Nature of persecution (3)

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Persecution by the world and secular powers is a likely consequence of faith. Scripture identifies a number of potential sources of such persistent harassment.

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Persecution is characteristic of this world

Psalm 10:2 ESV
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
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Satan is the arch-persecutor of the church

Genesis 3:15 ESV
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
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The agencies of persecution

The world

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Earthly governments

Mark 13:9 ESV
“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them.
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Religious authorities

1 Thessalonians 2:13–16 ESV
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!
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Powers that persecute the church are symbolised by beasts and Babylon:

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Family and friends

Matthew 10:36 ESV
And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.
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The experience of persecution

2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
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Believers must expect persecution

2 Timothy 3:12 ESV
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
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Persecution is part of the tribulation of the church

Matthew 24:7–10 ESV
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.
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Persecution is sometimes part of God’s judgment on his people

Lamentations 4:16–19 ESV
The Lord himself has scattered them; he will regard them no more; no honor was shown to the priests, no favor to the elders. Our eyes failed, ever watching vainly for help; in our watching we watched for a nation which could not save. They dogged our steps so that we could not walk in our streets; our end drew near; our days were numbered, for our end had come. Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles in the heavens; they chased us on the mountains; they lay in wait for us in the wilderness.
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