And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. (10:22)
All is obviously not an absolute term in this context. Believers will not be hated by every single unbeliever on earth. The idea is that of all people in general, society as a whole. As verified by the last two thousand years, believers find they are hated by all classes, races, and nationalities of mankind.
Some believers live lives of almost constant conflict with the world, while others seem to escape it entirely. Some Christians are not persecuted simply because their testimony is so weak it goes unnoticed by the world. When biblical doctrine and standards are compromised to accommodate fallen human nature, society has little argument with that kind of Christianity and will give little opposition to Christians.
But to confront the world as Paul did with the declaration that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18) is to guarantee society’s wrath against the gospel and those who preach it.
Because they were so uncompromising in proclaiming the gospel, Paul declared himself and his fellow apostles to be “men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, … weak, … without honor, … both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless” (1 Cor. 4:9–11).
When a Roman general won a great victory, he would parade his captives through the streets in a grand triumphal procession, purposely making a spectacle of his conquered foes, especially of the military officers and the rulers. That is the sort of spectacle the ancient world figuratively made of the apostles.
In summary, false religion reacts against believers because it is generated by Satan. Government reacts against believers because it is under the control of the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world. Ungodly families and society react against believers because they cannot tolerate righteous people in their midst.
Endurance of persecution is the hallmark of genuine salvation: It is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. Endurance does not produce or protect salvation, which is totally the work of God’s grace. But endurance is evidence of salvation, proof that a person is truly redeemed and a child of God. God gives eternal life “to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality,” Paul says (Rom. 2:7). The writer of Hebrews expresses the same truth in these words: “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (3:14). We do not earn our salvation by endurance, but prove it. Continuance is a verification of being a real Christian. Theologians call this the perseverance of the saints. The following Scriptures also emphasize perseverance: Matthew 24:13; John 8:31; 1 Corinthians 15:1–2; Colossians 1:21–23; Hebrews 2:1–3; 4:14; 6:11–12; 10:39; 12:14; 2 Peter 1:10.
Persecution quickly burns away chaff in the church. Those who have made only a superficial profession of Christ have no new nature to motivate them to suffer for Christ and no divine power to enable them to endure it if they wanted to. Nothing is more spiritually purifying and strengthening than persecution (cf. James 1:12).
It is because God’s Word assures us that absolutely nothing can separate us from Christ that we can count on such unshakable endurance. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Paul asks rhetorically. “Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” He then answers his own question. “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35, 37–39).
22. But he who endureth to the end shall be saved. This single promise ought sufficiently to support the minds of the godly, though the whole world should rise against them: for they are assured that the result will be prosperous and happy. If those who fight under earthly commanders, and are uncertain as to the issue of the battle, are carried forward even to death by steadiness of purpose, shall those who are certain of victory hesitate to abide by the cause of Christ to the very last?
21–22 It is not enough for Jesus’ disciples to be opposed by Jewish and Gentile officialdom. They will be hounded and betrayed by their own family members (see vv. 34–39). The theme of division between persons as a sign of the end is not unknown in Jewish apocalyptic literature (4 Ezra 5:9; Jub. 23:19; 2 Bar. 70:3—though none of these refer explicitly to family divisions). Here the allusion is to Micah 7:6, quoted in Matthew 10:35–36. “All men” (v. 22) does not mean “all men without exception,” for then there would be no converts, but “all men without distinction”—all men irrespective of race, color, or creed. That the good news of the kingdom of God and his righteousness should elicit such intense and widespread hostility is a sad commentary on “all men.” The hatred erupts, Jesus says, dia to onoma mou (lit., “on account of my name”)—either because one bears the name “Christian” (cf. 1 Pe 4:14) or, less anachronistically and more likely, “on account of me” (see comments at 5:10–12).
The one who “stands firm”—the verb hypomenō (GK 5702) does not signify active resistance so much as patient endurance (cf. Da 12:12 LXX; Mk 13:13; Ro 12:12; 1 Pe 2:20)—will be saved; but he must stand firm eis telos (“to the end”). Though this anarthrous expression could be taken adverbially to mean “without breaking down,” it is far more likely purposely ambiguous to mean either “to the end of one’s life” or, because of the frequent association of telos (“end,” GK 5465) and cognates with the eschatological end, “to the end of the age.” This is not to say that only martyrs will be saved; but if the opposition one of Jesus’ disciples faces calls for the sacrifice of life itself, commitment to him must be so strong that the sacrifice is willingly made. Otherwise there is no salvation. Thus from earliest times Christians have been crucified, burned, impaled, drowned, starved, racked—for no other reason than that they belonged to him. As with martyrs among God’s people before the coming of Jesus, so now: the world was not worthy of them (Heb 11:38).
22 The mutual hostility within the family is only part of a more general hostility to Jesus’ disciples. Verse 22a will be repeated verbatim in 24:9, with the addition of “all the nations.” The broad expression “hated by everybody” is reminiscent of the famously ambiguous statement of Tacitus (Ann. 15:44) attributing Nero’s persecution of Christians to odium humani generis (“hatred of the human race”)—either because they were alleged to hate all other human beings, or because the whole human race hated them. Such hatred of disciples “because of my name” is explained by John as an extension of the world’s hatred for Jesus himself (John 15:18–25; 1 John 3:13–14). It must be balanced against the positive response of other people to the disciple’s “light” which was presented in 5:13–16, though there too persecution (vv. 11–12) coexists with admiration. Here we hear only one side of the love-hate relationship of the world to the gospel.
