Predicted by Jesus

Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;

18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.

28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Experienced by the Apostles

Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Acts 9:16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

Philippians 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.

II Timothy 1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.

I Peter 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.


MEMORY VERSE: 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. —Mark 8:35


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Jesus instructed his disciples that, along with preaching the gospel, they would experience persecution because of it, which was the way they were to share in His sufferings and bear His cross. When the persecution did come, they rejoiced and glorified God, accepting it as God’s way of furthering the gospel. They encouraged all the believers to rejoice in persecution.




Matthew 10:16 “Wise”: intelligent, prudent, sensible, practically wise. “Harmless”: unmixed; pure, simple, unsophisticated, sincere, blameless. “Be ye therefore wise as serpents — On the one hand, be so prudent as not to irritate the wicked and those who shall oppose you, either by your behaviour or your doctrine, unnecessarily, and avoid all unnecessary dangers: and harmless as doves — On the other hand, let not your prudence degenerate into craft, lest it lead you to betray the truth, or to encourage or countenance men in their evil practices; maintain at all times a holy simplicity of soul; and to your prudence join a harmless and inoffensive behaviour, rendering yourselves remarkable for integrity amid the greatest temptations, and for meekness amid the greatest provocations” (Benson Commentary).




As Jesus chose from among his disciples the twelve who would be apostles, He gave them power over demons and disease and issued specific instructions as to their mission. Then he began a most serious discussion concerning the risks of their mission. I’m sure at these words eyes widened and breaths were drawn in sharply, as He spoke of opposition from their own families and inquisition by councils and kings. With grim predictions sandwiched between many precious assurances and promises, Jesus calmly shared what it would mean to follow Him: they would lose their very lives for Him.

They would need the Holy Spirit to witness thus; after He endued them with power, they immediately saw what Jesus had foretold coming to pass. But the fear that had gripped them when they saw Him on the cross was gone. Instead, they rejoiced; they felt privileged to suffer for His sake. In prison, they sang. Paul saw evidences all around that when he suffered the kingdom prospered and the gospel message reached farther. The courage they portrayed became a beacon that converted their persecutors.

And so it has been through the ages. Even today, the power of the gospel increases exponentially through persecution. Light has come into the world, and the darkness cannot overwhelm it.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




1. Explain: What do these terms mean to you? “Sheep in the midst of wolves…” “The disciple is not above his master…” “Fear not them which kill the body…” “Counted worthy…”

2. Illustrate: Share an example in Paul’s life or in recent history where the afflictions of the gospel resulted in the spread of the gospel.

3. Remember: Jesus was speaking to what man when he said, “For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake”? Of whom was He speaking?




It seems to me that the scriptures of prophecy, the experiences of the Old Testament prophets; the life, mission and death of Jesus; His resurrection, ascension, ever-living intercession and sending of the Holy Spirit; the zeal and passion of the early Christians and the persecution of the saints from all ages—all point toward and focus on this: the triumph of the gospel amid its foes. This is the message of the book of Revelation: the great conflict and the final resolution.

Tertullian wrote in 197, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” We can see this from hindsight. Centuries of persecution against the true church—first by the Jewish leaders and Pagan Romans, then by popery against the Anabaptists, reformers and Protestants, and even by nominal Protestant churches against the true saints of God, in addition to persecution by Muslims, Hindus and Communist atheists against Christians—has never stamped out the gospel message nor lessened its life-changing power. It has only deepened the resolve of pure- hearted saints, strengthened the bond between believers, shone more brightly the light of God’s Word, and intensified the efforts of missionaries and evangelists, translators, printers and transmitters of the written and spoken word, so that converts are the more coming to Christ in places where the greatest persecutions take place.

We have a great responsibility to spread the pure gospel. We want to be diligent in peaceful times, and we want to be faithful when persecution comes our way. It was said of the saints that they loved not their lives unto the death. Paul said of his afflictions, “None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself.” Let us have this same steadfastness and passion for this glorious gospel.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




In 1415, the Bohemian reformer, John Huss, was tried and convicted as a heretic for his beliefs, and in an attempt to stamp out any following, was sentenced to death. While being burned alive at the stake, he prophesied, as recounted in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, “You are now going to burn a goose (Huss signifying goose in the Bohemian language), but in a century you will have a swan which you can neither roast nor boil.” Just over 100 years later in 1517 Martin Luther, who was greatly influenced by Huss, posted his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenberg, Germany, an event which has been widely considered to be the start of the Reformation.

The words to the song “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” are thought to have been inspired by an account in mid-19th century India. The gospel had reached the Assam region in the northeast portion of the country, and one villager, along with his wife and two children, converted to Christianity. This angered the village chief, who called upon the man to renounce his faith before the entire village. The new convert refused, replying, “I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back.” Enraged, the chief had the man’s boys killed with arrows and said, “Will you deny your faith? You will lose your wife, too.” The man replied, “Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back.” In fury the chief had the wife executed, and stated, “I will give you one more opportunity to deny your faith and live.” In face of death the man replied, “The cross before me, the world behind me. No turning back.” He was shot dead like the rest of his family, but with their deaths, the chief who had ordered them killed, moved by the man’s faith, became a Christian, spontaneously confessing, “I too belong to Jesus Christ.” This inspired the entire village to turn to the Lord.

Are we in the 21st century still willing to make the sacrifice required to spread God’s word? Suffering is not just a requirement of God’s ministry or of missionaries in foreign lands, it is something every disciple of Jesus must endure to further His kingdom. Let us go to Him without the gate, willing to make whatever sacrifice is needed to “take the little that remains of the cup of tribulation Jesus drank in dying pains.”

—Bro. Fari Matthews