Does patience mean a passive resistance for evil (Romans 5:3)?

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New Testament meaning

Paul wrote, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience” (Romans 5:3 NKJV). The word Patience (Gr. Hupomonē) may suggest only passive resistance to evil, the calm submission of a soul that surrenders itself to sorrow. However, this word means more than this. For it also indicates an active quality, a brave perseverance and determination that cannot be stopped by fear, trouble or threat. Therefore, a better interpretation would be “fortitude,” or “endurance.” The verb from which this noun is taken is found often in the NT and is usually translated “endure” (Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13; 1 Corinthians 13:7; 2 Timothy 2:10; Hebrews 10:32; 12:2, 7; James 1:12; 5:11).

Patience – the fruit of the Holy Spirit

Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22,23).

Solomon the wise said, “The end of something is better than its beginning. Patience is better than pride” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). This virtue means that we are to quietly wait on the Lord. “I waited patiently for the Lord’s help; then he listened to me and heard my cry” (Psalms 40:1). For the Lord grants His blessing in His own timing. “The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, so it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us—And it is best to learn this patience in our youth” (Lamentations 3:25-27).

In the natural man, who has not been born again of the Holy Spirit, tribulation, delay, and opposition often produce only impatience, or even a surrender of the good cause he may have espoused (Matthew 13:21). But in those who are spiritual, and thus under the influence of the Spirit of love, affliction and trial produce more perfect patience and manly endurance (1 Corinthians 13:7).

The practice of patience

Christians who have this patience understand that all humans are weak and may manifest errors due to the inherited sinful nature. To these erring ones the believers are to, “Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show love by being tolerant with one another” (Ephesians 4:2 also Colossians 3:12). Thus, patience is opposed to haste, or passionate expressions, and to irritability. “Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace” (Proverbs 15:18). Patience allows people to harbor a state of mind that enables them to be quiet when wrongfully accused, and even persecuted (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12; 2 Timothy 4:2; 2 Peter 3:15; Matthew 26:63; 27:12, 14; 5:10–12).

Jesus our supreme example

The ultimate example of Christian courage in affliction was exhibited by our Lord and Savior during His trial and crucifixion. Through all the dreadful brutality and shame, Jesus bore Himself with royal patience. The Christian who yearns to be like his Redeemer will delight in whatever hardships and suffering the Lord may allow to come upon him. For he is sure that through these trials he may gain more of the divine patience of Christ and thus be able to carry on till the end of his life.

Patience of the saints

Finally, patience is closely connected to trust, hope, faith, love and good character. “Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Paul admonished the believers who are waiting for the coming of Christ, “Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times” (Romans 12:12). Thus, with the hope of Christ’s coming, the Christian will neither murmur nor feel pain for his eyes are on the reward (James 5:8).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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