By John C. Carpenter
Speaking to those around Him, including His disciples, the Lord said, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves. And they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead. And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean. And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him (Mark 9:1-13). In verse 12 above, the English word “suffer” is translated from the Greek word “Patho,” which means to “experience a sensation or impression, usually painful.” It is clear from our subject verses that Jesus Christ suffered, but do believers in Christ also suffer? Can those who love God, and are considered by God Himself to be His own sons and daughters, expect to suffer? Holy scriptures plainly teach that not only did Christ suffer, but that His apostles and disciples suffered, and the apostle Paul, who wrote more than half of the New Testament, suffered tremendously for his faith and calling. It is sometimes difficult to accept, but believers have suffered in the past, and can expect to suffer in the future.
The fact that Jesus Christ suffered while here on earth is obvious from scriptures. Before His sufferings actually occurred, the Old Testament gave many prophecies concerning the sufferings of Christ. In the Psalms, we can visualize the future sufferings of Christ: Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet (Psalms 22:11-16). Isaiah also prophesied the suffering of Christ when he wrote, I [Christ] gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting (Isa 50:6). Isaiah added,Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken (Isa 53:1-8). In the New Testament, Christ referenced His own suffering on the cross, as well as the necessary suffering of believers in Christ: And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:31-36). The author of the letter to Hebrew believers spoke of the suffering and death of Christ when he wrote,”But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings (Heb 2:9-10). It was prophesied that Christ would suffer, and He certainly did, as the New Testament describes.
Jesus Christ suffered, but also did His apostles and prophets, as do all who are called to served Christ. Peter and other apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name (Acts 5:41). Regarding His calling of Saul (later called Paul), God the Father instructed Ananias to find and talk with Saul:But the Lord said unto him [Ananias],Go thy way: for he [Saul] is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake (Acts 9:15-16). At this point in his life, Paul did not know it, but he had been chosen by God the Father to suffer for the name of Christ, but he would soon learn. Writing to the believers at Corinth, Paul explained the suffering of apostles and prophets: For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last [least important], as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day (1 Cor 4:9-13). Wow, what a calling! Paul pulled no punches. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul added: Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation (2 Cor 1:3-6). James, the oldest half-brother of Jesus, knew and wrote about the suffering of the apostles and prophets: Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience (Jam 5:10). Clearly, to be called to serve Jesus Christ as an apostle or prophet results in physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Clearly, Christ suffered for the sake of the gospel, and so did His apostle and disciples. Specifically, Paul, the great apostle of Christ, a great man of faith, who wrote more than half of the new testament, also suffered greatly. Comparing and contrasting himself to false ministers who “preacheth another Jesus,” the apostle Paul, in defending his ministry and calling, described for us some of his sufferings while also doing a little glorying: Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, instripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often,in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without [external], that which cometh [internally] upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not (2 Cor 11:22-31). In his letter to the Galatian believers, Paul admitted that he did suffer persecution (Gal 5:11), and to Philippian believers he wrote, But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead (Phil 3:7-11). In his letter to the church at Colossae, Paul wrote, And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God (Col 1:21-25). The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, his fellow servant in Christ, Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2 Tim 1:11-12). Paul certainly suffered greatly in his service to Christ, but he knew his sufferings were necessary, and beneficial. In explaining the reason for all of his sufferings, Paul wrote the Philippian believers: But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places (Phil 1:12-13). Paul suffered in order to spread the gospel of Christ, as all believers in Christ.
Not too long ago, I heard a preacher preaching and teaching that God did not will or intend for believers to suffer. Let us examine what the Scriptures teach. In making his point that what He experiences, believers should also expect to experience [including suffering], Christ instructed His disciples, Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them (John 13:13-17). Christ added,If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me (John 15:18-21). The apostle Paul wrote believers in Philippi, For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake (Phil 1:29). Paul also wrote his fellow apostle Timothy If we [believers] suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us (2 Tim 2:12), then added few verses later, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12). Peter wrote believes scattered throughtout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously (1 Pet 2:19-23). Peter later added, For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Pet 3:17-18). Encouraging his fellow believers to understand that suffering was a necessary part of their faith, Peter added, Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin (1 Pet 4:1). The New Testament makes it clear that Christ suffered, His apostles and prophets suffered, the mighty apostle Paul suffered, and that believers have suffered in the past, are suffering today, and can expect to suffer in the future. Because Jesus Christ gave believers an example of suffering, believers in Christ are encouraged to “arm ourselves likewise with the same mind [understanding and expectation]” of Christ, “for even hereunto were ye [we believers] called!”
The sufferings of Christ, Paul, the apostles and prophets, and believers in Christ are certain. However, suffering in believers is only one aspect of the whole of Christianity, and not the end result. The end result of the suffering of believers is glory and eternal life. This, the Scriptures clearly teach. The apostle Paul wrote his “dearly beloved son,” Timothy, It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us (2 Tim 2:11-12). Paul wrote Corinthian believers, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation (2 Cor 1:5-6). The unknown author of the book of Hebrews wrote, But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, inbringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings (Heb 2:9-10). In the book of the Acts of the apostles, we are instructed: Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ (Acts 17:1-3). Believers suffer and die, but shall also rise from the dead to be crowned with glory and honor. Peter wrote to the strangers scattered through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocis, Asia, and Bithynia, For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (1 Pet 3:18). Peter later added, But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Pet 5:10). The end result for suffering believers is crowning, ruling, reigning, glory, honor, resurrection, and eternal life. In encouraging believers in Christ, the apostle Paul summarized: Forour light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor 4:17-18).  AMEN.
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
"Let not sin therefore reign
in your mortal
body, that ye
should obey it
in the lusts
(Rom 6:12)

Subject-Verse Index