What does Luke 10:19 mean?
ESV: Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
NIV: I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
NASB: Behold, I have given you authority to walk on snakes and scorpions, and authority over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.
CSB: Look, I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; nothing at all will harm you.
NLT: Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.
KJV: Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
NKJV: Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Verse Commentary:
Seventy-two of Jesus' disciples have returned from spreading the message that the kingdom of God is near. To validate their message, Jesus gave them power to heal diseases and injuries, but they are especially amazed that demons submitted to their word under Jesus' name. Jesus explains that those victories are a sign that God has already defeated Satan (Luke 10:9, 17–18).

Throughout Jesus' ministry, Jews thought He had come to return their political independence by driving out the Romans. After John the Baptist was born, his father, who was a priest, prophesied that the Jews would be "saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us" (Luke 1:71). Jesus reveals that the enemies are not the Romans, but "serpents and scorpions," or the powers of the enemy Satan—Satan-as-snake being linked to Genesis 3:14–15. As Jesus speaks to these selected followers, God's rescue is simultaneously full and has also just begun.

In the case of the disciples, the blessing also seems to be literal. When Paul was on the island of Malta, a viper bit him on the hand. While the locals stared, waiting for him to die, he merely shook the snake into the fire (Acts 28:3–6). Just as expelling demons is a sign that Satan is defeated, protection from snakes and scorpions act as a hint of the restored dominion over creation that humanity lost at the fall (Genesis 1:28). This does not mean, however, that snake-handling is a wise thing to do. Jesus gave this promise to those followers as a sign that verified His message. It does not apply to us, today.

In Mark 16:18, Jesus says something similar when giving the Great Commission after the resurrection: "…they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover." Mark 16:9–20, however, is not found in the earliest manuscripts of Mark's gospel and is not thought to be a true part of his gospel.
Verse Context:
Luke 10:17–20 describes the return of seventy-two disciples, after a mission of healing and preaching about the kingdom of God (Luke 10:1–12). They celebrate their victories over demons. Jesus gives them an even wider perspective: Satan is already defeated. Their victory is not that demons listen to them but that they have eternal life. Only Luke records these words from Jesus.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus commissions seventy-two of His followers for a unique mission. They are sent into towns and villages, preparing people for Jesus' ministry. Those who accept the message will be blessed; those who reject it will be left behind. The disciples return celebrating what they have seen and accomplished. Jesus reminds them that salvation is the real victory. The parable of the good Samaritan explains that the obligation to love extends to anyone and everyone. A visit to the home of Martha and Mary offers a contrast between good things and the best things.
Chapter Context:
Luke 10 provides the bulk of the first section of what some refer to as Jesus' travelogue (Luke 9:51—19:27). In this extended description of travels and events, Jesus draws away from public ministry and theological debates. His focus is preparing His disciples for what will happen in Jerusalem, by teaching them about the kingdom of God. In Luke 9:51—11:13, the disciples gradually learn how to properly follow Jesus. Next, the Pharisees will reject Jesus (Luke 11:14–54) and Jesus will teach more about the kingdom (Luke 12:1—19:27). After the travelogue, Jesus will enter Jerusalem and face crucifixion.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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