TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

II. What to Do in Persecution

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Chapter 40  Part II

What to Do in Persecution

The Bible provides practical teaching on what to do when faced with persecution. Moreover, the Bible even provides good reasons to rejoice in spite of the suffering often involved in persecution. Not least of these reasons are the blessings that we can experience amidst such hardship – and those that we will receive in the future for enduring it.

Note that, as was the case in the first half of the chapter, a few of the verses in this second half speak of other hardships in addition to persecution that believers may face because of their faith.

Be Faithful to God and Endure

See also:

Remain faithful to God and Jesus Christ

See also:

Dan 3:17-18  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.c 18But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. ▤ 

c Or If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, he will deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and out of your hand, O king.

In the face of death, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego defiantly declare their refusal to be unfaithful to God.

Rev 2:10  Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. ▤ 

“Be faithful unto death” likely means be faithful “even if it means death” (GNT; cf. AMP, NCV, NIV, NLT).

Rev 2:13  ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faithd even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. ▤ 

d Or your faith in me

The clauses “where Satan’s throne is” and “where Satan dwells” apparently refers to the city of Pergamum as a center of pagan worship, no doubt a hostile place to Christians. Note Antipas’s example of being faithful “unto death” (v. 10b ).

Rev 3:8  I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. ▤ 

  • Superficial Christians (who have “no root”) fall away in trouble or persecution:

Matt 13:20-21  As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.f ▤ 

f Or stumbles

Having “no root” points to a shallowness from having no real commitment to God’s word. Perhaps more precisely it portrays a failure to allow God’s word to permeate one’s life (cf. GNT, NCV).

Continue to do what God wants

See also:

Jer 26:11-13  Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, “This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.” 12Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. 13Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you. ▤ 

Despite the threat of death (v. 11), Jeremiah continued to do what God had sent him to do (vv. 12-13).

2Tim 4:6-7  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ▤ 

In v. 6 Paul pictures his life as being poured out as an offering to God, particularly in view of the apparent likelihood of his execution. He then declares that – despite all his troubles – he had fought on to the finish, doing God’s will and firmly holding to the faith (v. 7).

Heb 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, … ▤ 

The context shows that these instructions were given largely in reference to persecution (cf. 11:35-38; 12:2-4).

1Pet 2:12, 15  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. ▤ 15For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. ▤ 

1Pet 3:16  … having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. ▤ 

In 2:12, 15 above Peter calls on his readers to do good in the face of false accusations – in accordance with God’s will. In conjunction with doing good, here the phrase “having a good conscience” alludes to the need to avoid doing any wrong in such circumstances (as always).

1Pet 4:19  Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. ▤ 

Rev 2:19  I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. ▤ 

The mention of the “endurance” of the believers in Thyatira suggests that they were facing trials – in which they not only maintained the amount of work they were doing for the kingdom, but actually increased it (v. 19b).

Rev 14:12  Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.e ▤ 

e Greek and the faith of Jesus

2Cor 8:2  … for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. ▤ 

Amidst severe persecution and even extreme poverty, the Macedonian churches (cf. v. 1) nevertheless showed great generosity.

Endure persecution and suffering

See also:

Matt 10:22  … and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. ▤ 

1Cor 4:12b  When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; … ▤ 

1Cor 13:7  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ▤ 

The reference to enduring may not be referring specifically to enduring persecution from others, but it is at least applicable to it (cf. NLT).

2Cor 6:4  … but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, … ▤ 

2Thes 1:4  Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. ▤ 

2Tim 2:8-10  Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. ▤ 

In v. 10 Paul states that he endures everything for the sake of those chosen by God, in order to ensure their salvation.

Heb 12:7, 12  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? ▤ 12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, … ▤ 

In v. 12 the writer uses figurative language in calling on his readers to strengthen themselves spiritually, so as to endure (v. 7).

Rev 13:10  If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. ▤ 

Heb 10:32  But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, … ▤ 

1Pet 2:18-20  Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. ▤ 

Peter appears to be speaking of unjust suffering generally, not only that which is because of one’s faith.

