Matthew 10:16 “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  

Here Jesus is obviously using similes, making his point by the comparison of unlike things. None of the critters named are moral beings, of course, nor is there any sense of the serpent harking back to the one in the Garden of Eden. It is simply a matter of invoking common impressions about each one – sheep are seen as gentle and inoffensive in contrast with predatory wolves. Doves are still in our day, symbols of peace and innocence in contrast with crafty subtle snakes who don’t announce their presence but just quietly show up as they raise their heads from the grass. The meaning of the passage then, is to be subtle and keep a low profile, on your guard and alert to the presence of any enemies of your calling to kingdom life on the one hand. And on the other hand, be pure and direct in your work and communication about the kingdom you represent, having no hidden agenda.
Pastor Bill

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