Philippians 1:29. for to you it has been granted (graciously conferred) (3SAPI) for (on behalf of) Christ's sake, not only to believe (PAN) in Him, but also to suffer (PAN) for (on behalf of) His sake, (NASB: Lockman)
Amplified: For you have been granted [the privilege] for Christ's sake not only to believe in (adhere to, rely on, and trust in) Him, but also to suffer in His behalf. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NIV: For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, (NIV - IBS)
NLT: For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: You are given, in this battle, the privilege not merely of believing in Christ but also of suffering for his sake (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: And the reason why you should not be terrified is because to you that very thing was given graciously as a favor for the sake of Christ and in His behalf, not only to be believing on Him but also to be suffering for His sake and in His behalf, (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: because to you it was granted, on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also on behalf of him to suffer;
|FOR TO YOU IT HAS BEEN GRANTED FOR CHRIST'S SAKE: hoti humin echaristhe (3SAPI ) to huper Christou: (Acts 5:41; Ro 5:3; Jas 1:2; 1Pe 4:13)
For (hoti) (see term of explanation) explains the reason the saints at Philippi did not need to be terrified by their opponents. Why? Because the opposition had been bequeathed to them from God as a gift of grace as explained below!
Vincent writes that (hoti) for "justifies the preceding statement, but with special reference to soteria [word study]. The evidence that your courage is a divine token of salvation lies in the fact that God has graciously bestowed on you, along with faith in Christ, the privilege of suffering with Him. For faith implies oneness with Christ, and therefore fellowship with His sufferings (Ro 8:17-note; 2Th 1:5; 2Ti 2:12-note; Php 3:10-note). That you suffer with Christ proves your union with Him, and your union with Christ insures your salvation. (Philippians 1:29-30 Commentary Online)
Lange's Commentary "For unto you it was given confirms the statement in Php 1:28, the last words of which (apo theou = from God) led the Apostle to adopt the passive form here. It is just you who are struggling and suffering together, to whom this grace [or undeserved favor] has been granted (charizomai) by God. Hence "you" (humin) has the emphatic position. (Philippians 1:27-30 Commentary Online)
You (humin) is emphatic by position and corresponds with the humon in Php 1:28.
TWO DIVINE GIFTS
Granted (5483) (charizomai [word study] from charis [word study] = grace, unmerited favor) signifies a gift of grace and is the same verb Paul used in Php 2:9 (note) to describe the "bestowal" of the Name above every name upon Jesus. Suffering for the sake of Christ is the gift of grace or as both Barclay and Phillips put it "the privilege".
Charizomai is notes especially a grant of free favor or of kindness and thus is often used of free forgiveness (Lk 7:42, 2Co 2:7, 10, Ep 4:32-note, Col 3:13-note), sometimes of the work of free grace and salvation (Ro 8:32-note, 1Co 2:12), of an arbitrary, extra-legal, giving up of a prisoner to others, either for their freedom or penalty (Ac 3:14, 25:11, 16).
H C G Moule says that charizomai in this context speaks of "associations of sovereignty, favor, boon, (and) forms a noble paradox."
Eadie observes that…
Note the two gifts: (1) The gift of faith which enables us to believe in Christ in the first place. Without this gift from the Lord, we would never be saved in the first place. (2) Then there is the gift of suffering—but it is the gift no one wants.
Entering into the new covenant and becoming one with Christ brings believers into a unique fellowship, one that carries with it the privilege of sharing in His suffering (Php 3:10-note), or as some have referred to it as "The Fellowship of the Unashamed."
Although our flesh shrinks from this genre of teaching (when was the last time you preached a sermon on God has granted you a gift… to suffer!?), the clarion call to suffer is not unique to the writings of Paul, for Jesus also warned His disciples (and us) that
Keep in mind the Scriptural principle that the cross always precedes the crown -- temporal suffering now but eternal glory in the hereafter. The meaning and value of the suffering lay in the fact that it is for Christ's sake. A lot of suffering is self-made, the result of sinful behavior or actions and is not the "quality" of suffering Paul is referring to here.
Suffering for the Name of Christ develops our spiritual muscles and gives us fresh courage to face whatever foe we may encounter. And let us never forget that our side ultimately wins! We need the attitude of the early Christians one of whom was addressed by a scoffer
And the answer of the unperturbed Christian was bold
When you suffer, apply this litmus test -- for whose sake am I suffering? for my name's sake or His? And remember you are not alone…
Peter writes that when we are be attacked by the devil we are to…
All suffering not for Christ's sake, albeit very real, is but worthless wood, hay and stubble at the judgment seat of Christ. Don't suffer for the wrong reason.
Paul describing the privilege the Macedonia churches had to suffer for Christ wrote that in a
Lightfoot adds that
Dr. Griffith John wrote that once when he was surrounded by a hostile heathen crowd and was beaten, he put his hand to his face and when he withdrew it, saw that it was bathed in blood.
Is it not remarkable that even suffering is exalted by Christianity to such a lofty plane? As someone has said even “an apparent trifle burns with the fire immortal when it is in communion with the Infinite.” The cross dignifies and ennobles.
Spurgeon has an interesting thought..
Gordon Fee has a pithy commentary on the modern evangelical church writing that…
NOT ONLY TO BELIEVE IN HIM BUT ALSO TO SUFFER FOR HIS SAKE: ou monon to eis auton pisteuein (PAN) alla kai to huper autou paschein (PAN): (Mt 16:17; Jn1:12, 13; 6:44; 6:45 Act 13:39; 14:27; Ep 2:8; Col 2:12; Jas1:17 18)
Believe in Him - Is literally "continually believing into Him" which H C G Moule says suggests
Believe (4100) (pisteuo [word study]) means to be persuaded of, to place confidence in, to trust in, to place reliance upon. There is an active staking of one's life on the claims of God. In other words Biblical, saving belief denotes more than passive intellectual assent to the facts about Jesus. The demons believe (pisteuo) that God is one and yet they are clearly not saved (Jas 2:19-note;)! The faith in and reliance upon Jesus involves not only the consent of one's intellect or mind, but also involves a surrender of one's heart and will to the truth about Jesus (cp Jn 14:6, Acts 4:12, Jn 8:24, Ro 10:9, 10:10-note, et al). Note that the verb is in the present tense. indicating that this belief is the saint's "lifestyle", so that not only did faith alone bring about justification, faith alone "energizes" our day by day sanctification. We begin this new life in Christ by faith and we continue in faith (in contrast to trying to merit sanctification by our "works", cf Ga 3:1, 2, 3, 4:8, 9, 10 [= "legalism"], Ga 5:1, 5, 7, 13, 16-note; 2Co 5:7)
Repentance is God's gift (cp Acts 5:31, 11:18, 2Ti 2:25-note, Ro 2:4-note) as is faith (Eph 2:8, 9-note), so that from the beginning to the end, our salvation is a gracious gift from a loving God. As Jonah recorded "Salvation is from Jehovah" (Jonah 2:9)
W E Vine has the following definition of Biblical belief writing that it is…
The Greek scholar Marvin Vincent adds that pisteuo…
Hendriksen writes that we are to…
Suffer (3958) (pascho) means essentially what happens to a person experience. It means to undergo something; to experience a sensation, to experience an impression from an outside source, to undergo an experience (usually difficult) and normally with the implication of physical or psychological suffering.
