‘“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22).”’
Today we hear of ‘ethnic cleansing’ which is an extreme form of persecution. The people who organise and bring about these atrocities may be motivated by their religious beliefs or ideologies. They oppose others whom they hate, because they don’t subscribe to their beliefs or ideologies.
This would appear to be the case in Myanmar where the military have forced Rohingya Muslims to leave their homes and villages and flee to Bangladesh. There they endeavour to survive in vast refugee camps with little hope of returning to their homeland. Their villages have been razed to the ground by burning. Some are left with nothing, apart from terrifying memories of horrific atrocities, murders and rape. The photographic evidence and testimony of survivors is clear and indisputable. Consequently the United States has called upon the U.N. Security Council to hold the military accountable.
Since the formation of Jesus’ church (Acts 2) countless numbers of Christians have been treated with violence and hatred because of their belief in Him. [Go to link below. *]
Way back in 67 AD Nero Caesar persecuted Christians by burning them alive while encased in waxed clothing. He had them strapped to trees in his garden to illuminate it. Sadistically, he may have done it because Jesus told Christians they were the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). Who knows? Others he had sewn into animal skins, then set upon by ravenous dogs who tore them apart. Yet others he had crucified.
Prior to the heinous and murderous activities of Nero, some Christians had already experienced persecution. We know this because James, the brother of Jesus, wrote an epistle to Jewish converts who had fled from Jerusalem (James 1:1, 2) to places where they set up house churches. [James was martyred by Herod (Acts 12:2) probably in 62 AD, two years before the great fire of Rome, which was reputedly started and orchestrated by Nero’s minions. Characteristically he put the blame for the fire on Christians, adding further to their persecution.]
Jesus warned His disciples that they would be hated ‘by all’ for His ‘name’s sake’ (Matthew 10:22). He told of persecutions to come (Matthew 10:16-26), but they were not to fear (vv 28, 31). They would be delivered ‘up to synagogues and prisons’ and ‘brought before kings and rulers’ for His name’s sake (Luke 21:12).
But for those who would be persecuted He had this to say, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).”’
He also said, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me (John 15:20, 21).”’
*Hostility Towards Christians
For those who would like more texts about persecution of Christians I’ve compiled a list below:
Matthew 5:10-12 ‘“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets.”’
John 5:15 ‘The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath.”’
Acts 7:52 ‘Which of the prophets did your Fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.’
Acts 8:1-3 ‘Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles and devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentations over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.’
Acts 13:50 ‘But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.’
Acts 22:4 ‘I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.’
Romans 8:35 ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?
Romans 12:14 ‘Bless those who persecute you: bless and do not curse.’
1 Corinthians 4:12 ‘And we labour working wth our own hands. Being reviled, we bless,; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.’
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 ‘We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
2 Corinthians 12:10 ‘Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’
Galatians 4:29 ‘But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now.’
Galatians 5:11 ‘And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offence of the cross has ceased.’
Galatians 6:12 ‘As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these try to compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.’
2 Timothy 3:11, 12 ‘ persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Anticoh, at Iconium, at Lystra – what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.’
2 Timothy 10-12 ‘But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra – what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.’
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 ‘For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.’
2 Thessalonians 1:4 ‘so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure.’
1 Peter 4:16 ‘Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.’