How Do We Endure The Persecuted Life?

Enduring persecution is part of God’s plan to evangelize the world, thus, we endure the persecuted life by: following Paul’s example; resting in the all sufficient grace of God; knowing there is a better and greater reward; and allowing God to avenge the persecuted.

We Endure By Following Paul’s Example

  • Enduring the persecuted life was exemplified by Paul. Paul and the apostles lived “the persecuted life”—meaning they were constantly under siege from different types of suffering because of the gospel—“as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God”. It was as if they were on exhibit in a Roman arena where men are sentenced to death. It was a life that seemed foolish, weak and despised—but it was the will of God because it was founded on the truth of God. Paul even goes on to describe their life (His and probably Sosthenes’ life) at that time. They were hungry, thirsty, naked (poorly dressed), buffeted (beat or punched), homeless (no certain dwelling place) and laboured by working with their own hands (financially support themselves and others). There were made as “the filth of the world” (like scummy water) and “the offscouring of all things” (like dirty scrapings). But Paul didn’t allow all of this to defeat him, instead He tells us what he did to endure the persecuted life and then urges us to be followers of him.
    1 Corinthians 1:1; 4:1, 9-16
    • “Being reviled, we bless”—endure verbal abuse with verbal blessings—to respond with truth, kindness and a godly disposition.
    • “Being persecuted, we suffer it”—endure harassment and attacks by bearing it—to patiently and tolerantly suffer it even though it is really unpleasant and difficult.
      James 5:10-11
    • “Being defamed, we intreat”—endure slander with entreatment—answer kindly in truth and love any false accusations brought against us or the gospel.

We Endure By Resting In The All Sufficient Grace Of God

  • Our infirmities, His strength: Paul gladly boasted in his infirmities because of the sufficiency of Jesus’ grace. Jesus’ strength is made perfect in weakness. Thus, Paul was wanting the power of Jesus to rest upon him. He realized that when he is weak, then he is strong through Jesus. Thus, for the sake of Jesus, he learned to be content with or take delight in infirmities, reproaches, necessities (hardships), persecutions, and distresses.
    2 Corinthians 12:7-10
  • Our weakness, His power: As believers, we have “treasure” in earthen vessels. The treasure that we possess is “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”. The earthen vessels or jars of clay represents our human weakness. Thus, God works through us who have received His salvation to show that the excellency and all-surpassing power belongs to Him and not to us. Paul was constantly being persecuted because he was always bearing in the body the death of Jesus—meaning that because he was being persecuted for Jesus’ sake. Through this suffering “the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body”—meaning that it would serve as a witness to others of Jesus. He evens says that they were always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake—meaning that believers are always going to face the potential of death if they live boldly for Jesus and try to reach the world with the gospel (like Paul and the other Apostles did). Through this risk of death “the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh”—meaning that we are willing to put our lives at risk of death so that others might receive life. God’s grace gives us the faith to say the following:
    2 Corinthians 4:6-12
    • “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed”—endure difficulties and suffering with hope in God knowing that He provides grace for us in the time of need.
    • “We are perplexed, but not in despair”——endure doubts and confusion with faith in God knowing He gives you the needed emotional and mental composure to endure.
    • “Persecuted, but not forsaken”——endure harassment and attacks with confidence in His presence, He will never leave us or abandoned us.
    • “Cast down, but not destroyed”—endure being thrown down with victory—we are never defeated because we have the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
      John 16:33; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

We Endure By Knowing There Is A Better And Greater Reward

  • Believers who endure the persecuted life will be rewarded. Jesus promises a great reward in heaven for those who are persecuted. Also, the Hebrew believers knew they had a better and an enduring substance in heaven—eternal salvation. When they first believed they endured a lot of persecutions. Then Paul encourages them that they are to continue in this “confidence”—their relationship with Jesus—and not cast it away because of continuing persecution because there is a great reward for them. To do this we need to patiently do the will of God, and in the end we will receive the promise of eternal life. As believers, we live by faith to the saving of the soul.
    Luke 6:22-23; Hebrews 10:32-39; 11:23-28
  • Our persecution is noticed by Jesus and rewarded. Jesus praises the church Smyrna for: enduring tribulation—being persecuted because of their faith in Jesus; enduring blasphemy—being accused of doing wrong and slandered by unbelieving Jews; enduring poverty—being financially poor, most likely due to following Jesus. Jesus warns that more persecution is coming. They will be cast into prison for “ten days” and may even face death. He advises them to “fear not” and to be “faithful unto death.” A reward for enduring this type of persecution is the “the crown of life,” which probably refers to eternal life or a literal crown, either way it would be a just reward from Jesus Himself.
    James 1:12; Revelation 2:9-10

We Endure By Allowing God To Avenge The Persecuted

  • God will avenge the persecuted and the martyrs. We don’t have to avenge ourselves, but rather leave it to the wrath of God. In Revelation, the souls of the tribulation martyrs—those that were “slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held” are described. They were killed because they were faithful to the Bible and boldly proclaiming Jesus in spite of the opposition to the message they preached. They cried out from under the altar and asked God when He was going to avenge their blood. They were told to rest for a little season because there were other believers who would also be martyred like they were. But afterwards, He is coming to judge and avenge their blood.
    Romans 12:17-19; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10; Revelation 6:9-11

Review Questions

  • How did Paul exemplify the persecuted life?
  • Why did Paul gladly boast in his infirmities?
  • God’s grace gives us the faith to say what?
  • We endure persecution because we know what?
  • We should allow God to avenge who?

Join the Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.