Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Beatitudes Lesson Nine               

Beatitudes Lesson Nine
The Persecuted

"Blessed are those who have been __________ for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 "Blessed are you when men cast _______ at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 "Rejoice, and be glad, for your _______ in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (NAS).” (Matthew 5:10-12)


“Blessed are those who have been persecuted . . . . . .” Again Jesus, in describing those of His kingdom describes another paradox. For one to be persecuted could not produce happiness for the natural man. This could only describe the spiritual man of God.

But Jesus says that the persecution that results in blessedness comes from “righteousness” “for His sake.” One may be persecuted for his own foolishness, but to be persecuted “for the Lord's sake” is to be blessed. After all, one who is “poor in spirit,” “mourns over sin,” is “meek,” “hungers for righteousness,” is “merciful,” “pure in heart” and a “peacemaker” will likely face intimidation and persecution from those of the world who do not understand the things of God.

People possessing these qualities would naturally stand out in the crowd and would not be understood by others. Thus they would be persecuted; others would speak evil of them (v. 11). However, Jesus' words encouraged His followers, for they would be walking in the train of the prophets, who also were misunderstood and persecuted (The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, Copyright 1983, SP Publications, Inc., Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.).

In 2 Timothy 3:12 Paul tells Timothy, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (NAS). Perhaps, if we find that we are not suffering persecution for our faith, that is a warning signal that we may not be living our life as the beacon of light that it must be (Matthew 5:16). Jesus told His disciples in John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave 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” (NAS).

And then we read in 1 Peter 4:12-19, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (NAS).

Peter tells his readers that they should not be surprised that they are experiencing the sufferings of Christ. They had been warned. It was understood during the early days if the church that one would suffer for righteousness and for his identity with Christ. (Also see 1 Peter 5:9). It is not as though the persecution that we face is nominal or insignificant. It is a “fiery ordeal.” It is described as “suffering!” It will most certainly be unpleasant. But it is also temporary. To “suffer as a Christian” is to glorify God! And to suffer for His sake and for righteousness sake is to look ahead to the reward that we will one day receive in glory!

1 Peter 4:14, like Matthew 5: 11 speaks of being “reviled” or “insulted” for the cause and name of Christ. It is as though being punished for doing wrong when one is doing the best of that which is good. But it is when we “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14, NAS) that we maintain our focus and live a righteous and godly life worthy of persecution.

For my sake puts the right emphasis on one's suffering. For denouncing oneself to the Roman magistrates who were enforcing the persecutions, merely to seek martyrdom, is a selfish act. That is suffering for the unwholesome desire for suffering and death, or perhaps it is an escape mechanism to terminate the uncertainties of this life, a coup de grace to put an end to further Christian testimony that could be given! Again, those who receive persecution, because they cram their religious convictions down the throats of their neighbors, do not glorify Jesus, since their manners essentially differed from those of the Master (“THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW VOLUME I” Copyright 1968 College Press Harold Fowler).

For many, these three verses are difficult, not because they are hard to understand, but because they contradict their view of things. Perhaps many are saying, "Why in the world would I be happy or fortunate about being persecuted as a Christian?" One thing is perfectly clear, those who have this attitude will not have to worry about understanding the joy that come with persecution, because they will never come to know it. Too many are blinded to the benefits of persecution. Happy are they that open their eyes to profit of persecution (“Blessed Are They That Have Been Persecuted For Righteousness Sake”, Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/blessed_persecuted.html).

The almost unbelievable part of this beatitude is the nature of its exceeding great reward. Jesus said, “Blessed are ye! Rejoice in that day and be exceeding glad: leap for joy!” (Lk. 6:23) The blessing goes two ways: 1. Uninhibited joy in the kingdom of heaven now. This is not a morbid longing for or seeking persecution which makes pain and suffering ends in themselves to be sought at the expense of the cause of righteousness. In fact, happiness is very elusive in that it cannot be sought without being lost in the search. According to Jesus, true joy exists only when we seek God's purposes. After all, is this not the essence of God's kingdom on earth? (Cf. Jn. 5: 11; 16:22, 24; 17: 13; Ac. 5:40-42; Phil. 4:4; cf. 1:12-14; Ro. 5:1-11) The devil has no happy old men, because all their lives they have sought happiness by evading the very service that brings the only real joy. 2. The great reward in heaven for eternity (“THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW VOLUME I” Copyright 1968 College Press Harold Fowler).

