The Spirit of Your Father Will Speak: The Revolutionary Promise of the Spirit

You will even be brought before governors and kings because of Me, to bear witness to them and to the nations. But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you. (Matthew 10:18-20)

In these verses, Jesus continues to explain to his twelve disciples that they will face persecution as they attempt to carry out their mission.

This can’t have been easy for them to hear or understand. It was likely counter to their expectations, and it was definitely counter to their natural human instincts for self-preservation.

The kingdom has come, Jesus was telling them, yet there will be an interim period of spiritual warfare as the “god of this world” fights back with all the tools at his disposal — including the pride and blindness of human beings.

The kingdom will win. But in the meantime it’s not going to be easy.

The Promise of Persecution

Last week we noted that Jesus promised to send his disciples out as “sheep among wolves” — not as militant conquerors or violent zealots.

As people whose job was to announce that God’s kingdom had arrived on earth, they were empowered by God to cast out demons, heal the sick, and proclaim the good news of the kingdom — NOT to directly overthrow earthly rulers, gather an army, or make visible progress in establishing a this-world throne.

For people whose expectations had been shaped by the Old Testament promises of a restored Davidic kingdom, this must have come as something of a shock.

Rather than going out as lions, they were to go out as sheep.

Rather than victory on every side, they were promised persecution.

This seems like a strange way to herald the arrival of God. And yet …

This Is the Way the Kingdom Advances

Jesus promised that the work of the kingdom would move forward not just in spite of but through the persecution and opposition that came against it.

In a grand example of the New Testament promise later articulated by Paul (“all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28), the evil done by the persecutors of the church would ultimately give the church a platform to advance the kingdom in the only way the kingdom has ever advanced: through the word of proclamation and the demonstration of God’s power.

Jesus assured his disciples that although they would be hauled up in front of judges and juries, governors and kings — in a context, we need to remember, of persecution and not usually of favor or influence — God would have a purpose in it.

Those who did the hauling and persecuting would intend their actions to stop the spread of the gospel, but instead, the disciples would be able to use these opportunities to “bear witness to them and to the nations.”

A Widened Horizon

In this last statement, there’s an important shift of expectation. Recall that Jesus ordered this small group not to stray outside of the Jewish towns and villages in this first mission. They weren’t to go to the Gentile or Samaritan settlements as they preached.

But here, Jesus makes it clear that the first mission would not be the last, and Judea was not the final horizon. Ultimately, his followers were intended to proclaim the kingdom of God to the governments and nations of the world.

The Greek word translated “bear witness” is marturion, the same word that gave rise to the English martyr. It means a witness, testimony, evidence, or proof of something.

The disciples carried a message of a kingdom come. They had seen the Word made flesh and declared his kingship to the world. And in themselves, they were proof — evidence — that what they said was true.

A Quiet But Startling Promise

Exactly how the disciples would function as proof of the kingdom is a mystery explained in Jesus’s next statement — one that is quietly given but incredibly profound.

“Don’t worry about what to say,” he told them. “Because in the moment, the Spirit of your Father will speak through you.”

In the gospel of John, several famous passages promise the coming of the Holy Spirit to indwell the followers of Jesus — John speaks of the Helper, the Comforter, who will come and be with us forever.

This verse, tucked away in chapter 10, is Matthew’s equivalent of John’s Holy Spirit passages. It’s the first time the gospel of Matthew ever really explains that God’s Spirit will actually come and indwell Jesus’s people, speaking in them and through them.

Prior to this, the disciples were promised power to cast out demons and heal the sick — but to have the Spirit of the Father speaking through us, the same Spirit, the same “speaking,” that created the world, that’s a promise of a very different order.

Just as Jesus spoke the words of God, so would his disciples. The words would be there when they were needed, in order to bear witness to Jesus and his kingdom in the tightest, most extreme circumstances.

The Spirit’s purpose would be to proclaim his kingdom, and through that proclamation, to bring grace, freedom, and life abundant to all who will accept it.

