Matthew 10:19-20

Have you ever been to the point when you feel like you’re saturated, and you can’t assimilate anything else?  Well, I’ve been there for quite a while.  We’re into chapter ten, and everything has been of critical importance since the beginning, and everything builds on what’s come before, and therefore everything that’s said has to be supported and grounded on what’s previously been said.  And holding it all there and using all the information so that it comes out in some reasonably orderly way so that the next verse can be properly understood - that’s becoming a problem.  Unless he is a lot brighter than I am, I don’t see how anyone could do this unless he at least wrote down all of his sermons.

And I bring all of this up right now because of all the dynamic things that are happening.  It’s like a lightning show on a dark night!  It’s coming from every direction!  And it’s even worse when you know what’s about to happen in the text ahead.

This chapter is so filled with the glory of the King and His Kingdom!  And it magnifies the work of the disciple of Christ, while, at the same time, defines – better than in any other place in Scripture – the persecution which is expected, and the perseverance which is required, of each disciple; and it begins to lay the groundwork for our understanding of what it means to suffer for Him – in His Name – IN HIM!  And, since we are sheep and sheep have no defense against rapacious wolves, we here begin to learn whence cometh our strength!  We begin to learn that we have no defense at all, and our safety is living in Him.  That whatever words might be said to us or about us; or whatever is done to us or against us, that intimate communion IN HIS BODY – that satisfying and very personal relationship with Him – is the very source for perseverance in the midst of affliction and attack!

And attack they will –and it will begin at the first trumpet of the Gospel of the Kingdom.  Jesus says to His apostles that they will be delivered to the councils in the synagogues, and they’ll be scourged there.  And they’ll be lead away to governors and kings.  But it’s on His account.  All the terror and torture and intimidation is on His account.  The testimony is against the councils and synagogues and priests of the Jews – and against the kings and governors of the nations.  But the terror is against the apostles of Christ – on His account.

It’s expected because that’s what wolves do to sheep.  But Jesus says for them to see it clearly, “Be keen as the serpents…,” and to be single-minded in purpose, with no deception and no hidden agenda.  “Be guileless as the doves.”

And then He gives them this astounding bit of information (verse nineteen) – this most comforting information – this assurance. 


“And when they hand you over you must not be anxious, how or what you should speak; (I’ve changed that to “speak” rather than “say”, by the way.  You’ll see more about why in a minute.) for it shall be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for you are not the ones speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking in you.”


Now.  This word anxious has the idea of separation in it.  And what that means is that men, under affliction, terror, persecution or hardship, allow themselves to become separated from reality!  And reality in this case, here in the text, is that Jesus is sending men to preach and be persecuted – they were to anticipate and expect it, and understand what drives it.  And they were to remain non-retaliatory, single-minded, open, non-corruptible men who continued to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom!  And they were to receive this persecution on His account.  And as we’ll find out, they were to receive it in union with Him – in Him!

That’s the reality of the situation!  Now, some people would say “that’s not reality!”  But that is reality, and when minds were separated from that reality, it resulted in the condition called “anxiety!”

And it is exactly the same way now.  In fact, rather than describing it as a condition resulting from being separated from reality, I think the better description is that anxiety is the condition of separation from reality!

Now, the emphasis of the text isn’t on anxiety here, but it does come up.  And it’s the negative, flip side of what is being emphasized!  And since anxiety is one of the harsh facts of depraved human nature, I think I ought to address it for a minute.  I’m not going to spend much time on it, because there are too many important things here.  And when sin does enter into our lives in this way, as it does so often, then Christians have to see it for what it is, and then we have to repent of it!  And what repentance is, in this case, is driving it out!  It’s called mortifying the lust of the flesh!  And what we must do in the case of this most awful and terrifying sin is to force our minds back to the place where they were before we became separated from reality!  Do you see what I mean?  If anxiety is separation from reality, then it stands to reason that when the sin of anxiety captures us and destroys our peace with God, then we, the believer, must become faithful and force our minds back to reality!

That’s repentance, isn’t it?  Recognizing the sin and doing something about it!  In this case it’s confessing that it’s there and killing it.  Saying, “I am in Christ.  And I will not allow myself to think this way.  I will think God’s thoughts after Him.  I will go back to the reality of what He has said, rather than this ugly separation from reality that my sin has caused!”  The apostle Paul put this repentance in a number of different ways, one of which is, “keep yourselves unspotted (unstained) from the world order.”  And that command isn’t just against physical sins – but the idolatry of anxiety is a stain and blemish of huge proportions on the souls of professing Christians.

