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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


‘Suffering’ is the usual translation of πάθημα (found in sing. [Note: singular.] only in Hebrews 2:9) in Authorized Version and Revised Version . In Authorized Version the Gr. word is also translation ‘afflictions’ (3 times; Revised Version ‘sufferings’), ‘affections’ (Galatians 5:24; Revised Version ‘passions’), and ‘emotions’ (Romans 7:5; Revised Version ‘passions’). The cognate verb πάσχω is always translation ‘suffer’ in Authorized Version and Revised Version , with two exceptions (Acts 1:3, ‘passion,’ Authorized Version and Revised Version ; Acts 28:5, Authorized Version ‘feel,’ Revised Version ‘took’). The same verb appears in compound forms in ‘suffer before’ (1 Thessalonians 2:2, Authorized Version and Revised Version ) and ‘suffer with’ (Romans 8:17, 1 Corinthians 12:26, Authorized Version and Revised Version ). In Revised Version κακοπάθεια is rendered ‘suffering’ (James 5:10; Authorized Version ‘suffering affliction’); κακοπαθέω, ‘suffer hardship’ (2 Timothy 4:5, Authorized Version ‘endure afflictions’; 2 Timothy 2:9, Authorized Version ‘suffer trouble’), ‘be suffering’ (James 5:13; Authorized Version ‘be afflicted’); συγκακοπαθέω, ‘suffer hardship with’ (2 Timothy 1:8, Authorized Version ‘be partaker of the afflictions of’; and 2 Timothy 2:3, Authorized Version ‘endure hardness’). In Authorized Version παθητός is rendered ‘should suffer,’ in Revised Version ‘must suffer,’ in Revised Version margin ‘subject to suffering’ (Acts 26:23).

Other words rendered by ‘suffer’ are ἀτιμάζω (Acts 5:41; Authorized Version ‘suffer shame,’ Revised Version ‘suffer dishonour’); ζημιόω (pass.), ‘suffer loss’ (1 Corinthians 3:15, Philippians 3:8, Authorized Version and Revised Version ; 2 Corinthians 7:9, Revised Version ; Authorized Version ‘receive damage’); κακουχέομαι (Hebrews 13:3; Authorized Version ‘suffer adversity,’ Revised Version ‘be evil entreated’); μακροθυμέω (1 Corinthians 13:4, Authorized Version and Revised Version , ‘suffer long’; 2 Peter 3:9, Authorized Version and Revised Version , 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Revised Version , ‘be longsuffering,’ elsewhere ‘be patient,’ 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Authorized Version , James 5:7 f., Authorized Version , James 5:7 f., Revised Version , or ‘patiently endure,’ Hebrews 6:15, Authorized Version and Revised Version ); ναυαγέω, ‘suffer shipwreck’ (2 Corinthians 11:25, Authorized Version and Revised Version ); ὀνειδίζω (pass.), ‘suffer reproach’ (1 Timothy 4:10, Authorized Version ; Revised Version ‘strive’); στέγω (1 Corinthians 9:12; Authorized Version ‘suffer,’ Revised Version ‘bear’; also translation ‘bear’ 1 Corinthians 13:7, Authorized Version and Revised Version , and ‘forbear,’ 1 Thessalonians 3:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:5, Authorized Version and Revised Version ); συγκακουχέομαι (Hebrews 11:25; Authorized Version ‘suffer affliction with,’ Revised Version ‘be evil entreated with’); ὑπέχω (Judges 1:7, ‘suffer,’ Authorized Version and Revised Version ); ὑπομένω (2 Timothy 2:12; Authorized Version ‘suffer,’ Revised Version ‘endure’; usually rendered ‘endure’ in Authorized Version and Revised Version , but also ‘be patient,’ Romans 12:12, Authorized Version and Revised Version , ‘take patiently,’ 1 Peter 2:20 bis, Authorized Version and Revised Version ).

