Matthew 10:27
What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.
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(27) What I tell you in darkness.—The words point to our Lord’s method of teaching, as well as to the fact of its being esoteric, and disclosed only to the chosen few, and to them only as they were “able to bear it” (John 16:12). Parables, and dark sayings, and whispered hints, and many-sided proverbs, were among the forms by which He led them on to truth. They, in their work as teachers, were not to shrink through any fear of man from giving publicity to what they had thus learnt. To “proclaim on the housetops”—the flat roofs of which were often actually used by criers and heralds for their announcements—is, of course, a natural figure for the fullest boldness and freedom in their preaching.

Matthew 10:27-28. What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light — The doctrines of the gospel which I deliver to you in private, and in obscure parables, preach plainly and openly, without the fear of man, in the audience of all. And what ye hear, as it were whispered, in the ear, preach ye — Proclaim publicly, as though you addressed multitudes, from the house-tops. Two customs of the Jews seem to be alluded to here. Their doctors used to whisper in the ear of their disciples what they were to pronounce aloud to others. And as their houses were low and flat-roofed, they sometimes preached to the people from thence. And, according to Hegesippus, they carried James the Just to the top of the temple to preach to the people at the passover. And fear not them that kill the body — Be not afraid of any thing which ye may suffer for proclaiming it, even though the boldness of your testimony should at length cost you your lives: for they who kill the body, are not able to kill, or hurt, the soul — The spiritual and immaterial part of you: this “will still survive in all its vigour, while its tabernacle lies in ruins.” So Dr. Doddridge, who justly observes, “These words contain a certain argument to prove the existence of the soul in a separate state, and its perception of that existence; else the soul would be as properly killed as the body.” On this argument Dr. Whitby enlarges as follows: “These words contain a certain evidence that the soul dies not with the body, but continued afterward in a state of sensibility: for that which, it is allowed, men can do to the body, it is denied that they can do to the soul. But, if by killing the body men could make the soul also to perish till the reunion and reviviscence both of body and soul; or, if by killing the body they could render the soul insensible, or deprive it of all power of thinking or perceiving any thing, they would kill the soul; for it is not easy to conceive how an intelligent, thinking, and perceiving being can be more killed than by depriving it of all sensation, thought, and perception; the body itself being killed by a total privation of sense and motion. It remains, that the soul doth not perish with the body, nor is it reduced into an insensible state by the death thereof.” Add to this, our Lord may well be supposed to speak here as the Jews would certainly understand his words; now they would certainly thus understand him, it being their received opinion, [namely, that of the Pharisees,] that the soul, after the death of the body, is in bliss or misery, and therefore continues in a state of sensibility. But, fear him, &c. — Fear lest, being unfaithful in so important a trust, you should incur the displeasure of Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell — Who has power to fill the separate spirit with unspeakable anguish, and at the final judgment to reunite it to the body, and to condemn both to everlasting misery in that infernal prison. It must be observed, that instead of αποκτειναι, to kill, the word απολεσαι, to destroy, is used in this second clause, which also often signifies to torment. “What an awful verse is this before us! How fit is it that this eternal and almighty God should be the object of our humble fear! and that in comparison of him we should fear nothing else! All the terrors and all the flatteries of the world are disarmed by this! an idea which, in every state of life, should engage us to be faithful to God; so shall we be most truly faithful to ourselves.”

10:16-42 Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent's wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God's opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God's love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ's work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God's people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ's disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.What I say to you in darkness ... - That is, in "secret," in "private," in "confidence. The private instructions which I give you while with me do you proclaim publicly, on the "house-top." The "house-top," the flat roof, was a public, conspicuous place. See 2 Samuel 16:22. See also the notes at Matthew 9:1-8. 27. What I tell you in darkness—in the privacy of a teaching for which men are not yet ripe.

that speak ye in the light—for when ye go forth all will be ready.

and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops—Give free and fearless utterance to all that I have taught you while yet with you. Objection: But this may cost us our life? Answer: It may, but there their power ends:

The candle of the gospel, which God hath by John the Baptist and me lighted up, is not to be hid; though therefore you have it from me in private, yet do you publish it. I do as it were whisper it in your ear by private discourses, and in a private converse, but it shall be made as public as if it were published to the greatest advantage; and do you contribute what you can unto it, do you publish my gospel as it were upon the house tops.

What I tell you in darkness,.... Hence Christ proceeds to encourage his disciples to an open, plain, and faithful ministration of the Gospel, not fearing the faces and frowns of men. For with respect to the Gospel, his meaning is, that what was hid and covered should not remain so, but should be revealed, and made known, and they were the persons who were to do it; and it was with that view that he had communicated it to them: and whereas he had told them it "in darkness"; not in a dark and obscure manner; for though he spoke in parables to others, yet to them he made known the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: and if at any time he delivered parables, or dark sayings, to them, he would afterwards, or when alone, explain them to them; but his meaning chiefly is, that what he communicated to them in private houses, when they were by themselves, and no one saw, or heard them, and so were in darkness with respect to others,

that speak ye in light; openly and publicly in the synagogues and temple, in the high places of the city, streets, or fields, wherever there is a concourse of people; hide and conceal nothing, but speak out all clearly, distinctly, fully, without the least reserve, or throwing any obscurity on it, which may cover the true sense of it from the view of the people.