Endure persecution and suffering patiently

See also:

2Tim 2:24  And the Lord’s servantg must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, … ▤ 

g Greek bondservant

Rev 2:3  I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. ▤ 

Rev 2:19  I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. ▤ 

Rom 12:12  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. ▤ 

2Cor 1:6  If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. ▤ 

Note that Paul indicates here that comfort and encouragement from other believers helps enable one to patiently endure suffering.

James 5:7-8, 10-11  Be patient, therefore, brothers,h until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. ▤ 10As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. ▤ 

h Or brothers and sisters; also verses 9, 10, 12, 19

This is possibly referring to patience in the face of suffering at the hands of rich oppressors (cf. vv. 1-6) that is not necessarily due to one’s faith. Even so, it is applicable to all suffering of believers, no matter what the reason.

  • Endure suffering in a way that glorifies God:

1Pet 4:16  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. ▤ 

Consider and follow Jesus Christ’s example in suffering . . .

Heb 12:1-3  Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. ▤ 

The phrase “the founder and perfecter of our faith” is usually taken to indicate that Jesus Christ is the one who instigates each believer’s faith and perfects it or brings it to completion. But some commentators, pointing out that “our” does not appear in the Greek (cf. NASB, NIrV), raise the possibility that it is actually referring to Jesus as the one who originated and perfected the way of faith. This meaning – very pertinent to this subsection – would comfortably fit the context.

1Pet 2:20b-23  But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. ▤ 

Verse 23 speaks of aspects of Jesus Christ’s patient endurance that we ought to emulate. The reference in v. 22 to Christ’s blamelessness may similarly be speaking of it as another aspect of his example in suffering that we should emulate. However it could instead refer to Christ’s blamelessness in his life prior to his suffering, in parallel to the earlier reference to doing good leading to suffering (v. 20b).

1Pet 4:1  Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,i arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, … ▤ 

i Some manuscripts add for us; some for you

Believers are to “arm” themselves with the same attitude as Jesus Christ had in the face suffering. This involved a steely resolve to do God’s will – being willing to patiently endure suffering (cf. Heb 12:2-3 ), trusting in God rather than retaliating (cf. 1Pet 2:20b-23 ).

2Thes 3:5  May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. ▤ 

As noted earlier in the chapter, with the reference to being directed into “the steadfastness of Christ” (v. 5), Paul appears to be speaking of the same perseverance as Christ showed (cf. CEV) and/or the perseverance that comes from him (cf. GNT, NLT).

. . . and share Jesus Christ’s sufferings

See also:

It was necessary for Christ to suffer in order to achieve God’s objectives for him. Likewise those who are “in” him, being a part of his body (the church), must also be prepared to suffer in order to advance his cause. Quite possibly the NT writers had such a concept in mind when they wrote of sharing in Christ’s sufferings. (See also the comments below on 2 Corinthians 4:10 and Colossians 1:24.)

Rom 8:16-17  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. ▤ 

Phil 3:10-11  … that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. ▤ 

1Pet 4:13  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. ▤ 

2Cor 1:5  For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.j ▤ 

j Or For as the sufferings of Christ abound for us, so also our comfort abounds through Christ

2Cor 4:8-11  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. ▤ 

Verses 8-9 clearly indicate that endurance of suffering is in view in this passage. In vv. 10-11, Paul alludes to the sufferings he undergoes for Jesus’ sake (v. 11a), by which he identifies with and shares in – metaphorically speaking – the death of Jesus (v. 10a). In both verses Paul says he does this so that Jesus Christ’s resurrection life may be revealed in his mortal body.

Col 1:24  Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, … ▤ 

Paul considered that what he suffered was a necessary part in the completion (cf. GNT, NLT) or continuation (cf. CEV) of Christ’s sufferings for his people.

Heb 13:13  Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. ▤ 

This is a reference to leaving Judaism (“the camp”) for Christ. This is applicable to the situation of anyone who leaves another religion or set of beliefs for Christ, including atheism. They are looked down upon and even despised by those who adhere to the former belief – and are often treated accordingly.

