Separation of Church and State Law

Persecution & Suffering

There are 2 types of sufferings of Christ which He endured and in which we cannot share. Likewise, you suffer some things which I cannot share – we cannot take some sufferings for others; no one can suffer certain things for you no matter how much they would like to do so. Every person must suffer some things which no one can share. Christ suffered as no man has or every will suffer. On the other hand, there are sufferings Christ endured which we can share. For example, He suffered for righteousness’ sake. Also, there is the suffering in the measure we identify ourselves with Christ for the proclamation of the gospel. The popularity of the Christian with the world is in inverse relation to his popularity with Jesus Christ. If the Word of God is to go out to the world, someone is going to suffer. Learn about this by listening to this 14 min. 20 sec. audio teaching by Dr. J Vernon McGee based upon Colossians 1.24: The Subjective Work of Christ for Saints – His (and the Believer’s) Sufferings.

Martyr’s Song by Watchmen

zArticle: Preparing for the Underground Church in America

We Need Holy Boldness In The Face Of Apostasy,” on sermonaudio.com (072615)(Click here for Youtube of this sermon.)

Beheading In The Bible: Are You Ready To Lose Your Head For Christ?” on sermonaudio.com (071915)(Click here for Youtube of this sermon.)

Running The Christian Race Against The Rise Of Antichrist,” on sermonaudio.com (071915)(Click here for Youtube of this sermon.)

For more on persecution and suffering, see The History of the First Amendment1
or
An Abridged History of the First Amendment

For free online Newsletter on present day persecutions sign up at:
Persecution Newsletter

What should we learn from Christian martyrs?

Book: Martyr’s Mirror in online PDF (Can be downloaded)

Anti-Christian Hatred Sweeps The World (072715)(Of course, all those being called Christians and being persecuted because of it are not Christians as defined by the Bible, but many are. The Bible makes clear that God wishes no one to be persecuted by his fellow man because of his religion; God wants a nation to honor freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. I explain this in my writings and teachings.)

Jn. 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”


Look what the new heavyweight boxing champion is saying at https://sports.yahoo.com/news/believe-jesus-fury-says-gay-row-grows-172128300–box.html: 
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved…. All you’ve got to do is repent of your sins and you’ll be forgiven” (I know he is off on some things, but so was I as a young believer.)
The important thing is the reaction of the world. Persecution of believers is within sight.
Note. This is not meant to glorify boxing, but to make a point.

Click to go directly to online PDF of the book.

Click to go directly to online PDF of the book.

Ga. 5:11 “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.” Ga. 4.19-31 teaches that the two systems, law and grace, cannot co-exist.  “Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.” (Ga. 4:24). “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Ga. 5:13-24).

Ga. 6:7-12: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.” [Bold emphasis mine].

Click to go directly to page from which you can download the book.

Click to go directly to page from which you can download the book.

2 Ti. 3:12: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Obviously, some believers never suffer persecution since they do not “live godly in Christ Jesus.” Others do not suffer persecution (as in America) because of man’s law which protect them as they obey God and go into the world with the Gospel message. Taken in the immediate and overall context of Scripture, then, what is this verse saying? It is saying that those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution, affliction, etc.; that is, they will not use man’s methods to fight that persecution.

Ph. 3:7-14: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Verses 17-19: Truth is not to be compromised for unity.

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Mt. 5.10 “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Barnes on Mt. 5.10: Persecuted. To persecute, means literally to pursue, follow after, as one does a flying enemy. Here it means to vex, or oppress one, on account of his religion. They persecute others who injure their names, reputation, property, or endanger or take their life, on account of their religious opinions.
               “For righteousness’ sake. Because they are righteous, or are the friends of God. We are not to seek persecution. We are not to provoke it by strange sentiments or conduct, or by violating the laws of civil society, or by modes of speech that are unnecessarily offensive to others. But if, in the honest effort to be Christians, and to live the life of Christians, others persecute and revile us, we are to consider this as a blessing. It is all evidence that we are the children of God, and that he will defend us. All that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, 2Ti 3:12.
               “Their’s is the kingdom of heaven. They have evidence that they are Christians, and shall be brought to heaven.
“{f} “for righteousness’s sake” 1Pe 3:13-14

Burkitt on Mt. 5.10 “1. That all the disciples and followers of Christ, live they ever so holily and inoffensively in the world, yet must they expect suffering and persecution.
“2. That the keenest and sharpest edge of persecution is usually turned against the ministers of Christ, and falls heaviest on the prophets of God.
“3. That such sufferings and such persecutions as will afford a man solid comfort, and intitle him to real blessedness, must be endured and undergone for righteousness-sake.
“4. That it is the will and command of Christ, that those which suffer for him, and for righteousness-sake, should not only be meek and patient, but joyous and cheerful: rejoice, and be exceeding glad.
“5. That such a patient and cheerful suffering of persecution for Christ in this life, shall certainly be rewarded with the glory and blessedness of the life that is to come. Great is your reward, &c.

Clarke on Mt. 5.10 “They which are persecuted – Δεδιωγμενοι , they who are hard pressed upon and pursued with repeated acts of enmity. Parkhurst. They are happy who suffer, seems a strange saying: and that the righteous should suffer, merely because they are such, seems as strange. But such is the enmity of the human heart to every thing of God and goodness, that all those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution in one form or other. As the religion of Christ gives no quarter to vice, so the vicious will give no quarter to this religion, or to its professors.
“For theirs is the kingdom of heaven – That spiritual kingdom, explained Mt 3:2, and that kingdom of glory which is its counterpart and consequence.”

FBN on Mt. 5.10 Righteousness’ sake; on account of their being and doing right. Great opposition to men is no certain evidence that they are wrong.”

JFB on Mt. 5.10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, &c.–How entirely this final beatitude has its ground in the Old Testament, is evident from the concluding words, where the encouragement held out to endure such persecutions consists in its being but a continuation of what was experienced by the Old Testament servants of God. But how, it may be asked, could such beautiful features of character provoke persecution? To this the following answers should suffice: “Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” “The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” “There is yet one man (said wicked Ahab to good Jehoshaphat) by whom we may inquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he never prophesied good unto me, but always evil” (Joh 3:20; 7:7; 15:19; 2Ch 18:7). But more particularly, the seven characters here described are all in the teeth of the spirit of the world, insomuch that such hearers of this discourse as breathed that spirit must have been startled, and had their whole system of thought and action rudely dashed. Poverty of spirit runs counter to the pride of men’s heart; a pensive disposition, in the view of one’s universal deficiencies before God, is ill relished by the callous, indifferent, laughing, self-satisfied world; a meek and quiet spirit, taking wrong, is regarded as pusillanimous, and rasps against the proud, resentful spirit of the world; that craving after spiritual blessings rebukes but too unpleasantly the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; so does a merciful spirit the hard-heartedness of the world; purity of heart contrasts painfully with painted hypocrisy; and the peacemaker cannot easily be endured by the contentious, quarrelsome world. Thus does “righteousness” come to be “persecuted.” But blessed are they who, in spite of this, dare to be righteous.
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven–As this was the reward promised to the poor in spirit–the leading one of these seven beatitudes–of course it is the proper portion of such as are persecuted for exemplifying them.”

PNTC on Mt. 5.10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. The Jews expected a conquering kingdom, and its citizens to be lords among the nations, but Christ pronounces a blessing on those who are persecuted, not for misdeeds, but for righteousness. These shall have the kingdom. Doubtless these words have sustained and cheered many a martyr.”

Poole on Mt. 5.10 “The men of the world judge those men very unhappy and miserable whom their rulers make the objects of their wrath and malice, and pursue violently to the loss of their estates, liberties, or lives, never considering the cause for which they are so pursued: but they are quite mistaken; for that man who is pursued by such violence, and hunted upon this account, because to please men he durst not sin against God, but labours to keep a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men, Ac 24:16, is a blessed man; and if he be hunted out of the kingdoms of the earth, yet he shall be hunted but to heaven, for to such men belongeth the kingdom of God in glory, Jas 1:12; 1Pe 3:14; 4:13.”

RWP on Mt. 5.10 “That have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake (hoi dediôgmenoi heneken dikaiosunês). Posing as persecuted is a favourite stunt. The kingdom of heaven belongs only to those who suffer for the sake of goodness, not who are guilty of wrong.”

Scofield on Mt. 5.10 Margin: kingdom; Cmt. on Mt 3:l2.”