Pascho can refer to experiencing something pleasant, but in the present context (and most NT contexts) it refers to experiencing something trying, distressing or painful.
In context, our present suffering for Christ is viewed paradoxically as a gift of grace or unmerited divine favor (charizomai [word study]), for we as sinful men no more deserve to suffer for Christ than we deserve to be saved by His precious blood! But now, dearly beloved, chosen saint of God, have you ever considered your suffering for the Savior in the light of this holy truth? Remember truth renews our mind and transforms our thinking, and in this case the truth about suffering should serve to prepare us to persevere with praise when persecution comes in its variegated forms! Contrast the "before and after" attitude of Peter in Acts 5:41 with his response resulting from his failure to understand the high calling and privilege of suffering with and for the Savior - Mt 26:71, 72, 73, 74, 75! Truth received and assimilated transforms a man from cowardice to courage!
Webster (1828) says that to suffer is
To feel or bear what is painful, disagree able or distressing, either to the body or mind. We suffer pain of body; we suffer grief of mind. The criminal suffers punishment; the sinner suffers the pangs of conscience in this life, and is condemned to suffer the wrath of an offended God. We often suffer wrong; we suffer abuse; we suffer injustice… To feel or undergo pain of body or mind; to bear what is inconvenient. We suffer with pain, sickness or sorrow. We suffer with anxiety. We suffer by evils past and by anticipating others to come. We suffer from fear and from disappointed, hopes.
Of mental suffering (Pilate's wife Mt 27:19), of one suffering from epilepsy (Mt 17:15), of the events in Jesus' life leading up to and including the Cross (Mt 16:21, 17:12, Mk 8:31, 9:12, 22, Lk 17:25, 22:15, 24:26, 46, Acts 1:3, 3:18, 17:3, He 13:12, 1Pe 2:21, 23, 4:1), of physical harm as from poison (Acts 28:5), of suffering for what is right (Php 1:29, 1Th 2:14, 1Pe 2:19, 20, 3:14, 17), of suffering according to the will of God (1Pe 4:9). Pascho in the NT describes suffering that has a termination (1Pe 5:10) and is not to be feared by believers (Re 2:10).
Paul understood this divine gift (cp 2Ti 1:12-note - notice why he suffered [2Ti 1:11] and how he was enabled to suffer - it was not just what he knew but Who he knew!). Jesus understands your suffering for He has walked this road as no other man (see passages above on events leading to the Cross, cp He 2:18-note, He 5:8-note, 1Pe 2:21-note)
Gromacki rightly observes that…
Most Christians (Ed: Especially those in the ease and comfort and relative prosperity of American Christianity) are like Peter in his earlier discipleship. They want the glory of the kingdom without the sufferings of the cross. They do not consider any suffering to be a gift. They want faith without conflict. These reactions show a great lack in their understanding of God’s dealings with His children. (Gromacki, R., Dr. Stand United in Joy: An Exposition of Philippians. The Woodlands, TX: Kress Christian Publications)
Thayer on pascho…
from Homer down; to be affected or have been affected, to feel, have a sensible experience, to undergo -- used in either a good or a bad sense; of perils and deliverance from them (Esther 9:26); o stiffer sadly, be in bad plight, of a sick person, (Mt 17:15)
1. (majority of the NT uses) In a bad sense, of misfortunes, to suffer, to undergo evils, to be afflicted (so everywhere in Homer and Hesiod; also in the other Greek writings where it is used absolutely): absolutely
2. In a good sense, of pleasant experiences with only one possible such use in NT (Gal 3:4)
The basic meaning of pascho is “to experience something that comes from outside,” At first the “something” is usually bad, and while a neutral use develops, the idea of suffering evil remains so strong that an addition is needed to show that good is meant unless the context is very plain.
2. The forensic use “to suffer punishment” is fairly old, and occurs especially for corporal of capital punishment.
3. Evils suffered are misfortune and disfavor (human of divine). In the case of sickness the idea is that of suffering from it rather than under it. The stress is always on the experience of evil rather than painful feelings. When pascho denotes emotions, the reference is more to moods than to sufferings. The group raises the question of suffering, and to this many answers are attempted. Tragedy suggests learning through suffering, Stoicism aims at freedom in its negation (apatheia), the Hermetic writings promise redemption from it, at first by initiation and definitively, after death, by deification. (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)
The basic meaning of the verb (pascho), in use from Homer onwards, is that of experiencing something which stems from outside of myself but which affects me, either for good or ill. The opposite idea is expressed by vbs. denoting freedom of action… pascho originally meant nothing more than “to be affected by”, but how one was affected had to be expressed by additional words, e.g. kakos paschein, to be in a bad situation (Homer, Od. 16, 275); eu paschein, to be in a good situation (Sophocles, OC 1489). However, since such additions tended to be negative, the verb itself came to have a negative meaning, unless there were clear indications to the contrary. Thus the idea of being affected is replaced by that of suffering… In most cases it is a matter of being delivered up to an adverse fate or to malevolent gods and men (Diogenes Laertius, 5, 61; Diodorus Siculus, 13, 98, 2), and only rarely refers to enduring a punishment. (Brown, Colin, Editor. New International Dictionary of NT Theology. 1986. Zondervan or Computer version)
to experience something, be treated’ (pascho expresses the passive idea corresponding to the active idea in poieo [to do]) of everything that befalls a person, whether good or ill. Yet its usage developed in such a way that pascho came to be used less and less frequently in a good sense, and never thus without some clear indication, at least from the context, that the good sense is meant… In all other places, as always in LXX, in an unfavorable sense suffer, endure. (Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature)
Pascho - 42x in 41v - Mt 16:21; 17:12, 15; 27:19; Mark 5:26; 8:31; 9:12; Luke 9:22; 13:2; 17:25; 22:15; 24:26, 46; Acts 1:3; 3:18; 9:16; 17:3; 28:5; 1 Cor 12:26; 2 Cor 1:6; Gal 3:4; Phil 1:29; 1 Thess 2:14; 2 Thess 1:5; 2 Tim 1:12; Heb 2:18; 5:8; 9:26; 13:12; 1 Pet 2:19, 20, 21, 23; 3:14, 17, 18; 4:1, 15, 19; 5:10; Rev 2:10. NAS = endured(1), endured… sufferings(1), suffer(22), suffered(10), suffering(4), suffers(2). Notice that First Peter is clearly a major "treatise" on suffering!
Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.
Matthew 17:12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands."
Matthew 17:15 "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic (literally = "he is moonstruck," possibly meaning "lunatic" although now the term is generally regarded as referring to some sort of seizure disorder such as epilepsy - NET Bible Note) and is very ill ("suffers terribly"); for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.
Matthew 27:19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him."
Mark 5:26 and had endured ("suffered") much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse--
Mark 8:31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
Mark 9:12 And He said to them, "Elijah does first come and restore all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt?
Luke 9:22 saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day."
Luke 13:2 And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate?
Luke 17:25 "But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
Luke 22:15 And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
Luke 24:26 "Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?"
Luke 24:46 and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,
Acts 1:3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.
Acts 3:18 "But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
Acts 9:16 (context Acts 9:15 Jesus speaking of Paul's "race" of faith) for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."
Acts 17:3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ."
Acts 28:5 However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm.
1 Corinthians 12:26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with (sumpascho = speaks of an intimate sharing with another, feeling their pain - see the prefix used in this verb = sun/syn) it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
2 Corinthians 1:6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer;
Galatians 3:4 Did you suffer so many things in vain-- if indeed it was in vain?
Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
1 Thessalonians 2:14-note For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews,
2 Thessalonians 1:5 This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering.
2 Timothy 1:12-note For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
Hebrews 2:18-note For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Hebrews 5:8-note Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
Hebrews 9:26-note Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Hebrews 13:12-note Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.
1 Peter 2:19-note For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.
1 Peter 2:20-note For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
1 Peter 2:21-note For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,
1 Peter 2:23-note and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;
1 Peter 3:14-note But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED,
1 Peter 3:17-note For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
1 Peter 3:18-note For Christ also died (apothnesko - see note below) for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
Comment: Note that some manuscripts have apothnesko (to die) in place of pascho. The NET note says that "Although the external evidence slightly favors apothnesko, such may be a secondary reading. Intrinsically, pascho both fits the context better… "
NET rendering = 1Peter 3:18 Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit.
1 Peter 4:1-note Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,
1 Peter 4:15-note Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler;
1 Peter 4:19-note Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
1 Peter 5:10-note After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Revelation 2:10-note 'Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
The suffering of a saint for the sake of Christ can take many forms: physical pain, isolation, loneliness, grief, anxiety, etc. Because so many saints do not understand the benefits of suffering, few of them view suffering for their testimony as a blessing, even though Scripture clearly teaches that is what it is. Suffering is one of the tools God uses to mold his children into vessels that bring glory to His Son (cf. Jas 1:3, 4-note; 1Pe 1:6, 7-note). Suffering even perfected the Lord Jesus (Heb 2:10-note).
In his last words to Timothy Paul alerted him to the same truth…
Hendriksen adds that…
John Phillips encourages all suffering saints reminding us that…
Suffering on behalf of Christ is one of God's gifts to us
The saints at Thessalonica understood what Paul was saying…
Walvoord on suffering…
John Wesley was riding on his horse when it dawned on him he had not been persecuted for three days. "Maybe I've sinned or been disobedient." He got off his horse, got on knees. A redneck on other side of road recognized the evangelist and heaved a rock at him. It bounced off the road, just missing Wesley. He leaped to his feet and shouted, "Thanks be to God! Everything's all right. I still have God's presence with me." May his tribe increase to the glory of God. Amen.
Donald English rightly said that…
How did the Apostles respond to this illegal treatment from their nation’s religious leaders? They rejoiced! William Temple said that Christians are
When Jesus called Saul to be His apostle, He declared
Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey returned back through the cities (where they had spoken the gospel and made disciples)
Paul made it very clear that living the Christian life was not an easy thing and that they would all have to expect trials and sufferings before they would see the Lord in glory. Christians therefore need to be reminded to expect hardships and persecution and not be dismayed by them.
Paul teaches that believers are God's
Proof of the believer’s ultimate glory is that he suffers because of His Lord, whether this suffering comes as mockery, ridicule, or physical persecution. The sufferings in this life create reactions in us that reflect the genuine condition of our soul. God allows suffering to drive believers to dependence on Him-an evidence of their true salvation. Suffering because of our faith not only gives evidence that we belong to God and are destined for heaven but also is a type of preparation for heaven. That is why Paul was so eager to experience “the fellowship of [Christ’s] sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Php 3:10-note)
As McGee asks
SYNOPSIS ON SUFFERING
Summary of Peter's perspective on suffering - Note first that Peter is describing the suffering believer's experience and emphasizes that we must suffer grief in all kinds of trials in this present life (1Pe 1:6-note) but that these trials demonstrate the genuineness of our faith and also result in praise and glory when Jesus comes (1Pe 1:7-note). As we live godly in this present evil age (1Pe 2:13-25-note), suffering may come and thus Peter exhorts us to bear up under unjust suffering because we are conscious of God (1Pe 2:19-note) remembering that Jesus suffered and left us His example to follow in His steps (1Pe 2:21-note). And so our attitude is to be one of trust in these truths and in the ultimate justice of God (1Pe 2:22, 23-note). When the believer does good and yet still suffers for it, he or she is not to fear (1Pe 3:14-note), but must remember it is God's will to do right regardless of the consequences (1Pe 3:17-note), and that Jesus is Lord and is in charge of all events, and despite the suffering, must display so much hope that others will ask about it (1Pe 3:15-note), all the while keeping a good conscience in the suffering (1Pe 3:16-note).
To encourage his readers, Peter points to the fact that although Jesus did only good, he, not the unrighteous men who were his opponents, suffered (1Pe 3:18-note) and that God used Jesus' suffering to bring us to himself (1Pe 3:18-note). Peter's point is that when we suffer despite doing good, we too can be sure that God has some good purpose in view. Peter goes on to remind us of Christ's suffering and triumph so that we might have the same attitude He had to suffering and that such an attitude would not only make us ready to suffer but influence us to stop sinning (1Pe 4:1-note) We are not to be surprised when we begin to experience suffering (1Pe 4:12-note) and that when we suffer it is not the consequences of evil behavior (1Pe 4:15-note). When we live by the will of God, we "suffer as a Christian" (1Pe 4:16-note), and this is a cause for praise rather than shame. And so when we suffer in God's will, we are to keep on trusting in the sovereign God, the Creator (for if He can create everything, surely I can trust Him with my momentary suffering). (1Pe 4:19-note). Finally, we need to keep firmly fixed in our mind the truth that suffering is only for "a little while" and after the "cross" comes the "crown" and the entering into our eternal destiny of share "his eternal glory" (1Pe 5:10-note).
