What does Matthew 10:20 mean?
ESV: For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
NIV: for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
NASB: For it is not you who are speaking, but it is the Spirit of your Father who is speaking in you.
CSB: because it isn’t you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.
NLT: For it is not you who will be speaking — it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
KJV: For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
NKJV: for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is authorizing His core group of twelve disciples to be apostles (Matthew 10:5–6); the Greek term literally means "sent ones." They will carry His message to the people of Israel and, later, far beyond Israel (Acts 1:8). He has guaranteed them that this will be difficult, describing a time of persecution. They cannot yet know that this season will come after Jesus' death, resurrection, and return to heaven. During this persecution, these twelve men can count on being dragged before every level of authority, including the courts of the Jewish religious leaders, secular Jewish leaders, and Gentile leaders. Some will speak before governors and kings, even, because they represent Jesus (Matthew 10:17–19; Acts 26:1–3).

These arrests and trials will not be a sign of the failure of their mission. Instead, Jesus has said this is the way God will use them to "bear witness" to high-ranking people. This is part of God's plan to carry the gospel to every level of society. Jesus insists that His disciples should not be anxious about what they will say when these moments to speak arrive. Now He says why.

When the moment comes, it will not be the apostles speaking. It will the Holy Spirit speaking through them. Jesus calls Him the "Spirit of your Father," which is a beautiful picture that God the Father will be with them, connected to them, and speaking through them through the Holy Spirit. The disciples cannot yet in this moment likely imagine the great power that will become available to them in Christ through the Holy Spirit after Jesus leaves the earth (Acts 1:8; Acts 2).
Verse Context:
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.
Chapter Summary:
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.
Chapter Context:
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.
Book Summary:
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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