Scofield comment on Mt. 3.2 kingdom of heaven Margin: saying
               “(1) The phrase, kingdom of heaven (lit. of the heavens), is peculiar to Matthew and signifies the Messianic earth rule of Jesus Christ, the Son of David. It is called the kingdom of the heavens because it is the rule of the heavens over the earth Mt 6:10 The phrase is derived from Daniel, where it is defined Da 2:34-36,44; 7:23-27 as the kingdom which the God of heaven will set up after the destruction by “the stone cut out without hands,” of the Gentile world-system. It is the kingdom covenanted to David’s seed 2Sa 7:7-10 described in the prophets; Cmt. on Zec 12:8 and confirmed to Jesus the Christ, the Son of Mary, through the angel Gabriel Lu 1:32-33.
“(2) The kingdom of heaven has three aspects in Matthew:
“(a) “at hand” from the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist Mt 3:2 to the virtual rejection of the King, and the announcement of the new brotherhood Mt 12:46-50
               “(b) in seven “mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” to be fulfilled during the present age Mt 13:1-52 to which are to be added the parables of the kingdom of heaven which were spoken after those of Mt. 13., and which have to do with the sphere of Christian profession during this age;
“(c) the prophetic aspect–the kingdom to be set up after the return of the King in glory. Mt 24:29-25:46; Lu 19:12-19; Ac 15:14-17 See “Kingdom (N.T.)” Lu 1:33; 1Co 15:28 Cf. “Kingdom of God,” Cmt. on Mt 6:33.
               “Margin: saying

TFG on Mt. 5.10 Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, etc. Those who suffer because of their loyalty to the kingdom of heaven are blessed by being bound more closely to that kingdom for which they suffer.”

TSK on Mt. 5.10 are. Mt 10:23; Ps 37:12; Mr 10:30; Lu 6:22; 21:12; Joh 15:20; Ac 5:40; 8:1; Ro 8:35-39; 1Co 4:9-13; 2Co 4:8-12,17; Php 1:28; 2Ti 2:12; 3:11; Jas 1:2-5; 1Pe 3:13; 4:12-16; 1Jo 3:12; Re 2:10
               for. Mt 5:3; 2Th 1:4-7; Jas 1:12

Wesley on Mt. 5.10 “For righteousness’ sake – That is, because they have, or follow after, the righteousness here described. He that is truly a righteous man, he that mourns, and he that is pure in heart, yea, all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution, 2Ti 3:12. The world will always say, Away with such fellows from the earth. They are made to reprove our thoughts. They are grievous to us even to behold. Their lives are not like other men’s; their ways are of another fashion.”

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Mt. 5.11 “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

Barnes on Mt. 5.11 “Verse 11. Revile you. Reproach you; call you by evil and contemptuous names; ridicule you because you are Christians. Thus they said of Jesus, that he was a Samaritan and had a devil; that he was mad; and thus they reviled and mocked him on the cross. But being reviled, he reviled not again, (1Pe 2:23) and thus being reviled, we should bless, (1Co 4:12) and thus, though the contempt of the world is not in itself desirable, yet it is blessed to tread in the footsteps of Jesus, to imitate his example, and even to suffer for his sake, Php 1:29.
               “All manner of evil–falsely. An emphasis should be laid on the word falsely in this passage. It is not blessed to have evil spoken of us if we deserve it; but if we deserve it not, then we should not consider it as a calamity. We should take it patiently, and show how much the Christian, under the consciousness of innocence, can bear, 1Pe 3:13-18.
               “For my sake. Because you are attached to me; because you are Christians. We are not to seek such things. We are not to do things to offend others; to treat them harshly or unkindly, and court revilings. We are not to say or do things, though they may be on the subject of religion, designed to disgust or offend. But if, in the faithful endeavour to be Christians, we are reviled, as our Master was, then we are to take it with patience, and to remember that thousands before us have been treated in like manner. When thus reviled, or persecuted, we are to be meek, patient, humble; not angry; not reviling again; but endeavouring to do good to our persecutors and slanderers, 2Ti 2:24-25. In this way, many have been convinced of the power and excellence of that religion which they were persecuting and reviling. They have seen that nothing else but Christianity could impart such patience and meekness to the persecuted; and have, by this means, been constrained to submit themselves to the gospel of Jesus. Long since, it became a proverb, “that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
“{1} “falsely” or, “lying””

Clarke on Mt. 5.11 “When men shall revile you, and persecute – The persecution mentioned in the preceding verse comprehends all outward acts of violence – all that the hand can do. This comprehends all calumny, slander, etc., all that the tongue can effect. But as διωκειν , which we render to persecute, is a forensic term, and signifies legal persecutions and public accusations, which, though totally unsubstantiated, were the means of destroying multitudes of the primitive Christians, our Lord probably refers to such. No Protestant can think, without horror, of the great numbers burnt alive in this country, on such accusations, under the popish reign of her who is emphatically called Bloody Queen Mary.”

JFB on Mt. 5.11 12. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad–“exult.” In the corresponding passage of Luke (Lu 6:22-23), where every indignity trying to flesh and blood is held forth as the probable lot of such as were faithful to Him, the word is even stronger than here: “leap,” as if He would have their inward transport to overpower and absorb the sense of all these affronts and sufferings; nor will anything else do it.
for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you:–that is, “You do but serve yourselves heirs to their character and sufferings, and the reward will be common.””

Poole on Mt. 5.11 “Reviling and speaking evil of persons falsely, because of their profession of Christ, and because they dare not sin against God, is a species of persecution, Ge 21:9; Ga 4:29, though the lowest degree of it. It hath been the constant lot of God’s servants. David said, Ps 35:11, that false witnesses did rise up, and laid to his charge things that he knew not. Thus John and Christ were served, Mt 11:18-19; Lu 7:33-34; nor is it to be wondered that those whose consciences are so seared that they cannot feel the guilt of persecuting others for righteousness’ sake, should not feel the guilt of lying and false swearing. But, saith our Saviour, you are blessed when these things happen unto you, 1Pe 4:13.”

RWP on Mt. 5.11 Falsely, for my sake (pseudomenoi heneken emou). Codex Bezae changes the order of these last Beatitudes, but that is immaterial. What does matter is that the bad things said of Christ’s followers shall be untrue and that they are slandered for Christ’s sake. Both things must be true before one can wear a martyr’s crown and receive the great reward (misthos) in heaven. No prize awaits one there who deserves all the evil said of him and done to him here.”

TFG on Mt. 5.11 Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, etc. The Master here presents the various forms of suffering which would come upon the disciples by reason of their loyalty to him. We shall find several like statements as we proceed with the gospel story. They would first be conscious of the coldness of their brethren before the secret hate became outspoken and active. Later they should find themselves excommunicated from the synagogue (Joh 16:2). This act in turn would be followed by bitter reproaches and blasphemy of the sacred name by which they were called–the name Christian (Jas 2:7; 1Pe 4:4). “‘Malefic’ or ‘execrable superstition’ was the favorite description of Christianity among Pagans (Tacitus, Annals, 15:44; Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars, “Nero,” 16), and Christians were charged with incendiarism, cannibalism and every infamy” (Farrar). All this would finally culminate in bloody-handed persecution, and procure the death of Christ’s followers by forms of law; all manner of false and evil accusations would be brought against them. (TFG 232)”

TSK on Mt. 5.11 when. Mt 10:25; 27:39; Ps 35:11; Isa 66:5; +1″>Lu 7:33-34; Joh 9:28; 1Pe 2:23
               falsely. Gr. lying. 1Pe 4:14
               for. Mt 10:18,22; 19:29; 24:9; Ps 44:22; Mr 4:17; 8:35; 13:9,13; Lu 6:22; 9:24; 21:12,“17; Joh 15:21; Ac 9:16; Ro 8:36; 1Co 4:10; 2Co 4:11; Re 2:3 <”

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Mt. 5.12 “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Barnes on Mt. 5.12 “Verse 12. Rejoice, etc. The reward of such suffering is great. To those who suffer most, God imparts the highest rewards. Hence the crown of martyrdom has been thought to be the brightest that any of the redeemed shall wear; and hence many of the early Christians sought to become martyrs, and threw themselves in the way of their persecutors, that they might be put to death. They literally rejoiced, and leaped for joy, at the prospect of death for the sake of Jesus. Though God does not require us to seek persecution, yet all this shows that there is something in religion to sustain the soul, which the-world does not possess. Nothing but the consciousness of innocence, and the presence of God, could have borne them up in the midst of these trials; and the flame, therefore, kindled to consume the martyr, has also been a bright light, showing the truth and power of the gospel of Jesus.
               The prophets, etc. The holy men who came to predict future events, and who were the religious teachers of the Jews. For an account of their persecutions, see the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews.
{g} “great is your reward” 2Co 4:17

Clarke on Mt. 5.12 “Rejoice – In the testimony of a good conscience; for, without this, suffering has nothing but misery in it.
Be exceeding glad – Αγαλλιασθε , leap for joy. There are several cases on record, where this was literally done by the martyrs, in Queen Mary’s days.
Great is your reward in heaven – In the Talmudical tract Pirkey Aboth, are these words: “Rabbi Tarpon said, The day is short: the work is great: the laborers are slow: the Reward Is Great: and the father of the family is urgent.”
The followers of Christ are encouraged to suffer joyfully on two considerations.
1. They are thereby conformed to the prophets who went before.
2. Their reward in heaven is a great one.
God gives the grace to suffer, and then crowns that grace with glory; hence it is plain, the reward is not of debt, but of grace: Ro 6:23.”

