What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. (Matt 10:27 NIV)

--> THIS IS THE QUESTION: From the literal perspective, the truth whispered in the ear, are we literally to proclaim that truth from the roofs considering other biblical perspectives including but not limited to the following verses?

For this literal perspective I find:
"So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known." (Matt 10:26 NIV), "... now something greater than Solomon is here." (Matthew 12:42 NIV), "For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases." (Proverbs 26:20 NIV).

Against this literal perspective I find:
"A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret." (Proverbs 11:13 NIV), and "A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much." (Proverbs 20:19 NIV), and "Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not." (1 Timothy 5:13 NIV).

Or is it not Gossip, because it fully known what is being said?

  • 4
    Even the most extreme literalists understand that sometimes verses are figurative. IE just because someone is a literalist doesn't mean that they read every verse as being literal.
    – wax eagle
    Jan 23, 2014 at 1:52
  • Therefore finding out if a verse is to be taken literal or not is a question for every verse if you want the "real" meaning.
    – Decrypted
    Jan 23, 2014 at 2:40
  • @Onlyheisgood. Just because someone hears something doesn't make it gossip or a secret to be kept. I think it's clear too that Jesus expected His disciples to receive direction as they ministered the gospel to others, and they were to be bold to speak what they received.
    – Steve
    Jan 23, 2014 at 3:44
  • I can agree that you can see this from the perspective of Matthew. You can also see that he has also stated something similar in Mark 4:21-22. Therefore possibly pulling it out of the general realm of a disciple only teaching. Also again in Luke 8:16-17. In the Luke account following this event is his call from the family. Also pointing that this possibly is not only a disciple only teaching. Therefore since the bounding constraints are not defined as whether or not this was a disciple only teaching. A disproving answer is needed to create that constraint.
    – Decrypted
    Jan 23, 2014 at 23:37

2 Answers 2


How Literal?

Is the "literal perspective" well defined? On the one hand, if everything is taken strictly literally, things just don't make sense. There are contradictions. At the other extreme, if nothing is meant to be taken literally, everything is ambiguous. If you assume that the message of the Bible is actually true and meant to be taken seriously, there has to be a position in the middle, and I don't know if that qualifies as the "literal perspective."

Perhaps a useful question to ask about how to read a passage is, "Does this make sense if it is understood literally?" or "To what extent is this meant to be taken literally?" If you look at the broader context of the passage, or the Bible as a whole, is there any conflict with a strictly literal interpretation? A literal interpretation is the default, but it is not always the correct way to understand what's written.

Your question about Jesus' command in Mt 10:27 is about how to reconcile this statement with other passages if it is to be taken literally. I will try to answer a similar question: How literally should we take Jesus' command in Mt 10:27?

But first,


Proverbs cannot reasonably be assumed to be a compendium of ubiquitously applicable, absolute assertions. It is a collection of wise sayings that, at least, are generally true, if not always true. Any given maxim may be always true, but it doesn't have to be just because it's included in the book. For example:

Proverbs 26:5-6 (NASB)
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Or you will also be like him.
Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.

These two things cannot both apply in all situations. A strictly literal interpretation of these two maxims (and the underlying assumption that Proverbs is full of statements that are always absolutely applicable) is nonsense.

Your use of Proverbs in harmony and disharmony with Jesus' command is not a Safe Way™ to use Proverbs. Without justifying that a given proverb is genuinely applicable and unilaterally binding on the situation that Jesus is addressing, it is exegetically risky to put those two statements together (or compare them for disharmony—something Biblical critics waste a lot of time doing).

Is it Reasonable?

In Matthew 10, Jesus is sending the disciples out on a specific task, and is giving them advice (and commands). If we read the pieces of his commands strictly literally, he might be telling us never to keep secrets. But, does that make sense? No. The wisdom in the other verses you pointed out says as much. To read his words this way creates a contradiction. If we're proceeding from the assumption that the Bible is true and makes sense, we cannot accept this reading.

An Alternate Reading

This might be debatable, but when I read his words, "What I tell you…" and then "what you hear whispered in your ear…," it sounds like they're both speaking of what Jesus will tell us (as if he is the one who will be whispering in the disciples' ears). The context of this passage has nothing to do with gossip or bad habits. It has nothing to do with secrets. It's about these disciples going out to proclaim the message to everyone. Earlier in Jesus' address, he says, "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." The context of the "whisper" points to Jesus/God/the Holy Spirit telling the disciples what they should say. They will hear it "whispered in [their] ear," and they are to "proclaim [it] upon the housetops."

