What does Matthew 10:19 mean?
ESV: When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.
NIV: But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say,
NASB: But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given you in that hour.
CSB: But when they hand you over, don't worry about how or what you are to speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour,
NLT: When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.
KJV: But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
This core group of disciples (Matthew 10:5–6), sent out on Christ's behalf, are being warned they will eventually face great persecution for His sake. Most of these trials will come after Jesus' death, resurrection, and return to heaven. That mistreatment will come from every level of authority in their lives, both Jewish and Gentile. It will include trials before religious Jewish authorities, secular Jewish leaders, and Roman/Gentile authorities.
Encouragement, in this case, comes from Jesus telling His disciples that persecution is not a failure of God to protect them. Instead, this is exactly God's plan. When they are "dragged" before these courts, they will have the opportunity to tell all these powerful people about the gospel of Jesus, about salvation through faith in Christ. This is what God intends to happen. Paul, notably, will take advantage of this very idea when he is brought before a Roman court (Acts 26:1–3).
In prior passages, Jesus instructed this group of men not to make material preparations for their journey (Matthew 10:9–10). Here, He gives reassurance that they ought not be worried about what to say when they are confronted. This verse does not explicitly forbid the disciples from thinking about what they will say in those moments. However, the tone of Jesus' comments strongly suggests He wants the Twelve to simply leave those moments in the hands of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:20). Rather than worrying (Matthew 6:34), they should trust that proper words will come to them when needed.
Matthew 10:16–25 follows Jesus' instructions to His twelve apostles, giving them guidance for their impending missionary journey. Here, He begins to describe events that will follow His own resurrection and return to heaven. When that time comes, the apostles will be arrested and dragged before various courts and officials because they represent Christ and insist that He is the Son of God. The Holy Spirit will speak through them about Jesus. They will run from one town to another to avoid persecution, spreading the good news about Christ as they go. Jesus was persecuted, so they will be, as well. Much as Jesus will do during the Last Supper (John 16:25–33), He will encourage these men to stand firm in their faith.
Jesus gives His authority over disease, demons, and even death to His twelve hand-picked apostles. He gives them instructions in preparation both for a short-term trip to the towns of Galilee and their ministry after He has left the earth. First, they will preach His message of the kingdom in Israelite towns as they heal and cast out demons to demonstrate His power. Later, they will suffer great persecution as they represent Him before both Jews and Gentiles. They should not be afraid, though, and trust their Father to be with them and to reward them.
Jesus has recently expressed compassion for the people of Israel, who are spiritually lost. Matthew 10 is a record of Jesus' instructions to His twelve core apostles, as He sends them on a short-term trip to the towns of Galilee. He also includes warnings and encouragements about the persecution they will eventually experience. In chapter 11, Jesus will continue to proclaim truth to the people of Israel, leading to further conflict with local religious leaders.
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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