The Gospel of Matthew: Persecuted for Righteousness Sake. Part 2.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10 ESV)

The Scriptures have much to say regarding the persecution of believers in Christ. There is no doubt that when one serves the Lord Jesus, opposition will occur.

The word persecuted (διώκω; dioko) is a present passive particple. This means the believer in Christ is receiving the action from another. To persecute means to harass and to pursue to oppress. However, the persecution should only be because the believer is righteously following and identifying with the Lord Jesus Christ. I Peter 4:15-16 says, 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.”  

When persecution happens, and it will, the Lord assures us that we belong to the kingdom of heaven. To encounter persecution for Christ is one of the marks of true citizenship in God’s kingdom.

“Many of the Old Testament prophets suffered in bringing God’s word to Israel (e.g., Jer 26:11); Jewish tradition amplified the number of prophetic martyrs further and made it a major emphasis. The burden of proof was always on the prophet who spoke what people wanted to hear (Jer. 28:8–9; cf. 6:14; 8:10–11; 23:17),” explains commentator Craig S. Keener.

“Most Jewish people did not believe that prophets still existed in the Old Testament sense, so Jesus’ comparing his followers to the prophets indicated that they would have an extraordinary mission. To suffer for God was meritorious (Ps 44:22; 69:7), and Judaism highly honored martyrs for God’s law; yet no other rabbi called disciples to die for his own teachings or name.”

“People possessing these qualities (the Beatitudes) 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 (v. 12; cf. 1 Kings 19:1–4; 22:8; Jer. 26:8–11; 37:11–16; 38:1–6; Dan. 3; 6; Amos 7:10–13),” states commentator Louis Barbieri.

Are you standing out in the crowd at work, home or at school? Do people know that you are a dedicated believer in Christ? If you are, they will.

Soli deo Gloria!

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