Discussion Questions

1) Read paragraphs 5 through 8. Also read 1 Peter 2:11-17. What encouragement do we have in the face of being persecuted as Christians?

In 2 Timothy 3:12 Paul tells Timothy, “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (NAS). Perhaps, if we find that we are not suffering persecution for our faith, that is a warning signal that we may not be living our life as the beacon of light that it must be (Matthew 5:16). Jesus told His disciples in John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave 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” (NAS).

And then we read in 1 Peter 4:12-19, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right (NAS).

Peter tells his readers that they should not be surprised that they are experiencing the sufferings of Christ. They had been warned. It was understood during the early days if the church that one would suffer for righteousness and for his identity with Christ. (Also see 1 Peter 5:9). It is not as though the persecution that we face is nominal or insignificant. It is a “fiery ordeal.” It is described as “suffering!” It will most certainly be unpleasant. But it is also temporary. To “suffer as a Christian” is to glorify God! And to suffer for His sake and for righteousness sake is to look ahead to the reward that we will one day receive in glory!

1 Peter 4:14, like Matthew 5: 11 speaks of being “reviled” or “insulted” for the cause and name of Christ. It is as though being punished for doing wrong when one is doing the best of that which is good. But it is when we “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14, NAS) that we maintain our focus and live a righteous and godly life worthy of persecution.

1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world (NAS).

1 Peter 2:11-17, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” ( NAS).

We are told that “we are blessed,” we will “rejoice” at Christ's return, we are entrusting our souls to a “FAITHFUL Creator,” that we are pressing on for “the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus,” that our “brethren” around the world experience the same kinds of suffering, God may be glorified because others observe our good deeds, we are doing the will of God and silencing the ignorance of foolish men. And this all from just a few passages of Scripture! Is that not an encouragement?

2) According to 1 Peter 4:15, we should not suffer as ______________________________________ (Explain).

“a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;”

If one were to be thrown into jail for being one of the above, he would be “suffering” as one who is disobedient. It would generally be humiliating and shameful to be persecuted especially by those who held places of authority. However, there would be some who read or heard these words that would be thrown into prison or lose their lives simply because they were living the faithful Christian life. Of these, Jesus says, “Do not be ashamed.”

3) Who were some people who suffered for righteousness during Bible times?

Abel, Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Daniel and other Old Testament Prophets, John the Plunger, Jesus, Stephen, James, Peter, Paul, John . . . . .

4) Why is there little persecution suffered by the church today?

Neh. 4:1-3 When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews,and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble--burned as they are?" Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, "What they are building--if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!"
Here is this man, Sanballat, who heard about this band of Jews rebuilding the walls and he was angry. He ridiculed the Jews. He spoke to his associates and the army of Samaria, no doubt with a tone of ridicule and sarcasm: "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble...?"
One of Sanballat's associates was this Ammonite, Tobiah. And he agreed: "What they are building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones."
Let's learn this: It should never surprise us when we do the Lord's work and some react with anger and ridicule. Jesus - in the sermon on the Mount - said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake," (Matt. 5:10). He said to His disciples: "...if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." Paul said, all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12).
Throughout the Bible history of God's people they were opposed. We ought not to think it will be different today. It may be subtle or it may take the form of open ridicule. Former friends may sever all ties with us when we become the Lord's disciple. There may be social humiliations and a variety of difficulties and pressures when we are openly faithful to God.We can be sure, the more active our faith, the deeper our courage and the bolder our preaching - there will be opposition. The likes of Sanballat and Tobiah are still here on the earth -- and Satan will use them to provoke us and discourage us (“Continuing The Lord's Work In The Face Of Fear,” Warren E. Berkley, January 1999, http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-nehemiah-4.htm).