In Col 1:23 (note) Paul says that he fills
Our Lord's sufferings for righteousness' sake which He endured as a result of human antagonism against Himself, ended with His death on the Cross. He has left with the Church the message of God's righteousness demand and gracious provision of salvation, the preaching and teaching of which draws the antagonism of the world. Thus, as the saints suffer for righteousness'' sake, they substitute for their absent Lord not only in the task of preaching the message He has given them but also in suffering for His sake and in His stead. Don't misunderstand… our suffering for Christ's sake has no atoning value for the full price for complete atonement of sins and redemption of men from bondage thereof has been paid at Calvary by our Lord (Jn 19:30)
In sum, the presence of suffering in the believer's life is a divine gift! (And recall the truth of Jas 1:17-note) If we were suffering for ourselves, it would be no privilege, but because we are suffering for and with Christ, it is a high and holy honor. After all, He suffered for us, and a willingness to suffer for Him is the very least we can do to show our love and gratitude.
An anonymous poet once penned the following words which speak to the issue of suffering in a Christian's life…
Not till each loom is silent,
The dark threads were as needful
A Few Blessed "Dividends" of the Gift of Suffering
(1) it takes our eyes off of earthly comforts;
(2) it weeds out superficial believers;
(3) it strengthens the faith of those who endure; and
(4) it serves as an example to others who may follow us.
F B Meyer (Our Daily Homily) wrote that…
G Campbell Morgan writes that…
The late Ethel Waters, a performer who often sang at Billy Graham crusades was best known before she became a Christian for her rendition of the popular song, “Stormy Weather.” Later as a Christian she was once asked to sing this song, but replied,
“No Sir, I’ll never sing ‘Stormy Weather again, since Jesus came into my heart I’ve never had stormy weather like I had before I knew him.”
Or as someone has well said we can sometimes see more through a tear than through a telescope.
Or ponder the perspective on suffering by the Puritan saint Richard Baxter who said…
Weakness and pain helped me to study how to die; that set me on studying how to live. (and) Suffering so unbolts the door of the heart that the Word hath easier entrance.
Suffering times are teaching times. - William Bridge
D A Carson on suffering…
The sovereign and utterly good God created a good universe. We human beings rebelled; rebellion is now so much a part of our make-up that we are all enmeshed in it. Every scrap of suffering we face turns on this fact… There is a certain kind of maturity that can be attained only through the discipline of suffering… The staying power of our faith is neither demonstrated nor developed until it is tested by suffering.
A W Tozer…
Willingness to suffer for Jesus' sake—this is what we have lost from the Christian church. We want our Easter to come without the necessity of a Good Friday. We forget that before the Redeemer could rise and sing among His brethren He must first bow His head and suffer among His brethren!
We forget so easily that in the spiritual life there must be the darkness of the night before there can be the radiance of the dawn. Before the life of resurrection can be known, there must be the death that ends the dominion of self. It is a serious but a blessed decision, this willingness to say, "I will follow Him no matter what the cost. I will take the cross no matter how it comes!"
From Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (SBJT 4:2 - Summer 2000) in an article on suffering in which several theologians were asked specific questions on this subject…
SBJT: From what perspective should Christians view suffering?
C. Ben Mitchell responds…
On my bookshelf is a favorite two-frame cartoon strip. In the first frame a little man is shown standing in a torrential downpour, eyes lifted toward heaven, wailing, “Why me?” In the last frame, the voice of God calls down from the dark sky, “Why not?” I saved that cartoon strip because it reminds me of a profound biblical principle about suffering. The classical theodicy problem begins with the question, “Why is there suffering in the world?” Yet, this little cartoon evokes what I take to be an even more profound question, “Why shouldn’t there be suffering in the world?” Given that we live in a universe that has been compromised by the effects of human sinfulness, is this not a more appropriate question? The question may be focused even more pointedly, “Why shouldn’t Christians suffer?”
Doubtless many Christians have and will suffer intensely. Whether from the ravages of disease, persecution, or disaster, Christians are not exempt from the pangs of living in a fallen world. A Christian wife of unflagging devotion to her husband learns that he is cheating on her and plans to move in with his adulterous partner. Faithful Christians are laid off in corporate downsizing, despite their hard work and loyalty. A godly nurse who has given her life in service to the weak and ill finds herself the victim of Lou Gehrig’s disease. A spiritually mature couple pray to have a baby for 10 years and invest more than one hundred thousand dollars in infertility treatments, all with no results. Christians in other countries find themselves tortured, raped, and murdered for their faith. When tragedy strikes, the almost knee-jerk reaction seems to be, “Why me?” Instead, it seems to me, Christians ought always to ask when they learn of the suffering of others, “Why not me?” Why shouldn’t Christians suffer?
Christians are better prepared than anyone else to endure suffering. First, Christians alone understand the cause of suffering. We know that, in a deep sense, this is not the way it is supposed to be. That is, prior to the entrance of sin into the world there was no pain, suffering, or trouble. God’s refrain over his creation was “it was good.” Everything conformed to his purpose. After the disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, the refrain changed to “curse,” “pain,” and “toil” (Genesis 3:17, 18, 19). Thorns and thistles grew where once the gracious fruit had grown. Where once abundant life thrived, the report now is, “in Adam all die … ” (1Cor 15:22). Where once the creation rejoiced in God’s goodness, it now “waits in eager anticipation for the sons of God to be revealed” when “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Ro 8:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23). Much of the suffering and many of the trials we experience are endemic to life in a fallen world. Christians acknowledge God’s justice in responding to sin in this way. We understand that God’s own holy character demands that the rebellion of Adam and Eve be rewarded with punishment. Christians, of all people, should understand why we suffer.
Second, Christians alone know the Father’s love and purpose in suffering. We know that our gracious heavenly Father never does anything to harm us. Just as it is his character to punish sin, it is his nature to love his children. Since he is the sovereign God, nothing can happen to us that he does not superintend or control for his good purpose. What is that purpose? It is at least twofold: to glorify himself and to make his children more like Jesus. Through Christ, the Father’s heart is turned toward us in love, not anger. When we ask for bread he does not give us a stone. When we ask for fish he does not give us a serpent. Or as the hymn-writer put it: “the flames shall not harm you, I only design, thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.” Since the Father is animated by love toward his children, Christians should endure suffering knowing that God’s purpose is good and that he will not place more upon us than he will equip us to handle.
Third, Christians alone have been granted faith to trust God and believe his loving purposes will prevail. Suffering evokes either doubt of God’s goodness or trust in God’s goodness. Some respond to suffering by rejecting God himself or by repudiating his goodness. Not Christians! With eyes of faith we can see (dimly sometimes, more clearly at other times) that while we may not understand the suffering now, we will see God’s goodness in it in the future.
The apostle Peter reminds believers who were suffering intensely that the events which resulted in their suffering “have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1Pet 1:7). By faith we see through the suffering to the shining face of our gracious Father. Perseverance in the face of suffering is made possible through faith (cf. Heb 11:32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39).
