Curiosity of a Duplicitous King

By Tom Wacaster

“Duplicity” is defined by Mirriam-Webster as “the belying of one’s true intentions by deceptive words or action” (Online, One can easily see the idea of doubleness at the root of this word duplicity. Our English word comes from a Latin word meaning “double” or “twofold.” It describes a kind of deception in which a person intentionally hides his true feelings or intentions behind false words or actions. If you are being duplicitous there are two ‘you’s’: the one you are showing and the one you are hiding. The key to the idea of duplicity is that you are hiding one ‘you’ in order to make people believe something that is not true. The word most certainly describes the entirety of the Herodian family. Herod’s father (Herod the Great) was certainly deceitful in his dealings with the wise men. This Herod (the Tetrarch) followed in the steps of his father. Perhaps his most infamous deed was the beheading of John, without doubt an exercise in duplicity.

Luke 6 provides that inspired writer’s description of the closing days of our Lord’s Galilean ministry. Having reached the halfway mark in His earthly ministry, it was time for Jesus to commission His apostles and send them forth to preach the gospel. He has spent almost two years training those “twelve” men who would become His apostles, the emissaries who would go forth heralding the Word of God. These men had spent two years in heaven’s preacher training school. What has often been called the ‘limited commission’ would provide a trial run for the ‘Great Commission’ that would come following the Lord’s ascension. In keeping with heaven’s plan, Jesus would send His disciples to the Jews first (Matt. 10:5 ff). It should be noted that Jesus attempted to hide nothing from His disciples. Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus was open and upfront about His intentions, His Kingdom, and the cost of discipleship. His disciples followed in the steps of their Master when it came to the openness of their mission and their message. Paul stated this very truth when he stood before Agrippa and told that ruler, “For the king knoweth of these things, unto whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him; for this hath not been done in a corner” (Acts 26:26). It was with this same sense of openness that guided the message of the twelve as they ventured forth into unchartered waters carrying with them the message of the coming Kingdom. The problem with duplicity is that it is guided by the ideology that the ends justify the means. Jesus, unlike Herod, would have none of it, nor would He allow His disciples to be of that same mind.

I have learned through the years that oft times the message presented by false teachers is laden with secrecy. Cults are good at this, and it seems the more fanatical or fanciful the message, the greater the duplicity. Paul warned of such when he wrote to the Romans: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the sound doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent” (Rom. 16:17-18). How sad that some of our brethren think the success to evangelism is to hide the full cost of discipleship. Discipleship demands sacrifice, and prospective followers of Christ should be taught that truth early in the discipling process. To do otherwise would be duplicitous in our evangelistic efforts.

A closing point begs consideration. The limited commission of the twelve provided a message for spiritual healing and miracles for the physical healings of those with whom they came in contact. Evidently that limited commission had its intended effect, for Herod heard of those things being done. The door was opened to him as it was to others. The message caused him to become perplexed. But why would such a one as Herod be so troubled? No doubt it was because of the mere curiosity of that duplicitous king, who from that time forward sought Jesus merely for the miracles and entertainment that could be derived therefrom, rather than the salvation that was being offered to all men.

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