1. The sufferings of Christ.-The sufferings of Christ were foretold (Acts 3:18; Acts 26:22 f., 1 Peter 1:11). ‘It behoved the Christ to suffer’ (Acts 17:3; cf. Hebrews 9:26). Moses and the prophets showed how that must be (Acts 26:23; cf. Acts 17:3). He suffered throughout His earthly life, ‘in the flesh’ (1 Peter 4:1). He suffered, being tempted (Hebrews 2:18). On the Cross His sufferings culminated. He suffered for sins once (1 Peter 3:18), suffered without the gate (Hebrews 13:12; cf. Acts 1:3). His sufferings revealed His character, and had a reflex influence on His own nature. ‘When he suffered, he threatened not’ (1 Peter 2:23). ‘He learned obedience by the things which he suffered’ (Hebrews 5:8). Of these sufferings St. Peter was one of the chief witnesses (1 Peter 5:1), and he points out Christ as the great example (1 Peter 2:21). It was for His followers that He suffered (ib.).

2. The sufferings of Christ shared by Christians.-Though Christ suffered, His disciples are not saved from suffering. Rather does their relationship to Him cause them to suffer also. If they are faithful to Him, the enmity and opposition He met with will also to some extent fall to their lot. Hence St. Paul, who endured so much on behalf of the gospel, could with reason speak of sharing the sufferings of Christ. ‘The sufferings of Christ abound unto us,’ he says (2 Corinthians 1:5). He longs to know ‘the fellowship of his sufferings’ (Philippians 3:10). Others who belong to Christ also suffer with Him; and those who thus suffer will share His glory (Romans 8:17). ‘Insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice’ (1 Peter 4:13). ‘If we endure, we shall also reign with him’ (2 Timothy 2:12).

3. Suffering on behalf of the faith.-The suffering of the NT is almost entirely suffering in the cause of Christ. St. Paul is told that he is to suffer for the Lord’s name’s sake (Acts 9:16). He tells Timothy that he suffers because he is an apostle and a teacher (2 Timothy 1:12), suffers hardship even unto bonds (2 Timothy 2:9). He speaks of his sufferings in such a way as to show that they were chiefly persecutions (2 Timothy 3:11). Accordingly, Timothy is exhorted to suffer hardship with him (2 Timothy 2:3). ‘Be not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner; but suffer hardship with the gospel’ (2 Timothy 1:8). ‘Suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist’ (2 Timothy 4:5). St. Paul suffered, and was shamefully entreated at Philippi (1 Thessalonians 2:2). There he endured stripes and imprisonment (Acts 16:19 ff., esp. Acts 16:23). He also suffered because of the perverse ideas of his converts (1 Corinthians 9:12, 2 Corinthians 1:6). His converts, too, frequently suffered on account of the faith. The Galatians suffered many things (cf. Acts 14:2-5; Acts 14:19-22). The Philippians suffered on behalf of Christ (Philippians 1:29). The Thessalonians suffered for the Kingdom of God (2 Thessalonians 1:5) at the hands of their fellow-countrymen, as the churches of Judaea did at the hands of the Jews (1 Thessalonians 2:14). The readers of 1 Pet. were also subjected to suffering. They suffered wrongfully when well-doing (1 Peter 2:19-20), for righteousness’ sake (1 Peter 3:14; cf. 1 Peter 3:17), as Christians (1 Peter 4:16). St. Peter told them that those who are called to God’s eternal Kingdom in Christ may nevertheless suffer (1 Thessalonians 5:10), just as St. Paul had told Timothy that ‘all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution’ (2 Timothy 3:12). Among the things which the Christians of Smyrna have to suffer is imprisonment (Revelation 2:10; cf. Hebrews 13:3). The Hebrews are reminded that after they were enlightened they ‘endured a great conflict of sufferings; partly, being made a gazingstock both by reproaches and by afflictions; and partly, becoming partakers with them that were so used’ (Hebrews 10:32). The heroes also suffered for their faithfulness. Moses preferred to suffer affliction with the people of God (Hebrews 11:25). The prophets gave an example of suffering (James 5:10). The early Christians seem to have concerned themselves little about what we call the problem of suffering, except perhaps in so far as their sufferings were ascribed to the activity of the devil (1 Peter 5:9). Their chief anxiety seems to have been that they should suffer according to the will of God (1 Peter 4:19), i.e. for well-doing (1 Peter 3:17, 1 Peter 4:19).