Neh. 4:7,8 But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem's walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.
The enemies hear of the progress these Jews are making and they decide to "turn up the heat." In spite of their ridicule the wall was being repaired. The gaps were being closed. They were very angry. They plotted together to fight and stir up trouble and this may happen to us. If we become discouraged -- the devil knows that. Our discouragement will become the devil's opportunity and he will dispatch his ministers to trouble us.
So, we've got to keep our heart focused and our heads up. As soon as we invite everybody to a pity party and start crying around about how hard it is and how bad things are, the devil sees our weakness and takes advantage of us. There was always be opposition to what is good and right and it starts when you obey the gospel.
I heard of an old preacher who would give a little speech to every person he baptized -- after the baptism, and in front of the audience -- he would admonish and warn and encourage the new child of God. And among other things he would say something like this: As soon as the devil finds out you've become a Christian, the armies of hell will be called out against you!
Sanballat, Tobiah, The Arabs and Ammonites; those kind of people are alive today doing the bidding of their father, the devil. As the opposition builds we must continue praying and watching (“Continuing The Lord's Work In The Face Of Fear,” Warren E. Berkley, January 1999, http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-nehemiah-4.htm).

When we undergo difficulty and injustice, there may be a tendency to relax our efforts and leave some of our responsibilities undone. We may want to say to ourselves: "Well, I'm under all this pressure right now. I've got all these problems to cope with. I can't grow spiritually right now; I can't worry about all these duties." We may be tempted to think in this direction, excuse ourselves and even assume that God grants us some sort of immunity in view of our troubles (“Victims, But Still Obligated!,” Warren E. Berkley, July 1998, http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-1-peter-2-11-17.htm).

Before we study the next few verses, let me remind you: much of the persecution these Christians were going through was from the government. What wasn't directly from the government, was tolerated or encouraged by the Roman empire. Peter was writing to Christians who were suffering persecution at the hands of the government they were subject to. Even before Nero there was discrimination against Christians; false charges were accepted, with little or no investigation. And the general attitude toward Christians often led to violence or death. Likewise, the form of government was dictatorial, totalitarian and corrupt. So try to imagine the situation, for those Christians in Asia Minor. Here you are a Christian, trying to follow Christ and go to heaven. And almost everyday you find the government as a chief obstacle. There was surely the temptation to disobey, or rebel ... or start a revolution (“Victims, But Still Obligated!,” Warren E. Berkley, July 1998, http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-1-peter-2-11-17.htm).

Tom White told about an elderly man who approached him after a meeting with Christian ministers and church leaders in Pakistan. The man wore a dirty, fly-infested jacket. White listened as the man described his daily ritual of boarding a city bus, handing out gospel tracts-often experiencing beatings from Muslim men-before being thrown out the rear exit. The humble crusader quietly proclaimed, “I might bleed, but I have a handkerchief. So I find another bus and begin again” (“Persecuted for Christ,” The Lookout, May 25, 2003).

What is the lesson here? Jesus' words make us reflect: how long has it been since we felt the sting of hate-filled words aimed at us because we are Christian. Why is there little persecution experienced by the Church today? Could it be partly that the principles of Jesus have received such universal acknowledgement as king the right principles, even if so rarely practiced, that the world has been rendered more favorable or more tolerant toward Christians and Christianity? If so, this might hold the forces of evil at bay for a time. Or could the relative absence of persecution be due to the Church's growing lukewarm to its own message? I, as a Christian, could enjoy more comfort if I were more indifferent. But Jesus says, “Happy are the persecuted for my sake!” If this language strikes the modern reader as extravagant, it is because of the great difference between the twentieth century philosophy and God's will, and between the few glowing embers of modern Christianity contrasted to the roaring forest fire that was first century discipleship. How must this difference be accounted for? Most tend to measure the amount of happiness in their lives by the extent to which they escape trouble and suffering. But the only salvation from such a delusion is the realization that true happiness means “being conformed to the image of God's Son” who met His death on a cross! (Study I Th. 3:3, 4; Col. 1:24; Ro. 8:29; Phil. 1:27-30) (“THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW VOLUME I” Copyright 1968 College Press Harold Fowler).

