What Does The Bible Say About Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing?

What does the bible say about wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing? How can we spot a wolf?

Wolves among the Sheep

The church is often referred to as sheep and Jesus is the Great Shepherd. We read this analogy in John 10 where the believers are the sheepfold but Jesus has a warning for us; “he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). Jesus makes it clear that He is the door, saying “I am the door of the sheep” (John 10:7) and there are plenty of thieves and robbers today entering the church but they are dressed as wolves and wolves among the sheep are a dangerous combination. Typically “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3) “and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:4). The thief only wants to come “and steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10) but “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus, our Great Shepherd, dies for His sheep but here is the problem “the hired hand [is] not a shepherd [and] does not own the sheep [and when] he sees the wolf coming [he] leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them” (John 10:12). Jesus says there is “one flock [and] one shepherd” (John 10:16) and Jesus is the True Shepherd, and even though I’m a pastor, I am an under-shepherd to the Great Shepherd. Today in many churches, the wolves have infiltrated the sheep and they dress like sheep and they sound like sheep, but inwardly, they are ravenous wolves and they seem to be growing in numbers, putting the sheep in ever increasing danger.

Old Testament References of Wolves

We might think that wolves have only been around in the church until recently, but this imagery of a dangerously ravenous wolf is nothing new. In the Old Testament, God inspired Ezekiel to write about the leaders of Israel as “Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain” (Ezk 22:27). Wolves are never a symbol of good things because God warned about wolves coming into devour Israel who time and again fell into idolatry, even to the point of sacrificing their own children to a pagan god. God eventually sent in the Babylonians, sometimes referred to as the Chaldeans, who were “dreaded and fearsome” (Hab 1:7) whose “horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves” (Hab 1:8) and “They all come for violence, all their faces forward” (Hab 1:9). The imagery of the Scriptures where wolves are mentioned could well be why Jesus and Paul referred to false prophets as wolves.

Beware-of-false-prophets

Paul’s Warning

Just before Paul was about to leave the church at Ephesus he spoke to the elders and told them to “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28) saying “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock” (Acts 20:29). Where would these deadly wolves come from? He said that they would come “from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). These wolves wouldn’t be an outside threat but the enemy would come from within…within the church itself. This explains why he said that “for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears” (Acts 20:31). How can you recognize these wolves, sometimes referred to as false prophets? They would say things like “I got a word from God” or “God spoke to me and….” but unless it comes from Scripture or matches up with the Word of God, it is certainly not a word from God but from the leader of the wolf pack; Satan himself!

Jesus Warning about Wolves

Just like after Paul would leave Ephesus, Jesus knew what would happen after he was gone which is why in Matthew 7:15 he said “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Why did Jesus use the word “beware?” The Greek word Jesus used for beware was “prosechō” and means “be attentive too” or “to devote thought to” so obviously He was saying that you’ve got to give much thought and attention to what someone teaches or believes. These wolves will come dressed in church-garb, looking very much like sheep but inside they are nothing more than ravenous wolves. Ravenous wolves are hungry to devour…in this case sheep! Paul used the word “savage” in describing these wolves and that is a very good description of their tendencies but Jesus used the word ravenous which in the Greek usage (“harpax”) means “an extortioner” or “a robber” and why call them extortioners and robbers? Because they are only wanting to, as Paul says, “draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Once they’ve separated the sheep from the fold, they are in greater danger than ever before of being robbed, much like wealth and prosperity preachers do, who only want to fleece the flock.   Remember Ezekiel’s reference about wolves that they too want to “shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain” (Ezk 22:27).

Conclusion

Jesus is the Great Shepherd and we must recognize His voice which is found in the Word of God because as He said in John 10:12 “The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.” The best way to recognize a wolf is to notice or pay attention to what he teaches for even Satan has his own ministers who appear as an angel of light but they are really preachers from hell. This should be “no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:4).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.

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  • SJ

    Open the Eyes of My Heart
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Vnqb7Vn4AEE

    Pray to God to give you all the spiritual gifts outlined in 1 Cor. 12, 13 and 14.

    We’re suppose to desire the better gifts. That way spotting the wolves will be easier and earlier.

    • Jack Wellman

      Amen my friend. So true.

  • Sunny

    Why just churches? Wolves (in sheep’s clothing) were/are present in all types of religious institutions of ALL types of major religions!!!
    Dark Age (or End Times) is not confined to any particular area/religion of this planet.

    • Jack Wellman

      Great point Sunny. You are so right….there are false teachers in every nook and cranny in this world.

    • Help Yourfaith

      This is true that there are false teaches and wolves within all religions but from a Christian perspective and a scriptural perspective this applies to looking after the sheep which are in Christ
      From a scriptural perspective all religions that do not have Jesus are condemned as all the world is condemned until we as individuals recognize Jesus repent and are baptized into Jesus death, which means we are then in Jesus and receive forgiveness for our sin/sinning
      and receive the Holy Spirit to refine us so we can stand at Judgement to not be condemned or Judged for our sins.
      Read Revelation 2 to 3 these seven Churches represent all Christian churches, notice that all the Churches are doing some things right and some things wrong exactly what Christian Churches are like.
      The message within this section of Revelation speaks to us personally as to rectify our selves as to not do some of the things that the Churches are doing.
      By these examples of the Churches in Revelation shows us that for the Church to be in this state there are many wolves within Churches sometimes they are a den of wolves.

      • Jack Wellman

        Amen…great point in tying in the messages to the church in the Book of Revelation. Thank you friend.