But look at what Jesus says here in verse nineteen.  This will give us some idea of the temptation to anxiety and worry which the apostles had to battle in the situation in which Jesus was sending them.  “And when they hand you over….”

Now, these are men who have been empowered by Christ with His authority, but they have not been made mindless, emotionless, fearless people!  They had been given this wondrous authority to heal men’s bodies and to cast out demons; but they were sheep being sent among wolves!  And the wolves were their own countrymen; and their own friends; their own neighbors; and maybe even members of their own families.

And to have your own tribesmen and your own townspeople and your own ancestry turn on you and accuse you with anger, and take you to court and testify against you – and to see them display this vile animosity and desperate resentment toward you and what you’re doing (actually toward Christ and His Kingdom)!  And remember that wolves are vicious and deceptive creatures – which indicates that, whenever it served the purpose, accusations and testimony were “turned” in order to make it seem idolatrous and seditious activity!

Needless to say, the truth was not well received in this nation that was being cut off by God.  And to have these people lay hands on you and take you to the council and hand you over to them with accusations – and then be tried and whipped and sent to the governor!  And with no lawyer, put under guard in some foul cell – maybe in blocks or chains – with great fear and confusion – conflicting emotions – alternating between great aggravation on the one hand and shame and intimidation on the other.

And after you get over the initial shock and terror of what’s happening to you, to begin wondering what’s going to happen when they bring you in before these twenty-three men.  Or when they drag you in before the governor – or before the king!  And you picture yourself before these men, and you begin worrying about your defense!  How you should speak or what you should speak?  Do you see yourself doing it?  Now, I’ve been examined twice for ecclesiastical office on the floor of presbytery.  And the pressure to speak correctly and to speak well was awful!  But I’ve never been examined as someone accused of crime on trial.  I don’t think anyone here has ever gone to court and had to testify as a criminal.

But I think it shouldn’t be too hard to imagine that there would be great anxiety about your testimony!  You’d go over and over and over it, and the more you did it the more anxious you’d become!  And according to the severity of the crime the body would react in all kinds of negative ways.  Tension!

And with Jesus’ twelve apostles, the situation was very, very serious.  Idolatry was a crime punishable by death according to God’s Law.  Sedition was punishable by death.  Lying to a court, a crime which they could very easily be accused of was punishable by death.

Under Roman law, the Jews could not execute anyone without permission, but they could still scourge in the synagogue.  And then they could send criminals to the governor or to the king with recommendations for other punishment – including death.  To have everybody against you – even the court!

And with all that coming – with all that about to take place (and it was all going to take place) Jesus says to them, “And when they hand you over you must not begin to be anxious how or what you should speak; for it shall be given to you in that hour what you should speak.”

Now, there are several issues here – four, to be exact – that I want to mention; the last one being by far the more important one.  So I’ll just get through the first three real quick.  First, the command not to be anxious.  As I said before, anxiety has to do with separation.  And what Jesus is saying here is for the apostles not to allow their minds to become separated from, or distracted from, the reality of what was happening.  And He was telling them in advance what was happening (what their duty was) – that they would be going through all these things and why.  Don’t get separated from that.

Secondly, I’ve changed the word “say” here in verse nineteen, to “speak.”  And that may seem a small change, but it’s important.  What’s being emphasized here is not saying something - but speech!  Not talking words – but speaking!  Christ is emphasizing speech itself!  That will come more clear when I tell you what’s about to happen to these twelve men!

And thirdly, this is a command from Jesus, isn’t it?  “And when they hand you over, you must not begin to be anxious….!”  This puts it in their minds and emotions… they must see the whole situation – the depravity of men, the nature of wolves, the necessity of the persecution, the requirement for them to preach and find the lost sheep, the necessity for them to be a testimony against the Jews and the Gentile nations, and the requirement for them to remain single-minded, non-retaliatory, non-deceptive, non-devious persons.

And fourthly, so that they have every motivation to obedience of this command, Jesus gives them one of the most startling promises in all of Scripture.  To date there has been nothing this startling – not even the authority to heal and cast out demons.  And this passage gives rise to the most critical issue in the Church then as well as now.


“… It shall be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for you are not the ones speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking in you.” 