The disciples weren’t given an easy mission — just a glorious one.

Still on Mission

Today, that small, proto-mission of the church has become a worldwide enterprise involving millions of Christians in every nation of the world.

Whether or not we realize it, we still have the same mission:

  • To proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God — that Jesus is king.
  • To heal the sick and set the oppressed free.
  • To bear witness — and be a witness, be living proof that what we say is true — to all the nations of the earth.

Depending on our circumstance and geographic location, our mission brings persecution to varying degrees. Sometimes the suffering required is extreme. Other times, it’s subtle and overshadowed by other difficulties of a more distracting and deceptive nature.

Always, we have the promise that the Spirit of our Father is with us, willing to speak with and through us, present at exactly the moment we need him.

Jesus’s final instruction here — “don’t worry about how or what you should speak” — would sound naïve, except he had plenty of practice relying on the prophetic word of the Father and knew that it would work.

As a dear friend of mine recently prayed, “Lord, help me make audacious promises on your behalf, knowing that you can be trusted to keep them.”

The mission of the church is to stand in solidarity with God as he stands in solidarity with us. It’s a revolutionary thought. And it’s just as certain now as it was two thousand years ago.


I would love to hear from you. Scroll down to leave a comment below!

This is Part 145 in a series on the Gospel of Matthew, which you can access here. Unless otherwise marked, quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.


This blog, Revelatory Creative, is a labor of love. My goal is to spend time studying and writing about the kingdom of God so that the church—you and me—can find our place within this largely forgotten but central Bible message.

But I can’t do it without your help.

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3 responses to “The Spirit of Your Father Will Speak: The Revolutionary Promise of the Spirit”

  1. Bruce Woodford Avatar
    Bruce Woodford

    Hi Rachel, I always enjoy your posts and this one was no exception. A hearty “Amen” to your thoughts here. Just one question…. are you sure that the “god of this world” (II Cor.4:4) is actually Satan? This is a very common misconception but is not true to scripture. Here are some thoughts I’ve written on the subject for your consideration…

    In II Corinthians 4:4, who is “the god of this world” who has blinded the minds of them that believe not?

    Most of us, in evangelical Christian circles, have been taught all our lives that “the god of this world” is Satan!
    -We have been taught this idea by “cross-references” to “the prince of this world” and “prince of the power of the air” inserted in the margins (such as John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11 and Ephesians 2:2), which infer to our minds that “the god of this world” is the same as “the prince of this world” who is obviously Satan!
    – We have been taught this by the small “g”, which translators inserted in this verse, that this “god” is different from the big “G” God in the rest of the chapter! Every translation of the New Testament that I have on my shelf, without a single exception uses a small “g” in II Cor.4:4 and the “Living Bible” paraphrase actually inserts the words “Satan who is…” into the text!

    But it is very interesting to note that the 1611 KJV has a capital “G” “God” at II Cor.4:4! The small “g” “god” was inserted in some later edition of the KJV and has been retained ever since!!!!

    So it is evident that the teaching that Satan is the god of this age has been almost universally accepted among believers for many centuries! Why then should a very small minority have the audacity to claim that church fathers, learned Bible translators of the original languages, many godly Bible scholars and teachers before us were wrong about the identity of the god of this age???

    There are many reasons for the certain belief that the God of this age in II Cor.4:4 is the very same God who is spoken of 7 other times in the same chapter!
    (1) Majority opinion of men never has and never will have authority in deciding the truth of the Word of God. The scriptures themselves are the only reliable interpreter and they all disagree with the majority opinion and the reasons given for the false teaching that Satan is the god of this age!

    (2) Capitalization or its lack is not an inspired feature of the text of scripture in the original languages, so the translators’ choice not to use it in II Cor.4:4 is simply a matter of false interpretation by men, not of divine inspiration!

