Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology

Your Adversaries Shall Not Be Able
To Gainsay Nor Resist

by Tony Warren

Luke 21:12-15
  • "But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
  • And it shall turn to you for a testimony.
  • Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
  • For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist."

The great design of God's magnificent salvation program is that His witnesses be aware of the firm foundation and legacy of the Covenant, and its ultimate success through their testimony. For when Christ Promises, "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist," this oath comes with divine power (1st Corinthians 4:20, 2nd Corinthians 6:7, 1st Thessalonians 1:5) and assurance. Not only is His word with spiritual power unto salvation, but it is a two edged sword against your adversaries. A sword that one may foolishly ignore, but that one can never ultimately escape. How does God give His servants a mouth and wisdom that those who oppose them will not be able to disprove or stand against? This is a question that has often been raised by conscientious Christians, and one that is seldom explained adequately.

We will start with the Greek word translated "gainsay." This is [antepo], and literally means to "speak against," and by extension to "dispute" with someone. It is derived from the two Greek words [anti], meaning against, and [epo], which means to "speak." So the text is asserting that the adversaries of the saints will not be able to dispute or deny what they are saying. Likewise, the word that is translated "resist" is the Greek word [anthistemi], which means to withstand. This word is a compilation of the two Greek words [anti], meaning against, and [histemi] meaning to "stand." So Christ is again asserting that the adversaries will not be able to "stand against" or oppose successfully what the servants of God say. One has to ask, just how is this possible, since the adversaries of God have always spoken evil against His servants, and always will. The answer lies in the declaration, "God will give them a mouth." Humanly speaking, we all have mouths, but Christ is talking about them becoming the mouthpieces or a spokes persons of God. As Messengers or mouthpieces of God, it is the word that they will speak that the adversaries cannot contradict or deny. When one comes with the word of God in their mouths, that is the testimony of God's own word that man cannot resist. As the prophets of God have done from the very beginning.

Jeremiah 5:14

The word of God is the Testimony that is given to His Witnesses, and it is with power to judge as a two-edged sword. It is often convoluted but can never be refuted by anyone who believes the Holy Scriptures. In Christ's prophecy in Luke that no one will be able to withstand it, the Lord is setting forth a principle. The principle that though the adversaries may throw you into prisons, revile you, persecute you, His word in your mouth they will not be able to withstand. Because it is not your word, but the testimony of Christ. Note that they did the same thing to Christ. They cast him into prison, they reviled Him, they persecuted Him, but they could never gainsay or resist what He said. Neither the Priests, the Scribes nor the Pharisees could contradict or deny the words from His mouth because He spoke the word of God. It is why Christ always said in disputing with them, "it is written." Because for the adversaries to deny that, they would have to deny the very scriptures that they feign to uphold. And the primary adversaries of God's servants are, and always have been within the Lord's own house. Just as they were when Christ walked the earth in the form of man. But as Christ, when we quote God's word rather than our own, the adversaries cannot contradict or deny it. They will either have to change tactics and attack you, convolute the word, ignore it or simply walk away. For example as Christ used the word to shut the mouths of the Pharisees.

Matthew 22:45-46

They wanted to catch Him in his own words, but they were put to silence by the truth of scripture itself. From that day forward they didn't ask Him anymore questions because they couldn't gainsay nor resist Christ's word, because He came with God's word.

While the principle of this prophecy of Luke 21 is applicable to all the saints throughout the ages, the context of this passage is the Great Tribulation period. It is a time when there is great distress among true Christians because pseudo-Christians, prophets and teachers are assaulting the Church with false doctrines. These false christs come against the true witnesses, reviling, slandering, persecuting and bringing false accusations against them "because" they are deceived in worldliness.

Mark 13:10-13

It is by the Spirit of God that we are Messengers of the word of God. And being a Messenger of "his word" premeditate on what to say, we quote God's word, word for word, what He says. Again, this is the principle at work here. The revilers are under the influence of the spirit Satan, the spirit of disobedience who hates the truth. They will be adversaries to Christ, who is our pillar and ground of the truth. And in Luke chapter 21, it is illustrating that the word is irresistible in its declarations. In other words, it is either God's word of truth or it is not. Notice the whole context and tenor of Luke chapter 21:

Luke 21:8

These people who come in Christ's name "think" that they do God service by their convoluted ways and malicious actions against Christ's servants, but in the end their reviling will become a testimony against them (Matthew 12:37), not against the word.