Here is an unqualified promise in the passive sense – God the Giver gives to the apostles – to speak.  And when God did that, it’s called inspiration.  And these two verses, nineteen and twenty, are an exact description of the act.  And this is the first instance of the doctrine of inspiration in the New Testament.  And, of course, it is given to the twelve apostles who have also been given EXOUSIA to heal, to cast out demons and to raise people from the dead.

But Jesus says to them here that, without previous anxiety and worry about how to speak and what to speak, the apostles, at their trials in court – courts of the Jews and the nations – will receive from God how and what to speak!  It will come directly from God into their minds to the degree that what they speak will be God speaking!  “The Spirit of your Father will speak,” He says.  Personally!  He tells the apostles, “This is your role – to speak,” lalein.  “But it is the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who speaks.  And He speaks, in you!”

And here is the very essence of the doctrine of Scripture – that all Scripture is God-breathed (that’s what Paul says in Second Timothy).  And those men to whom it was given to write the God-breathed Words of God were also given, in them, to speak the God-breathed Words of God!  It is men speaking, but it is God speaking in them!

Let me read a couple of other choice examples real quick for you:  Jeremiah chapter one: 


“Then the Word of the Lord came unto me, saying ‘Before I formed you in the belly I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet unto the nations!’

Then said I, ‘Ah, Lord God!  Behold I cannot speak, for I am a child.’   But the Lord said unto me, ‘Say not, I am a child; for you shall go to all that I shall send you, and whatsoever I command you, you shall speak.  Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with you to deliver you,’ saith the Lord.

Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth.  And the Lord said unto me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.’”


Here’s example number two, Ezekiel chapter two where God has just told the prophet He was sending him to speak to the children of Israel.  Listen: 


“And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with you, and you do dwell among scorpions; be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.  And you shall speak My Words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear; for they are most rebellious.

But you, son of man, hear what I say unto you:  Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth, and eat what I give you.’  And when I looked, behold, a hand was sent unto me; and lo, a roll of a book was therein.  And He spread it before me; and it was written within and without; and there was written therein lamentations, and mournings, and woe.  Moreover He said unto me, ‘Son of man, eat what you find; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel.’  So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that roll….  And He said unto me, ‘Son of man, go, get into the house of Israel, and speak with My Words unto them.’”


Now, these are two distinctive, clear portions of Scripture where God actually indicated His Word being spoken in the prophet – inspiration.  And that’s exactly what Jesus says here to His apostles – “…but the Spirit of your Father speaking in you.”  The minds and hearts of the apostles will operate fully, freely, consciously – in complete trust that the Spirit of the Father will, indeed, speak in them, giving them what they should speak!

Now, what is promised, please understand, isn’t “presence of mind” at the time of trials and temptations – or that God gives all men, if they will listen, the right things to say in times of difficulty.  No No No No No.  This is vastly different from any fluffy argument that all believers can have this same assurance in Jesus!

This is the plenary, or full, inspiration of men, by the Holy Spirit, to speak and also to write His holy infallible Word!  God is the efficient cause, in the prophet, and the prophet is the instrument.  God the Spirit moves them to speak, and He furnishes, by His Divine presence and grace, the thought and the words.  He is the Giver, as Matthew says here, from Whom comes the entire process.  And the inspired men are the recipients of the process, so that the whole “speaking” is properly called His.  It is the Word of God!  Words and men having been God-breathed “in you,” Jesus says.

So it will happen to the apostles, as Matthew says here in the text, that they will be sent among wolves in order to find the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And those wolves will attack with all the ferocity they can muster.  And that will happen to you, He says, in order that you can go before councils and governors and kings and speak the words of your Father!  And that will be a testimony against them and the nations!

You see, here is the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom and the inspiration of the Word of God as a testimony against the nations - and these are the two reasons for the apostles’ commission.  And for those who claim this portion of Scripture as proof of their ability to receive this inspiration either do not understand the import of the words here, or they are devils bent on doing violence to the faith!

And whoever would deny the infallible and inerrant inspiration of the Word of God would also, by extension or necessity, claim that the speaking of the Spirit of our Father isn’t powerful to the creation of worlds and the regeneration of men’s souls and the direction of all history.  The speech of Christ, spoken through the apostles and prophets is powerful to direct all things.

Well, our time is over.  I still haven’t gotten in anything about civil disobedience, obedience to Christ the King, and some lessons for us here about our duty to speak in society.  The text lends itself to these things, but there’s so much here – it’s hard.  May God so bless us all that, by His spoken word, our very thoughts will be taken captive to the Christ – the King.