4. The fruits of suffering.-Jesus because of the suffering of death was crowned with glory and honour (Hebrews 2:9). Glories followed His sufferings (1 Peter 1:11). Through them He was made perfect (Hebrews 2:10; cf. Hebrews 5:8). In the case of His followers suffering has a similar result. Those who suffer for righteousness’ sake are blessed (1 Peter 3:14). Those who are called to God’s eternal glory in Christ and suffer a little while shall be perfected, established, and strengthened by God (1 Peter 5:10). One who suffers as a Christian has reason to glorify God (1 Peter 4:16). To do well and to suffer for it is acceptable with Him (1 Peter 2:20). ‘Wherefore let them also that suffer according to the will of God commit their souls in well-doing unto a faithful Creator’ (1 Peter 4:19).

There is a great mass of modern literature on the problem of pain or suffering, but how little of it is concerned with sorrow at the slow progress of righteousness or of the Kingdom of God! It was otherwise in the Apostolic Age. There is very little in the NT about purely personal suffering (Acts 28:5, 1 Corinthians 12:26). In one case at least suffering is distinguished from sickness (James 5:13 f.).

Literature.-R. Winterbotham, The Kingdom of Heaven Here and Hereafter, London, 1898, pp. 234-240; J. Weiss, Die Schriften des NT, Göttingen, 1907, s.v. ‘Leiden’ in index; Handkommentar zum NT, Freiburg, 1892, s.v. ‘Leiden’ in indexes; Thayer Grimm’s Gr.-Eng. Lexicon of the NT, s.vv.; Dict. of Christ and the Gospels , s.v.; H. W. Beecher, Sermons, 2nd ser., London, 1870, pp. 271-297; A. B. Bruce, The Providential Order of the World, do., 1897, pp. 125 ff., 259 ff.; F. W. Robertson, Expository lectures on the Corinthians, do., 1859, pp. 317 ff., 446 ff., Sermons, 5th ser., do., 1904, serms. i. and ii.

William Watson.


Mention of the sun in the Apostolic Age is almost entirely confined to the book of Revelation. In the Heavenly Jerusalem the sun shall not light upon the blessed nor any heat (Revelation 7:16). There will no longer be any need of the sun (Revelation 21:23). Dread judgments are symbolized by the obscuring of the sun, e.g. ‘The sun became black as sackcloth’ (Revelation 6:12); see also Revelation 8:12; Revelation 9:2; Revelation 16:8 and Acts 2:20, Joes’s prophecy quoted by St. Peter. It is twice used in similes, i.e. in the description of the Vision of the Christ, ‘His countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength’ (Acts 1:16), and in the description of an angel, ‘His face was as the sun’ (Acts 10:1).

In Revelation 12:1 the woman in the vision is ‘arrayed with the sun.’ The idea may be taken from Psalms 104:2, ‘Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment.’ The author may also have had in mind the description of the Bride in Song of Solomon 6:10, ‘clear as the sun.’ If, as some think, the woman represents the Jewish Church, then she appears in all the glory of the patriarchs (see Romans 9:5). But Semitic writers were apt to decorate representative persons with the heavenly bodies.

Lastly, in Revelation 19:17 the angel who is entrusted with the overthrow of the Beast and the false prophet is represented as ‘standing in the sun’-probably that he may be able from his position in mid-heaven to summon the great birds of prey to feed on the flesh of the king’s enemies lying on the battle-field.

Morley Stevenson.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Suffering'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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