Matthew 5:10 (NIV)
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
- to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away
- to pursue (in a hostile manner)
- in any way whatever to harass, trouble
- to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of something
Of all of the beatitudes that Jesus mentions in the sermon on the Mount the only one he mentions twice is “Blessed are the persecuted.”
Matthew 5:11 (NKJV)
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,
Matthew 10:23 (NKJV)
When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Luke 21:12 (NKJV)
But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake.
John 15:20 (NKJV)
Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
Acts 4:1-4 (NKJV)
Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
Acts 5:27:32 (NKJV)
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”33 When they heard this, they were furious[g] and plotted to kill them.
Acts 11:19-21 (NKJV)
Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.
Tertullian (c. 155-240) said, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity.”
For the mature believer the question no longer is whether or not suffering, persecution, trials, tribulation and testing will come but whether or not they will respond rightly.
1 Peter 4:12-13 (NKJV)
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces [a]patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be [b]perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Seeing suffering, trials, persecution as a reward and as means by which we become closer to Jesus in this life is what Christian maturity looks like. God doesn’t waste our suffering or persecution. He uses it to make us more like Jesus, His Son. This is good news!
Philippians 3:8-11 (NKJV)
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Finally, the suffering we go through now is leading to things far greater that we can’t imagine. There is a promise to those that suffer with Jesus in this life. That promise is being heirs with Jesus in eternity!
Romans 8:16-17 (NKJV)
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Romans 8:18-19 (NKJV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
Resources for further study:
(Historical Christian Persecution) Foxe’s Book of The Martyrs by John Foxe
The Voice of the Martyrs-
For The Martyrs-
- Let’s repent for times we wasted seasons of suffering, trials we went through, by not seeing them as opportunities to get closer to Jesus, but instead complained and even justified being distant from the Lord through them.
- Let’s pray for believers around the world who are dying for their faith in Jesus
- Finally let’s pray now for the grace to respond rightly to future persecution. To consider it a blessing, to have hearts ready to rejoice and to recognize the gift that it is to suffer for the name of Jesus Christ.