Christian “Persecution”

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. — Romans 12:14

While persecution in various forms — from social ostracism to legal action — was almost unavoidable in the early church, we have no evidence that the Roman Christians were at this time going through any special time of persecution. Paul is probably, then, issuing a general command, reflecting once again a staple item in the list of early Christian exhortation (see 1 Cor. 4:12; 1 Pet. 3:9).

— Douglas Moo, The Letter to the Romans, 2nd ed., p. 799

The same could be said of some other verses in the NT where it talks about persecution. At the time some of these verses were written, Christians were not yet experiencing the sort of persecution that they would later under, say, the reign of Domitian.

Often Christians and non-Christians make the argument that Christians in America have never suffered persecution. Their concept of what counts as persecution goes to the most extreme examples (being thrown in prison or killed for one’s faith). While the Bible clearly makes reference to this stronger form of persecution (Luke 21:12), it arguably recognizes lesser hostilities as “persecution.” And while the point that American Christians have (probably) never experienced this more severe form of persecution is valid and can be an appropriate corrective to some despairing attitudes, we shouldn’t dismiss or be unconcerned about lesser forms of persecution of Christians in America, like, for instance, Jack Philips.

Also see my earlier post, Persecution Complex and Epistemic Injustice. For all my posts relating to Doug Moo’s Romans commentary, see the list here.



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John Bowling

Throwing half-baked ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks.