2 Timothy 3:12-4:2 ESV - Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
While many promises in Scripture are misunderstood or taken out of proper context, the promise in 2 Timothy 3:12 is clear - persecution should be expected by all who desire to live a godly life in Christ. Early Christians were rejected, tortured, and murdered for a life-identification with the Lord Jesus. Throughout history, conscientious believers have experienced horrific persecution - which continues even now in parts of the world where Communism, Islam, and Hinduism are intolerant and violent against Christians. Yet are we prepared for the promise of persecution? Have we expected our faith in Jesus to come at a high cost? We should. Sincerely following Jesus Christ must cost us. Persecution is just one of the costs. So what are the New Testament ways of dealing with injustice, intolerance, and other persecution?
- Psychology: You must expect persecutors (from outside) and impostors (from inside) to afflict you.
Theology: Use the Scriptures as your sanctuary when times are hard.
Ministry: Continue to do good in the face of injustice and evil done against you.
Mission: Keep proclaiming the word of God to yourself and others with authority and patience.
Worship: Choose happiness (rejoice) for being counted worthy to suffer for your Christian identity.
Matthew 5:10-15 ESV - “Blessed [Happy] are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Will you consider intentional prayer and/or support for persecuted Christians around the world? Regardless of theological differences, if someone is targeted for believing in the Gospel of Christ - do you feel compelled to help them? Consider that in Matthew 25, “you did it to the least of these My brothers” is likely a reference to Christians who are suffering (as opposed to all the world’s poor and afflicted):
Matthew 25:35-40 ESV - For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Hebrews 13:3 ESV - Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
To become more informed about Christian persecution (and for free resources), please go to: