Initiated on February 14, 1999. Last amended 24 May 1999.

Trials through Persecutions and Tribulations

Table of Contents


Matthew 13:21 says in the KJV: "Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation <2347> or persecution <1375> ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." {Offended: he relapseth, or, falleth into sin.} The NIV says: "But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away."

1 Peter 1:7 says in the NIV: "These 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 honour when Jesus Christ is revealed."

Romans 8:35 says in the KJV: " Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation <2347>, or distress, or persecution <1375>, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"

2 Thessalonians 1:4-5 says in the KJV: "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions <1375> and tribulations <2347> that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer."

John 16:33 KJV: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Acts 14:22 KJV: "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."

Romans 8:17-18 KJV: "And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."

2 Corinthians 1:5-7 KJV: "5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6 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.7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation."

Philippians 1:29 KJV: "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake."

1 Peter 4:13 KJV: "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."

2 Timothy 2:12 KJV: "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:"

James 5:10 KJV: "Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience."

Matthew 5: 9-12 KJV: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."


As we go through this earthly pilgrim, we often experience moments where our faith is being tested. These trials in our lives are often in the form of hardship, afflictions. The most graphic way to visualize a person experiencing a trial is through the image of a torture in an attempt to make one move from the position he stands on. The evil one intends to use trials as a temptation to make one move away from God. God uses it to show how genuine the faith is and to purify a believer who may well be tarnished by sins. These afflictions can come through people or circumstances. When people are involved, they may be either religious or not.

When talking of afflictions, the New Testament often uses other related words such as persecution or tribulation. Do you know the difference between these two words? What do they mean? I believe that there is a difference of focus between the two words.

We know that both words, persecution and tribulation, give a sense of affliction. However, is the difference in meaning between the two afflictions coming from a difference in the intensity, in its source or in where it is felt in the life of a person? I believe that the difference comes from the source of affliction. Persecution is from the religious and tribulation is from others, the ones not specifically concerned with God.

As we will see later, a clear understanding of the meaning of tribulation will better prepare us for the end time great tribulation. Furthermore, there is no room in the life of a religious or practicing believer to bring in persecution on someone.


Before we get to the different forms or sources of suffering, we should ask ourselves the "Why" question. Why should I experience trials? Are the trials intended as a form of testing? I believe that the physical persecution or tribulation falls under the heading "Trials / Testings." Before we get to the physical experience of hardship, it is important to look at the spiritual sources of the hardship and the reasoning behind it. Indeed what we experience daily has a spiritual source. As Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 KJV: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." As we will see, God allows the experience during the time of trial to bring a person closer to Him in holiness.

Greek words. Scripture is full of accounts dealing with trials. There are a few Greek words used to pass on the idea of trials or testing.

Strong's Number 1382 is from the Greek word "dokime" pronounced dok-ee-may'. It is translated in the KJV as: proof 3, experience 2, trial 1, experiment 1. Its meanings are: 1) proving, trial 2) approved, tried character 3) a proof, a specimen of tried worth.

Strong's Number 1383 is from the Greek word "dokimion" pronounced dok-im'-ee-on. Translated in the KJV as: trying 1, trial 1. Its meanings are: 1) the proving 2) that by which something is tried or proved, a test.

Strong's Number 3984 is from the Greek word "peira" pronounced pi'-rah. Its meaning are: 1) a trial, experience, attempt 2) to attempt a thing, to make trial of a thing or of a person 3) to have a trial of a thing 4) to experience, learn to know by experience.

Strong's Number 4451 is from the Greek word "purosis" pronounced poo'-ro-sis. It is translated in the KJV as: burning 2, fiery trial 1. Its meanings are: 1) a burning 1a) the burning by which metals are roasted and reduced 1b) by a figure drawn from a refiners fire 1b1) calamities or trials that test the character.

Is the temptation to make one fall permanently or to purify? Trials can be viewed as a mean to tempt someone to change position or belief. Satan uses trials in an attempt to make one fall permanently! He hopes that the person would give up on God and even curse Him if possible. This is what happened in the life of Job. Job 2:3 says in the NIV: "Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." Even in the New Testament we have a similar account where Satan hoped to destroy Peter's faith. Luke 22:31-32 says in the NIV: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."

Indeed, Satan is going around believers in an attempted to find one to devour the faith away! 1 Peter 5:8 says in the NIV: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." However, God allows the trials to purify the believers. Job confessed that God allowed the testing in his life. Job 23:10 says in the KJV: "But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." In the next verse we read of the desire of Job to hold fast to his integrity. Job 23:11says in the KJV: "My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined." Even earlier in the trial he had confessed that he would not give up his integrity. Job 2:9-10 says in the NIV: "His wife said to him, 'Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!' He replied, 'You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?' In all this, Job did not sin in what he said."

Overall, Jesus wants to come for a pure bride without spots. Daniel 12:10 says in the NIV: "Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand." We should aim to be cleaned of any spot considering that Jesus does not want us to tarnish our garment before He returns. Revelation 3:4 says in the KJV: "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy." 2 Peter 3:14 says in the NIV: "So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him."

Furthermore, Scripture tells that the trials or sufferings are to be added to the suffering of Christ's body. Somehow His body is still suffering! 1 Peter 4:13 says in the KJV: "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."

The saying: Trials and Tribulations! Our modern expression is accurate in relating trials with suffering or afflictions when it says: Trials and Tribulation. Trials and sufferings go hand in hand.

A testing of the faith to see if genuine. Scripture indicates in many places that God allows trials to test a person to see if the faith is genuine.

1 Peter 1:7 KJV: "That the trial (1383) of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"

1 Peter 4:12 KJV: "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial (4451) which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you."

1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV: "Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God."

The trials involve sufferings! When the trials come, they involve emotional and physical sufferings. The book of Job testifies of this. The New Testament also confirms this truth for Christians when it says in:

2 Corinthians 8:2 KJV: "How that in a great trial (1382) of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality."

Hebrews 11:36 KJV: "And others had trial (3984) of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:"


1 Thessalonians 2:14 KJV: "For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:"

Who is the spiritual source of affliction? Is the affliction from God or Satan? As believers, we realize that God and Satan are the two main players in this universal human drama. The salvation or lost of our souls is at stake. Consequently, when we look at the afflictions upon us, we may ask ourselves: Is it from God or from Satan?

Who is the human instrument used for the affliction? Is it from believers or unbelievers? Furthermore, the afflictions can come not only from unbelievers but also from those professing to be religious. Are they truly believers in the God of Love?

Why is there afflictions? Because of the Word! Why do people afflict others? As stated in Matthew 13:21, the affliction is a result of the Word of God? Matthew 13:21 says in the KJV: "Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." Consequently, both persecution and tribulation are a result of afflicting someone who trust in the Word of God. PS Jesus is the word made flesh - John 1:14. These afflictions can come either from a religious person or from an unbeliever in God.

What is the purpose of the affliction? God allows the trials to purify his people and reveal those that are not His. 1 Peter 1:7 KJV: "That the trial (1383) of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" The false shepherds are revealed when the afflictions come. John 10:12 says in the KJV: "But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep."

What are the two words describing the affliction sources? "Persecution" is from "those professing to be believers in God the father". The Bible often points out that "persecution" comes from close friends, relatives or other people professing to believe in God. John 16: 2 says in the KJV: "They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God." Overall, this affliction is a direct result of what the persecutor think of the Word made flesh, Jesus, and what he/she presently experiences inwardly about the Word!

A persecution within religious people reveals that there are still two distinct camps at war within. It shows the presence of evil stirring up. It shows the enemy at work against Life. True believers should not persecute each others but be one, for we know that God is not divided! John 1:20-21 says in the KJV: " 20 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." Persecution "within the camp" shows a lack of unity from those professing to know God. It may well show that the presence of the Word is not anchored within the person who persecutes!

"Tribulation" is from unbelievers or not tangible outside events. Another source of affliction "because of the word" can come from unbelievers, the worldly population. Note that this affliction is still upon a believer, not a secular person. When the judgment of God is on the unbelievers, the Scripture refers to it as wrath. Tribulation, hardship on the believer, can be a form of judgment from God in the hope of repentance and deeper relationship with God.


Greek words. The Strong's Number 1375 is from the Greek word "diogmos" pronounced dee-ogue-mos' and is translated "persecution" 10 times in the KJV.

Strong's Number 1377 is from the Greek word "dioko" pronounced dee-o'-ko. It is a prolonged (and causative) form of a primary verb "dio" (to flee). Meanings:

1) to make to run or flee, put to flight, drive away

2) to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after

2a) to press on: figuratively of one who in a race runs swiftly to reach the goal

2b) to pursue (in a hostile manner)

3) in any way whatever to harass, trouble, molest one

3a) to persecute

3b) to be mistreated, suffer persecution on account of something

4) without the idea of hostility, to run after, follow after: someone

5) metaph., to pursue

5a) to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavour to acquire

The religious Jews persecuted Jesus. In John 15:20, who persecuted Jesus? According to John 7:25 and 8:37-40, did the religious people really persecute Jesus and try to find ways to kill Him?

Many religious Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to find a way to kill Him. John 7:25 says in the KJV: "Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill?" Jesus himself said in John 8:37, 40 of the KJV: "I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you…. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham."

Followers of Jesus should expect persecution from those rejecting the truth! According to John 15:20, Matthew 24:9, should a believer in Jesus Christ expect persecution from other religious people?

This affliction from other religious people is to be expected also for the true followers of Jesus. John 15:20 says in the KJV: "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted <1377> (5656) me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also."

2 Timothy 3:10-13 says in the KJV: "But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions <1375>, afflictions <3804>, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions <1375> (Acts 20:19-24) I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution <1377> (5701). But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."

Note that the persecutions from the Jews were a form of temptation with tears. Acts 20:19 says in the KJV: "Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews."

The Mosaic religious Jews persecuted the Jewish church! According to Acts 8:1, who was the source of afflictions in Jerusalem?

In the early church, the dedicated Mosaic Jews started to afflict the other Jews who became Christians. Acts describe this affliction as a persecution. Acts 8:1 " And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great <3173> persecution <1375> against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."

The religious Saul persecuted the church initially, prior to his conversion! According to Philippians 3:6, does Paul confess of persecuting the church before his conversion?

Philippians 3:6 "Concerning zeal, persecuting <1377> (5723) the church <1577>; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."

To persecute a Christian is to persecute the Lord Himself! According to Acts 9:4, when Saul (Paul) persecuted the Christians, was he persecuting the Lord Himself?

Religious people that are persecuting Christians are really persecuting Jesus Himself! Acts 9:4 says in the KJV: " And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou <1377> (5719) me?" We better be careful how we may hurt a believer in the Lord! Matthew 18:6 says in the KJV: "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Also in Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2.

The world hates Jesus and those He has chosen. When suffering, for Jesus, it is not really me whom the world persecutes, but Christ in me, whom I confess. The world does not hate the worldly me and the individualistic things I may do. As long as I chose to be myself and do whatever I want, it is acceptable to the world. The moment Jesus surfaces in me, they hate Him and the fact that He has chosen me to reveal God.

John 15:18-19 NIV: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." Read to verse 25.

John 17:14 NIV: "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world."

The suffering of Christ goes on in our flesh. We are partakers of Christ's suffering in our flesh, while in the world.

1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

2 Corinthians 1: 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my [Paul] 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:

Philippians 1:21 "For me to live and to die is Christ."

1 Peter 5: 1 "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:"

The religious Jews and their followers persecuted Paul and Barnabas. In Acts 13:50 we have an account of the religious Jews persecuting Paul and Barnabas for preaching about Jesus. It says in the KJV: "But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution <1375> against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts."

To prevent some persecution from the religious Jews, some dictated that the Gentile Christian be circumcised! According to Galatians 6:12, was circumcision a source of possible persecution for some believers?

To escape possible persecution from those who were very firm about circumcision, some would preach that Gentile believers had to be circumcised! Galatians 6:12 says in the KJV: "As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution <1377 - Greek " dioko"> (5747) for the cross of Christ." Paul suffered persecution because of the religious issue of circumcision. It says in Galatians 5:11 KJV: "And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased."

2 Corinthians 12:10 says in the KJV: " Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions <1375>, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Persecuting because of envy and jealousy. Some religious people may persecute others because of a lack of godly power in their lives. Acts 13:44-45 says in the KJV: " 44 And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming." Romans 11:11-14 also says in the KJV: "11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? 13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them."

May be disobedient for a while! Many Jews may be disobedient to the Gospel for a while so that many Gentiles may come to salvation. However, when all the Gentiles appointed to believe are in, God will finish His promise to the nation of Israel. Romans 11:25 says in the KJV: "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." God still has a promise for the nation of Israel that He will fulfil. Read Romans 11:28-32.


Our responses to persecution - endure it. One response is to suffer it without hurting back. 1 Corinthians 4:12 KJV says: "And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it." As the Greek word "dio" also indicate, to flee is another response. You may as well give the people a sign while leaving. Acts 13:51 says in the KJV: "But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium."

Love, bless, do good and pray for those persecuting you. Our suffering could be without value if our martyr is without love.

1 Corinthians 13: 3 KJV: " 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."

We are to bless those against us, and not curse them. We are to bless through our actions and thoughts, such as in prayers.

Matthew 5:44 KJV "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;"

Romans 12:14 KJV "Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not."

Forgive! Jesus forgave and asked God to forgive them. In the NIV, Luke 23:34 reads: "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' "Stephen also forgave his persecutors. Acts 7:60says in the NIV: "And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."

Rejoicing always! We should rejoice, even in suffering. Why? Because of the hope that is in us, for the Lord is near as Philippians 4: 4-5 says in the KJV: "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand."

On my own I cannot have the right attitude. On my own, I do not have the strenght or desire for the right attitude. However, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me (Philippians 4:13)." Christ has to surface in me.


Greek words. Strong's Number 2347: Greek word "thlipsis," which is pronounced thlip'-sis from 2346; TDNT - 3:139,334; n f. The KJV translates it as: - tribulation (21 times), affliction 17, trouble 3, anguish 1, persecution 1, burdened 1, to be afflicted + 1519 1; 45


1) a pressing, pressing together, pressure

2) metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

Jesus told us that we would have tribulation. Jesus told us that we would have tribulation in this world. Because we are not of this world, worldly people will give us a hard time! John 16:33 says in the KJV: "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation <2347>: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." The non-religious people are against Godly things.

Paul specifically uses the word "tribulation" and not "persecution!" when referring to a type of Christian suffering. In the following verses Paul reminds the Gentile Christians of the suffering through tribulation. As he goes through Gentile cities, he reminds the believers of the suffering that will come from the unbelieving Gentiles, these worldly people. He uses the word "tribulation" for that suffering source. Note that if he talks of religious Jews, he would use a word derived from "persecution."

In a Gentile city or world, expect tribulation from the people. Acts 14:20-22 says in the KJV: "20 Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. 21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation <2347> enter into the kingdom of God." The NIV says in verse 22: "strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said."

When talking to the Gentile Thessalonians, Paul reminded them to expect tribulation from their unconverted Gentile friends. 1 Thessalonians 3:4 says in the KJV: "For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation <2346 - Greek " thlibo"> (5745); even as it came to pass, and ye know.

Yet, there were also Jews in those Gentiles cities. So, as a result, the religious unbelieving Jews could persecute Thessalonians and they could also go through tribulations from the unbelieving Gentiles. 2 Thessalonians 1:4 says in the KJV: "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions <1375> and tribulations <2347> that ye endure." The NIV says: "Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring (NIV)."

Tribulation comes from unbelieving stirred up Gentiles! Tribulation is related to the unbelievers bringing hardship on believers. Acts 14: 2, 5 and 22 confirm this point. It says in the KJV: "2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren… 5 And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them… 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."

The church in Smyrna suffered tribulation. The Jews in Smyrna probably managed to stir up the Gentiles who were under the control of the prince of the air, Satan the devil, to persecute Christians. They made them go through tribulation. Revelation 2:8-10 says in the KJV: "8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9 I know thy works, and tribulation <2347>, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation <2347> ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."

Paul was to face special afflictions; he was to experience tribulations, "thlipsis". The Greek word "thlipsis" is not always translated "tribulation. It is sometimes translated in English as Hardship or afflictions. Paul says in Acts 20:23 of the NIV: "I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me." The KJV uses the word "afflictions <2347>" instead of hardship. Could it be that Paul had a suffering at the hand of Gentiles in mind?

Paul confirmed that is was to suffer by the hand of Gentiles. Paul did not only suffer by the hand of religious Jews, he was to experience suffering at the hand of Gentiles. He was to experience Tribulation. Acts 21:10-11 says in the NIV: "After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul's belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, "The Holy Spirit says, `In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.'"

In the end, there will be great tribulation, not persecution! Note that there are some people who believe that the end-time church is not appointed to great tribulation. However, I believe that Satan will again be busy in bringing tribulation on the church. Matthew 24:9 says in the KJV: "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted <2347>, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake."

Matthew 24:21 also says in the KJV: " For then shall be great <3173> tribulation <2347>, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." The NIV says: "For then there will be great distress, unequalled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equalled again." Matthew 24:29 says in the KJV: "Immediately after the tribulation <2347> of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."

Revelation 7:14 says in the KJV: " I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

What should be our response to tribulation? According to Acts 14:6, our response towards tribulation should be:

To be aware of it and it sources. Mark 13:14 says in the KJV: "But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains"; and

To flee away from the sources (people or the sin who brought it upon us). Matthew 10:23 KJV says in the KJV: "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come";

Tribulation can be a result of judgement from God. God could allow tribulation as a form of judgment.

Romans 2: 9 says in the KJV: "Tribulation <2347> and <2532> anguish <4730>, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile…" The NIV says: "There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."

1 Corinthians 11: 27-32 says in the KJV: "Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognising the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. NIV

Revelation 2:5 says in the KJV: "Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place."

Revelation 3:2-3 says in the KJV: "Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you."


