by G. C. Willis
The Greek word
is generally translated "patience" in our
and "endurance" in the
by J. N. Darby.
The original meaning of the Greek word is "remaining behind". It comes from
"I remain behind",
which in Luke 2:43 is translated this way.
The Meaning of the Word Endurance
We find a very beautiful example of this word in
the lovely story of
Shammah in the field of lentils in 2 Samuel 23:11 -12.
"After him was Shammah
the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a
troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentils; and the people fled from the
Philistines. But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew
Philistines; and the Lord wrought a great victory."
Shammah "remained behind". Shammah "endured". There are, perhaps,
few things more difficult than to endure. When others have given up, to remain
behind is not easy. I suppose Shammah's friends and fellow soldiers told him it
was hopeless. It was certain death to stay where he was, and anyway, for a
lentils it was not worth remaining behind. I suspect David had given that field
lentils to Shammah to defend. And you and I have been given a field of lentils
defend, in the midst of which "great David's Greater Son" has placed us. Our
field of lentils may be our home, or the office, or the shop; it may be the
feeble company of two or three gathered to our Lord's own Name, that others
have despised and forsaken for something greater and more attractive. Our field
of lentils may not seem worth defending, and we may feel like giving up; or
perhaps we are turning our eyes to fields that seem to us more attractive and
worthwhile. Let us remember Shammah, who remained behind when the others
fled. Let us endure, as he endured.
Our God is called
"The God of Endurance"
"The God of
(Rom. 15:5 N. T.). Many years ago some kind friends were
urging a young man to give up some work the Lord had given him to do. He went
in his perplexity to a dear old brother. He will never forget the way the older
"Give up? All giving up is of the devil!"
Yes, our God is
I suppose every Christian is willing to "boast in hope of the
glory of God" (Rom. 5:2 N. T.); but how many of us can truthfully add:
not only (that), but we also boast in tribulations, knowing that tribulation
comes from the Latin word "tribulum", a
flail. The flail I used when I was a boy was a cruel looking instrument, made of
two sticks of wood fastened together at the ends with a thong. You held one of
sticks, swinging it so that the other came down with terrific force on the
The result was that the chaff and straw were blown away, while the wheat
remained. The wheat endured. The flail brought tribulation to it, right enough,
by that tribulation the wheat obtained endurance.
Temptations and Endurance
It may be you have been having some pretty heavy
blows with the flail. You
may feel that you have been having more than your share of tribulation. May the
God of endurance give you to boast in tribulation also, knowing that tribulation
works endurance. You will have noticed the way James opens his epistle.
Immediately after the greeting, he plunges straight into his subject. "Count it
joy, my brethren, when ye fall into various
experiment, a trial, a testing, a temptation). We are put into the crucible,
chemists do to the substances they are testing. "Count it all joy when you fall
various temptations, knowing that the proving of your faith works endurance."
Ellicott says: "In the noble word hupomone there always appears in the New
Testament a background of
(manliness)...it does not mark merely the
endurance, but the perseverance,...the brave patience with which the Christian
contends against the various hindrances, persecutions, and temptations that
him in his conflict with the inward and the outward world."
Yes, endurance is so precious, and of inestimable value, that we may count it
all joy when we fall into trials, because we know they work endurance.
endurance have its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and complete, lacking in
(James 1:2-3). And the passage we looked at in Romans says, "We also
boast in tribulations, knowing that tribulation works endurance and endurance,
experience; and experience, hope; and hope does not make ashamed." Yes,
endurance works experience. This is experience, and it was endurance taught it.
Do you think Shammah would have missed the experience he gained by that fight
in the lentil field? Never! And when we get Home, we will see that some of these
hard places on the road were the bits we would not have missed for anything.
They worked endurance.
The Spiritual Value of Endurance
The first mark of a true servant of God is
commending ourselves as God's ministers (or, servants), in much endurance" (2
Cor. 6:4). The false servant, the hireling, fled when he saw the wolf coming;
the Good Shepherd
He endured. Endurance was also the
first sign of an apostle.
"The signs indeed of the apostle were wrought among
you in all endurance..."
(2 Cor. 12:12).
Years ago my work took me to the woods in the north of Canada, far from
any Christian services. One Lord's Day morning I was reading the first chapter
Colossians. I got as far as the eleventh verse, and I read:
"Strengthened with all
power according to the might of His glory..."
and I stopped there, somewhat
overwhelmed by the stupendous display of mighty power. As I stopped, I dreamed
of the great deeds I would some day do for the Lord, with all this mighty power
which I might so freely draw; what crowds might be converted; how the heathen
might be won for Christ! I decided to finish the verse:
"Strengthened with all
power according to the might of His glory
unto all endurance and long-suffering
It was a bit of a shock, for in those days I had never thought very
much of endurance, or of patience either, as it is put in our English Bible. But
God's thoughts are not our thoughts; and God knows the true worth of
endurance, and just the power that is needed for it, especially when
is needed; and when this endurance is not done through self-pity, but
God's Divine Enablement for Endurance
Oh, my brothers, my sisters, you will find you do
indeed need to be
"strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory,"
if you are to
"all endurance and long-suffering with joy".