JFB on Mt. 5.12 12. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad–“exult.” In the corresponding passage of Luke (Lu 6:22-23), where every indignity trying to flesh and blood is held forth as the probable lot of such as were faithful to Him, the word is even stronger than here: “leap,” as if He would have their inward transport to overpower and absorb the sense of all these affronts and sufferings; nor will anything else do it.
for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you:–that is, “You do but serve yourselves heirs to their character and sufferings, and the reward will be common.””

MHCC on Mt. 5.3-12 v3-12 Our Saviour here gives eight characters of blessed people, which represent to us the principal graces of a Christian. 1. The poor in spirit are happy. These bring their minds to their condition, when it is a low condition. They are humble and lowly in their own eyes. They see their want, bewail their guilt, and thirst after a Redeemer. The kingdom of grace is of such; the kingdom of glory is for them. 2. Those that mourn are happy. That godly sorrow which worketh true repentance, watchfulness, a humble mind, and continual dependence for acceptance on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, with constant seeking the Holy Spirit, to cleanse away the remaining evil, seems here to be intended. Heaven is the joy of our Lord; a mountain of joy, to which our way is through a vale of tears. Such mourners shall be comforted by their God. 3. The meek are happy. The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of anything else. These meek ones are happy, even in this world. Meekness promotes wealth, comfort, and safety, even in this world. 4. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are happy. Righteousness is here put for all spiritual blessings. These are purchased for us by the righteousness of Christ, confirmed by the faithfulness of God. Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest. Though all desires for grace are not grace, yet such a desire as this, is a desire of God’s own raising, and he will not forsake the work of his own hands. 5. The merciful are happy. We must not only bear our own afflictions patiently, but we must do all we can to help those who are in misery. We must have compassion on the souls of others, and help them; pity those who are in sin, and seek to snatch them as brands out of the burning. 6. The pure in heart are happy; for they shall see God. Here holiness and happiness are fully described and put together. The heart must be purified by faith, and kept for God. Create in me such a clean heart, O God. None but the pure are capable of seeing God, nor would heaven be happiness to the impure. As God cannot endure to look upon their iniquity, so they cannot look upon his purity. 7. The peace-makers are happy. They love, and desire, and delight in peace; and study to be quiet. They keep the peace that it be not broken, and recover it when it is broken. If the peace-makers are blessed, woe to the peace-breakers! 8. Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake are happy. This saying is peculiar to Christianity; and it is more largely insisted upon than any of the rest. Yet there is nothing in our sufferings that can merit of God; but God will provide that those who lose for him, though life itself, shall not lose by him in the end. Blessed Jesus! how different are thy maxims from those of men of this world! They call the proud happy, and admire the gay, the rich, the powerful, and the victorious. May we find mercy from the Lord; may we be owned as his children, and inherit his kingdom. With these enjoyments and hopes, we may cheerfully welcome low or painful circumstances.”

MHWBC on Mt. 3-12 “3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.   4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.   5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.   6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.   7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.   8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.   9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.   10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.   11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.   12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Christ begins his sermon with blessings, for he came into the world to bless us (Ac 3:26), as the great High Priest of our profession; as the blessed Melchizedec; as He in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed, Ge 12:3. He came not only to purchase blessings for us, but to pour out and pronounce blessings on us; and here he does it as one having authority, as one that can command the blessing, even life for evermore, and that is the blessing here again and again promised to the good; his pronouncing them happy makes them so; for those whom he blesses, are blessed indeed. The Old Testament ended with a curse (Mal 4:6), the gospel begins with a blessing; for hereunto are we called, that we should inherit the blessing. Each of the blessings Christ here pronounces has a double intention: 1. To show who they are that are to be accounted truly happy, and what their characters are. 2. What that is wherein true happiness consists, in the promises made to persons of certain characters, the performance of which will make them happy. Now,

  1. This is designed to rectify the ruinous mistakes of a blind and carnal world. Blessedness is the thing which men pretend to pursue; Who will make us to see good? Ps 4:6. But most mistake the end, and form a wrong notion of happiness; and then no wonder that they miss the way; they choose their own delusions, and court a shadow. The general opinion is, Blessed are they that are rich, and great, and honourable in the world; they spend their days in mirth, and their years in pleasure; they eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and carry all before them with a high hand, and have every sheaf bowing to their sheaf; happy the people that is in such a case; and their designs, aims, and purposes are accordingly; they bless the covetous (Ps 10:3); they will be rich. Now our Lord Jesus comes to correct this fundamental error, to advance a new hypothesis, and to give us quite another notion of blessedness and blessed people, which, however paradoxical it may appear to those who are prejudiced, yet is in itself, and appears to be to all who are savingly enlightened, a rule and doctrine of eternal truth and certainty, by which we must shortly be judged. If this, therefore, be the beginning of Christ’s doctrine, the beginning of a Christian’s practice must be to take his measures of happiness from those maxims, and to direct his pursuits accordingly.
  2. It is designed to remove the discouragements of the weak and poor who receive the gospel, by assuring them that his gospel did not make those only happy that were eminent in gifts, graces, comforts, and usefulness; but that even the least in the kingdom of heaven, whose heart was upright with God, was happy in the honours and privileges of that kingdom.
  3. It is designed to invite souls to Christ, and to make way for his law into their hearts. Christ’s pronouncing these blessings, not at the end of his sermon, to dismiss the people, but at the beginning of it, to prepare them for what he had further to say to them, may remind us of mount Gerizim and mount Ebal, on which the blessings and cursings of the law were read, De 27:12, &c. There the curses are expressed, and the blessings only implied; here the blessings are expressed, and the curses implied: in both, life and death are set before us; but the law appeared more as a ministration of death, to deter us from sin; the gospel as a dispensation of life, to allure us to Christ, in whom alone all good is to be had. And those who had seen the gracious cures wrought by his hand (Mt 4:23-24), and now heard the gracious words proceeding out of his mouth, would say that he was all of a piece, made up of love and sweetness.
  4. It is designed to settle and sum up the articles of agreement between God and man. The scope of the divine revelation is to let us know what God expects from us, and what we may then expect from him; and no where is this more fully set forth in a few words than here, nor with a more exact reference to each other; and this is that gospel which we are required to believe; for what is faith but a conformity to these characters, and a dependence upon these promises? The way to happiness is here opened, and made a highway (Isa 35:8); and this coming from the mouth of Jesus Christ, it is intimated that from him, and by him, we are to receive both the seed and the fruit, both the grace required, and the glory promised. Nothing passes between God and fallen man, but through his hand. Some of the wiser heathen had notions of blessedness different from the rest of mankind, and looking toward this of our Saviour. Seneca, undertaking to describe a blessed man, makes it out, that it is only an honest, good man that is to be so called: De vita beata. 4. Cui nullum bonum malumque sit, nisi bonus malusque animus–Quem nec extollant fortuita, nec frangant–Cui vera voluptas erit voluptatum comtemplio–Cui unum bonum honestas, unum malum turpitudo.–In whose estimation nothing is good or evil, but a good or evil heart–Whom no occurrences elate or deject–Whose true pleasure consists in a contempt of pleasure–To whom the only good is virtue, and the only evil vice.