When Christ says "Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer (Luke 21:14"), He is instructing them not to reply in the wisdom of the world (1st Corinthians 1:20; 2:6; 3:19) from the imagination of their own heart, but from the wisdom direct the Spirit, that testifies from God's word. That alone is righteous wisdom.

Psalms 37:30

That is the "mouth and wisdom" that all the adversaries of Christ will not be able to gainsay nor resist. In other words, the children of God should not to look to trust the words of men, the Church, their education, their Pastors, their traditions or to themselves to answer those who revile and oppose the gospel. They are to look to God's inerrant word as the unassailable voice of reason.

Proverbs 3:5

Our answers to the adversaries "MUST" come from God, which means from His word. And when they do, no one can righteously gainsay (speak against) it. For what professing Christian will blatantly call God a liar if you are directly quoting His word to them? They may blind their eyes to it, trample it under foot, or turn to the right hand and the left in order to avoid receiving it, but they cannot (professing themselves Christians) verbally deny the scripture. Even as not one accusation, not one word of evil stood against Christ, because He spoke what God had given Him to speak.

So the Luke 21 principle relates to "all Christians" at all times, but in the great tribulation period when iniquity will increases and evil spread through the world like a plague, faithfulness to God's word is needed more than ever. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints. Just as the principle that the spirit of anti-Christ was already working in the world when Paul was writing, but it would also be revealed "greatly" in the latter days at the time of Satan's loosing. In other words, Paul declared that Satan's power was going to be loosed sometime in the future that iniquity abound, but he also declared that it was even at that time already working in the world. The principle is that tribulation is normative for believers (John 16:33), but at the time near the second advent of Christ, it will be greater than ever. It is at this time that there will be greater persecution and reviling, and that is when the spirit of antichrist will go forth greatly as an adversary to accuse the faithful brethren.

1st Timothy 4:1-2

A seared conscience is one where there is no longer any "fear of God" that would inherently keep them reverent and abiding faithfully by God's laws. As they are seduced of the devil to doctrines that are foreign to the Bible, it is evidence that they have departed from the faith and are in spiritual harlotry. As adversaries of the Word, they have disdain for all those who say that these actions of theirs are unbiblical. They despise hearing the truth and they want the servants of God silenced. It is the lot of every "true" Christian to be accused of legalism and falsehood, of failing to follow traditions, and of errant teachings. What makes the true prophets of God different from any false prophets (who are accused of falsehood also) is that "every" false prophet ignores certain scriptures, takes others out of context, or wrests/twists them in order to continue to hold onto their false teachings or traditions. By contrast, the true believer is prescribed by his willingness to deal with the scriptures honorably, and to have his authority founded solidly upon the word of God. Therefore, any speaking evil of your witness is to their shame.

1st Peter 3:15-16

When the Lord God is sanctified in your hearts by His Spirit, His word is with power and will not return void as no one can stand against it. Even when they revile and persecute you, their sharp tongues and falsehoods can never defeat the word of God. The testimony of Christ is threatening to the adversaries, and that is why they seek ways to get around it, or justify their disobedience so that in their own minds they are comfortable. But to the elect the word is given in wisdom, wherein their testimony is unassailable in Christ Jesus. Thus we can teach and admonish without fear of contradiction, because it is God's word, not our interpretation of it.

Colossians 3:16

The mouth and wisdom is the word and the Spirit, and it will always effectually prevail. So we must always be ready to give an answer to every man that asks of us a reason (1st Peter 3:15) for the hope, because that testimony is our job. The Christian witness is with the unction of God, and the power of its sure declarations are the rational hope of God's faithful promise. Without this defensible foundation of power, we aren't coming with the true gospel. But with that firm foundation, whenever someone accuses true Christians of falsehood, they can quote (witness to) scripture that explicitly says (not implies, not assumes, and not privately interpreted to mean) what they have "testified" that it declares. That is why the true Church is called the "Two Witnesses" in Revelation. Because by the law, truth is established at the mouth of two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). This is the mouth and wisdom that cannot be gainsaid or resisted. And the false witnesses with the spirit of antichrist, hate the witness of truth. But just as their words couldn't stand against Christ's words when they testified against Him (Mark 14:57-59), so they cannot dispute or resist the Holy inspired words of Christ's Church.