Mark 10:38-39  Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, … ▤ 

Jesus was asking James and John figuratively if they could partake in and endure the suffering that he would. Note that in its context Jesus’ challenging question was actually somewhat of a rebuke and a warning in response to a selfish request (cf. vv. 35-37).

  • When his people are persecuted, Christ is persecuted:

Acts 9:1-5  But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. ▤ 

Note: Be on your guard against persecutors and avoid persecution when appropriate

We are to be faithful to God in what we do even if it means that we will draw persecution. Having said this, we should also guard against those who would persecute us (cf. Matt 10:16-17 ; Mark 13:9 ; Neh 4:8-9 ) and avoid persecution (cf. Matt 10:16 ; Acts 9:23-25 ; Acts 11:19 ; Acts 20:3 ) when doing so does not involve being unfaithful to God and Jesus Christ.

Matt 10:16-17  Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, … ▤ 

Verse 16a illustrates the need to be on one’s guard (v. 17a) – reflected also in the two subsequent directives (v. 16b).

Mark 13:9  But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. ▤ 

Neh 4:8-9  And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 9And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. ▤ 

Matt 10:23  When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. ▤ 

Acts 9:23-25  When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, 25but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall,k lowering him in a basket. ▤ 

k Greek through the wall

Acts 11:19  Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. ▤ 

Presumably the believers were “scattered because of the persecution” by traveling elsewhere to avoid it.

Acts 14:5-7  When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, 7and there they continued to preach the gospel. ▤ 

Acts 20:3  There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. ▤ 

  • Prepare for the hardships and opposition ahead:

Luke 22:36  He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. ▤ 

The reference to buying a sword is unlikely to have been intended to be taken literally (cf. v. 38). Probably it is hyperbole, to stress to the disciples the harrowing nature of what lay ahead and the need to be prepared.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Have Faith in God and Pray

See also:

Have faith and hope in God and Jesus Christ . . .

See also:

Dan 3:17, 28  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. ▤ 28Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set asidem the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. ▤ 

l Or If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us, he will deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and out of your hand, O king.

m Aramaic and changed

2Cor 1:8-10  For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers,n of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. ▤ 

n Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church

Phil 1:18b-19  Yes, and I will rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, … ▤ 

Paul’s faith in God providing his deliverance is clearly indicated by the phrase “I know”. As noted earlier, “deliverance” could refer either to deliverance from prison or to final spiritual salvation.

2Tim 1:12  … which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.o ▤ 

o Or what I have entrusted to him; Greek my deposit

If the alternative rendering in the text note is to be preferred (cf. NASB, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV), then Paul would appear to be speaking of trusting God to guard his ministry and its fruits, along with himself – even through death.

1Pet 2:23  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. ▤ 

Heb 11:32-34  And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. ▤ 

Persecution for being God’s people is apparent in most of the things listed in vv. 33-34, with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego’s renowned faith (cf. Dan 3:17, 28 ) probably in view in the first clause of v. 34. Through faith these people of faith were able to overcome such strife. Note that in the subsequent verses in Hebrews 11 (cf. vv. 35b-39 ), the focus is on enduring persecutions rather than overcoming them in a physical sense.

1Pet 4:19  Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. ▤ 

Rev 13:10  If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. ▤ 

Rev 14:12  Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.p ▤ 

p Greek and the faith of Jesus

Note that the last clause could be referring to one’s belief in Jesus in regard to what the NT says about him, rather than to trusting him during persecution. (The same can be said of 13:10 above.)

. . . Faith enables one to endure persecution and suffering

See also:

Most of the following verses/passages do not state or necessarily imply that faith enables one to endure, but they do clearly associate faith and endurance, arguably suggesting that the former leads to or supports the latter.

2Thes 1:4  Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. ▤ 

Heb 11:24-27  By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. ▤ 

Note that the writer may be alluding to his definition of faith in v. 1 (“the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”) in the descriptions of Moses’ actions of faith – “he was looking to the reward” (v. 26) and “he endured as seeing him who is invisible” (v. 27) (cf. NBC).