Our Saviour here gives us eight characters of blessed people; which represent to us the principal graces of a Christian. On each of them a present blessing is pronounced; Blessed are they; and to each a future blessing is promised, which is variously expressed, so as to suit the nature of the grace or duty recommended.

Do we ask then who are happy? It is answered,

  1. The poor in spirit are happy, Mt 5:3. There is a poor-spiritedness that is so far from making men blessed that it is a sin and a snare–cowardice and base fear, and a willing subjection to the lusts of men. But this poverty of spirit is a gracious disposition of soul, by which we are emptied of self, in order to our being filled with Jesus Christ. To be poor in spirit is, 1. To be contentedly poor, willing to be emptied of worldly wealth, if God orders that to be our lot; to bring our mind to our condition, when it is a low condition. Many are poor in the world, but high in spirit, poor and proud, murmuring and complaining, and blaming their lot, but we must accommodate ourselves to our poverty, must know how to be abased, Php 4:12. Acknowledging the wisdom of God in appointing us to poverty, we must be easy in it, patiently bear the inconveniences of it, be thankful for what we have, and make the best of that which is. It is to sit loose to all worldly wealth, and not set our hearts upon it, but cheerfully to bear losses and disappointments which may befal us in the most prosperous state. It is not, in pride or pretence, to make ourselves poor, by throwing away what God has given us, especially as those in the church of Rome, who vow poverty, and yet engross the wealth of the nations; but if we be rich in the world we must be poor in spirit, that is, we must condescend to the poor and sympathize with them, as being touched with the feeling of their infirmities; we must expect and prepare for poverty; must not inordinately fear or shun it, but must bid it welcome, especially when it comes upon us for keeping a good conscience, Heb 10:34. Job was poor in spirit, when he blessed God in taking away, as well as giving. 2. It is to be humble and lowly in our own eyes. To be poor in spirit, is to think meanly of ourselves, of what we are, and have, and do; the poor are often taken in the Old Testament for the humble and self-denying, as opposed to those that are at ease, and the proud; it is to be as little children in our opinion of ourselves, weak, foolish, and insignificant, Mt 18:4; 19:14. Laodicea was poor in spirituals, wretchedly and miserably poor, and yet rich in spirit, so well increased with goods, as to have need of nothing, “>Re 3:17. On the other hand, Paul was rich in spirituals, excelling most in gifts and graces, and yet poor in spirit, the least of the apostles, less than the least of all saints, and nothing in his own account. It is to look with a holy contempt upon ourselves, to value others and undervalue ourselves in comparison of them. It is to be willing to make ourselves cheap, and mean, and little, to do good; to become all things to all men. It is to acknowledge that God is great, and we are mean; that he is holy and we are sinful; that he is all and we are nothing, less than nothing, worse than nothing; and to humble ourselves before him, and under his mighty hand. 3. It is to come off from all confidence in our own righteousness and strength, that we may depend only upon the merit of Christ for our justification, and the spirit and grace of Christ for our sanctification. That broken and contrite spirit with which the publican cried for mercy to a poor sinner, is that poverty of spirit. We must call ourselves poor, because always in want of God’s grace, always begging at God’s door, always hanging on in his house.
    Now, (1.) This poverty in spirit is put first among the Christian graces. The philosophers did not reckon humility among their moral virtues, but Christ puts it first. Self-denial is the first lesson to be learned in his school, and poverty of spirit entitled to the first beatitude. The foundation of all other graces is laid in humility. Those who would build high must begin low; and it is an excellent preparative for the entrance of gospel-grace into the soul; it fits the soil to receive the seed. Those who are weary and heavy laden, are the poor in spirit, and they shall find rest with Christ.
    (2.) They are blessed. Now they are so, in this world. God looks graciously upon them. They are his little ones, and have their angels. To them he gives more grace; they live the most comfortable lives, and are easy to themselves and all about them, and nothing comes amiss to them; while high spirits are always uneasy.
    (3.) Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of grace is composed of such; they only are fit to be members of Christ’s church, which is called the congregation of the poor (Ps 74:19); the kingdom of glory is prepared for them. Those who thus humble themselves, and comply with God when he humbles them, shall be thus exalted. The great, high spirits go away with the glory of the kingdoms of the earth; but the humble, mild, and yielding souls obtain the glory of the kingdom of heaven. We are ready to think concerning those who are rich, and do good with their riches, that, no doubt, theirs is the kingdom of heaven; for they can thus lay up in store a good security for the time to come; but what shall the poor do, who have not wherewithal to do good? Why, the same happiness is promised to those who are contentedly poor, as to those who are usefully rich. If I am not able to spend cheerfully for his sake, if I can but want cheerfully for his sake, even that shall be recompensed. And do not we serve a good master then?
  2. They that mourn are happy (Mt 5:4); Blessed are they that mourn. This is another strange blessing, and fitly follows the former. The poor are accustomed to mourn, the graciously poor mourn graciously. We are apt to think, Blessed are the merry; but Christ, who was himself a great mourner, says, Blessed are the mourners. There is a sinful mourning, which is an enemy to blessedness–the sorrow of the world; despairing melancholy upon a spiritual account, and disconsolate grief upon a temporal account. There is a natural mourning, which may prove a friend to blessedness, by the grace of God working with it, and sanctifying the afflictions to us, for which we mourn. But there is a gracious mourning, which qualifies for blessedness, an habitual seriousness, the mind mortified to mirth, and an actual sorrow. 1. A penitential mourning for our own sins; this is godly sorrow, a sorrow according to God; sorrow for sin, with an eye to Christ, Zec 12:10. Those are God’s mourners, who live a life of repentance, who lament the corruption of their nature, and their many actual transgressions, and God’s withdrawings from them; and who, out of regard to God’s honour, mourn also for the sins of others, and sigh and cry for their abominations, Eze 9:4. 2. A sympathizing mourning for the afflictions of others; the mourning of those who weep with them that weep, are sorrowful for the solemn assemblies, for the desolations of Zion (Zep 3:18; Ps 137:1), especially who look with compassion on perishing souls, and weep over them, as Christ over Jerusalem.
    Now these gracious mourners, (1.) Are blessed. As in vain and sinful laughter the heart is sorrowful, so in gracious mourning the heart has a serious joy, a secret satisfaction, which a stranger does not intermeddle with. They are blessed, for they are like the Lord Jesus, who was a man of sorrows, and of whom we never read that he laughed, but often that he wept. The are armed against the many temptations that attend vain mirth, and are prepared for the comforts of a sealed pardon and a settled peace. (2.) They shall be comforted. Though perhaps they are not immediately comforted, yet plentiful provision is made for their comfort; light is sown for them; and in heaven, it is certain, they shall be comforted, as Lazarus, Lu 16:25. Note, The happiness of heaven consists in being perfectly and eternally comforted, and in the wiping away of all tears from their eyes. It is the joy of our Lord; a fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore; which will be doubly sweet to those who have been prepared for them by this godly sorrow. Heaven will be a heaven indeed to those who go mourning thither; it will be a harvest of joy, the return of a seed-time of tears (Ps 126:5-6); a mountain of joy, to which our way lies through a vale of tears. See Isa 66:10.

III. The meek are happy (Mt 5:5); Blessed are the meek. The meek are those who quietly submit themselves to God, to his word and to his rod, who follow his directions, and comply with his designs, and are gentle towards all men (Tit 3:2); who can bear provocation without being inflamed by it; are either silent, or return a soft answer; and who can show their displeasure when there is occasion for it, without being transported into any indecencies; who can be cool when others are hot; and in their patience keep possession of their own souls, when they can scarcely keep possession of any thing else. They are the meek, who are rarely and hardly provoked, but quickly and easily pacified; and who would rather forgive twenty injuries than revenge one, having the rule of their own spirits.
These meek ones are here represented as happy, even in this world. 1. They are blessed, for they are like the blessed Jesus, in that wherein particularly they are to learn of him, Mt 11:29. They are like the blessed God himself, who is Lord of his anger, and in whom fury is not. They are blessed, for they have the most comfortable, undisturbed enjoyment of themselves, their friends, their God; they are fit for any relation, and condition, any company; fit to live, and fit to die. 2. They shall inherit the earth; it is quoted from Ps 37:11, and it is almost the only express temporal promise in all the New Testament. Not that they shall always have much of the earth, much less that they shall be put off with that only; but this branch of godliness has, in a special manner, the promise of life that now is. Meekness, however ridiculed and run down, has a real tendency to promote our health, wealth, comfort, and safety, even in this world. The meek and quiet are observed to live the most easy lives, compared with the froward and turbulent. Or, They shall inherit the land (so it may be read), the land of Canaan, a type of heaven. So that all the blessedness of heaven above, and all the blessings of earth beneath, are the portion of the meek.