#1) The building is here. People can come to church if they like. There is no need for me to force the Gospel on anyone. Everyone has a Bible.
#2) Even nonchristian people respect Christians and rarely find reason to interfere in their practice.
#3) Persecute us for what? Are we doing anything worthy of persecution?
#4) I'll live my Christian life as I see fit. It's between me and God. No one else has any business knowing about my personal faith. That way, no one is offended.

I am convinced that the main reason that there is so little persecution today is because the average church member hasn't a clue concerning the true meaning of the word “church” or its purpose!

5) What is the reward for remaining faithful in the face of persecution?

“The painful trial you are suffering” is more literally translated in the NRSV as “the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you.” The reference to fire and the idea of testing echo 1:6-7 where suffering is compared to testing gold by fire. The fires of persecution are a trial for their faith (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

4:13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ,
Peter has already encouraged us to rejoice in suffering in 1:6-8. Furthermore, in 2:21-25; 3:18; and 4:1 he has appealed to Christ's sufferings as an example which we are called to follow. For the idea that following Christ in suffering entails a participation in the sufferings of Christ, see especially Philippians 2:10: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
The joy of Christians in the present, the focus of verse 13a, is connected to their hope of joy in the future, the focus of verse 13b. The focus on the hope of eternal life was introduced at the beginning of the book (" 1:3-9). Peter repeatedly urges his readers to endure present suffering in view of the hope of eternal salvation (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

4:14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed,
In view of the thrust of the book as a whole and its references to suffering, the word “if” in this clause should be understood to have the force of “when.” Several different phrases are used to express the verbal abuse these Christians are receiving because of their faith: “they accuse you of doing wrong” (2:12), “the ignorant talk of foolish men” (om/verse.asp?ref=1Pe+2%3A15" 2:15), “they hurled their insults at him (Christ)” (2:23), “those who speak maliciously against your good behavior” (rse.asp?ref=1Pe+3%3A16" 3:16). A significant element of the persecution they are enduring is verbal abuse. To be insulted “because of the name of Christ” is contextually contrasted with suffering for wrongdoing (se.asp?ref=1Pe+4%3A15" v. 15) and is contextually parallel to “suffer as a Christian” (v. 16). The suffering that is blessed is suffering for doing good in the name of Christ. The idea that such suffering is blessed has already been expressed in 3:14. See the comments there for the parallels to Matthew 5:10-11 (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.
The language of this clause alludes to the Septuagint (Greek) version of Isaiah 11:2: “And there shall rest upon him God's Spirit, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and piety.” The idea of the clause is well expressed in Achtemeier's translation, “because God's glorious Spirit rests upon you.” God is present with Christians even in the midst of persecution (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

4:15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
This verse echoes ideas found earlier in 2:19-20 and  3:17. Peter does not mean to commend justified suffering for doing wrong. “Any other kind of criminal” is a paraphrase of “an evildoer” (kakopoiov", kakopoios), a word which includes, but is not necessarily limited to, illegal activity. The term ajllotriepivskopo" (allotriepiskopos) translated “meddler” is quite problematic. It does not occur in all of Greek literature except here and in two later Christian authors (from the fourth and fifth centuries). Our guesses about its meaning are dependent on etymology. It is a compound of a word meaning “overseer” and another word meaning “belonging to another.” Several meanings are possible, including one who is supposed to oversee the goods of another, but embezzles them. The most common suggestion is “busybody, meddler,” one who gets inappropriately involved in the business of others. The main argument against this common view is that it seems unusual in a list beginning with “murderer” and “thief.” A common response is that the repetition of “as” before this fourth item means something like the NIV's “even as” a meddler, indicating that meddler is separated from the rest of the list (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

4:16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
As in verse 14 the use of “if” is virtually equivalent to “when.” The opening clause of ERLINK "http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=1Pe+4%3A16" verse 16 is parallel to the opening clause in verse 14: “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ,” although the suffering here is not necessarily limited to being insulted (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