Heb 11:35b-39  Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37They were stoned, they were sawn in two,q they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, … ▤ 

q Some manuscripts add they were tempted

These people’s faith in God (v. 39a) is evident in their endurance of such suffering and hardship, their faith facilitating their endurance. The goal mentioned in the last clause of v. 35b also reflects faith.

Rev 2:19  I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. ▤ 

Rev 14:12  Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.r ▤ 

r Greek and the faith of Jesus

  • The “steadfastness of hope” in Jesus Christ:

1Thes 1:3  … remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

The phrase “steadfastness of hope” may well mean that their steadfastness came from hope (cf. NCV, NIV). As such the verse would be pertinent to this subsection. Alternatively, it may be speaking of their hope itself as being steadfast (cf. CEV, GNT). Having such “steadfastness” in the midst of suffering appears to be in view (cf. v. 6).

Do not be afraid of persecutors or suffering

See also:

Ezek 2:6  And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions.s Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. ▤ 

s Or on scorpion plants

Matt 10:26-31  So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.t 29Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?u And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. ▤ 

t Greek Gehenna

u Greek assarion, Roman copper coin (Latin quadrans) worth about 1/16 of a denarius (which was a day’s wage for a laborer)

The disciples were not to be afraid of those who would hate and persecute them (cf. vv. 21-23). Rather they were to fearlessly declare publicly what Jesus had told them in private (vv. 26-27).

Acts 4:13  Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. ▤ 

The reference is to Peter and John being questioned before the religious leaders (cf. vv. 5-7), after having been jailed the previous night (cf. v. 3) for teaching the people about Jesus Christ (cf. vv. 1-2).

Heb 13:6  So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” ▤ 

1Pet 3:14  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, … ▤ 

Rev 2:10  Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. ▤ 

John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. ▤ 

In Jesus Christ believers have peace, irrespective of the trouble they experience from being in the world – in fact Jesus Christ has overcome the world. So rather than be afraid, his followers should “take courage” (AMP), “be brave” (GNT, NCV) and “cheer up” (CEV, NIrV). Note that in making the final statement not long before the cross, Jesus may have been claiming the victory over the world that would be his through his death and resurrection. Alternatively he may have been referring to related concepts such as his instituting of God’s kingdom in the world or his overpowering of Satan – things which in one sense at least had already been accomplished (cf. Matt 12:28-29).

Acts 23:10-11  And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks. 11The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” ▤ 

  • Paul urged the Ephesians not to be discouraged because of his sufferings for them:

Eph 3:13  So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. ▤ 

Paul’s sufferings were because of what he had done for them in propagating the kingdom of God among them. Note that the last phrase may mean that his sufferings brought them glory – either the glory resulting from being in the kingdom or the glory of the afterlife.

Do not worry about what to say – you will be given what to say

See also:

Matt 10:18-20  … and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. ▤ 

Mark 13:11  And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. ▤ 

Luke 21:14-15  Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, 15for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. ▤ 

The instruction “not to meditate beforehand how to answer” (v. 14) means that we should not worry about what to say (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT) and even “not to prepare beforehand” (NASB; cf. NRSV) what to say.

Acts 6:9-10  Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen. 10But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. ▤ 

This illustrates the above promises (cf. Matt 10:18-20; Mark 13:11) that the Holy Spirit will speak through believers in times of persecution and trial.

  • God’s promise that his servants will refute every tongue that rises against them:

Isa 54:17  … no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindicationv from me, declares the Lord. ▤ 

v Or righteousness

This promise is made to Jerusalem in its time of future renewal, but Luke 21:15 above makes a similar promise, suggesting that this promise from Isaiah is also applicable to believers now.

Pray to God, asking for help

See also:

Acts 4:23-24, 29-30  When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, ▤ 29And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servantsw to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” ▤ 

w Greek bondservants

Note that the believers’ prayer was for God to work through them amidst the persecution, rather than simply for God to stop the persecution.