  1. They that hunger and thirst after righteousness are happy, Mt 5:6. Some understand this as a further instance of our outward poverty, and a low condition in this world, which not only exposes men to injury and wrong, but makes it in vain for them to seek to have justice done to them; they hunger and thirst after it, but such is the power on the side of their oppressors, that they cannot have it; they desire only that which is just and equal, but it is denied them by those that neither fear God nor regard men. This is a melancholy case! Yet, blessed are they, if they suffer these hardships for and with a good conscience; let them hope in God, who will see justice done, right take place, and will deliver the poor from their oppressors, Ps 103:6. Those who contentedly bear oppression, and quietly refer themselves to God to plead their cause, shall in due time be satisfied, abundantly satisfied, in the wisdom and kindness which shall be manifested in his appearances for them. But it is certainly to be understood spiritually, of such a desire as, being terminated on such an object, is gracious, and the work of God’s grace in the soul, and qualifies for the gifts of the divine favour. 1. Righteousness is here put for all spiritual blessings. See Ps 24:5; Mt 6:33. They are purchased for us by the righteousness of Christ; conveyed and secured by the imputation of that righteousness to us; and confirmed by the faithfulness of God. To have Christ made of God to us righteousness, and to be made the righteousness of God in him; to have the whole man renewed in righteousness, so as to become a new man, and to bear the image of God; to have an interest in Christ and the promises–this is righteousness. 2. These we must hunger and thirst after. We must truly and really desire them, as one who is hungry and thirsty desires meat and drink, who cannot be satisfied with any thing but meat and drink, and will be satisfied with them, though other things be wanting. Our desires of spiritual blessings must be earnest and importunate; “Give me these, or else I die; every thing else is dross and chaff, unsatisfying; give me these, and I have enough, though I had nothing else.” Hunger and thirst are appetites that return frequently, and call for fresh satisfactions; so these holy desires rest not in any thing attained, but are carried out toward renewed pardons, and daily fresh supplies of grace. The quickened soul calls for constant meals of righteousness, grace to do the work of every day in its day, as duly as the living body calls for food. Those who hunger and thirst will labour for supplies; so we must not only desire spiritual blessings, but take pains for them in the use of the appointed means. Dr. Hammond, in his practical Catechism, distinguishes between hunger and thirst. Hunger is a desire of food to sustain, such as sanctifying righteousness. Thirst is the desire of drink to refresh, such as justifying righteousness, and the sense of our pardon.
    Those who hunger and thirst after spiritual blessings, are blessed in those desires, and shall be filled with those blessings. (1.) They are blessed in those desires. Though all desires of grace are not grace (feigned, faint desires are not), yet such a desire as this is; it is an evidence of something good, and an earnest of something better. It is a desire of God’s own raising, and he will not forsake the work of his own hands. Something or other the soul will be hungering and thirsting after; therefore they are blessed who fasten upon the right object, which is satisfying, and not deceiving; and do not pant after the dust of the earth, Am 2:7; Isa 55:2. (2.) They shall be filled with those blessings. God will give them what they desire to complete their satisfaction. It is God only who can fill a soul, whose grace and favour are adequate to its just desires; and he will fill those with grace for grace, who, in a sense of their own emptiness, have recourse to his fulness. He fills the hungry (Lu 1:53), satiates them, Jer 31:25. The happiness of heaven will certainly fill the soul; their righteousness shall be complete, the favour of God and his image, both in their full perfection.
  2. The merciful are happy, Mt 5:7. This, like the rest, is a paradox; for the merciful are not taken to be the wisest, nor are likely to be the richest; yet Christ pronounces them blessed. Those are the merciful, who are piously and charitably inclined to pity, help, and succour persons in misery. A man may be truly merciful, who has not wherewithal to be bountiful or liberal; and then God accepts the willing mind. We must not only bear our own afflictions patiently, but we must, by Christian sympathy, partake of the afflictions of our brethren; pity must be shown (Job 6:14), and bowels of mercy put on (Col 3:12); and, being put on, they must put forth themselves in contributing all we can for the assistance of those who are any way in misery. We must have compassion on the souls of others, and help them; pity the ignorant, and instruct them; the careless, and warn them; those who are in a state of sin, and snatch them as brands out of the burning. We must have compassion on those who are melancholy and in sorrow, and comfort them (Job 16:5); on those whom we have advantage against, and not be rigorous and severe with them; on those who are in want, and supply them; which if we refuse to do, whatever we pretend, we shut up the bowels of our compassion, Jas 2:15-16; 1Jo 3:17. Draw out they soul by dealing thy bread to the hungry, Isa 58:7,10. Nay, a good man is merciful to his beast.
    Now as to the merciful. 1. They are blessed; so it was said in the Old Testament; Blessed is he that considers the poor, Ps 41:1. Herein they resemble God, whose goodness is his glory; in being merciful as he is merciful, we are, in our measure, perfect as he is perfect. It is an evidence of love to God; it will be a satisfaction to ourselves, to be any way instrumental for the benefit of others. One of the purest and most refined delights in this world, is that of doing good. In this word, Blessed are the merciful, is included that saying of Christ, which otherwise we find not in the gospels, It is more blessed to give than to receive, Ac 20:35. 2. They shall obtain mercy; mercy with men, when they need it; he that watereth, shall be watered also himself (we know not how soon we may stand in need of kindness, and therefore should be kind); but especially mercy with God, for with the merciful he will show himself merciful, Ps 18:25. The most merciful and charitable cannot pretend to merit, but must fly to mercy. The merciful shall find with God sparing mercy (Mt 6:14), supplying mercy (Pr 19:17), sustaining mercy (Ps 41:2), mercy in that day (2Ti 1:18); may, they shall inherit the kingdom prepared for them (Mt 25:34-35); whereas they shall have judgment without mercy (which can be nothing short of hell-fire) who have shown no mercy.
  3. The pure in heart are happy (Mt 5:8); Blessed are the poor in heart, for they shall see God. This is the most comprehensive of all the beatitudes; here holiness and happiness are fully described and put together.
  4. Here is the most comprehensive character of the blessed: they are pure in heart. Note, True religion consists in heart-purity. Those who are inwardly pure, show themselves to be under the power of pure and undefiled True Christianity lies in the heart, in the purity of heart; the washing of that from wickedness, Jer 4:14. We must lift up to God, not only clean hands, but a pure heart, Ps 24:4-5; 1Ti 1:5. The heart must be pure, in opposition to mixture–an honest heart that aims well; and pure, in opposition to pollution and defilement; as wine unmixed, as water unmuddied. The heart must be kept pure from fleshly lusts, all unchaste thoughts and desires; and from worldly lusts; covetousness is called filthy lucre; from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, all that which come out of the heart, and defiles the man. The heart must be purified by faith, and entire for God; must be presented and preserved a chaste virgin to Christ. Create in me such a clean heart, O God!
  5. Here is the most comprehensive comfort of the blessed; They shall see God. Note, (1.) It is the perfection of the soul’s happiness to see God; seeing him, as we may by faith in our present state, is a heaven upon earth; and seeing him as we shall in the future state, in the heaven of heaven. To see him as he is, face to face, and no longer through a glass darkly; to see him as ours, and to see him and enjoy him; to see him and be like him, and be satisfied with that likeness (Ps 17:15); and to see him for ever, and never lose the sight of him; this is heaven’s happiness. (2.) The happiness of seeing God is promised to those, and those only, who are pure in heart. None but the pure are capable of seeing God, nor would it be a felicity to the impure. What pleasure could an unsanctified soul take in the vision of a holy God? As he cannot endure to look upon their iniquity, so they cannot endure to look upon his purity; nor shall any unclean thing enter into the new Jerusalem; but all that are pure in heart, all that are truly sanctified, have desires wrought in them, which nothing but the sight of God will sanctify; and divine grace will not leave those desires unsatisfied.

