What does the Bible say about long-suffering?

by Matt Slick
12/15/2015

Long-suffering is the patient endurance of hardship through various kinds. It is perseverance (Luke 8:15), endurance, and the ability to withstand attacks, insults, even physical suffering for long periods of time (Romans 5:3-4).  We are promised trials and tribulations in Scripture (Matthew 24:9; Mark 13:19; John 16:33, etc.) and so we must learn longsuffering.

The word "longsuffering" occurs in the King James Bible in several places.

  • Romans 2:4, "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
  • Romans 9:22, "What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction."
  • Galatians 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,"

The Greek word used for longsuffering is μακροθυμία, makrothumía.  Other translations use the English word "patience."  The NASB says,

  • Romans 2:4, "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?"
  • Romans 9:22,  "What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?"
  • Galatians 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,"

So, what does the Bible say about longsuffering?

First of all, we have to realize that every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). So we must understand that God is the one who grants us the ability to be patient.  Therefore, he receives the glory even for the patience which we have. After all, it is also part of the fruit of the Spirit.1

  • Romans 15:5, "Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,"
  • Galatians 5:22, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,"

Second, the Bible teaches that there are rewards for those who are patient.  The love of God moves through us when we are longsuffering.

  • Romans 5:3–5, "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Third, the Bible teaches that our patience through trials and tribulations produces a more pure faith.

  • James 1:2–4, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
  • James 5:10, "As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord."

Fourth, the Bible teaches that our patience is to be maintained while we wait for the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  • James 5:7–8, "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near."

Fifth, the Bible teaches that God is patient with us.

  • Numbers 14:18, "The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations."
  • Joel 2:13, "And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil."
  • Romans 2:4, "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?"  

Sixth, the Bible teaches that we are to be patient with others.

  • Ephesians 4:1–3, "Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
  • Colossians 3:12–13, "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you."
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:14, "We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone."

Seventh, the Bible teaches us that love is patient

  • 1 Corinthians 13:4–6, "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth."

So, the Bible has a lot to say about long-suffering. It is a patient endurance. God has been patient with us (Numbers 14:18; Romans 2:4) and we are to be patient with others (Ephesians 4:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:14). Through our trials and tribulations, we must be long-suffering. We must keep her eyes on the Lord and not grow faint. Since we rejoice during the good times, we must also trust the Lord during the difficult times. So, keep your eyes on Jesus through the trials and tribulations so that your patience, your long-suffering will bring glory to him and will perfect your faith.

 

 

 

 

 

  • 1. A lot of people don't know that the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 is actually one fruit, not nine.  The Greek word for 'fruit' is singular, not plural.
 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.