Acts 16:23-25  And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, … ▤ 

Matt 26:36-39, 42-44  Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watchx with me.” 39And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” ▤ 42Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. ▤ 

x Or keep awake; also verses 40, 41

  • Pray regarding future persecution:

Luke 21:36  But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. ▤ 

The phrase “all these things that are going to take place” probably ultimately refers to events just prior to Jesus Christ’s return. Traumatic events or judgments that all mankind will be exposed to may be in view, rather than only persecution of Christians. Here “escape” may have the sense “go safely through” (GNT), rather than meaning to avoid altogether.

Pray for and bless those who persecute you

See also:

The benefits of responding as follows to those who persecute us include: we do not leave ourselves open to the negative effects that the natural response of hatred has on a person who hates; we do not expose ourselves to the ramifications of not having forgiven others (cf. . . . Forgive and God will forgive you); and we give a wonderful witness to others.

Matt 5:44-45  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. ▤ 

Praying for those who persecute us imitates God, as he graciously blesses evil people along with the good people. For believers to do so is indicative that they are children of God.

Luke 6:27-28  But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. ▤ 

Rom 12:14  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. ▤ 

Prayer – such as praying for spiritual enlightenment – may well be one thing in view in this exhortation to “bless”. In support of this, note that the NLT, GNT and CEV interpret this verse as meaning that we should pray that God will bless those who persecute us.

1Cor 4:12b  When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; … ▤ 

Acts 7:59-60  And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. ▤ 

  • The lesser person is blessed by the greater:

Heb 7:7  It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. ▤ 

The context is Melchizedek’s blessing of Abraham – as opposed to any reference to persecution. The writer may have made this statement as a general rule, or he may have had primarily in view blessings being given in a formal and authoritative way (cf. ZBC). As applied to believers blessing those who persecute them, due to their position in and riches in God’s kingdom that they have in Jesus Christ, they are indeed in such a position so as to condescend to graciously bestow blessing on their persecutors.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Rejoice

See also:

Rejoice because trials develop Christian character and virtues

Rom 5:3-4  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, … ▤ 

Here “character” speaks of character that has been tried and proved (cf. AMP, GNT), evidencing a “strength of character” (NLT).

James 1:2-4  Count it all joy, my brothers,y when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. ▤ 

y Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verses 16, 19

1Pet 1:6-7  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ▤ 

“In this you rejoice” (v. 6) is actually referring to the promises of the previous verses, rather than to the trials. Thus this passage does not actually say to rejoice because of the trials or their effects. The passage has been included here as it implies that believers should rejoice amidst suffering and also it points to the fact that trials develop our faith – as alluded to with the reference to gold being refined by fire (v. 7; cf. Dan 12:10 ).

Dan 12:10  Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. ▤ 

The trials of the end times (cf. vv. 1, 7) will lead to many of God’s people being purified. No mention is made of rejoicing here or in 1 Peter 5:9-10 immediately below, but these extracts further point to the fact that trials develop Christian character and virtue.

1Pet 5:9-10  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. ▤ 

The Greek rendered here as “restore” (v. 10) means to “perfect” (GNT, NASB, NKJV) or to “complete and make you what you ought to be” (AMP; cf. CEV).

  • Trials lead believers to focus their faith and hope on God:

2Cor 1:8-10  For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers,z of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. ▤ 

z Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church

Rejoice because of rewards for suffering and enduring persecution . . .

Matt 5:11-12  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ▤ 

Luke 6:22-23  Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. ▤ 

1Pet 4:12-13  Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. ▤ 

Sharing in the sufferings of Christ, suffering on his behalf, gives believers reason to rejoice. For sharing Christ’s suffering identifies believers with him, which means we will naturally be overjoyed on his glorious return and triumph – which will include “the wonderful joy of sharing his glory” (NLT), which Peter may have in mind here.

Heb 10:34  For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. ▤ 

Note that this is not necessarily saying that the reward – “a better possession and an abiding one” – were in particular for enduring the aforementioned persecution. However such endurance is certainly one reason why faithful believers will receive such rewards.

. . . and look forward to these rewards

See also:

2Cor 4:17-18  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. ▤ 

Heb 11:26  He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. ▤ 

This points to the fact that the believer’s reward is of greater value than anything that this world can offer. Bearing this in mind stimulates one to look forward to their reward.