Luke 21:12-15

The children of God don't sit meditating, or thinking up or formulating their own ideas. They are not taking interpretive license to preach and teach things that are not written in scripture. They preach with the inherent power of God's word and not their own. Thus they don't preach that women should be heads of the Church, or preach that Divorce is a necessary evil, or preach that free will is the truth of scripture. For that would be an offense to God because it's contradicting what He has inspired written in His Holy word. We don't imagine vain things from our own hearts and claim it is from God, we lean unto the Holy scripture as our ultimate authority. The Greek word that is translated meditate in the passage of Luke 21:14 is [promeletao], from the two words [pro], meaning "before," and [meletao] meaning to "imagine." So Christ is telling His servants not to "pre-imagine" or to pre-think it out of your own minds ahead of time. For our minds are carnal and not to be trusted. Man is desperately wicked, so that his mind has been corrupted and tainted with the stain of sin. Christians of all people are singularly aware of this, and so settle it their hearts "not" to lean (Proverbs 3:5) unto their own understanding. For that is the way and response of the world and its false prophets. While the children of God are Mouth-pieces, Messengers of the testimony of Christ, who speaks wisdom that the world cannot comprehend.

Psalms 49:3-4

The language in Luke of God giving us a mouth and wisdom is painting a spiritual portrait that the children of God are "witnessing" with power as God's prophets (in O.T. literally mouthpieces) as sanctified Messengers of God's word.

Proverbs 2:5-6

The fact of the matter is, when the children of God are filled with the holy Spirit, they are filled with the wisdom of God, and out of their mouths will come the witness of the word like a powerful two-edged sword. It is this word that prevails, and that the adversaries of Christ cannot contradict.

Jeremiah 1:9-10

Again, as God's servants, we are Mouthpieces, Messengers with God's word. The Spirit of God that dwells within God's children is "that Spirit" which guides us into the testimony of truth, that we witness from the word. It is God that gives us the love of His doctrine that we bear witness to it. It is God that puts His words into our mouths that it cannot be resisted.

Proverbs 4:1-2

The good doctrine that God gives us is the witness of His holy word, by the power of His Spirit. Sadly, most Christians today consider God an idle bystander in regards to their obtaining a mouth, wisdom and understanding. But God is not dwelling within us just wringing His proverbial hands concerning us. God is not the Old man just wishing and hoping that we might be smart enough to find the truth to witness. The holy Spirit within us is the "active" work [energeo] or energy of God in us (Philippians 2:13) that guides us into truth (John 16:13) that no one can resist.

Exodus 4:12

Likewise today, by the power of God dwelling within us, we are sent just as Moses was, as God's Messengers, with this same power to be God's mouthpiece to men. And Christ himself confirmed this when He ascended to the throne of God.

Acts 1:8

The Holy Spirit is the power of wisdom within us that we bear witness to the truth of God's word. It is this Spirit, through His word, that qualifies us to "speak for Christ" as witnesses of the truth. By this Spirit, through His word, our mouth is as the mouth of God as it teaches us what we shall say. This is the Spiritual anointing that guides us into all truth.

1st John 2:27

As servants of God we are all "sent" with the authority of the word, and those to whom we are sent will either receive the witness, wrest it, ignore it, or practice adhominem attacks to deflect from it. But they cannot dispute it because it is what is written. And when we testify honorably and "accurately" of God's word, and they call themselves Christian, then they cannot "RATIONALLY" say God's word is a lie. At least not and continue to profess Christ. They are left speechless against it, and so persecute "you" instead. That is how they "deflect" away from the word to personal attacks or to something else entirely. And so with this understanding we can see more clearly how it is the Spirit of God working within God's children that give them this power. And also how the passage in Luke mirrors passages found in Matthew chapter ten:

Matthew 10:19-22

In this testimony the language is that we, "take no thought how or what ye shall speak." This is the same meaning of the Luke passage in saying, "Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer." In other words, we're not to use our own thoughts from our own wisdom to answer these adversaries. The Spirit of our Father God will speak in us. How? Through our faithful testimony of His word. And again, when we testify faithfully of what is written, then the adversaries cannot reasonably say that anything we declare is a lie. [u]Therefore[/u] they will redirect the conversation or debate elsewhere. How many times have you quoted scripture and the person you are speaking to started name dropping, referencing this Greek or Hebrew expert or another, or started referencing vaunted Christian authors. How many times have you quoted scripture and those who oppose it began to defer to secular history, questioned your scholarship, character, or used some other tactic to deflect from what [b]is clearly written in the Bible.[/b] That is the key that separates us from them. For "what is written" is what God has given us direct from His mouth. That is the wisdom that all our adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And Christ Himself has given us the example.

