TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Intermediate Edition

II. What to Do in Persecution

Set/Reset Bookmark

Go to Bookmark

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.

Be Faithful to God and Endure

Remain faithful to God and Jesus Christ

[Jesus Christ, to the church in Pergamum:] Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. The devil is about to have some of you thrown into prison so you may be tested, and you will experience suffering for ten days. Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown that is life itself. … 13 ‘I know where you live – where Satan’s throne is. Yet you continue to cling to my name and you have not denied your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was killed in your city where Satan lives.   Revelation 2:10, 13  NET

The clause “where Satan’s throne is” (v. 13a) apparently refers to the city of Pergamum as a center of pagan worship, no doubt a hostile place to Christians. Note Antipas’s example (v. 13b) of being faithful “even to the point of death” (v. 10b).

Endure persecution

[John:] If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints.   Revelation 13:10  NET

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

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right-hand side of God’s throne. 3Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up.   Hebrews 12:2-3  GNT

. . . and share in Jesus Christ’s sufferings

[Peter, to believers:] But be happy that you are sharing in Christ’s sufferings so that you will be happy and full of joy when Christ comes again in glory.   1 Peter 4:13  NCV™

It was necessary for Christ to suffer in order to achieve God’s objectives for him. Likewise those who are “in” him, 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.

Have Faith in God and Pray

Have faith and hope in God

[Paul:] For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, 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.   2 Corinthians 1:8-11  ESV

Do not be afraid

[Jesus, to his disciples:] Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30Even all the hairs on your head are numbered. 31So do not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows.   Matthew 10:28-31  NET

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

[Jesus, to his disciples:] You will be brought before governors and kings because of me, to testify to them and to the gentiles. 19When they hand you over, don’t worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say, because in that hour what you are to say will be given to you. 20It won’t be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.   Matthew 10:18-20  ISV

Pray to God, asking for help

[The early believers:] And now, Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage, 30while you extend your hand to heal, and to bring about miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.   Acts 4:29-30  NET

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

Bless and pray for those who persecute you

Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.   Luke 6:27-28  NET

Rejoice

Rejoice because trials develop Christian character and virtues

[Paul:] Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance, character, and character, hope.   Romans 5:3-4  NET

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything.   James 1:2-4  NET

Rejoice because of rewards for enduring persecution

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! 23Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.   Luke 6:22-23  NET

Blessings for Faithfulness in Persecution

Blessings amidst suffering

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is the Father who is full of mercy and all comfort. 4He comforts us every time we have trouble, so when others have trouble, we can comfort them with the same comfort God gives us. 5We share in the many sufferings of Christ. In the same way, much comfort comes to us through Christ.   2 Corinthians 1:3-5  NCV™

Throughout our lives we are always in danger of death for Jesus’ sake, in order that his life may be seen in this mortal body of ours.   2 Corinthians 4:11  GNT

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

God’s kingdom

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.   Matthew 5:10  NET

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

Eternal life

Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love him.   James 1:12  GNT

Future glory

[Paul, to believers:] And if [we are] children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him. 18For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us.   Romans 8:17-18  NET

Pray for persecuted Christians