Heb 13:13-14  Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. ▤ 

In this context, to “seek” the city that is to come involves looking forward to it (cf. AMP, GNT, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV).

  • Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with our glory in the afterlife:

Rom 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ▤ 

Note that this truth is reflected in 2 Corinthians 4:17 above – and complemented by the teaching in Hebrews 11:26 above, as per the comment there.

Other reasons to rejoice in persecution and difficulties

See also:

Acts 5:40-41  … and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. ▤ 

The apostles rejoiced in part because they considered it to be an honor to suffer for “the name” of Jesus Christ (cf. NCV, NIrV). Furthermore, being “counted worthy” by God and/or Jesus Christ is indicative of being accepted by them – a thought that the apostles may have also had in mind.

2Cor 12:9-10  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ▤ 

The more aware we are of our weaknesses and of our limitations in facing persecutions and difficulties, the more we are open to depending on Christ’s power – in which we are truly made strong. This is ample reason to gladly boast about such things (v. 9) and be content with them (v. 10) – even delighting in them (cf. AMP, NIV, NKJV).

Phil 1:18b-19  Yes, and I will rejoice, 19for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, … ▤ 

Despite his imprisonment and the attempts of some preachers to stir up trouble for him (cf. vv. 12-17), Paul continued to rejoice – knowing that all that had happened would turn out for his deliverance. As noted earlier, his final spiritual salvation may be in view.

Col 1:24  Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, … ▤ 

Paul could have in mind here both that his sufferings were greatly helping Christ’s body, and that they were a necessary part in the completion (cf. GNT, NLT) or continuation (cf. CEV) of Christ’s sufferings for his people. As such Paul had reason to rejoice in these sufferings.

2Cor 7:4-7  I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy. 5For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. 6But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. ▤ 

This and 1 Peter 1:3-6 below speak of reasons to rejoice despite persecution and difficulties – as opposed to rejoicing because of persecution/difficulties and their implications, which is the case in the above verses and previous subsections. The spiritual growth of young Christians – alluded to in v. 4a – and the concern of other believers (v. 7b), gives one great joy amidst troubles. This is particularly so for leaders, as was the case here with Paul. Note that the first clause in v. 4, appears to reflect Paul’s confidence in his relating to his readers (cf. AMP, GNT, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT), with him apparently being confident of their faith and warm feelings towards him.

1Pet 1:3-6  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, … ▤ 

“In this” (v. 6) certainly refers to the contents of vv. 3b-4; that which is in v. 5 may also be encompassed. These things give great reason to rejoice no matter what one’s current circumstances.

Further examples of rejoicing during persecution and difficulties

Phil 2:17-18  Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. ▤ 

As was noted earlier in regard to the use of the phrase in 2 Timothy 4:6, “poured out” may well have in view the possibility of Paul dying as a martyr. As such it would portray Paul’s life, part of which he spent on building up the faith of the Philippians, being “poured out” as an offering accompanying the sacrificial service that came from their faith. In v. 18, Paul’s exhortation to “be glad and rejoice” may have partly in view the Philippians’ own difficulties, with them facing opposition and suffering (cf. 1:27-31)

2Cor 6:10  … as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. ▤ 

Even amidst the sorrow that persecution and difficulties bring, believers have great reasons to persistently rejoice – notably those discussed in the above subsections and in the following section on God’s blessings for persecuted believers. Note that while sorrow may make rejoicing harder to do, it also creates a greater need for it.

2Cor 8:2  … for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. ▤ 

1Thes 1:6  And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, … ▤ 

  • Praying and singing hymns during persecution:

Acts 16:23-25  And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. 25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, … ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Epilogue: Blessings for Faithfulness in Persecution

Note that some of the subsections in the previous section also speak of blessings for faithfulness in persecution. These are included in cross references in the subsections below.

