A wolf in sheep's clothing is an idiom of Biblical origin used to describe those playing a role contrary to their real character with whom contact is dangerous, particularly false teachers. Much later, the idiom has been applied by zoologists to varying kinds of predatory behaviour. A fable based on it has been falsely credited to Aesop and is now numbered in the Perry Index. The confusion has arisen from the similarity of the theme with fables of Aesop concerning wolves that are mistakenly trusted by shepherds; the moral drawn from these is that one's basic nature eventually shows through the disguise. The phrase originates in a sermon by Jesus recorded in the Christian New Testament : Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves Gospel of Matthew , King James Version . The sermon then suggests that their true nature will be revealed by their actions by their fruits shall ye know them , verse In the centuries following, the phrase was used many times in the Latin writings of the Church Fathers  and later on in European vernacular literature. Although the story of a wolf disguised as a sheep has been counted as one of Aesop's Fables in modern times, there is no record of a fable with this precise theme before the Middle Ages , although there are earlier fables of Aesop in Greek sources to which the Gospel parable might allude. The first fable concerning a wolf that disguises itself in a sheep's skin is told by the 12th-century Greek rhetorician Nikephoros Basilakis in a work called Progymnasmata rhetorical exercises. It is prefaced with the comment that 'You can get into trouble by wearing a disguise' and is followed by the illustrative story.
What Is Happening in Chapter 7?
They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. A wolf in sheep's clothing is symbolic for someone who outwardly looks harmless and kind with good intentions but inwardly is full of hate, evil and deceit. We are warned of this false teacher in the book of Matthew in the Bible.
Here’s how to spot a wolf in sheep’s clothing
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Matthew But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;. Matthew ,11 Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees…. Mark And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,. Matthew ,5,11,24,25 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you…. Deuteronomy If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, …. Isaiah ,16 The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail…. Zechariah And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:. Mark And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, …. Romans ,18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them….
However, the message has since evolved beyond its origins in the church to serve as a warning not to trust someone in a friendly disguise who may not be a good person. To find out if they may have secretly been pulling the wool over your eyes, look out for the following signs next time you see them in person. Emotionally, spiritually, physically; emotional manipulation is a primary tool of the wolf.