  • Leo News

    10 FACTS You Must Know About The Jesuits!
    https://worldslastchance.com/end-time-prophecy/10-facts-you-must-know-about-the-jesuits.html
    …just sharing 😉

  • Kelly Johnson

    everyone who discusses false prophets and wolves quote the scripture and expect that is enough for us to know and discern. IF WE COULD DO THAT WE WOULD NOT BE CAUGHT IN TRAPS. What does it look like today in church, with earthly language to have wolves among us ready to tear apart? We go to a church and are taught doctrine. There is no way for most to look at a scripture and see that the verse does not actually mean the doctrine. After all we are christians not theologians and we believe and trust in what the pastor says – for most part.
    In addition most WOLVES are not savage inside nor are the hired shepherds ready to flee at sign of trouble. These people have the appearance of being truly Godly and trying their best to do good and I think they TRULY BELIEVE they are doing Gods will. I learned to figure out they are DECEIVED which i think is different but the results are the same. In my church it took 10 yrs for all the dots to be connected. I saw things out of alignment all along the way but things get explained away and its only over time that you begin to see a pattern. Once i did I thought I was to stay to be part of foundation clean up. When that became clear that clean up would never happen I finally left.
    so the question is – what does a wolf and false prophet look like – what do they DO that makes them false? How do they deceive us?
    What is basic christmatic message that seems to be so disagreeable? Gospels say to preach news, heal sick and cast out demons – most churches preach news and leave the other two (they pray for sick but dont heal them) I am starting to see the prosperity gospel in thier message but they always have scripture to back up their message so it sounds right and good. tell me – what is wrong with charistmatic message that is so hated??
    thank you
    Kelly

    • Kelly,

      You might like to read “The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospel” by Gordon Fee. Fee was a leading 20th century evangelical NT scholar and a Pentecostal.

      The charismatic message is not necessarily the prosperity, health and wealth gospels but it has come to be increasingly identified with them and, most evangelicals would consider these to be a major departure from a Christocentrically interpreted biblical theology of the Gospel.

      The Charismatic movement began in the late 50’s within the Mainline denominations and was essentially evangelical but with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit for today, Divine healing and a neo-Pentecostal position on the Baptism the Holy Spirit. When the Charismatic movement moved out of the mainline denominations into independent Charismatic churches, we began to see serious departures from an evangelical Charismatic position. The movement has proved to be rotten within.

      Charles Farrar (From the Pinnacle of the Temple) warned about the departure from the NT Gospel as early as 1979. Farrar was a professor at Oral Roberts University. Hank Hannergraph was another who warned of large scale departures from classical Pentecostal/Charismatic positions, but the warnings of Fee, Farrar, and Hannergraph were ignored by the rising Prosperity gospellers. Hannergraph, too, was evangelical Charismatic.

      I, once, was a Charismatic Evangelical Christian and attended a non Charismatic Evangelical Seminary while attending a Charismatic church. I came to see false prophecies, speaking in tongues that were not interpreted, healing that did not take place. I saw people die of cancer after having hands laid on them. I saw the cruelty of blaming the lack of healing on a lack of faith. I saw the non contextual exegesis of the bible (which is really eisegesis). I saw Charismatic pastors manipulating scripture for their own ends etc. All this lead me to the conclusion that the Charismatic movement is largely delusional.

  • Kelly Johnson

    everyone who discusses false prophets and wolves quote the scripture and expect that is enough for us to know and discern. IF WE COULD DO THAT WE WOULD NOT BE CAUGHT IN TRAPS. What does it look like today in church, with earthly language to have wolves among us ready to tear apart? We go to a church and are taught doctrine. There is no way for most to look at a scripture and see that the verse does not actually mean the doctrine. After all we are christians not theologians and we believe and trust in what the pastor says – for most part.
    In addition most WOLVES are not savage inside nor are the hired shepherds ready to flee at sign of trouble. These people have the appearance of being truly Godly and trying their best to do good and I think they TRULY BELIEVE they are doing Gods will. I learned to figure out they are DECEIVED which i think is different but the results are the same. In my church it took 10 yrs for all the dots to be connected. I saw things out of alignment all along the way but things get explained away and its only over time that you begin to see a pattern. Once i did I thought I was to stay to be part of foundation clean up. When that became clear that clean up would never happen I finally left.
    so the question is – what does a wolf and false prophet look like – what do they DO that makes them false? How do they deceive us?
    What is basic christmatic message that seems to be so disagreeable? Gospels say to preach news, heal sick and cast out demons – most churches preach news and leave the other two (they pray for sick but dont heal them) I am starting to see the prosperity gospel in thier message but they always have scripture to back up their message so it sounds right and good. tell me – what is wrong with charistmatic message that is so hated??
    thank you
    Kelly

  • Franszwa Bandung

    Mat 7:15
    But beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
    but inside they are plundering wolves.

    There are many of them strategically placed all over the world—known as
    the Unitied Nations, the elitists, Religions,Freemasons, the various
    entertainment industries, and much more. They are also
    operating in our government systems and in our ‘false’ religious
    movements, such as TV-Evangelistic sermons.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6IP7AlX46A

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXIw2Jv8k-0

    Jeremiah 23:32 “Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the
    LORD, “and related them and led My people astray by their
    falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command
    them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,”
    declares the LORD.

    Philippians 3:19
    Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and their glory is in their shame.
    Their minds are set on earthly things. ( Money ) In their greed they will
    make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them
    long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed. These men are
    discontented grumblers, following after their own lusts; their mouths
    spew arrogance; they flatter others for their own advantage.

    2 Corinthians 11:13-15
    For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising
    themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan
    disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his
    servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.
    Their end will correspond to their deeds.

    For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites (money), and by smooth talk
    and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive