What Does the Bible Say About Persecution?

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Persecution is part of the Christian walk and will increase the closer we get to the end times. Anyone who believes in Jesus and lives godly should expect to be treated in a similar way as Jesus was because the world hates Jesus and all who belong to him. Persecution can manifest itself in different ways, such as violence, bullying, ostracism, or injustice. Persecution can also come from different sources, such as from one’s own family, from secular people, from state authorities and from religious institutions. Those who suffer persecution need to persevere, continue to live holy lives, refrain from retaliation, show love, pray for those who persecute, trust in God’s faithfulness, and wait patiently and hopefully for God’s rescue. Although it is extremely difficult to be persecuted for one’s faith, one can still rejoice, because the persecution is indirect proof that the worldly persecutors recognize Jesus in us, which means that we belong to the kingdom of God and have our names written in the Book of Life. One will also experience a more tangible presence of the Holy Spirit and can therefore feel great inner peace and guidance despite external difficulties.

Bible Verses

44But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,(Mt 5:44)

18“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember 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 also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.(Jn 15:18–21)

9“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.(Mk 13:9–13)

19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.(Ro 12:19–21)

26If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.(1 Co 12:26)

1About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. 2He killed James the brother of John with the sword, 3and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread.(Ac 12:1–3)

12Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,(2 Ti 3:12)

20For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.(1 Pe 2:20–23)

12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.(1 Pe 4:12–16)

Study Questions

  1. In what ways can you be persecuted?
  2. Is there anything positive about being persecuted?
  3. How should a church stand up for those who are persecuted?
  4. Do you have personal experience of being persecuted for your faith?
  5. How to behave towards those who persecute?
  6. How can you be happy in the midst of persecution?

Additional Bible Verses

John 17:14-15, 1 John 3:13, Acts 14:20b-22, 1 Thess 2:14-16, Acts 4:27-31, Gal 4:29, Heb 11:32-38, Mark 10:29-30, 1 Thess 3:4, 1 Pet 2:12, 1 Pet 3:16, Rom 5:3-5, Rom 12:15, Rom 8:18, Heb 13:5-6, 2 Cor 4:7-11, Luk 6:28, 1 Pet 3:14-17, Jas 1:2-4, Phil 3:10, 2 Cor 12:10, Matt 24:7-10, 2 Thess 1:4-5.

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