Friday, August 18, 2006

The Way of Tribulation

I have been preparing for teaching at Toronto Baptist Seminary in a couple of weeks and I ran across a familiar passage that I had somehow failed to notice when writing my biblical theology of persecution, In the Shadow of the Cross.

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:14-15)

The Greek word for "hard" in verse 19 is thlibō and related to the more common word for persecution or tribulation - thlipsis. In fact, Acts 14:22 is a parallel verse where the disciples strengthened the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying "that through many tribulations (thlipsis) we must enter the kingdom of God."

It would be quite appropriate to translate Matthew 7:15 as "For the gate is narrow and the way is one of tribulation that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

The way of righteousness is the way of persecution. It is not an easy road but it is the right one. We do no one a favour when we hide this from them or seek to shield them from it. Persecution is part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

So, what does this mean for those of us who are not being persecuted?

(In Canada, you can order "In the Shadow of the Cross" online at In the US, go to


Comfort said...

Although some are not called into the kind of physical persecution been faced by many of our brethren in many parts of the world, however is till feel that each follower of Christ will still have one battle or the other to fight as long as he is determined to live for Jesu and not be a friend of the world. There are challenges to living a correct Christian life even in a so-called christian or secular states.
But one can't argue against the fact that the physical /psychological etc type of persecution is of the worst type. God will show mercy!

Anonymous said...

I'm not entirely sure what it means for those of us who don't face persecution. Are we too accommodating so don't face persecution? Is this comfort and acceptance we enjoy actually a gift from God that is to be a tool for blessing the persecuted church? Maybe there's a bit to be gleaned from an affirmative answer to both questions. I’ve read the book. Maybe I need to re-read it. Or maybe I need to take a good, hard look at the Bible again....