Matthew 7:15,  the wolf in sheep's clothing

7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.”

(Matthew 7:15 WEB)

Prophets in sheep’s clothing

Jesus brings together two very traditional biblical images in this verse. The first is that of the Israeli  prophet, as a spiritual guide wearing a cloak of fur. The second is the metaphor of Israel as a flock of sheep, whose shepherd-like leaders’ role was to preserve them from predators such as wolves. A sheepskin was an appropriate garment for both a shepherd and a prophet, but here Jesus warns that it can hide something far more shocking, the supposed protector can be a predator.

The sort of people Jesus was talking about look the 'inspired leader' but underneath are only concerned with satisfying their own unholy appetites. Simply because someone has the badge of office, that does not guarantee their ministry will be good for your soul.

The image of the wolf in sheep’s clothing is so strong that the phrase has become a familiar English language idiom. But, whilst it is one thing to know that deceptive prophets exist, it is another to know how to identify one. So this verse anticipates where the Sermon on the Mount goes next.