Blessings amidst suffering and in the present life

See also:

Rom 15:4  For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. ▤ 

Believers gain hope through endurance, largely due to God’s faithfulness in such times giving hope and reason to believe that he will likewise faithfully bring them through future trials. Believers also gain hope through the encouragement of the Scriptures. In this Paul may have in view God’s promises and the experience of past saints, which give the hope of God’s blessings and ultimate deliverance to those who endure.

2Cor 1:3-7  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.a 6If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. ▤ 

a Or For as the sufferings of Christ abound for us, so also our comfort abounds through Christ

In suffering we receive God’s comfort ourselves and as a result are equipped to help others who suffer, with God’s comfort overflowing from us to others. As such our sufferings bring blessing to others as well as to ourselves.

2Cor 4:8-11  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. ▤ 

Jesus’ “life” refers to his resurrection life – with its spiritual power for those who share in his suffering, suffering on his behalf.

2Cor 4:16  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer selfb is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. ▤ 

b Greek man

In speaking of outwardly “wasting away” Paul has his afflictions (cf. v. 17) in view, which go hand in hand with his daily renewal.

1Pet 4:1-2  Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,c arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. ▤ 

c Some manuscripts add for us; some for you

Those who suffer for God are finished with sin – “no longer involved with sin” (GNT). Such suffering causes one to see sin to be more unpalatable and pointless than before – even undesirable. Furthermore, the actions of enduring great suffering for God and needlessly displeasing him by sinning are incompatible.

1Pet 4:14  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of gloryd and of God rests upon you. ▤ 

d Some manuscripts insert and of power

Peter appears to indicate that suffering for Jesus Christ brings with it a rich experience of God’s Spirit.

Rev 2:9  I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slandere of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. ▤ 

e Greek blasphemy

Although they were very poor, these faithful believers had spiritual riches (and also were heirs to the glorious riches of the afterlife). Such riches were theirs amidst their afflictions partly due to their endurance of these afflictions.

James 5:11  Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. ▤ 

As was Job’s experience, those who persevere are blessed by God’s compassion and mercy. Note that blessing following persecution, for those who have persevered through it, appears to be in view – as opposed to blessing amidst persecution, prominent in the above references.

  • Blessings given to the church in Philadelphia which had endured patiently:

Rev 3:8-10  I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. 10Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. ▤ 

The “open door, which no one is able to shut” (v. 8) is probably the door to God’s kingdom. Another possibility is that it represents an opportunity for service.

The future rewards of: eternal life; . . .

Luke 21:19  By your endurance you will gain your lives. ▤ 

Note that Jesus makes this statement after speaking of coming persecutions (cf. vv. 12-17).

James 1:12  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. ▤ 

Rev 2:7, 10  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. ▤ 10Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. ▤ 

The “tree of life” (v. 7) and the “crown of life” (v. 10; cf. James 1:12 ) symbolize and/or point to eternal life.

Rev 3:5  The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. ▤ 

The Bible refers to “the book of life” (cf. Ex 32:32; Dan 12:1; Rev 20:12, 15; 21:27; cf. Mal 3:16; Luke 10:20), in which are listed only the names of those who will receive eternal life.

Heb 11:35b  Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. ▤ 

This speaks of being raised from the dead to “a better life” (cf. AMP, GNT, NCV, NIrV, NLT) – eternal life.

Matt 10:22  … and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. ▤ 

This also points to the reward of eternal life, encompassing being saved from “death in the world to come” (AMP).

Phil 3:10-11  … that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. ▤ 

The resurrection from the dead – and correspondingly everlasting life – is partially a product of sharing in Christ’s sufferings.

. . . God’s kingdom; and glory

Matt 5:10  Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ▤ 

Note that this teaching probably has a present application as well as a future one.

2Thes 1:4-5  Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 5This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering ▤ 

In accordance with God’s righteous judgment, the Thessalonians’ steadfastness and faith would result in them being counted worthy of God’s kingdom.

Rom 8:17-18  … and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. ▤ 

Note that this also associates the wonderful blessing of being “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” with suffering with Christ, which largely involves being faithful in persecution.

