“But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.
Do not worry. As they waited in holding cells or were strapped to scourging posts, the disciples remembered the words of Jesus and were encouraged. When brought before the authorities, the Holy Spirit told them what to say, and their inspired speeches were recorded in the scriptures for our edification (e.g., Acts 4:8–13).
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.
The one who has endured to the end who will be saved. Jesus is teaching his disciples how to stay alive in the face of persecution.
In this passage, Jesus describes some of the troubles that will afflict the apostles when they preach the gospel. “They will hand you over to the courts and you will be flogged in the synagogues” (verse 17); “on account of my name you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses” (18); “brother will betray brother to death” (verse 21). It’s a bleak picture, but Jesus shows them how to survive. “When they persecute you in one city, flee to the next” (verse 23).
There’s a time to take your stand and a time to run. If men are coming at you with stones and whips, then it’s time to run. Better to live and fight another day than satisfy some zealot’s lust for blood.
Further reading: “Endure to the end and be saved”
“But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.
Whenever they persecute you in one city, flee. Jesus does not expect you to die for the cause. He died so that you might live, and sometimes that means running for your life.
In Lystra, Paul was dragged outside the city, stoned, and left for dead (Acts 14:19). The next day he quit the town and went to Derbe. Imagine what might’ve happened if Paul had remained in Lystra.
In Thessalonica and Berea it was the same story. As soon as trouble started brewing Paul left before it got out of hand (Acts 17). Paul stayed two years in Ephesus, then left after a riot (Acts 20:1). When faced with mortal persecution, Paul walked away – he endured and stayed alive.
Jesus knew that if the world persecuted him it would persecute us as well (John 15:20). But while Jesus had to go to the cross and die, we don’t have to. His is a finished work. Our deaths add nothing to it. Far better to follow Paul’s example and live to preach another day than die at the hand of a madman or an unjust state.
(b) Until the Son of Man comes. Jesus sent the disciples to the towns of Israel before he died, and he sent them again after he rose (Acts 1:8). Their travels, as recorded in the early chapters of Acts, had not finished before Jesus ascended to heaven and came into his kingdom (see entry for Matt. 16:28).