We never, never can do it in
our own strength; but thanks be to God, He does not ask us to use our own
strength. He offers us all this vast store of power on which to freely draw,
unlimited demands, and all for the sake of
"Endurance and longsuffering
It is not easy, but, thank the Lord He can do it for us; He
can work it in us. The apostle used to boast about the
of his dear
children in faith, the Thessalonian Christians.
"Remembering without ceasing
your work of faith, and labor of love, and
endurance of hope
in our Lord Jesus
(1 Thess. 1:3). And their endurance kept up, for in the second Epistle we
find he is still boasting of it.
"Your faith increases exceedingly, and the love of
each one of you all towards one another abounds; so that we ourselves make our
boast in you in the assemblies of God for your
and faith in all your
persecutions and tribulations, which ye are sustaining"
(2 Thess 1:4). They had
the real genuine thing; their
did not break down.
There are some things that pursue us,
press after us
. The things that press
after us are very often troubles (not always: for goodness and mercy are among
the things that very earnestly press after us, as well as other good things).
are to press after quite a lot of things. You find a list of some of them in 1
Timothy 6:11-12; and amongst these you will find
. These days are apt
to be soft days, and we do not like to endure hardness if we can help it; but
remember, it is not wealth, nor ease, nor comfort, nor learning we are to press
after; but endurance, as well as many other blessed graces.
The Charge for More Endurance
The apostle could say to Timothy, his son in the
"Thou hast been
thoroughly acquainted with my...endurance"
(2 Tim. 3:10). Yes, Timothy knew
how Paul had remained behind when John Mark gave up and deserted him; he
knew how Paul had endured when Peter gave up the truth at Antioch, and all the
others with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away: but Paul remained
behind in the true faith. And in 2 Timothy 4:16 the old apostle, Paul the aged,
his child in the faith how
"all deserted me."
But Paul endured, he remained
behind, and faced Nero alone;
"and I was delivered out of the lion's mouth."
Few there are indeed who have endured like Paul, and few were acquainted with
his endurance like Timothy.
Paul tells Titus that the
were to have endurance, though this
would indeed include patience. It may be that as we get older we learn to value
this quality more. The urge and recklessness of youth have passed away, perhaps.
But, thank the Lord, endurance is one quality we old folks (who are not good for
much) may, and should, have. Keep on in the race, dear old friend; the goal is
almost in sight.
"Press toward the the mark!"
Endure! Hebrews 10:36 tells us
we have need of endurance in order that, having done the will of God, we may
receive the promise. We can see
"the streaks in the sky, His coming is near."
Endurance with Eternity in View
"The Bright and Morning Star"
will soon appear, and make good all the
promises. But now, in the darkest part of the night, just before the dawn, "You
have need of endurance." And those who have endured, we call happy.
have heard of the patience (endurance) of Job, and seen the end of the Lord;
that the Lord is full of tender compassion and pitiful"
(James 5:11). Sweet
attributes are these to link with endurance. It did not look like tender
compassion and pity in the early chapters of Job. But it is true for Job, and it
is true for us. Tribulation did work endurance, and if we let it, tribulation
work endurance for us, too. We also will prove the Lord to be "full of tender
compassion and pitiful."
And in that famous addition sum of Peter (2 Peter 1:5-6), we find our
word once again: endurance!
"...to our faith add courage; to our courage add
knowledge; to our knowledge add self-control; to our self-control add
and to endurance add brotherly affection; and to our brotherly
affection add love."
May God help us so to do.
"Let us, therefore, having so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us,
laying aside every weight, and the sin which so easily entangles us,
the race that lies before us, looking steadfastly on Jesus, the leader
and completer of faith: who, in view of the joy lying before Him,
having despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the
throne of God. For
consider well Him who endured
so great contradiction of
sinners against Himself, that ye be not weary, fainting in your minds"
12:1-3). ENDURE HARDNESS as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
(1) Editor note -"the Lion", Greek commentators generally understood the lion
to be Nero.
Josephus states that the death of Tiberius was the death of the lion. However,
in the Greek text
the definite article is absent, which renders the idea improbable. Paul uses
metaphorical expression to indicate deliverance from danger. W. E. Vine,
Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1965), p. 149
From G. C. Willis,
(Kowloon, Hong Kong: Christian Book Room), p.98-108
About the author. G. C. Willis along with his wife and family went to China as
missionaries in 1921; during World War II they were imprisoned in a Japanese
camp. By much personal suffering, he learned endurance and through tribulation,
never means the spirit which sits with folded hands and simply bears things.
It is victorious endurance, masculine constancy under trial...It is the ability
to bear things, which enables a man to pass the breaking point and not to break
and to greet the unseen with strength."
J. Oswald Sanders
"God's intention in allowing our faith to be tested is to produce endurance.
The author of Proverbs wrote:
If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small
(Prov. 24:10). God is in the business of building up strong Christian men and
women who can persevere in hard times without fainting."
Author and former N. T. Greek Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary
"Persevere! Keep running! Hold out to the end! Do not give up or be
disheartened! Never look back, but press on toward the mark! With the same
freshness as you began at the startingpoint, remain steadfast until the goal."
Author, scholar, and former president of Wiedenest Bible College in Germany
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