“All these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.”
The world, in its general hatred of the truth and ignorance of God, will also hate believers.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time hated Him intensely. If we are committed to following Him wholeheartedly today, we can’t expect to avoid persecution and hardship any more than He did. In John 15:20 our Lord tells us what to expect: “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.”
If our perspective is right, however, this expectation should actually make us happy and even provide a certain sense of security. Receiving persecution from the world because we are Christ’s representatives means we have an opportunity to experience what Paul called “the fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). As one commentator has said, Christian suffering “is the very means God uses to transform us into the image of His Son.” Troubles and pains can be great reassurances that we have been united with Christ.
As we saw yesterday, it’s no surprise that the world hates us. It despises our general opposition to its system, but aside from that, the world hates believers simply because it doesn’t know God.
This basic ignorance of God usually appears in one of two ways. Either it shows up as apathy and religious superstition (Acts 17:22–23) or as more glaring actions and attitudes of moral and spiritual deviation (Romans 1:18–2:2). Whatever the case, people in the world are just doing what is natural for them because of their sin and depravity.
As a Christian, what should your response be? You should not be indifferent or accommodate the serious challenges you’ll face from the world. Instead, you ought to, by faith, realistically accept the truth of John 15:21, comfortably rest in the teaching of Philippians 3:10, and confidently seek to minister to the world “because the foolishness of God [the gospel] is wiser than men, and the weakness of God [the cross] is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:25).
Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to help you begin grasping what it means to partake in “the fellowship of His sufferings.”
For Further Study: Read Acts 5:17–42. How is the world’s attitude toward the gospel displayed in this passage? ✧ What did the apostles appeal to when faced with severe opposition?
The things that the hostile world will do to Christ’s followers are not aimed solely at them; the persecution they face is ultimately for His name’s sake. In the Beatitudes Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me” (Matt. 5:11). In the Olivet Discourse He warned, “They will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name” (Matt. 24:9; cf. Mark 13:9; Luke 21:12). Speaking to Ananias about the apostle Paul, Jesus declared, “I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). “If you are reviled for the name of Christ,” Peter wrote, “you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Peter 4:14). Suffering for the name of Jesus Christ is a repeated New Testament theme (see also Matt. 10:18, 22, 39; 19:29; Mark 8:35; 13:9–13; Luke 6:22; 21:12–17; Rom. 8:36; 2 Cor. 4:11; Rev. 2:3).
Ultimately, the world hates Jesus and His followers because it does not know the One who sent Him. Because “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God” (Rom. 8:7), “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (v. 8). Unbelievers are “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), “alienated and hostile in mind” (Col. 1:21), and “darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph. 4:18). All people are sinners by nature, born into a state of rebellion against God. They “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18), and “even though they [know] God, they [do] not honor Him as God or give thanks, but [are] futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart [is] darkened” (v. 21). Therefore in judgment God “gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (v. 24), to “degrading passions” (v. 26), and to “a depraved mind” (v. 28). All people are responsible for their sin, “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (vv. 19–20; cf. John 1:9).
15:21 This hatred and persecution is “for My name’s sake.” It is because the believer is linked to Christ; because he has been separated from the world by Christ; and because he bears Christ’s name and likeness. The world is ignorant of God. They do not know that the Father sent the Lord into the world to be the Savior. But ignorance is no excuse.
21 Whatever happens to the disciples happens because of their relationship to Jesus. Whatever the world did to Jesus it will also do to those who bear his name. Jesus had warned his followers that they would be persecuted (Mt 10:16–25). At the end of his ministry the apostle Paul had ample reason to write, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Ti 3:12; cf. 2 Co 11:23–27). Christians need to be sure, however, that any persecution that comes their way is the result of their close association with Jesus and not due to personal idiosyncrasies that unnecessarily offend.
Jesus states the ultimate reason for persecution: the world does “not know the One who sent me.” Willful ignorance of God leads to violent opposition. The spirit of rebellion, which has marked the human race from the beginning, relentlessly opposes anything that unmasks its true identity as malignantly antithetical to all God is and all he stands for.
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (p. 174). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1552). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 581–582). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.