Matthew 4:1-11

Notice that Christ didn't reply with man's philosophies, the scholarship of the Scribes, the traditions of the Church, worldly wisdom, or vain imagination, His reply was always an example that we defer to what was written. And that is our example of righteous behavior when confronted by the spirit of Antichrist. We don't lean unto our own understanding, but we lean unto what is written. For that is the word "direct" from God's mouth that they cannot contradict. That is God giving us what we shall say in response to the adversary. And because it is written as God's word, the false teachers will not be able to dispute it. They will not be able to "speak against" or refute what you say because it is a quote (faithful witness) direct from God's mouth. Thus they will not rationally be able to deny it and still be considered a Christian.

Another thing to consider. The text in Luke,m matthew and others chapters is dealing with the "professing children of God" who are actually adversaries and Pseudo-Christians. And the idea that they cannot deny it is not because they are honorable people who accept scripture proofs, but they are like the Scribes and Pharisees. How can they call themselves of God and yet speak against scripture you have quoted? Just as the Scribes and Pharisees couldn't, they won't be able to either. That won't stop them from reviling and persecuting, but they can't call God's word at your mouth untrue. I say again, when you provide scripture that "PROVES" something that a false teacher says is wrong, the person invariably has to totally ignore the scripture, twist it or ramble on about something totally unrelated. The reason is because they can't gainsay nor resist it. In simple terms, they can't call it a lie, but still they don't "WANT" to receive it as the truth either. So all that is left for them to do is remain silent, practice distraction, or pretend that it says that but means something else. They can do this to God's word because they have no real fear of God that they would reverence it by receiving (2nd Thessalonians 2:10) it.

Proverbs 1:7-8

The faithful son receives the word of authority from his Father. Likewise, faithfulness is what God requires of His children. That we put on the breastplate of righteousness, and pick up the sword of the spirit and take up our cross and follow Him. They may persecute us, they may revile us, they may call us false teacher, they may even kill us physically, but they cannot dispute or resist what we say "if" we are bearing "faithful witness" to what is written. It will return as a testimony against them. Even though their hollow profession of being children of God prevents them from calling God's word a lie, God looks upon their heart. They won't deny God's word quoted directly from scripture, but they will fight against and deny what they claim is your own words. Therefore, we do not meditate and prepare what we should say beforehand, because our thoughts are prideful and vain. We defer instead to the authority of law of God, which cannot be gainsaid or resisted.

Psalms 94:11-12

Our thoughts are prideful and thus we often vainly look to do our own will, rather than the will of God. And that is why we are instructed not to premeditate or formulate our own thoughts beforehand. By contrast, the thoughts of the Lord are above reproach and that which we meditate on day and night. And we can freely bear witness to them assured that we have brought truth. As a practical example, when we quote God saying, "And if by grace, then is it no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace," will any rational professing Christians say that verse is a lie? Not at all, because they know the consequences. Instead, they will complicate, privately interpret or pass over it entirely. Because they have no real answer for God's word. Of course, ultimately in practice they really are denying it by back door spiritual osmosis, but they won't be able to speak against the scripture itself. We saw earlier in Christ being proved or tested by the Devil in the wilderness the classic biblical example of reasoning out of the scriptures, and it shutting the mouths of the adversaries. But Jesus also gives examples of how reasoning Biblically and rationally can reveal dishonesty. For example, as Christ asked the question of the chief Priests and the Elders of God's congregation about John the Baptist.