VII. The peace-makers are happy, Mt 5:9. The wisdom that is from above is first pure, and then peaceable; the blessed ones are pure toward God, and peaceable toward men; for with reference to both, conscience must be kept void of offence. The peace-makers are those who have, 1. A peaceable disposition: as, to make a lie, is to be given and addicted to lying, so, to make peace, is to have a strong and hearty affection to peace. I am for peace, Ps 120:7. It is to love, and desire, and delight in peace; to be put in it as in our element, and to study to be quiet. 2. A peaceable conversation; industriously, as far as we can, to preserve the peace that it be not broken, and to recover it when it is broken; to hearken to proposals of peace ourselves, and to be ready to make them to others; where distance is among brethren and neighbours, to do all we can to accommodate it, and to be repairers of the breaches. The making of peace is sometimes a thankless office, and it is the lot of him who parts a fray, to have blows on both sides; yet it is a good office, and we must be forward to it. Some think that this is intended especially as a lesson for ministers, who should do all they can to reconcile those who are at variance, and to promote Christian love among those under their charge.
Now, (1.) Such persons are blessed; for they have the satisfaction of enjoying themselves, by keeping the peace, and of being truly serviceable to others, by disposing them to peace. They are working together with Christ, who came into the world to slay all enmities, and to proclaim peace on earth. (2.) They shall be called the children of God; it will be an evidence to themselves that they are so; God will own them as such, and herein they will resemble him. He is the God of peace; the Son of God is the Prince of peace; the Spirit of adoption is a Spirit of peace. Since God has declared himself reconcilable to us all, he will not own those for his children who are implacable in their enmity to one another; for if the peacemakers are blessed, woe to the peace-breakers! Now by this it appears, that Christ never intended to have his religion propagated by fire and sword, or penal laws, or to acknowledge bigotry, or intemperate zeal, as the mark of his disciples. The children of this world love to fish in troubled waters, but the children of God are the peace-makers, the quiet in the land.

VIII. Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, are happy. This is the greatest paradox of all, and peculiar to Christianity; and therefore it is put last, and more largely insisted upon than any of the rest, Mt 5:10-12. This beatitude, like Pharaoh’s dream, is doubled, because hardly credited, and yet the thing is certain; and in the latter part there is change of the person, “Blessed are ye–ye my disciples, and immediate followers. This is that which you, who excel in virtue, are more immediately concerned in; for you must reckon upon hardships and troubles more than other men.” Observe here,
1. The case of suffering saints described; and it is a hard case, and a very piteous one.

(1.) They are persecuted, hunted, pursued, run down, as noxious beasts are, that are sought for to be destroyed; as if a Christian did caput gerere lupinum–bear a wolf’s head, as an outlaw is said to do–any one that finds him may slay him; they are abandoned as the offscouring of all things; fined, imprisoned, banished, stripped of their estates, excluded from all places of profit and trust, scourged, racked, tortured, always delivered to death, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. This has been the effect of the enmity of the serpent’s seed against the holy seed, ever since the time of righteous Abel. It was so in Old-Testament times, as we find, Heb 11:35, &c. Christ has told us that it would much more be so with the Christian church, and we are not to think it strange, 1Jo 3:13. He has left us an example.

(2.) The are reviled, and have all manner of evil said against them falsely. Nicknames, and names of reproach, are fastened upon them, upon particular persons, and upon the generation of the righteous in the gross, to render them odious; sometimes to make them formidable, that they may be powerfully assailed; things are laid to their charge that they knew not, Ps 35:11; Jer 20:18; Ac 17:6. Those who have had no power in their hands to do them any other mischief, could yet do this; and those who have had power to persecute, had found it necessary to do this too, to justify themselves in their barbarous usage of them; they could not have baited them, if they had not dressed them in bear-skins; nor have given them the worst of treatment, if they had not first represented them as the worst of men. They will revile you, and persecute you. Note, Reviling the saints is persecuting them, and will be found so shortly, when hard speeches must be accounted for (Jude 1:15), and cruel mockings, Heb 11:36. They will say all manner of evil of you falsely; sometimes before the seat of judgment, as witnesses; sometimes in the seat of the scornful, with hypocritical mockers at feasts; they are the song of the drunkards; sometimes to face their faces, as Shimei cursed David; sometimes behind their backs, as the enemies of Jeremiah did. Note, There is no evil so black and horrid, which, at one time or other, has not been said, falsely, of Christ’s disciples and followers.

(3.) All this is for righteousness’ sake (Mt 5:10); for my sake, Mt 5:11. If for righteousness’ sake, then for Christ’s sake, for he is nearly interested in the work of righteousness. Enemies to righteousness are enemies to Christ. This precludes those from the blessedness who suffer justly, and are evil spoken of truly for their real crimes; let such be ashamed and confounded, it is part of their punishment; it is not the suffering, but the cause, that makes the martyr. Those suffer for righteousness’ sake, who suffer because they will not sin against their consciences, and who suffer for doing that which is good. Whatever pretence persecutors have, it is the power of godliness that they have an enmity to; it is really Christ and his righteousness that are maligned, hated, and persecuted; For thy sake I have borne reproach, Ps 69:9; Ro 8:36.

  1. The comforts of suffering saints laid down.
    (1.) They are blessed; for they now, in their life-time, receive their evil things (Lu 16:25), and receive them upon a good account. They are blessed; for it is an honour to them (Ac 5:41); it is an opportunity of glorifying Christ, of doing good, and of experiencing special comforts and visits of grace and tokens of his presence, 2Co 1:5; Da 3:25.
    (2.) They shall be recompensed; Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They have at present a sure title to it, and sweet foretastes of it; and shall ere long be in possession of it. Though there be nothing in those sufferings than can, in strictness, merit of God (for the sins of the best deserve the worst), yet this is here promised as a reward (Mt 5:12); Great is your reward in heaven: so great, as far to transcend the service. It is in heaven, future, and out of sight; but well secured, out of the reach of chance, fraud, and violence. Note, God will provide that those who lose for him, though it be life itself, shall not lose by him in the end. Heaven, at last, will be an abundant recompence for all the difficulties we meet with in our way. This is that which has borne up the suffering saints in all ages–this joy set before them.
    (3.) “So persecuted they the prophets that were before you, Mt 5:12. They were before you in excellency, above what you are yet arrived at; they were before you in time, that they might be examples to you of suffering affliction and of patience, Jas 5:10. They were in like manner persecuted and abused; and can you expect to go to heaven in a way by yourself? Was not Isaiah mocked for his line upon line? Elisha for his bald head? Were not all the prophets thus treated? Therefore marvel not at it as a strange thing, murmur not at it as a hard thing; it is a comfort to see the way of suffering a beaten road, and an honour to follow such leaders. That grace which was sufficient for them, to carry them through their sufferings, shall not be deficient to you. Those who are your enemies are the seed and successors of them who of old mocked the messengers of the Lord,” 2Ch 36:16; Mt 23:31; Ac 7:52.”

PNTC on Mt. 5.12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad. On account of persecution. The reason why they may justly rejoice is given: “Great is your reward in heaven.”
               So persecuted they the prophets. Isaiah is said to have been sawed asunder; Jeremiah was thrown into a dungeon and threatened with death; Elijah was hunted by Ahab and Jezebel.”

Poole on Mt. 5.12 “Be so far from being troubled, as to count it all joy, when you fall into these trials, Jas 1:2. Let it be music in your ears to hear that the drunkards make you their song. Rejoice in your hearts, express it in your lips and behaviour, for great is your reward, not of debt, but of grace; for our light and momentary afflictions are not worthy to be compared with an eternal and exceeding weight of glory; where there is no proportion, there can be no merit: especially, when it is given to us on the behalf of Christ to suffer, Php 1:29. Peter upon this argument saith, The spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you, 1Pe 4:14. Our Saviour adds, for so persecuted they the prophets before you. The magistrates, and the rulers of the Jews, persecuted Elijah, Micaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and the rest of the prophets, whom you succeed, not in time only, but in the same office of revealing the mind of God to the people.”

