by Dr. Robert R. Seyda



Reformer Martin Luther gives us his interpretation of what patience means to him. In his mind, patience is that quality which enables a person to hold up under adversity, injury, reproach, and makes them patient to wait for the improvement of those who have done them wrong. When the devil finds that he cannot overcome certain believers by force, he tries to overcome them with persistent harassment. He knows that we are weak and cannot stand anything long. That’s why he repeats his temptation time and time until he succeeds. To withstand his continued assaults, we must be patient and wait for the devil to get tired of his game.[1] Another commentator speaks of patience as “tolerance towards others.” [2]

British theologian John Gill states that patience does not imply that we are to wait around for good things to come, for more grace, more glory through the Spirit. Instead, we are to be patient by faithfully enduring all the present evils with courage and joyfulness. The Spirit will provide the strength we need according to His glorious power.

It also implies being slow to anger, ready to forgive abuse, put up with insults, and hold up with, and hold back on striking out at one another.  We get this done with the accompaniment of humbleness, humaneness, friendliness, courteousness, which are shown both in words, gestures, and actions. In doing so, we imitate the humbleness of the Anointed and are agreeable to the wisdom found in the heavenly doctrine of the Gospel. There we are told, among other things, to be gentle and quick to respond to pleas.[3] One translator expands on patience this way: “Be able to bear with others’ mistakes and shortcomings patiently.” [4]

Preacher Alexander Maclaren preached on understanding patience by quoting from Paul’s writing to the church in Corinth, where he says this: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud.  Love is not rude, it is not selfish, and it cannot be easily made angry.” [5]  He goes on to say: “He has little reason to suppose that the love of God is shed abroad in his heart, or that the Spirit of God is bringing forth fruit in him, who has not gone beyond the stage of repaying hate with hate, and scorn with scorn.  Any fool can answer a fool according to his folly, but it takes a wise and a good man to overcome evil with good, and to love them that hate; and yet how certainly the fires of mutual antagonism would go out if there were only one to pile on the fuel! It takes two to make a quarrel, and no man living under the influence of the Spirit of God can be one of such a pair.” [6]  In other words, for Maclaren, patience is best expressed when it absorbs even the most provocative and abusive words or deeds without giving into equally malicious reciprocity. We can see how love transformed is consistent in remaining faithful and loyal to Him who called us by His grace.

Dr. Rodney Loper, President of God’s Bible School and College, gives us several points to examine when trying to understand patience. First of all, patience demands inner strength. This strength rests on the character and timing of God. Also, faith and patience merge here. Biblical patience comes from placing our faith in the One who is beyond time and space, realizing that His purpose and plan displaces ours. Then, patience is a requirement in dealing successfully with others. When people make mistakes, they work slower than we like, tell us “no,” and make us wait in line, place us on hold, or refuse to do what we requested of them, we need patience. Remember, if we are not resting and relying on God’s timing, it is easy to lose control and become frustrated with both people and God.

Loper goes on to make the point that patience is required when dealing with pain. It is not all physical pain; there is emotional pain that goes deeper than any broken bone, wound, or burns. Regardless of the type, pain is real and requires patience and endurance. Furthermore, we are required to have patience in doing our work for God. In Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed,[7] it doesn’t matter if it is the birds, the hard soil, the stony soil, the weeds, or any other impediment. And finally, most of all, patience is necessary while waiting for our Lord’s Second Coming. Patience rests on the assurance that He is coming again, to save those who endure to the end.[8] [9]

I also like the points that Sonja Vernon makes: (1) Patience is not permissiveness. (2) Patience does not keep others from facing the consequences of their wrongdoing. (3) Patience does not ignore healthy boundaries. (4) Patience refuses to write off difficult people immediately. (5) Patience means loving when it may be challenging to do so. (6) And, patience works for the good of others.[10]

Caslyn Rice adds her comments: Most of us know someone who is consistently needy or is always nearby asking endless questions. Instead of pushing them aside or ignoring them, we have the opportunity to show them patience in the way we respond to their needs.[11]

Tertullian also sees a beautiful example of patience in the life of Jesus. This example of divine patience, says Tertullian, might be too esteemed and too unreachable for us to imitate. But what is it the Apostle’s touched and grasped openly by hand[12] among people on earth? God allowed Himself to be humanly conceived in a woman’s womb, and await the time for His birth. And when born, tolerates the delay of growing up. When reaching adulthood, He is not eager to be recognized,[13] but is furthermore indifferent to Himself, and baptized by His servant.[14] He then patiently resists with words alone the assaults of the tempter.[15] He went from being LORD to becoming a Principal, teaching people how to escape death. He was well-trained due to the exercise of the absolute restraint of offended patience.