In contrast to present usage, the word “Christian” is rare in the New Testament. It appears only here and in com/verse.asp?ref=Ac+11%3A26" Acts 11:26 and 26:28. Acts 11:26 implies that it was coined by non-Christians. In INK "http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=Ac+26%3A28" 26:28 it is used by Agrippa, a non-Christian; and here in 1 Peter 4:16 it may be a term of insult used against Christians. The early Christians usually referred to themselves using other terms such as “disciple” or “saint.” But Acts 11:26 and 1 Peter 4:16 imply acceptance of the term “Christian,” which soon became common among Christians themselves.
As in verse 13 Christians are to rejoice when they suffer for Christ, so here they are to praise God. Those who ought to be ashamed are the opponents of Christians (3:16) (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

ef=1Pe+4%3A17" 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God;
“The family of God” is more literally “the house of God.” Peter uses the same word for “house” as in 2:5, “you . . . are being built into a spiritual house.” As in 2:5, Peter is probably using temple imagery for the church. See the discussion at f=1Pe+2%3A5" 2:5 (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

Most interpreters believe the context of verses 16-18 indicates that the judgment which Peter speaks of in PERLINK "http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=1Pet 4:17" verse 17a is the purifying effect of persecution and suffering. It is debated whether he means to say that this judgment of suffering precedes the final judgment as part of the messianic woes, or perhaps that he regards such suffering as part of the final judgment itself (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
According to the prevailing view, this statement means that if Christians are dismayed at what is happening to them, they should consider the destiny of the disobedient. If they are tempted to repudiate their faith due to the suffering they are enduring, they should recognize that those who disobey God will suffer a far worse fate (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

4:18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
In support of verse 17, Peter cites the Septuagint (Greek) version of Proverbs 11:31. According to the prevailing view the point is that the fate of the disobedient will be far worse than the suffering of the righteous.
It would also seem possible to interpret verses 17-18 in another way. Perhaps Peter is not using the word “judgment” to refer to the present suffering of Christians, but is referring to the coming judgment at the end of time (as a means of inspiring Christians to remain faithful in the face of their present suffering). Peter may mean simply that the final judgment is near (17a), that the first group judged will be the people of God (17a-b), that they will barely be saved (18a), and therefore that they should give great attention to avoid being among those who will be condemned (17b-18) (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

4:19 So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
This verse sums up the central theme of 1 Peter: Christians should continue to do good in spite of the suffering they must endure. In so doing they should follow Jesus' example: “He entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (ttp://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=1Pe+2%3A23" 2:23). As Creator God is interested in his creation, and he is a “faithful,” trustworthy Creator.
The idea that Christian suffering is “according to God's will” echoes com/verse.asp?ref=Pr+3%3A17" 3:17. See the comments there.
“Themselves” is a legitimate translation of “their souls,” since in 1 Peter “soul” refers to one's life as a whole, not an immaterial spirit which separates from the body. See the comments on YPERLINK "http://www.crossbooks.com/verse.asp?ref=Pr+1%3A9" 1:9 (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

Jesus says happiness can be found where there is mistreatment. Everyone wants to be liked; it is our nature. It is not possible to please everyone, especially if you are a Christian. A person who lives a genuine Christian life can be a real nuisance. Persecution can be a character builder. Persecution can make us a more effective witness (Sermon Outlines for Seekers, Original work copyright © 1996 The Standard Publishing Company. All rights reserved).

There are several reasons why we should feel fortunate when persecution comes our way.
First of all, Jesus said, concerning the persecuted, "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mat, 5:10). Those who suffer persecution "for my sake," Jesus says, have the promise of the blessings of heaven. Notice that this blessing DOES NOT come in suffering for "our sakes," nor for the "sake of our personal wants," nor for the "sake of some error" we might hold, but for the "SAKE OF CHRIST!" Many suffer persecution, but it is for the wrong reason, and as a result, theirs IS NOT the kingdom of heaven. Happy is the man who suffers as a Christian for the sake of Christ because he will receive the blessing of heaven (“Blessed Are They That Have Been Persecuted For Righteousness Sake”, Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/blessed_persecuted.html).
Closely related, and yet I believe different, is the "reward in heaven" (Mat. 5:12) we receive for suffering for the name of Christ. I believe there will be degrees of punishment in hell (Lk. 12:47-48; 2 Pet. 2:21-22), as there will be special rewards in heaven (1 Cor. 3:12-15). The Bible teaches that those who suffer for the sake of Christ will receive a special reward from the Lord in heaven (“Blessed Are They That Have Been Persecuted For Righteousness Sake”, Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/blessed_persecuted.html).