2Cor 4:17  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, … ▤ 

  • Those who endure will reign with Jesus Christ:

2Tim 2:12  … if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; … ▤ 

The Bible speaks of a future reign that believers will participate in with Jesus Christ (cf. Rev 20:4 ). This is discussed in God’s people will reign with Jesus Christ.

Other blessings in the afterlife . . .

See also:

2Tim 4:6, 8  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. ▤ 8Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. ▤ 

The term “crown of righteousness” could refer to being pronounced right with God or being made completely righteous – or even to a reward for a righteous life.

Heb 13:13-14  Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. ▤ 

The reference appears to be to the New Jerusalem that believers will inhabit with God and Jesus Christ.

1Pet 3:14a  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. ▤ 

Peter does not actually specify any particular blessings here. But for a number of commentators the use of “blessed” recalls Matthew 5:10-12, which says that those persecuted because of righteousness are blessed because “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10 ), with great reward in heaven (v. 12).

Rev 6:11  Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servantsf and their brothersg should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. ▤ 

f Greek fellow bondservants

g Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church

The white robes (cf. Rev 7:14 ) given to the martyrs appears to signify purity and the glorified state of the righteous.

Rev 7:14-17  I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” ▤ 

The “springs of living water” (v. 17) are “springs of the water of life” (NASB, NRSV). As such v. 17 is also pertinent to The future rewards of: eternal life; . . ., above.

Rev 14:12-13  Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.h 13And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” ▤ 

h Greek and the faith of Jesus

The phrase “who die in the Lord” (v. 13) is not necessarily speaking of believers martyred for their faith, but v. 12 – and the preceding verses – make it clear that they have certainly at least remained faithful under pressure. The phrase “from now on” (v. 13) probably refers to the time of the Great Tribulation in the end times, although the promise that follows is applicable to all faithful believers. They will be able to rest from their labor, for their good deeds will be remembered and “rewarded” (CEV, cf. NCV).

Rev 20:4  Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. ▤ 

This is interpreted by many to be speaking of a literal thousand-year reign. For discussion of this concept see the introductory comments on Jesus Christ’s Universal Rule, and its first subsection, Prelude: The thousand years.

. . . Blessings for “one who conquers”

All of the blessings spoken of below are applicable to all God’s people who conquer the challenges of the “world”. The background to some of the following references involves overcoming persecution, with the remainder involving other worldly challenges to faithfulness.

Rev 2:7  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. ▤ 

Rev 2:11  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. ▤ 

The second death is eternal suffering in the lake of fire.

Rev 2:17  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. ▤ 

There are various ideas about what is meant by the hidden manna, the white stone and the new name (cf. Rev 3:12 ) – although all are clearly significant rewards for faithfulness. (Likewise there are various interpretations of “the morning star” in 2:28 below.)

Rev 2:26-28  The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28And I will give him the morning star. ▤ 

Verses 26-27 – and 3:21 below – may have in view the reign of believers with Jesus Christ that is spoken of in Revelation 20:4 in the previous subsection.

Rev 3:4-5  Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. ▤ 

As per the references to white robes in the previous subsection (cf. Rev 6:11 ; Rev 7:14-17 ), being dressed in white (vv. 4b-5a) signifies purity and quite possibly also the glorified state of the righteous.

Rev 3:12  The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. ▤ 

Being “a pillar in the temple of my God” probably involves a permanent and prominent position in the coming kingdom. Having the names of God and the city of God written on them, signify that believers belong to God and are citizens of the city. Having Jesus Christ’s “new name” written on them may simply signify that also they belong to him; but it being a “new” name may also allude to their perfected state.

Rev 3:21  The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. ▤ 

Rev 21:7  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. ▤ 

The believer who overcomes will inherit all the blessings of the new Jerusalem. The second part of the statement refers to a prime aim of God’s covenant with Israel – that he would be their God and they would be his people.

  • Blessed are those who perservere to the end of the 1,335 days:

Dan 12:12  Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. ▤ 

Although the persecution by Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C. could possibly be in view, this might well be referring to – or at least be inclusive of – enduring the period of tribulation prior to Jesus Christ’s return.

Pray for persecuted Christians