The word carries the meaning to be aware and to avoid. It means we must identify things to be safe. Jesus spoke numerous times of what to beware of. He said what these were for our own safety.
Matt 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
These are those who look like anyone else on the outside but inside, their heart is filled with sinful thoughts, even evil. They have agenda’s and they do not make your life better but what they do is always best for themselves. They manipulate while sounding religious or spiritual. Since wolves eat sheep these are our enemy and we are told they are among us, and will increase. They are in the church and to bring harm spiritually and even physically to God’s children.
Matt. 10:16-20 "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 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; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
These are those who betray you and want to bring physical harm because of your religious beliefs are in opposition to theirs, they exercise vengeance on you. This may not be a common occurrence in America now but it is in the world. In America they want you silenced, gone. If you stand up for Christ in any way, speak of the Bible, or speak the truth and threaten to expose them they want you quiet.
Like Peter and John when they healed the lame man at the Gate called Beautiful (Acts 3) and were questioned.
We read in Acts 4:1-3 “Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day” v.17-18 “ so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name." And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.”
This is the kind of laying on of hands we want to avoid. Yet it is unavoidable when you speak up and represent Jesus publically.
Another time in Acts 5:22-35 “But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported, saying, "Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!" ow when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be. So one came and told them, saying, "Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!" Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!" But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."
“When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.”
To obey God was their motto and it could have cost them their lives, but because they considered themselves already dead and Christ being their life, they had the boldness needed to stand against human and Satanic opposition.
2 Cor. 11:23-27 Paul recalls his hardships from his brethren “in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; … in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren.”
One of these times was in Acts 14:19-20 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
4 times Jesus repeated beware of those who appear to be spiritual (called religious leaders) that spread leaven (a symbol used for sin).
Matt 16:6-7 Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees."
Jesus addressing the teachings of the religious leaders of his day.
Matt 16:11 “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus calls their teaching leaven, sinful. Leaven takes time to puff up, it often used a symbol of pride. A true spiritually minded person will be seen to be humble, genuinely showing humility, not an act.
Here Jesus couples the Pharisees with the ungodly political ruler Herod. Mark 8:15 “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”
Luke 12:1"Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
This is just one of the facets of their false teaching, they tell you what to do but do not obey it themselves. They tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear.
Mark 12:38-40; Luke 20:46-47 “Beware of the scribes, who desire to walk in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."
They look religious outwardly and they expect to be treated as special
Luke 12:15 “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."
Jesus makes it plain it is not what we have as possessions, these are all lost, left behind at death.
Matt 7:15-16 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
They come looking like brethren but they will eat you for dinner. Jesus says beware because it is not so obvious if they are accepted because they look or sound the same.
Matt 10:16-19 “Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.”
Here we find Jesus speaking of then and now
Matt 23:34-35 “Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city”
Matt 24:9-10 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.”
The closest thing we have today is the church hating their apologists they are those that see and point out things that are wrong on the inside. They desire health and the reaction of wanting to fix what is dislocated. However, the men in charge insist to only look outward and disregard what is closest to home, and neglect their duty as a shepherd. They have hatred fro those who use the bible to say something is wrong.
The “beware” statements of Paul are significant. Like Jesus, Paul had the opportunity to warn the early church and it still speaks to us today.
Acts 13:38-40 “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:”
What Paul may be referring to is our belief turning soft and our being turned back
Heb. 3:12-15 “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said:
"Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
Here Paul explains how we should be aware of others who are in weak in the faith using food as an example.
1 Cor. 8:8-11 “But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?
Paul’s concern is how we interact with each other, that we are act with grace to those in the church otherwise the opposite will become the norm.
Gal 5:14-16 “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.’
Paul speaks of those who are evil, like rabid dogs will tear you apart
Phil. 3:1-3 “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
Paul even names a specific person to the church that troubled him.
2 Tim. 4:14-16 “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words”
We are warned of the world’s philosophies, the teaching of men to be cheated
Col. 2:8 “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
And last is Peters beware that gives Paul his due because of God’s grace… we are not to be led away with the error of the wicked, those who do not fully understand the Scripture (ex: the covenants, i.e. the Judaizers) and teach others their error which stops one from growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.
2 Peter 3:15-18 beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”