  • I find example that it could be literal. "My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. " (1 Corinthians 1:11) NIV. Two truths can be harvested from this line. (A) Information about another household, was brought to the attention of Paul. Now whether that action should be considered Gossip or not is unknown. (B) Once these truths landed on Paul's ears, he made no effort to hide from the Corinthians what he knew. And again in 1 Corinthians 5:1. Report was given and comment was made on.
    – Decrypted
    Jan 24, 2014 at 12:35
  • Also he talks to us all the time. What evidence can supports that this teaching was to be limited to his preparing the Disciples for that Journey, and preparing Disciples for our Journey? Within the answer to this question can contain the possible true perspective on Mark 4:21-22 and Luke 8:16-17. Yet I have found resources that analogize light as righteousness, rather then that of truth. Or John 3:20-21 NIV this "deeds will be exposed". Therefore the boundary of those deeds are in question. Should truth stop at a priest? Could silence be darkness? The rationalization can pull either way.
    – Decrypted
    Jan 24, 2014 at 12:47
  • The context of Mt 10 (unlike Mk 4 and Lk 8, neither of which are commands, but assurance that secrets will not stay hidden—passive voice does not indicate who will reveal the secret, I would presume God, but it wouldn't have to be) is at the end of Jesus sending out the disciples.
    – mojo
    Jan 24, 2014 at 14:20
  • That sentence is offered at the end of "Do not fear them..." as if it's a response to a difficult situation, not general advice. If you wanted to read it as general advice, you'd have to deduce (for yourself, because the passage doesn't limit it further) when to do it, because other passages extol the value of being able to keep secrets and discretion of speech.
    – mojo
    Jan 24, 2014 at 14:22
  • Regarding 1 Co 1:11, it's an overstatement to say that Paul "made no effort to hide ... what he knew." Paul doesn't say this, and we don't know what he didn't say or what he knew. It's at least reasonable to assume that He said what was necessary to make his point or to get people to understand, but that he may not have said everything he knew.
    – mojo
    Jan 24, 2014 at 14:25

Sometimes in order to understand a particular verse or even a paragraph, or a chapter it is necessary to consult the Scriptures around those you need clarified. That is true of most of Matthew chapter 10, and it is also necessary in some cases to refer to similar scripture in other books of the Bible.

Here is a commentary by Albert Barnes on Matthew chapter 10:

Jesus calls, commissions, and names his twelve disciples, Matthew 10:1-4. Gives them
particular instructions relative to the objects of their ministry, Matthew 10:5, Matthew 10:6. 
Mode of preaching, etc., Matthew 10:7-15. Foretells the afflictions and persecutions they 
would have to endure, and the support they should receive, Matthew 10:16-25. Cautions them
against betraying his cause, in order to procure their personal safety, Matthew 10:26-39. And
gives especial promises to those who should assist his faithful servants in the execution of
their work, Matthew 10:40-42.

please note that he lumps verses 26 through 39 together, and says that he is cautioning them against betraying his cause in order to procure their personal safety.

So let's take a look at those Scriptures and see how they read in that regard.

All Scriptures are taken from the King James version of the Bible.

Matthew 10:26 Fear them not therefore: for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known.

Here he is telling them that God knows everything that happens and one day it will be proclaimed to the world for the judgment.

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.

and in the verse you asked about he is telling them what I taught you alone out of the hearing of everyone else, you now pronounce to the world.

Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Here he is saying do not fail to preach the Gospel out of fear of men all they can do is kill the body, but you better e afraid of God who can not only kill your body any time he wants to, but he can send both your body and soul to hell.

Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

or don't be foolish God loves even a little Sparrow that man only regards as valuable as a farthing, and knows when they are harmed.

Matthew 10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

don't you know that God is aware even when you lose one of the hairs on your head.

Matthew 10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Don't be afraid of men remember that God values your life and soul a lot more than a whole lot of Sparrows.

Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

So if you go and preach the good news here , when we get to Heaven I'll tell the Father you were loyal to me but,

Matthew 10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Just remember this if they scare you into not preaching the Gospel here on Earth, I won't save you from the wrath of God in Heaven.

Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

After all I didn't come down from my comfortable existence in Heaven just to make everyone jolly, I came to show them how lost they were, and have them fight against the temptations of Satan.

Matthew 10:>35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

And the people you will have the worst time with will be your own relatives.

Matthew 10:36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

These are the ones who are going to be the ones who hamper you the most.

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

But if you listen to them and ignore me because you care so much for them and less about me, you are not worth my effort to save you so you can spend eternity in Heaven.

Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

And if you don't go out there and preach the Gospel and do as I have done for you, you aren't worthy to be my disciple.

Matthew 10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

And finally he says so what if they kill you for preaching repentance for sin, all you will lose is your physical life, and in return you will gain eternal life.

I Hope this helps.

  • Cecil I like your structure that you are using, and I feel that from this perspective that you are indeed vouching that this was to be taken as a literal passing on of the truth (within your construct). I do hope to see a few more perspectives on this though, thank you.
    – Decrypted
    Jan 23, 2014 at 23:27

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