TFG on Mt. 5.12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you. In commanding rejoicing under such circumstances Jesus seemed to make a heavy demand upon his disciples, but it is a demand which very many have responded to Ac 5:41; 16:25. Anticipations of the glorious future are a great tonic. For instances of persecution of the prophets, see 1Ki 19:10; 2Ch 16:10; 1Ki 22:27; 2Ch 24:20-21; Jer 26:23; 37:15; 38:4-6,28; Heb 11:36-38. (TFG 232)”

TSK on Mt. 5.12 Rejoice. Lu 6:23; Ac 5:41; 16:25; Ro 5:3; 2Co 4:17; Php 2:17; Col 1:24; Jas 1:2; 1Pe 4:13
               for great. Mt 6:1-2,4-5; 10:41; 16:27; Ge 15:1; Ru 2:12; Ps 19:11; 58:11; Pr 11:18; Isa 3:10; Lu 6:23,35; 1Co 3:8; Col 3:24; Heb 11:6,26
               for so. Mt 21:34-38; 23:31-37; 1Ki 18:4; 19:2,10-14; 21:20; 22:8,26-27; 2Ki 1:9; 2Ch 16:10; 24:20-22; 36:16; Ne 9:26; Jer 2:30; 26:8,21-23; Lu 6:23; 11:47-51; 13:34; Ac 7:51; 1Th 2:15

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Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 1, “Chapter V. The King in Zion—Laws of the New Kingdom.” see esp. pp. 58-61 (excellent deals also w/separation of church and state and toleration; p64: Christ’s teachings were truth, not dogma. p64: “Christ persecuted no man, and allowed not his disciples to persecute….”).

John McArthur, Charismatic Chaos, pp. 229-30. “Paul knew all about the marks of an apostle, in signs, wonders and mighty deeds (2 Corinthians 12:12) but he knew that the power of an apostle, or of any other Christian, came from the patient endurance of suffering, such as he had with his thorn in the flesh, or the patient endurance of reviling and hardship such as he was submitted to in the course of his missionary work (1 Corinthians 4…. [A]ll Christians … should seek to know him, including the fellowship of his suffering and conformity to his death (cf. Phil. 3:10-11). That is what releases the power of his resurrection, which God has given us already (cf. Rom. 6:4-5).

Mcgee, Revelation Volume 1, p. 76. The ten periods of intense persecution by Roman emperors. The church at Smyrna pp. 72-77.

N5 p10 to Genesis 4.4 “Genesis 4:4  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:” (Type of Christ, the Lamb of God, the most constant type of the suffering Messiah–“the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” John 1:29. A lamb fitly symbolizes the unresisting innocency and harmlessness of the Lord Jesus Isa. 53:7; Luke 23:9; Mt. 26:53-54. This type is brought into prominence by contrast with Cain’s bloodless offering of the fruit of his own works, and proclaims, in the very infancy of the race, the primal truth that “without shedding of blood is no remission” Heb. 9:22; 11:4.)

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        From, The Voice of the Martyrs, August 2005, p2, “You Will Always Have Your Groupies.”

“If we could go back in time, we could sit and worship with [the seven churches in the Book of Revelation]. These were actual congregations dotted along a horseshoe-shaped road conforming to the old Roman postal route in modern-day Turkey (Revelation 1-3).

“They all started out with a strong work ethic, patience and perseverance.  But their love changed over time.  Even today there are cold churches like Ephesus, compromising churches like Pergamos, corrupt churches like Thyatira, dead churches like Sardis, and lukewarm churches like Laodicea.  There are also faithful churches like Philadelphia and persecuted churches like Smyrna.

“It is interesting to note that five of the seven churches receive an increasingly stern condemnation from the Lord. These range from Ephesus’, ‘You have left your first love’ (2.4), to Laodicea’s, ‘You are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked’ (3.17).

“Only two of the churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia, receive no condemnation.  Why did Smyrna receive no condemnation from our Lord? Was this church without sin or failure? Of course not.  It had its share of both. So why no condemnation?

“I want to suggest something.  The persecuted Church in Smyrna, whether in the book of Revelation or in the restricted countries today, is one of the purest churches on earth.  Not perfect, but pure.  Why? Because this church comes the closest to having a membership totally made up on genuine followers of Christ, not faultless, but putting Jesus first.  How do we know this? Because people who are not real Christians are not going to continue to worship and face losing everything they own for a bottom-line faith they don’t even possess.

It is no accident that God formed the persecuted church in Smyrna.  The name ‘Smyrna’ has deep significance.  It is also the name for myrrh.  When the Magi visited the Christ child, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.  While Jesus hung on the cross, the Roman soldiers unsuccessfully presented Him wine mixed with Smyrna (myrrh) as a sedative.  After the Lord’s burial, women came to the tomb intending to anoint His body with myrrh.

“Myrrh is an inert plant that is useless until crushed.  Once crushed, it gives off a marvelous fragrance.  The more it is crushed the better it smells; much like the crushed Christians in Smyrna whose fragrance is an offering to God to us.

“The Christians in Smyrna would not obey a law and declare once a year, ‘Caesar is Lord.’  They were not sell-outs to the forces in their society.  Their first bishop, Polycarp, was burned at the stake in 156 A.D., by the Roman authorities.  Before this pyre was lit, he said: ‘Eighty and six years have I served him (Jesus) and He has done me no wrong.  How can I blaspheme my King who saved me? You threaten me with a fire that burns for a time and is quickly quenched but you do not know the fire that awaits the wicked and the judgment to come and everlasting punishment.  Why are you waiting? Do what you will.’

“After 1900 years the Church in Smyrna is still around.  The ‘Polycarps’ of today meet in houses and caves and forests in places like China, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cuba, and the Arab world.  In America, evangelistic churches that reach out at home and abroad are like the Church in Philadelphia looking for ‘an open door’ (Revelation 3.8).  Some minister to the persecuted Church in Smyrna.  The two groups receive no condemnation.  We are blessed to have fellowship with the church in Smyrna.”

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Mt. 5.10-12: “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Mt. 10.16-23 & N1 p. 1009. “16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise a serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; 18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father  which speaketh in you. 21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated  of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you  in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.”

Micah 4:7 “And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.” See Mcgee, Micah, pp. 125-126. McGee applies this to the remnant sitting in churches (pseudo-saints) who are not genuine. “The day of persecution is coming to church members, and it will reveal quickly who are the true believers and who are not. God has a remnant In the church today.”

N1 to Isa. 40.1-2, p747: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” (The first two verses of Isa. 40. give the key-note of the second part of the prophecy of Isaiah. The great theme of this section is Jesus Christ in His sufferings, and the glory that shall follow in the Davidic kingdom. (See “Christ in O.T.,” sufferings,) Ge 4:4; Heb 10:18 glory, 2Sa 7:8-15; Zec 12:8 Since Israel is to be regathered, converted, and made the centre of the new social order when the kingdom is set up, this part of Isaiah appropriately contains glowing prophecies concerning these events. The full view of the redemptive sufferings of Christ (e.g. Isa. 53) leads to the evangelic strain so prominent in this part of Isaiah. (e.g.Isa 44:22; 55:1-3).
The change in style, about which so much has been said, is no more remarkable than the change of theme. A prophet who was also a patriot would not write of the sins and coming captivity of his people in the same exultant and joyous style which he would use to describe their redemption, blessing, and power. In Joh 12:37-44 quotations from Isa. 53. and 6. are both ascribed to Isaiah.)

N1 p1009: “The  scope of verses 16-23 reaches beyond the  personal ministry of the twelve covering in a general sense the sphere of service during the present age. Verse 23 has in view the preaching of the remnant (Isa. 1.9; Rom. 11.5, note) in the tribulation (Psa. 2.5; Rev. 7.14, note), and immediately preceding the return of Christ in glory (Deut. 30.3; Acts 1.9-11, note). The remnant then will not have gone over the cities of Israel till the Lord comes.”
Matthew 16:23-27  “23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. 24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
Parable of the householder demanding fruit from his vineyard. Mt. 21.33-46; Lk. 20.9-19; Cf. Isa. 5.1-7.

Mt. 24.25; Mk. 13; Lk. 21. Many shall come saying I am Christ, etc. Persecution of Chirst’s people, betrayal by children, etc.

Jn. 15.18-25. “18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.”

John 16.1-4 “1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.”

Jn. 16 “33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Jn. 17.14: “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” Jesus is praying for his whom the Father has given him in His prayer of intercession.

The 1st persecution: Acts. 4 (Question: “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” Answer of Peter: “Name of Jesus.” Preaching in the name of Jesus forbidden.).

The 2nd persecution: Acts 5.17-42 (High priests & Saducees put apostles in prison; angel releases them telling them to speak in the temple to the people.  They are rearrested.  High priest asks, “Did we not command you not to teach in this name?  and behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Peter & the others answered, ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.  They take council to slay them. Gamaliel a doctor of the law argues for the apostles. V34-39.  They agree, beat the apostles, command them not to speak in the name of Jesus.  ‘And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.’”).