And what ye hear in the ear, or is whispered to you by me, as your master. Christ alludes to the custom of the Jewish doctors, who had each an interpreter, into whose ear he used to whisper his doctrine, and then the interpreter delivered it to the people: so it is said (s),

"Rab came to the place of R. Shilla, and he had no speaker to stand by him; wherefore Rab stood by him, and explained.''

The gloss upon it is,

"an interpreter stands before a doctor whilst he is preaching, and the doctor , "whispers to him" in the Hebrew tongue, and he interprets it to the multitude in a tongue they understand.''

Again (t),

"they said to Judah bar Nachmani, the interpreter of Resh Lekish, stand for a speaker for him.''

The gloss upon it is,

"to cause his exposition to be heard by the congregation, , "which he shall whisper to thee".''

Now it was absolutely requisite, that the speaker, or interpreter, should faithfully relate what the doctor said; sometimes, it seems, he did not: it is said (u) in commendation of the meekness of R. Aba,

"that he delivered one sense, and his speaker said another, and he was not angry.''

The gloss says,

"his speaker was, he that interpreted to the multitude what he , "whispered to him" in the time of preaching.''


What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the {m} housetops.

(m) Openly, and in the highest places. For the tops of their houses were made in such a way that they might walk upon them; Ac 10:9.

Matthew 10:27. σκοτίᾳ, the darkness of the initial stage; the beginnings of great epoch-making movements always obscure.—φωτί, the light of publicity, when causes begin to make a noise in the wide world.—εἰς τὸ οὖς: a phrase current among Greeks for confidential communications. For such communications to disciples the Rabbis used the term לָחַשׁ, to whisper. λαληθέν may be understood = what ye hear spoken into the ear.—δωμάτων, on the roofs; not a likely platform from our western point of view, but the flat-roofed houses of the East are in view. δῶμα in classics means house; in Sept[67] and N. T., the flat roof of a house; in modern Greek, terrace. Vide Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 121.—κηρύξατε, proclaim with loud voice, suitable to your commanding position, wide audience, and great theme.

[67] Septuagint.

27. what ye hear in the ear] Lightfoot (Hor. Heb.) refers this to a custom in the “Divinity School” of the synagogue (see ch. Matthew 4:23), where the master whispered into the ear of the interpreter, who repeated in a loud voice what he had heard.

upon the housetops] Travellers relate that in the village districts of Syria proclamations are frequently made from the housetops at the present day.

Matthew 10:27. Οὖς, ear) sc. one, secretly.—ἐπὶ τῶν δωμάτον, on the housetops) A flat place, where men might converse, or even assemble as an audience: cf. 2 Samuel 16:22.[489]

[489] He desires them to banish all fear from their minds.—V. g.

Verse 27. - The parallel passage, Luke 12:3, is verbally similar, but of reverse meaning. In Matthew it is a charge to the disciples to proclaim publicly what Christ tells them privately; in Luke it is a statement that what they say privately shall be proclaimed publicly. St. Luke gives only another side of the preceding verse; St. Matthew, a fresh point. The connexion with ver. 26 is - Do not cover up your relation to me, but say out bravely the message that I give you. What I tell you. There is no limitation to the time. Those who believe in the present life of Christ and in the reality of present communications from him cannot fail to see here both the true source of their messages as preachers and the necessity of faithfulness to those messages. Observe that the stress is not upon the personality of the Speaker, but upon the communication (λέγω, not ἐγὼ λέγω). In (the, Revised Version) darkness... in (the, Revised Version) light. Both are pictured to the mind. And what ye hear in the ear (εἰς τὸ οϋς). Possibly a reference to the habit of Jewish rabbis sometimes whispering their teaching in the ear of an "interpreter," who repeated it aloud for all to hear (cf. Lightfoot, 'Hor. Hebr.'), but more probably only the common figure of speech for secret instruction; cf. Talm. Bab., 'Berach.,' 22a, "Nahum of Gamzo, whispered it to. R. Akiba, and R. Akiba whispered it to Ben Azai, and Ben Azai went out and taught it to his disciples in the street." Compare also the Old Testament phrase, "uncover the ear" (1 Samuel 9:15, used of God; 1 Samuel 20:2,12, 13, used of man). That preach ye; proclaim (Revised Version); κηρύξατε. Upon the house-tops. Lightfoot ('Hor. Hebr.') thinks that this is an allusion to the minister of a synagogue blowing a trumpet on the roof of a high house to announce the sabbath; but that was a mere signal of a fact (σαλπίζω), not the articulate expression of a communication (κηρύσσω). The phrase much more probably alludes to the fact that the roofs in Eastern cities are the common place for conversation, and to the rapidity with which an announcement there made spreads throughout the town. Matthew 10:27Preach (κηρύξατε)

Better Rev., proclaim. See on Matthew 4:17.

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