Trials: tri-al (tril) n. [[Anglo-Fr < trier: see TRY]] 1 a) the act or process of trying, testing, or putting to the proof; test b) a testing of qualifications, attainments, or progress; probation c) experimental treatment or operation; experiment 2 a) the fact or state of being tried by suffering, temptation, etc. b) a hardship, suffering, etc. that tries one's endurance c) a person or thing that is a source of annoyance or irritation 3 a formal examination of the facts of a case by a court of law to decide the validity of a charge or claim 4 an attempt; endeavor; effort --adj. 1 of a trial or trials 2 made, done, or used for the purpose of trying, testing, etc. --on trial in the process of being tried SYN.--trial implies the trying of a person or thing in order to establish worth in actual performance [ hired on trial] ; experiment implies a showing by trial whether a thing will be effective [ the honor system was instituted as an experiment] and, in addition, is used of any action or process undertaken to discover something not yet known or to demonstrate something known [experiments in nuclear physics] ; test implies a putting of a thing to decisive proof by thorough examination or trial under controlled conditions and with fixed standards in mind [ a test of a new jet plane] See also AFFLICTION (1)

Persecution, \,per-si-'kyue-shen\ n 1: the act or practice of persecuting esp. those who differ in origin, religion, or social outlook 2: the condition of being persecuted, harassed, or annoyed.(2)

--- SYN. AFFLICTION, infliction, torture, ill-treatment, maltreatment, torment, killing, murder, massacre, banishment, expulsion, exile, imprisonment, mistreatment, annoyance, teasing, galling, provoking, pestering; see also abuse, oppression, torture. --Ant. help*, succor, stimulation.(3)

Per-se-cute (pursi kyt) vt. -cuted, -cut|ing [[LME persecuten < MFr persecuter, back-form. < persecuteur < L persecutor < persequi, to pursue < per, through + sequi, to follow: see SEQUENT]] 1 to afflict or harass constantly so as to injure or distress; oppress cruelly, esp. for reasons of religion, politics, or race 2 to trouble or annoy constantly [persecuted by mosquitoes]

--SYN. WRONG --perse-cu|tive or per-se-cu-to-ry (pursi ky tor|e, pr seky-) adj. --perse-cu|tor n. (4)

Tribulation, n 1 great misery or distress, as from oppression; deep sorrow 2 something that causes suffering or distress; affliction; trial.(5)

Distress or suffering resulting from oppression or persecution; also: a trying experience.(6)

-- SYN. AFFLICTION, trouble, misery, sorrow, hardship, difficulty, grief.(7)

In summary, the modern day dictionary seems to give the impression that:

Persecution: Someone whose action or practice brings in an affliction. It is the direct result of an identifiable persecutor who persecutes.

Tribulation: Something that creates a condition of affliction. The initial source is not always clearly identifiable. It is closely linked to the presence of sin in this world.


Trials are in this world in an attempt to make one change his or her position in life. Satan brings the trials on the believers in the hope that they will leave God. God brings trials on the unbelievers in an attempt to take them away from Satan and sins. God allows trials on those professing to believe as a test to see how genuine their faith is. He also allows the trials to purify His people from sins, tarnished white garments. Trials are often experienced through afflictions, hardships.

Persecutions, tribulations refer to hardship upon the one who believes in Jesus, the word make flesh. The source of hardship can come from Satan through the form of the religious people and non-believer in the true God or from God Himself. If from evil, one can be in a persecution situation or a tribulation situation. If from God, it would be considered as a trial. Note that the true follower of God will be the one persecuted or suffering for the cause of Christ. 1 Peter 4:13 KJV: "But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."

Be careful not to make another person suffer who believes in Jesus; for the situation may somehow reveal that you are a wicked servant, a pretender of fearing God (Luke 12:45-47)! Don't bring a trial on someone as a stumbling block. God does not rejoice in the fall of a child! As you look around, beware of those bringing persecutions and tribulations. Be ready to flee from them if it is God's will. Or be ready to suffer at their hands, if God leads you to partake of the body of Christ suffering.

As stated by Ken Marek on his 16 May 99 preaching, "Pain is OK if we put it in the right perspective"

Let us not create hardship on each other, but love each other and be one in Him, as we see the day of His return draw near! Matthew 5: 9 KJV: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."

Note: Further info in sermon preached on 23 May 99 at Inniswood Baptist Church, called: "SALVATION IS NOT WITHOUT THE CHRIST SUFFERING EVEN IN ME!

1. Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

2. Excerpted from Infopedia 2.0. Copyright © 1995 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved.

3. Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. Excerpted from Infopedia 2.0. Copyright © 1995 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved.

7. Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.