A final benefit to be derived from persecution is clearly stated by our Lord's physical brother, "Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations. Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. And let patience have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing" (Jam. 1:2-4). We should feel fortunate when persecution comes our way for we mature as Christians as a result - if we handle the situation with wisdom (“Blessed Are They That Have Been Persecuted For Righteousness Sake”, Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/blessed_persecuted.html).

The inspired words of Paul ring true, "And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28). Thus, "Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake" (Mat. 5:10) (“Blessed Are They That Have Been Persecuted For Righteousness Sake”, Tom Moore, http://www.seekyefirst.us/a/blessed_persecuted.html).

1 Peter 2:11-17, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (NAS).

Peter was writing to Christians who were suffering for righteousness' sake. The time and location would strongly imply this and there is evidence within the epistle (1:6 & 4:14) (“Victims, But Still Obligated!,” Warren E. Berkley, July 1998, http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-1-peter-2-11-17.htm).

 Think about this. Peter was writing to a persecuted, suffering people, and he told them:
"Abstain from fleshly lusts." Make sure your conduct is honorable. Obey the laws and ordinances of man.
"Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." One simple lesson to learn is: IN TIME OF HARDSHIP, WE ARE NOT EXCUSED FROM DUTY. We must not push duty aside in order to survive; rather, we must engage in our duty to survive!! Obedience to God does not make hardship harder, it makes it easier! (“Victims, But Still Obligated!,” Warren E. Berkley, July 1998, http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-1-peter-2-11-17.htm).
"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."

Peter refers to his brethren as "sojourners" and "pilgrims." SOJOURNERS are travelers, who haven't reached their final destination yet (Heb. 11:9; Phil. 3:20). PILGRIMS are temporary visitors - people who are just passing through. Both expressions emphasize that this world is not our home; heaven is our final destination. (“Victims, But Still Obligated!,” Warren E. Berkley, July 1998, http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-1-peter-2-11-17.htm).

The final beatitude (vv. 10-12) rounds off the series (cf. v. 3) with the assurance that like the “poor,” those persecuted are also blessed because they participate in the kingdom of God. Those experiencing persecution have evoked hostility not because of misconduct or selfish ambitions, but because of their devotion to God's will (cf. 1 Pet 3:14; Pe+4%3A12-14" 4:12-14). In this text righteousness is best understood as emphasizing a behavior or ethical stance in keeping with the will of God (cf. v. 6). However, it should be observed that the beatitude (v. 10) is followed by another (v. 11), now in the second person (blessed are you), which pronounces a “blessed” state upon those persecuted for Jesus' sake. The conduct which is described as “righteous” behavior is therefore defined as that which identifies with Jesus and his mission. For Matthew, Jesus is both the standard and source of true righteousness (cf. Phil. 3:9) (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).

5:11-12. Those enduring the world's hostilities and insults can even now rejoice because the hope of future reward makes bearable present suffering. While Matthew's Gospel speaks much of “reward” (5:46; 6:1-6; 6:18; 10:41; 16:27; 19:27-30), the ultimate blessing of the faithful should not be construed as some meritorious claim upon God. The righteous simply stand in a noble succession of true servants (i.e., the prophets) who endure opposition and hostility for the sake of God's redemptive plan. They are under no illusion that such conduct places God in their debt. In fact, their reward in heaven is vastly out of proportion to their earthly accomplishment (19:29-20:16; 25:2, 23). Future hopes should not obscure the fact that the presence of the kingdom brings transforming power and salvation even in the present (College Press New Testament Commentary: with the NIV).


Beatitudes Lesson One   |   Beatitudes Lesson Two   |   Beatitudes Lesson Three   |   Beatitudes Lesson Four   |   Beatitudes Lesson Five   |   Beatitudes Lesson Six   |   Beatitudes Lesson Seven   |   Beatitudes Lesson Eight   |   Beatitudes Lesson Nine   |   Beatitudes Lesson Ten



 %%