29 “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29–30)
Paul, like us today, could not be certain of everything that could happen in his life, and the life of the church. However, he did not know this for certain. After he would leave the Ephesian church, fierce wolves would come into the church and settle among the believers.
The adjective fierce (βαρύς; barys) means vicious and cruel. In other words, savage. The noun wolves (λύκος; lykos) is used here figuratively referring to unbelieving individuals who are also false teachers. These fierce, false teachers will not remain outside of the church but rather come in among the congregation.
The intention is to destroy the flock of God. The wolves will personally and consistently make trouble in the church. They will be the cause of all types of difficulty.
Additionally, Paul said that there would arise from within the congregation men who would speak twisted things (διαστρέφω; diastrepho). This means to lead astray, to pervert, and to turn people away from the truth. The intended victims are those who are true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 7:15–19)
2 Peter 2:1-2 says, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.”
1 John 4:1–2 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”
Jude 3–4 says, “3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
It is conspicuous that the New Testament teaches that false teachers will attempt to infiltrate the church. We must be on our guard today as believers were to be so in the past. We must be vigilant and diligent. We cannot let our guard down. To do so would be disastrous. Therefore, let us resolve to do our duty.
Soli deo Gloria!