synagogue, and there "scourged" him. Now as these things did not befall the apostles till after the death of Christ, it is clear that the context refers not to their first, but to an after mission.


F2 Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrim, c. 1. sect. 3, 4.
F3 Misn. Sanhedrim, c. 1. sect. 1, 2, 3.
F4 Maimon. Hilch. Sanhedrim, c. 16. sect. 8, 9, 10, 11. Misn. Maccot, c. 3. sect. 12, 13, 14.
F5 Contra Haeres. 1. 1. Haeres. 30.

Matthew 10:17 In-Context

15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!
16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.
18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.
19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.