The world’s response is put in perspective by a reference to salvation at the “end.” Verse 22b will be repeated verbatim in 24:13, and in that context the “end” is related to the events predicted in 24:1–3, the destruction of the temple, the parousia of Jesus and the “close of the age;” which of those events is referred to by the word “end” in 24:6 and 14, and whether “to the end” in 24:13 has the same “end” in view, will be discussed when we come to ch. 24. Here there is no such context to define it, and the phrase eis telos, “to the end,” can hardly have such a specific reference, but simply means persevering for as long as may be necessary. The “end” is defined more by the future “salvation” which terminates the period of “remaining faithful” than by a specific historical or eschatological reference. The thought loosely echoes Dan 12:12–13, a beatitude on those who remain faithful and will receive their reward “at the end of the days.” Sōzō, “save,” is used by Matthew in a wide range of senses: often it refers to physical deliverance from death or disease (8:25; 9:21–22; 14:30; 24:22; 27:40, 42, 49), but it is also used of salvation from sins (1:21) and in 19:25 it stands in parallel with “entering the kingdom of God,” while in 16:25 the disciple’s “life” is paradoxically saved by losing it. These latter uses are the most probable pointers to the meaning here. Jesus is talking not about the preservation of physical life, but the ultimate well-being which is compatible with the loss of physical life. In the face of persecution and possible martyrdom disciples must remain true to their loyalty to Jesus; if they do so “to the end” they will be “saved,” even though they may be executed. Cf. the word-play in 27:42 where Jesus’ failure to “save” himself (from physical death) is contrasted with his “saving” other people, a fact which the evangelist, unlike the mocking authorities, wishes to affirm.
22. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake—The universality of this hatred would make it evident to them, that since it would not be owing to any temporary excitement, local virulence, or personal prejudice, on the part of their enemies, so no amount of discretion on their part, consistent with entire fidelity to the truth, would avail to stifle that enmity—though it might soften its violence, and in some cases avert the outward manifestations of it.
but he that endureth to the end shall be saved—a great saying, repeated, in connection with similar warnings, in the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem (Mt 24:13); and often reiterated by the apostle as a warning against “drawing back unto perdition” (Heb 3:6, 13; 6:4–6, &c.). As “drawing back unto perdition” is merely the palpable evidence of the want of “root” from the first in the Christian profession (Lu 8:13), so “enduring to the end” is just the proper evidence of its reality and solidity.
Ver. 22.—And ye shall be hated. For no little time (ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι). “Suffering sometimes becomes as a reward for doing. You read of the heifers which brought home the ark out of the Philistines’ country, that, when they brought the ark home, the Israelites took the heifers and offered them up to God, as a sacrifice (1 Sam. 6:14). ‘Why so?’ saith one. ‘It is an ill requital to the heifers.’ No; the heifers could not have so high an honour put upon them (Phil. 1:29; Acts 9:16; 21:13)” (Wm. Bridge, in Ford). Of all men (ver. 17, note). As with the old Israel, so also with the new (cf. Kübel). For my name’s sake (ch. 6:9, note). But he that endureth to the end (Revised Version adds, the same) shall be saved (so ch. 24:13). The emphatic insertion of οὗτος points out both the absolute necessity of endurance and the certainty of blessing to him who shows it (cf. 2 Tim. 2:11). To the end (εἰς τέλος); i.e. not to the end of the time during which persecution shall last (εἰς τὸ τέλος), but to completeness in the endurance required (cf. John 13:1 [Bishop Westcott’s note]; 1 Thess. 2:16). Shall be saved. In the fullest sense (cf. the parallel passage, Luke 21:19).
22 The hyperbolic statement (ὑπὸ πάντων, “by everyone”) in the first half of this verse points again to the time of eschatological trouble. There will be widespread hatred of those who follow Jesus and preach his message. διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου, “because of my name,” is again a highly significant christological element in this material (cf. v 18; cf. John 15:21). The words καὶ ἔσεσθε μισούμενοι ὑπὸ πάντων διὰ τὸ ὄνομά μου, “you will be hated by all on account of my name,” are found verbatim in 24:9 except that the latter has τῶν ἐθνῶν, “the Gentiles,” after πάντων, “all.” The situation envisioned here is also anticipated in 5:11 (cf. ἕνεκεν ἐμοῦ, “on my account”), where the persecution is seen paradoxically to be a mark of the blessedness of Jesus’ disciples (cf. too the Lukan parallel, 6:22, where the verb μισεῖν, “to hate,” is also used [cf. too ἕνεκα τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, “on account of the Son of Man”]; cf. John 15:18; 1 John 3:13). That the persecution and hatred of v 21 and the present verse are a part of the eschatological trouble is indicated by the words ὁ δὲ ὑπομείνας εἰς τέλος οὗτος σωθήσεται, “the one who endures to the end will be saved,” words that appear again verbatim in 24:13. The point of the statement is clear: the one who faithfully endures this persecution εἰς τέλος, “to the end” (i.e., the end of the person’s life or the end of the persecution and hence the end of the age), will be saved (see 4 Ezra 6:25; 9:7–8; 2 Tim 2:12) and will enter finally into the blessed peace promised to the participants in the kingdom.
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