Finally, Christians have hope; hope that enables them to see through the suffering to the goal of suffering. Why shouldn’t they suffer, seeing that they have an inheritance that far surpasses what this world has to offer? Twice in a passage filled with pathos, the apostle Paul remarks that “we do not lose heart” during these “light and momentary troubles” (2Cor 4:16, 17, 18, 2Co 5:15:21). Note the images of suffering in this passage. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2Co 4:8, 9, 10). “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2Co 4:16). “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling” (2Co 5:2). “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened … ” (2Co 5:4). These are powerful exclamations of the suffering Paul and his brother and sisters were experiencing. At the same time, he (and they) can be “always confident” (2Co 5:6), living by faith, not by sight (2Co 5:7), longing to be at home with the Lord (2Co 5:8).
Or consider the apostle Peter’s encouragement to suffering Christians when he sets before them the hope of their inheritance “that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:4–5). Even though “now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Pet 1:6). Their palpable experience of suffering was to be kept in perspective by viewing it in light of the hope of eternal life yet to come.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is, of course, “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Most contemporary Christians emphasize the assertion that precedes the conjunction—viz., to glorify God. The hope held out for us in the gospel of Christ is that those who have embraced Jesus by faith will benefit through the assertion following the conjunction— viz., enjoying him forever. Why shouldn’t Christians suffer, since they have laid up for them such a blessed hope?
One of the most mysterious passages of the Bible for contemporary Western Christians is the book of Philippians. The fellowship of sharing Christ’s sufferings (Phil 3:10) is a fellowship no one wants. Nevertheless, Paul’s exhortation to the church in Philippi was that “it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him … ” (Phil 1:29).
SBJT: In what way is our suffering an opportunity to display the goodness of God?
Mark Dever responds…
In the fall of 1984, I was preaching through the book of Job in the evening services of a Congregational Church in New England. I was in seminary, and my wife and I were committed to minister in the town we lived in. After having been involved in the church a couple of years, what I and others thought was particularly needed was expositional preaching. So we began an evening service, and every Sunday night for months I preached from Jude, 1 Peter, Genesis, and Job.
It was in that series on Job that God taught me something new about suffering. In some ways, I feel a bit ashamed to say I know about suffering, when I consider what eyes may read these words, but I know that the Great Sufferer not only reads but knows my heart.
As I was preaching through the book of Job, I began to notice something new about Job’s sufferings, namely, God’s marvelous sovereignty in his sufferings, and even God’s pleasure in choosing Job to suffer. For Job to suffer as he did was an honor. That was an amazing thought to me. Job had many reasons to trust God— God had been good to him by giving him life and caring for him all those years. But Job did not have what he probably desperately wanted. He did not know the reason for his suffering. What you and I know from reading the beginning of the book remained hidden from Job.
Satan wrongly accused Job, charging that Job was only serving God for his own selfish ends. Satan said that Job was only serving God because God had made him wealthy. But when all the material trappings were taken away, Job still worshipped God.
Satan will try to find fault with us even in our obedience to God! So Satan then accused Job of only serving God because his health remained. Satan switched his tactics, suggesting that health was Job’s only concern. God disagreed with Satan, but He allowed him to take away Job’s health, yet preserving his life. But Satan was still wrong. Even in the midst of his ever-present physical suffering, with his own body decaying and his skin erupting into boils, Job still worshipped God.
Job’s changing circumstances revealed that as wealthy as he was, he was not worshipping God because of his wealth. And Job’s changing circumstances revealed that as healthy as he was, he was not worshipping God because of his health. A life of true devotion to God is not dependent on our circumstances; it is not a life devoted to God’s blessings.
Job’s friends suggested that he suffered because of some sin he refused to confess. But far from being right, we the readers know that Job’s friends got it all wrong. Job’s trials were not because of his vices at all, but because of his virtue! God had bragged on Job! The amazing divine boast comes in Job 1:8, and again in Job 2:3: “Have you considered my servant Job?”
Not so many months ago, I sat securely on a plane as we taxied for take-off from the Dallas-Fort Worth Regional Airport. With terminals, parking garages, runways and support roads, DFW covers roughly the same area as Manhattan Island. Hundreds and thousands of planes take off from there every day. As I sat securely on the plane, we taxied for take-off. Knowing the great mass of air traffic around that airport, I could have become nervous and untrusting. As we taxied away from the gate and began to prepare for departure, I suppose I could have simply stood up and said, “Stop the plane!” I could have gone to the cockpit and demanded from the captain copies of the taxiing route, the runway we would be using, and the timetable for other flights, in order to satisfy myself that we would, in fact, be safe. As I say, I could have done that. Regardless of the response I would likely have received, I could have tried to satisfy myself. Or, I could do what I did—more habit than virtue—and trust the controllers. I recognized the care and order with which this whole apparently chaotic, potentially disastrous operation was run. And I sat back as we accelerated and lifted off the ground.
How many times do we want to stop the plane in order to understand all the variables before we go? How much do we trust the True Controller, who makes no errors, who never sleeps nor slumbers, nor in whom is the slightest touch of evil.
I wonder if Job, in this life, ever learned that God had bragged on him. I wonder if, in this life, he ever understood his sufferings to be an opportunity from God, a strange compliment. As far as we know, Job simply had to trust the character of God, His very goodness.
When I think about the preaching I did through Job those years ago, I am reminded of how dangerous it can be for us to try to think casually about how God may use this or that tragedy in others’ or even our own lives. To a point, seeking to understand how God may be using a tragedy in our lives is a good and natural practice. It comes out of our human desire for coherence and meaning. It is cognitive breathing. But at a still deeper level, there is no doubt that in all of our lives, times will come in which we are certainly called to trust God when we cannot understand the reason for our suffering. We must all finally rely on His character and purposes, rather than thinking that we have figured out the specifics of His plans. We know His ultimate purposes are good, even if His immediate goodness is sometimes hidden to us in the darkness of His plans: “Behind a frowning providence there hides a smiling face.”
Remember the story of Jesus and his disciples meeting the blind man, recorded in John 9? The disciples asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man, or his parents that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” replied Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life” (John 9:3).
I realize that Job is someone that we would rather meet than emulate. But we may consider Job’s experience and be encouraged! I remember reading some years ago about an actress, who already having a hard year, found out, on the same day, that she had lost her television show and that her husband had left her. She said, “I know the Lord won’t send me more trouble than I have the strength to bear, but I do wish He didn’t have quite such a good opinion of me.” We may feel like that lady some days.
If I am going to be a follower of the Crucified One, I must know that when I suffer, I am being called on to display— perhaps even exquisitely—the glory of God as I continue to serve Him in the midst of my trials.
Do you think that God is speaking to Satan about you today,
If so, like Job, you can be confident of God’s goodness, even if you do not know His immediate plans. As Christians, we may often suffer. We only sometimes understand, but we can always trust.