He did not strive; He did not cry aloud, nor did any hear His voice in the streets.[16] He did not seize the ministry from John the Baptizer; He did not try to quench the one who cried, “Make a path in the wilderness. The one coming after me is greater than I.” [17] No, the confirmation of God Himself, placing His own Spirit, together with patience, in His Son — spoke the Truth. None came to Him that He did not receive. No! He sat at the table with sinners;[18] women of ill repute were able to wash His feet.[19] He ministered to the washing of the disciples’ feet.[20] No sinners, nor tax collectors,[21] did He angrily push away; not even the city that refused to acknowledge Him.[22]

He resisted His disciple’s wish that He hurl fire and brimstone on a contemptuous town.[23] He cared for the ungrateful; He yielded to His arrestors.[24] These were of no small matters. He allowed His betrayer to remain in His company and steadfastly abstained from pointing him out.[25] Furthermore, He yielded to those who came to arrest Him and lead Him away like a sheep for sacrifice.[26] He does not open His mouth more than lambs do when taken to the altar.[27] Had He willed it, He could have with one word had legions of angels present themselves from the heavens to defend Him.[28] He did not approve of one of His disciples raising a sword.[29] The patience of the Lord was wounded in (the wound of) Malchus.[30]

Instead, he desired by the restoration of Malchus’ ear to satisfy someone He did not hurt. Through patience, he endured the beatings, the carrying of His cross,[31] the suffering and shame of crucifixion as a criminal.[32] It was the end for which He came.[33] Yet, the valley of death through which He must go, He neither despised or attempted to avoid. No, He asked the Father to forgive those torturing Him.[34] He refused to drink wine mixed with vinegar to lower the pain.[35] He wished to quench His thirst with the pleasure of patience. He was spit upon, beaten, and ridiculed.[36] Though He was robed and crowned in folly,[37] He maintained His composure with calmness! He who took on human form imitated nothing of humanities’ impatience! Hence, even more than from any other trait, ought you, Pharisees, to have recognized the Lord. Patience of this kind no human would ever achieve. Yet it is instilled in us as the cause and superiority of God’s patience nature.[38]

What a stirring and beautiful eulogy on the person and presence of Jesus the Messiah. Something we should read when we become impatient. And a text we should read aloud on Good Friday to magnify His majesty and the honor we have to have Him in our lives.

[1] Luther, Martin: Commentary on Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[2] Nyland, D. A, Galatians: The Source New Testament With Extensive Notes On Greek Word Meaning, op. cit., loc. cit

[3] Gill, John: Exposition of the Whole Bible, op. cit., loc. cit.

[4] Aiyer, Ramsey, The Contextual Bible Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[5] 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

[6] Maclaren, Alexander: Expositions of Holy Scripture, Galatians, op. cit., loc. cit.

[7] Luke 8:15

[8] Matthew 24:13

[9] Loper, Rodney: Revivalist Magazine, May 2019, pp. 3-4

[10] Ibid. pp. 5-7

[11] Rice, Caslyn, op. cit.

[12] 1 John 1:1

[13] John 7:5

[14] Matthew 3:13-17

[15] Luke 4:1-13

[16] Isaiah 42:2; Matthew 12:19

[17] John 1:15, 30

[18] Mark 2:13-17

[19] Luke 7:36-39

[20] Matthew 26:14-39; John 13:3-9

[21] Luke 19:1-10

[22] Ibid. 9:51-56

[23] Matthew 23:37-39; Luke 13:34-35

[24] Matthew 26:36-56

[25] John 18:4-6

[26] Matthew 26:20-25

[27] Isaiah 53:7; John 1:36; Acts of the Apostles 8:32

[28] Matthew 26:53

[29] John 18:10

[30] Luke 22:51

[31] John 19:17

[32] Matthew 27:38

[33] John 18:37

[34] Luke 23:34

[35] Matthew 27:33-34

[36] Ibid. 26:67

[37] Ibid. 27:28-29

[38] Tertullian: op. cit., pp. 12-13

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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