Matthew 21:25

You see the Bible is a very logical and rational book. In His question, Christ revealed how they would not receive the love of truth, and thus the "authority" of the Word. These false teachers assuredly understood that they were about to contradict themselves, but they didn't want anyone else to know their deceit. Because inconsistency is the hallmark of error, and they "clearly" saw that they would be caught in "irrational" contradictions if they had answered either way. Therefore, they couldn't and wouldn't answer Christ honorably or honestly. Unlike the noble Bereans (Acts 17:11), they weren't honorable to rightly judge and search the scriptures diligently for truth. They didn't care about truth, they cared about being justified and received. And Christ "frustrated them" with the truth, and in the process He revealed their ungodly hypocrisy. As He often did!

Luke 14:5-6

They could not and would not reply to Christ because their hypocrisy was made manifest. It's the same principle as not being able to gainsay nor resist God's word. And likewise, the penalty is the same. As Christ said in Matthew 21:25-27, "neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things," signifying their judgment. So neither will He tell the unfaithful today by what authority He judges. They shall remain in spiritual blindness because of their hardened heart, arrogance, and disdainfully proud spirit opposing the will of God.

Proverbs 18:12

The adversaries oppose the truth because they lacked the earnest desire to do God's will, they lacked humility, they lacked honor, they lacked spiritual honesty. But most of all they lacked the unction of God that would have given them all these things, including a mouth and wisdom that is unassailable. For from the mouth of God's Witnesses comes the wisdom of God that rebukes, exhorts and reveals.

Proverbs 4:5

The wisdom of God from our mouths is a Spiritual possession not to be forgotten, that we never forsake His witness and obedience to His word.

To recap, the passages of Luke 21:12-17 are an exhortation to the children of God that though they will be brought before adversaries, hated, persecuted, and killed, the Spirit of God will provide them a mouth and wisdom that these adversaries will not be able to dispute. When the saints are brought before ministers, judges and magistrates for the sake of their faith, God's Spirit through His word will be their unbeatable defense. These passages are a Promise of God that His word is with power. It reiterates that God will give them what to say because they are Witnesses of His word and His Spirit abides upon them. They are not to reason or rationalize things out in their own mind, or meditate on what is right and wrong to respond to the revilers beforehand. The Spirit of God will speak within them/us through the divinely inspired word they give testimony to. We have a mouth given of God, and "His words" of wisdom are from the scriptures. It is the two edged sword Spiritual sword that we use to answer the slanderers and accusers.

Proverbs 8:5-7

In times past God spoke from the Burning Bush, but today we hear from the mouth of God by reading God's infallible word of truth. That is how He gives us what to say. And He gives it hot and cold, not lukewarm or compromised. Because if we bring His word lukewarm, then it is not the true unadulterated word as spoken from God's mouth. For then we would not be speaking on behalf of God (as Messengers of God), but on behalf of ourselves. Only God's word is, as it is faithfully spoken, is of power that they cannot withstand or resist.

1st Thessalonians 1:5

When Christ ascended to heaven, he sent the Holy Spirit of truth with Power for every one of us, that the false Christs and false accusers couldn't righteously speak against, nor stand against. They may condemn us, they may slander us, they may burn us at the stake, they may stone us, they may nail us to a tree, but they cannot stand against the word of God testified faithfully. As indeed we see in the Biblical example of Stephen disputing with those of the Synagogue:

Acts 6:9-10

The wisdom and Spirit by which he spoke, the mouth and wisdom that they could not resist. For it was God's unadulterated infallible word, consistent and faithfully witnessed. Their false witnesses could not dispute it. Sure, they ultimately stoned Stephen to death, but he was full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people, and the reason they stoned him was "because" they could not gainsay nor resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke (Acts 6:10).

And this is the same type trials and tribulation for the saints that is prophesied in Luke. The persecution and reviling of the faithful servants of God that is prophesied by Christ in Luke, Matthew and Mark (among other places), will take place all throughout the New Covenant period. But near the end of the world when Christ is about to return on the clouds of glory, this tribulation of the saints will be greater than ever. The accusers will be legion and they will lay snares that the servants of God should avoid. Like not answering their deceit and queries with our own visions, thoughts, philosophies, theories, or vain imaginations, but with the Spirit and a mouth that the Lord has given us. We answer them with a word that is as a two-edged sword that cuts both coming and going. One which none of these adversaries will be able to speak against nor resist. Here is the faith and patience of the Saints.

    May the Lord who is rich in wisdom and mercy, grant us the privilege of rightfully discerning His most precious word of truth.



Copyright ©2005 Tony Warren
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