If you are God’s child, suffering has or will come your way. That is a certainty and so it behooves every saint to understand the following truths regarding suffering…
Reasons for suffering
1. A Gift of Sharing in Christ’s Affliction
You are going to suffer with Him so that you might be glorified with Him. In one sense the affliction of the Lord is still going on in His children. (cp Ro 8:15-note, Ro 8:16, 17-note, Php 3:10-note). The gospel is a gospel of affliction or of suffering and because we are in covenant with Christ we join in and share His affliction, which Paul amplifies in Col 1:24-note writing that…
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church
Why Christ’s afflictions lacking? Recall that the kingdom of God is still a spiritual kingdom. His kingdom now is not of this world and neither is our citizenship (Php 3:20-note). Thus now believers are aliens and strangers, living in a world that has another prince (Satan) rather than the Prince or Jesus. And so we are in a spiritual war (Ep 2:2-note, Ep 6:12-note) against a Satanic hierarchy bent on destroying the children of God and determined to impede the going forth of the gospel. And in this spiritual warfare believers suffer and as they do so we are filling up in our body the afflictions of Jesus Christ. We see this even from the inception of the church (Acts 5:34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41). We can know that anytime that we suffer for righteousness and holiness and the kingdom of Christ, that those who fight against us are in reality fighting against God. Of course they cannot see God, but they can see us and Christ in us if we are walking worthy of the gospel, and consequently they persecute us. And as they attack us we are filling up the afflictions of Christ.
2. Suffering Purifies Believers - to make you more like Jesus (cp 1Pe 1:6, 7-note). When suffering comes and it does not destroy your faith, but causes you to stand firm, it shows the reality of your faith. (Php 1:28).
When silver is refined it is purified in the fire seven times (Psalm 12:6-note) and each time the temperature is made hotter by the silversmith who knows when the sliver is purified. How? When he looks in the silver he sees a perfect image of himself. (cp Jas 1:2-note, Jas 1:3, 4-note). When you begin to experience suffering don’t run, but remain under the suffering remembering that suffering purifies and proves to us that we belong to Jesus Christ (Ro 5:3-note, Ro 5:4, 5-note), The corollary is that you will doubt your salvation when you are walking "your way" and not God's way.
Illustration - Looking on the Wrong Side - Dr. G. F. Pentecost was once trying to comfort a woman who had passed through sore trials. Failing in his efforts to cheer her and dispel her doubts, he took up some embroidery upon which she had been working and said, "What a confusion of threads! Why waste time on a thing like that?" Turning the embroidery over, she said, "Now look at it. You were seeing it from the wrong side." "That's it, exactly," said Dr. Pentecost. "You are looking at your trials from the wrong side. Turn them over and look at them from the right side—that is, from God's side. The Lord is working out a design of His own for your life, and you must look at things from His point of view, and trust His workmanship."—Edwin M. Kerlin
In sum, God uses suffering in our lives to expose our sin because (a) Suffering deters from going astray and leads to obedience. (Psalm 119:67-note); (b) Suffering produces repentance that leads us to salvation from sin.(2Co 7:10); (c) Suffering makes us more inclined to reject sin and to resist fulfilling our selfish desires. Suffering can lead to our living for the will of God. (1Pe 4:1, 2-note)
Illustration - The Ministry of Storm - We were going through a great furniture factory, when our guide, the superintendent, pointed out to us a superbly grained and figured sideboard in the natural wood. "I want you to observe the beauty of this oak," he said. "It is the finest selected timber of its kind, and the secret of the intricate and beautiful graining is just this: that the trees from which it was taken grew in a spot where they were exposed to almost constant conflict with storms." What a suggestive fact! The storm-beaten tree develops the closest and finest and most intricately woven fibers. When it is cut down and the saws lay bare its exquisitely figured grain, the cabinetmaker selects it as the material for his finest work. So with the human life beset by sorrows, tests and trials. If it stands the storm, how the wind of God strengthens and beautifies it! We need life's stress. Character cannot be developed into its strongest and most beautiful forms without it.—B. J., in Elim Evangel
3. Suffering Testifies to the Reality of Your Faith - Believers have received the ministry of the new covenant and are responsible to walk worthy of this high privilege. We have turned from a life that is opposed to Jesus Christ. (cp 2Cor 4:1, 2, 3). Now our very lifestyle speaks of the reality of Jesus Christ. Death works in you – but life and salvation come to others because suffering testifies to the reality of your faith to those that are watching. (cp 2Co 4:7-12)
Realities of suffering
Illustration - Sometimes we are helped by. being hurt. A skilled physician about to perform a delicate operation upon the ear said reassuringly, "I may hurt you, but I will not injure you." How often the great Physician speaks to us the same message if we would only listen! Richer life, more abundant health for every child of his, is his only purpose. Why defeat that purpose?
2. The Lord Will Never Abandon You in the Midst of That Suffering
Hebrews 13:5-note (In the Greek = 4 negatives “I will never never never leave you nor never forsake you”), Heb 13:6-note, 2Ti 4:16, 17-note, Acts 9:15, 16. You may (you will) suffer, but the Lord will never abandon you
Spurgeon - "I Will Not Leave Thee!" - God is with us in sorrows. There is no pang that rends the heart, I might almost say, not one which disturbs the body, but what Jesus Christ has been with you in it all (cp He 2:18-note). Feel you the sorrows of poverty? He "had not where to lay His head." Do you endure the griefs of bereavement? Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus. Have you been slandered for righteousness' sake and has it vexed your spirit? He said, "Reproach hath broken Mine heart." Have you been betrayed? Do not forget that He, too, had His familiar friend who sold Him for the price of a slave. On what stormy seas have you been tossed which have not roared about His boat? Never glen of adversity so dark, so deep, apparently so pathless, but what, in stooping down, you may discover the footprints of the crucified One! In the fires and in the rivers, in the cold of night and under the burning sun, He cries, "I am with you; be not dismayed; for I am both thy Companion and thy God!"
3. Your Life Cannot Be Taken Without God’s Permission
The greatest fear that man has is the fear of death, but believers do not need to be afraid because no man can take our life from you without God's permission (cp He 2:14, 15-note, Mt 10:16,26,28,31, cp Rev 2:10-note). Jesus has in His hands the keys to hell and to death (Revelation 1:18-note). Moses affirms that God is sovereign over life and death…
Dt 32:39 - 'Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.' (cp 1Sa 2:6, 7, 8)
Believers belong to God. We are His possession and the enemy cannot take our life without His permission, so don't fear (cp Rev 2:10-note). In fact for believers death only marks the end of temporal life and the beginning of eternal life, the beginning of all that life is meant to be.