The 3rd persecution & the 1st martyr: Acts 6.8-7.60.

The 4th persecution: Saul chief persecutor (great persecution against the church). Acts 8.1-3.

The 5th persecution: Herod persecutes certain of the church. Acts 12. 1-19.

Acts 9.13-16 “Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

Acts 12.2. James the apostle is martyred.

Ro. 8.35-39. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

N1 to 1 Co. 1.2, p1211 “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” (1Co 1:2-9, in contrast with 1Co 10:1-13, illustrate a distinction constantly made in the Epistles between the believer’s position in Christ Jesus, in the family of God, and his walk, or actual state. Christian position in grace is the result of the work of Christ, and is fully entered the moment that Christ is received by faith Joh 1:12-13; Ro 8:1,15-17; 1Co 1:2; 12:12-13; Ga 3:26 Eph 1:3-14 2:4-9 1Pe 2:9 Re 1:6 5:9,10. The weakest, most ignorant, and fallible believer has precisely the same relationships in grace as the most illustrious saint. All the after work of God in his behalf, the application of the word to walk and conscience Joh 17:17; Eph 5:26 the divine chastenings 1Co 11:32; Heb 12:10, the ministry of the Spirit Eph 4:11-12 the difficulties and trials of the path 1Pe 4:12-13 and the final transformation at the appearing of Christ 1Jo 3:2 have for their object to make the believer’s character conform to his exalted position in Christ. He grows in grace, not into grace.)

1 Co. 4.12 “And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:”

Headnote to 2 Co.: “THEME. The Epistle discloses the touching state of the great apostle at this time. It was one of physical weakness, weariness, and pain. But his spiritual burdens were greater. These were two kinds–solicitude for the maintenance of the churches in grace as against the law-teachers, and anguish of heart over the distrust felt toward him by Jews and Jewish Christians. The chilling doctrines of the legalizers were accompanied by detraction, and by denial of his apostleship.
“It is evident that the really dangerous sect in Corinth was that which said, ‘and I of Christ’ (1Co 1:12). They rejected the new revelation through Paul of the doctrines of grace; grounding themselves, probably, on the kingdom teachings of our Lord as “a minister of circumcision” (Ro 15:8); seemingly oblivious that a new dispensation had been introduced by Christ’s death. This made necessary a defence of the origin and extent of Paul’s apostolic authority.
“The Epistle is in three parts: I. Paul’s principles of action, 1.1-7-16. II. The collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, 8.1-9.15. III. Paul’s defence of his apostolic authority, 10.1-13.14.”

2 Co. 1 and 2 speak much of suffering, grief, anguish, tears, tribulation, sorrow, heaviness, much affliction as well as joy (1:9), comfort, consolation.

2 Co. 4.8-18; 5.1-13. The ministry: suffering. Why death has no terrors for the servant of the Lord.

2 Co. 11.23-33 “23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not. 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: 33 And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.”

2 Co. 4:8-10We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.”

2 Co. 5 Why death itself has no terrors for the servant of the Lord.

2 Co. 11:23-30 “23  Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”

2 Co. 12:10 “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Ep. 3.13-21 “13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory….”

Part I. Christ, the believer’s life rejoicing in spite of suffering (Philippians 1.1-30).

Ph. 1.27-30 “27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”

Ph. 3.6-16 “6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.”

1 Th. 2.14-19 “14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. 17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. 18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.”

I Th. 3.2-3, 7, “2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 2 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:”

2 Th.. gives comfort in persecution.

II Th. headnote: “…The Thessalonian converts were “shaken in mind” and “troubled,” supposing, perhaps on the authority of a forged letter as from Paul, that the persecutions from which they were suffering were those of the “great and terrible day of the Lord,” from which they had been taught to expect deliverance by “the day of Christ, and out gathering together unto him” (2Th 2:1).”

II Th. 1.4-12: “4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. 11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

II Th. 2.13-17: “13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. 15 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 16 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”

2 Ti. 1.10-15 “10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. 15 This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.”

2 Ti. 2.8-10, 12 “8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9 Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:”

2 Ti. 3.10-16. “10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

He. 10.32-39: “32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. 35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

He. 11.36-40; II Cor. 4.9 (see vs. 8-18 and 7.5-6 for suffering bc of the ministry; also 12.9-10; 11.23-30 tells of Paul’s persections & his reactions thereto).  Plus, there are many examples throughout Scripture; e.g. Daniel, Elisha who prayed, “Lord open their eyes.” 2 Kings 6.13-17.  Pray that I will see the solution that God has, not that He will solve the problem—“Lord, let me see the way out.  Show me the way out.”

Ja. 5.7-11: “7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the doming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. 10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. 11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; tha the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Headnote to 1 Pe.: “…The distinctive note of First Peter is preparation for victory over suffering. The last-named word occurs about fifteen times, and is the key-word of the epistle, The Eistle is in three parts: I. Christian suffering and conduct in light of full salvation, 1.1-2.8. II. The believer’s life in view of his sevenfold position and the vicarious suffering of Christ, 2.9-4.19. III. Christian service in the light of the coming of the Chief Shepherd, 5.1-14.”

Also N2 p1311 to 1 Pe. 1.7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (Suffering, in First Peter, is set in the light of: (1) assured salvation, 1Pe 1:2-5; (2) the greater glory at Christ’s appearing, 1Pe 1:7; (3) Christ’s sufferings and coming glories, 1Pe 1:1; (4) the believer’s association with Him in both, 1Pe 2:20; 3:17; 4:12-13; (5) the purifying effect of suffering, 1Pe 1:7; 4:1; 5:10; (6) that Christ is now glorified in the believer’s patient suffering, 1Pe 4:16; (7) that suffering is disciplinary, 1Pe 4:17-19; 1Co 11:31-32; Heb 12:5-13.)

See 1 Peter.

The vicarious suffering of Christ. I Peter 2.21-25.

I Pe. 4 “1 FORASMUCH then as Christ hath suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. . . .  12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that , when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”

I Pe. 5.8-10. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”

The Lord told us we would be persecuted (see Bloudy Tenant p. 310): John 15.18-19; Matt. 24.9; 2 Tim. 3.12 (all that live godly in Christ Jesus. . .); Eph. 6.12; Rev. 17 (the whole pagan world will persecute us); God and Magog (Rev. 20).  See the encouragement given in Heb. 11.36-12.4 to the persecuted.

I Jo. 3.13: “Marvel not, by brethren, if the world hate you.”

Suffering

Headnote to I Peter: “ WRITER The Apostle Peter (1Pe 1:1)
        “DATE. Probably A.D. 60. That “Babylon” refers to the former city on the Euphrates, or to Rome, cannot be inferred from 1Pe 5:13. The text is obscure.
        “THEME. While Peter undoubtedly has scattered Jewish believers in mind, his Epistles comprehend Gentile believers also (1Pe 2:10). The present Epistle, written from a church on Gentile ground (1Pe 5:13), presents all the foundational truths of the Christian faith, with special emphasis on the atonement. The distinctive note of First Peter is preparation for victory over suffering. The last-name word occurs about fifteen times, and is the key-word to the Epistle.
“The Epistle is in three parts: I. Christian suffering and conduct in the light of full salvation, 1.1-2.8. II. The believer’s life in view of his sevenfold position, and of the vicarious suffering of Christ, 2.9-4.19. III. Christian service in the light of the coming of the Chief Shepherd, 5.1-14.”
N2 p1311 to I Peter 1.7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” “Suffering, in First Peter, is set in the light of: (1) assured salvation, 1Pe 1:2-5. (2) the greater glory at Christ’s appearing, 1Pe 1:7; (3) Christ’s sufferings and coming glories, 1Pe 1:11. (4) the believer’s association with Him in both, 1Pe 2:20; 3:17; 4:12-13. (5) the purifying effect of suffering, 1Pe 1:7; 4:1; 5:10. (6) that Christ is now glorified in the believer’s patient suffering, 1Pe 4:16. (7) that suffering is disciplinary, 1Pe 4:17-19; 1Co 11:31-32; Heb 12:5-13.”
1 Peter 4.12-19. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”

Re. 1:9: “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Re. 2:8-11  And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

Re. 6:9-11  And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

Re. 14:13  And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Re. 17.6 “And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.”

Re. 18:3-8  For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.  And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.

Re. 18:24  And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

Re. 19:1-2  And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.

Re. 20:4  And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.


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