Matthew 10:16-23: Persecution

Read: Matthew 10:16-23

Persecution for Jesus’ name sake is given in the Scriptures. Timothy says that anyone wanting to live a godly life will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus gives a lot of practical advice to his disciples after he sends them out. He tells them to expect persecution, to not worry about what to say because the Holy Spirit would provide what was needed, and to flee when persecution arises.

Indeed, much of this happened in the New Testament times:

  • The apostles were flogged for speaking about Jesus (Acts 5:49, Acts 22:19, Acts 26:11, 2 Corinthians 11:24-25).
  • The apostles were put on trial before councils, kings, and governors (Acts 12:1-4, Acts 22:33-34, Acts 24-26).
  • When the apostles were on trial, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke boldly about Jesus (Acts 4:8-14, Acts 5:29-34, Acts 7:55-56, Acts 26:1-11)
  • When persecution arose, the disciples scattered (Acts 8:1, Acts 9:24-25, Acts 13:50-51, Acts 14:6-7, Acts 14:19-20, Acts 17:10-14, Acts 20:1)

Persecution has existed in the church since the earliest days of Christianity and has been a constant theme throughout all of Christian history, even until today. Western Christianity has for the most part a long period of peace, free from hostility towards Christians, but the hostility is beginning to grow. Globally, research shows even now that Christians are the most persecuted group in the world, and as the Day draws near, this trend will only get worse for Christians everywhere.

There are several appropriate ways Christians can respond to persecution.

  • When it does arise, when possible flee from it. Christians aren’t called to have a martyr complex where they are looking to get themselves killed for the sake of Christ, rather they should have a heart to want to share the gospel with as many people as possible for the sake of Christ.
  • Pray for those who are persecuted and pray for those who do the persecuting (Matthew 5:44). This can be hard at times, especially when one is receiving the persecution. But God has called every Christian to love his or her enemy and pray for them when they revile the believer.
  • Rely on the Holy Spirit and be joyful (Matthew 5:10-12) Jesus says that those who are persecuted are actually blessed. This is paradoxical, but knowing that there is a God who is in control and blesses those who remain faithful gives reason to be joyful

Enduring persecution takes great faith. All the apostles except John died a martyr’s death. Paul spent much of his later years writing letters from a jail cell. Even today, Christians all over globe are persecuted for the sake of Christ. The call though is to be faithful see it through, knowing that God will reward those who do!

Lord, help me to endure persecution!