Response in suffering
1. Response toward God - In a word, rejoice! (cp 1Pe 4:12, 13-note, Jas 1:2-note, always = Php 4:4-note, all circumstances = 1Th 5:18-note, with thanks = Eph 5:20-note - which is in context of being filled with the Spirit explaining how this supernatural response is even possible). "God often digs wells of joy with the spade of sorrow!" (Anonymous)
Illustration - Learning in the Dark - We have read that during World War 1, when it was no longer possible to import those beautiful singing canaries from the Harz Mountains, Germany, a dealer in New York decided to start a system of training canaries to sing. He had bird songs put on records, and these proved of value. But one day he made a real discovery which meant success. He found that if he covered the cages with thick cloths, completely shutting out the light, the birds learned their song. The song of the Christian originates in the heart, and many a Christian has learned that God sometimes teaches His children to sing in darkness. Verily, "He giveth songs in the night."—Moody Monthly
2. Response toward the person causing the suffering - When God's enemies are persecuting you, you are not to be terrified but instead should respond to them with gentleness and reverence (Php 1:28, 1Pe 3:14, 15, 16-note). We are to respond to our (God's) enemies the way He responds -- in love (Mt 5:44, 45-note). We are to bless them and do good to them (Ro 12:14-note, Ro 12:17-note, Ro 12:18, 19, 20, 21-note)
3. Response toward believers - Believers are to be of one mind and one heart, united in spirit knowing that the enemy wants to separate believers from the fold (cp Php 2:1-note)
Results of suffering
1. God is glorified
2. Believers are purified
3. Lost may be justified because they see that you are not terrified by your suffering and to them it is an evidence of the fact that they are lost
A FEW MORE TRUTHS
Suffering develops contentment even when we are in need. (Php 4:12-note) Suffering produces steadfastness, which in turn makes us emotionally mature and morally complete. (Jas 1:2, 3, 4-note) Suffering produces endurance, which is a catalyst to refine our character and renew our hope. (Ro 5:3-note, Ro 5:4-note) Suffering, will be used by God for our good. (Ro 8:28-note, cp Ge 50:20) Suffering gives Christians the opportunity to show care toward other Christians who suffer. (1Cor 12:25, 26) Suffering endured, produces compassion that equips us to comfort others. (2Co 1:3, 4) Suffering is used by God to change our perspective, for it can reveal Jesus, who is living within us.(2Co 4:8, 9, 10) Suffering prepares great eternal glory for us. (2Co 4:16, 17) Suffering creates a hunger in us for heaven, where there will be no more suffering. (Rev 21:4-note) Suffering for living right in God's sight promises great future Divine blessing (Mt 5:10-note) Suffering proves our faith is genuine. (1Pe 1:6, 7-note) Suffering with perseverance will be repaid with the crown of life. (Jas 1:12-note)
A W Tozer…
History reveals that times of suffering for the Church have also been times of looking upward. Tribulation has always sobered God's people and encouraged them to look for and yearn after the return of their Lord. Our present preoccupation with this world may be a warning of bitter days to come. God will wean us from the earth some way—the easy way if possible, the hard way if necessary. It is up to us.
Bridges Of Grace (Read: Acts 5:33-42) - They departed … , rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. —Acts 5:41
Each day God sends His loving aid
Dr. Lambie, medical missionary, formerly of Abyssinia, has forded many swift and bridgeless streams in Africa. The danger in crossing such a stream lies in being swept off one's feet and carried down the stream to greater depths or hurled to death against the hidden rocks. Dr. Lambie learned from the natives the best way to make such a hazardous crossing. The man about to cross finds a large stone, the heavier the better, lifts it to his shoulder, and carries it across the stream as "ballast." The extra weight of the stone keeps his feet solid on the bed of the stream and he can cross safely without being swept away. Dr. Lambie drew this application: While crossing the dangerous stream of life, enemies constantly seek to overthrow us and rush us down to ruin. We need the ballast of burden-bearing, a load of affliction, to keep us from being swept off our feet.—Christian Victory
A Bumpy Road (READ: Philippians 1:27-30)
If some darker lot be good,
After the roaming, the refuge and Tower;
Fruit of the Spirit, produced by His Hand,
Exposition related to suffering - Romans 8:18
Exposition related to tribulations - Romans 5:3
Exposition on how the Savior Succors Suffering Saints - Hebrews 2:18
Exposition on Trials - James 1:2
Exposition on present pain versus future joy - Matthew 5:10, 11, 12- notes
Don't forget to do a Site Search - Enter the word SUFFERING in Pico Search
Amplified: So you are engaged in the same conflict which you saw me [wage] and which you now hear to be mine [still]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
NIV: since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. (NIV - IBS)
NLT: We are in this fight together. You have seen me suffer for him in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of this great struggle. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: It is now your turn to take part in that battle you once saw me engaged in, and which, in point of fact, I am still fighting. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: having the same struggle which you saw in me and now hear to be in me. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: the same conflict having, such as ye saw in me, and now hear of in me.
|EXPERIENCING THE SAME CONFLICT WHICH YOU SAW IN ME AND NOW HEAR TO BE IN ME: ton auton agona echontes (PAPMPN) hoion eidete (2PAAI) en emoi en emoi kai nun akouete (2PPAI) en emoi: (Jn 16:33; Ro 8:35, 36, 37; 1Co 4:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14; 15:30, 31, 32; Ep 6:11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 15, 16, 17, 18; Col 2:1; 1Th 2:14 2:15; 3:2, 3, 4; 2Ti 2:10, 11, 12; 4:7; Heb 10:32;10:33 12:4; Rev 2:10 2:11 12:11) (Acts 16:19-40; 1Th 2:2)
Experiencing (2192) (echo) means to have or possess. Literally this verse reads "the same conflict having", the present tense indicating that conflict is their continual experience! The Philippians were in the same basic conflict he was in from those who opposed the gospel.
Spurgeon on the "same conflict"…
Conflict (73) (agon [word study] our English "agony") was a familiar term in Paul's day which pictured the well-known struggle of athletes in Greek Olympiad (boxing, running, wrestling). All believers still experience opposition from enemies both within (variously known as the old man, the old Adam, our flesh or the sin nature) and without (the rulers… the powers… the world forces of this darkness… the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places… the world which is passing away). Furthermore, this "wrestling match" will continue either until we fall "sleep" (the NT word for a believer's death) or are raptured at the return of the Lord Jesus. In the meantime we are to fight the good fight of faith (1Ti 6:12) This phrase pictures the Christian life as a life long contest (although our victory has been won at Calvary 1Jn 5:4, 5 our task now is to stand firm, holding fast to His Victory, by FAITH (which equates with obedience).
Warren Wiersbe reminds us in the American church of a truth we are so prone to forget…
Marvin Vincent… notes that agon…
Agon speaks of intensity (think of the effort expended by the athletes who compete in the Olympics). Agon could also signify the place of assembly for the Olympic and Pythian games and the contest of athletes [2Ti 4:7,8-note, He 12:1-note) where ''agon'' is ''race'' and the inward conflict of the soul which is often the result of outward conflict. [1Th 2:2-note]. The word was used in later Greek of an inward struggle. Paul uses it to describe his own life in the midst of his untiring work for the Lord Jesus.