    (3) “God of this world(AGE)” or “THEOS of this AIONOS” in II Cor.4:4 is not at all the same as “prince of this world” or “ARCHON of this KOSMOS” who is spoken of in John 12:31; 14:30 and 16:11! So to assume that they are the same is certain folly!

    (4) Scripture never teaches that Satan has the power to blind anyone’s eyes or mind as this false teaching supposes and assumes!

    (5) Scripture never teaches that Satan is a god, but it certainly does tell of his desire to be “like the Most High”! (Isaiah 14:14) Does this give us a clue as to the identity of the one who has inspired this teaching that Satan is the god of this age???

    (6) David, the psalmist implores the Lord, not Satan to blind His enemies:
    Psalms 69:16) Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies. 17) And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily. 18) Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies. 19) Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee. 20) Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. 21) They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. 22) Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. 23) Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.

    (7) The prophet Isaiah declares the words of the Lord that Israel would hear but not understand, they would see but not perceive, that their hearts would be made fat, their ears heavy and their eyes would be shut lest they should see, hear, understand, convert and be healed. Then he specifically declares who is responsible for inflicting this blindness. It is the Lord, Himself! And the reason is His people’s persistence in turning their hearts away from Him!
    Isaiah 6:8) Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. 9) And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10) Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. 11) Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, 12) And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. 13) But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.

    Isaiah 29:10) For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. 11) And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: 12) And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. 13) Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14) Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

    (8) The Lord Jesus, Himself, teaches the same truths about unbelievers being blinded by God and quotes David and Isaiah in the process!
    Matthew 13:10) And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11) He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12) For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13) Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14) And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15) For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16) But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.

    John 12:35) Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36) While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. 37) But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38) That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39) Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40) He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41) These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. 42) Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43) For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

    (9) The apostle Paul in Romans 11 and II Cor.3 (the immediate context of II Cor.4!) declares the same truth that God has blinded Israel because of their unbelief! He does not ascribe such blindness to the power of Satan in these passages nor does he ascribe it to Satan in II Cor.4:4!
    Romans 11:7) What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8) (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. 9) And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: 10) Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. 11) I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12) Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? 13) For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14) If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15) For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? 16) For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. 17) And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18) Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19) Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20) Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21) For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22) Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23) And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 24) For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? 25) For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

    2 Corinthians 3:12) Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13) And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15) But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16) Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. 17) Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

    Since the Old Testament prophets David and Isaiah, the Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul all teach consistently that God, Himself is the one who has purposed to impose the consequence of blindness upon those who habitually refuse to believe Him, it is not audacity, arrogance or the mindset of a heretic which causes me and a a small minority of others to disagree with the majority opinion, it is simply submission to the clear teaching of the scriptures.

    Satan has desired from the very beginning to be “like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14) and so he is delighted whenever he can deceive people into ascribing to him attributes and powers which belong to God alone! I simply believe it is high time we stopped giving him what he desires and begin again to affirm the truth of scripture that only the Most High God, the creator of heaven and earth is the One who has made or framed the worlds/ages (Hebrews 1:2 and 11:3) is the God of this world (this age) and that He and not Satan is the One who has blinded the minds of them that believe not! (II Cor.4:4)

    1. The Explanation Avatar
      The Explanation

      In the temptation Matthew 4:
      8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
      9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
      10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

      Christ doesn’t say, the devil is a liar (but we know it is) about having the power to give Christ the world. This context shows the devil is god of this world.

      A related subject would be. On Lucifer’s rebellion it ended up on Earth.
      Isa. 14
      12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

      Rev. 112:
      7 And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they [a]did not prevail, nor was a place found for [b]them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

      A question arises in this context, who or what caused the tohu and bohu we find in Genesis 1? Did that individual have power over the Earth?

  2. William Cotton Avatar
    William Cotton

    In Acts 1:8 Jesus said they would receive power after that the Holy Spirit came.
    Power for what? Now I have heard a lot of people say that it is power to witness, heal the sick, cast out devils, preach the Gospel. The problem I had with these ideas was that the disciples did all of those things before the cross even. So the question is “What is the power really all about?” I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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