A derivative of agon is used in [Lk 22:44] to describe our Lord Jesus Christ:
So don't underestimate the intensity of the struggle (agon). On the other hand don't forget to
Remember Peter's exhortation: [1Pe 2:21-note] that you
Acts describes the "conflict" they had seen in Paul -- The Philippian jailer witnessed the example of Paul and Silas who were unfairly imprisoned in (Acts 16:16-40, 1Th 2:2-note) and it radically changed his eternal destiny (Acts 16:30, 31, 32, 33, 34)
Saw (3708) (horao) means to see, perceive with the eyes, look at, trans. implying not the mere act of seeing, but also the actual perception of some object.
The conflict which you saw in me refers to the hostile opposition and persecution he and Silas faced when they were imprisoned in Philippi (Acts 16:16-40). And now hear to be in me refers to Paul's present imprisonment in Rome mentioned in (Phil 1:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18).
Paul recounts his time in Philippi in his first letter to the Thessalonians writing
THE chief obstacles to a holy and consistent conduct arise perhaps from within, from the evil propensities of our own hearts. But very serious difficulties are occasioned by the frowns and menaces of an ungodly world. We are naturally afraid of suffering; and are easily deterred from those things which would subject us to heavy trials. But if we considered the cross as a badge of honour, as a source of good, and as a high favour conferred upon us by God himself, we should feel less anxious to avoid it, and be more emboldened to walk as becometh the Gospel of Christ. It is by this view of sufferings, that the Apostle encourages the Philippians to hold fast their profession without wavering. His expressions are singularly bold and striking: they shew us,
I. That suffering for Christ’s sake, is a favour conferred on us by God himself—
Believers are called to suffer for Christ’s sake—
[In addition to the sufferings which are common to others, the believer is called to endure contempt, and reproach, and persecution, for the Gospel’s sake. He is taught to expect them: and experience proves, that however amiable, or useful, or discreet he may be, he cannot avoid the odium attaching to true religion.]
But his sufferings are a gift from God himself—
[As far as respects his persecutors, his trials arise from a malignant effort of men and devils to obstruct the establishment of the Redeemer’s kingdom: but as far as respects God, they are a special gift from him. As the faith, on account of which he suffers, is given him, so also are the sufferings themselves, together with the ability to endure them patiently. They are bestowed purely for Christ’s sake; and are appointed in number, weight, and duration, so as to conduce most effectually to his eternal welfare.]
We may observe further concerning his cross,
II. That it is a richer gift than even faith itself—
Faith is certainly an inestimable gift; yet the gift of suffering for Christ’s sake is far greater—
1. It is a higher privilege in itself—
[In believing, we receive from God all the blessings which we stand in need of: but in suffering, we give to God: we give our name, our property, our liberty, our life, to be disposed of in any way which may tend most to his glory. What an honour is this, for a poor creature, a worm of the earth, to confer a gift on God himself! Surely, much as we are indebted to God for the gift of faith, the giving us an opportunity to honour him should be esteemed a far richer obligation, nor should any thing that we possess be of any value in our sight, if we may but have the honour of sacrificing it for his sake.]
2. It is a nobler testimony for God—
[When we believe, we bear testimony for God that his word is true, and that not one jot or tittle of it shall ever fail. But when we suffer for him, that testimony is far more plain and unequivocal. We then declare, not only that God is good and true, but that he is deserving of all that we can possibly do for him; that there is no service so hard, but we should cheerfully engage in it; no suffering so severe, but we should cheerfully endure it for his sake. Hence it is said, that while “by his enemies God is evil spoken of, on the part of his suffering friends he is glorified.”]
3. It is a more instructive lesson to the world—
[We cannot exercise faith in Christ, but we must by that very act convey instruction to those around us. We exhibit somewhat of that change which takes place in the converted; and are, as it were, “epistles of Christ, known and read of them” who would not read the Scriptures themselves. But by suffering patiently for Christ’s sake, we speak more loudly in their ears: we force them to inquire, what inducements we can have to make such sacrifices? and, whence we derive our ability to sustain such trials? And so efficacious have been the examples of many while enduring the torments of martyrdom, that their very persecutors have been overcome, and converted to God.]
4. It is a clearer evidence of grace—
[Many have believed the Gospel, while yet their hearts were not upright before God. They have been convinced in their judgment, but not converted in their souls. The same observation may apply also to some who have suffered for the Gospel’s sake. But a patient enduring of trials for Christ’s sake is certainly a very strong test of sincerity. It gives reason to hope, that we have attained some measure of conformity to Christ, and that “the Spirit of glory and of God resteth on us, There may indeed be some corruptions yet remaining to be mortified, which leave room for doubt respecting the present safety of the soul; but if we combine a zealous endeavour to mortify them, with a cheerful submission to the cross of Christ, we shall have a favourable testimony from God, and a happy issue to our present conflicts.]
5. It is a richer mean of glory—
[The smallest portion of real faith has the promise of eternal life: and in this view it may be thought superior in value to every thing else. But suffering for Christ’s sake is the means of augmenting that glory: it brings a recompence proportioned to the sufferings that are endured, and “works out for us, light and momentary as it is, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Now as health is a richer blessing than life, because it implies well-being as well as mere existence, so a patient suffering for Christ’s sake must be accounted of more value than faith, because of the super-eminent degrees of happiness to which it eventually exalts the soul.]
1. To those who fear sufferings—
[It is painful to flesh and blood to bear the cross: but what must be the consequence of shunning it? Will not our case be dearly purchased? Ah! think of the fate that awaits “the fearful,” and tremble lest the preservation of your life for a season issue in the loss of it to all eternity.]
2. To those who feel them—
[Faint not, nor be discouraged. Would you deprecate what Christ has asked of you, and what is given you in his behalf! He who confers on you the honour of suffering for him, will endue you with strength to bear your trials, yea, to rejoice and glory in them. Only view your sufferings in their true light, and you will rejoice that you are counted worthy to bear them. And, when you shall be joined to that blessed company “who came out of great tribulation,” you shall not regret one loss that you sustained, or one pain that you endured. The approbation of your judge, and the increased weight of glory which shall be awarded to you, shall soon wipe away your tears, and turn all your sorrows into joy.]
3. To those who occasion them—
[Little do you think against whom you fight. You imagine that you are only opposing weak enthusiasts; but so thought Saul, when, in fact, he was persecuting Christ himself. Know, that “whosoever toucheth the Lord’s people, toucheth the apple of his eye;” and that “it were better for you to have a millstone hanged about your neck, than that you should cause one of his little ones to stumble.” Be sensible then of your guilt and danger: embrace the doctrine which you have been labouring to destroy: and, instead of opposing, labour to advance, the interests of the Redeemer’s kingdom.]