Bible Study on Persecuted for the Faith
Bible Study Guide
Dear friends, when the fiery ordeal arises among you to test you, don’t be surprised by it, as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead, as you share in the sufferings of the Messiah rejoice, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory. If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. None of you, however, should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a meddler. But if [anyone suffers] as a Christian, he should not be ashamed, but should glorify God with that name. For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?
1 Peter 4:12-17
This is a suggested Bible study for any size group. The accompanying sermon outline serves as a resource as you prepare to lead this Bible study. Answers are provided with the questions when appropriate, but do not be too quick to give the answers. Allow the participants time to talk about the questions among themselves and offer their own thoughts and reflections.
Bible Study Instruction
Before class: Have available several stories about the persecution of Christians by visiting the following websites: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id33384, www.persecution.com, http://www.bible-researcher.com/persecution.html, and http://www.compassdirect.org/?aspxerrorpath=/breaking.php.
Also prepare four index cards or slips of paper with the following verses on them: 1 Cor. 4:12; Matt. 5:44; Rom. 12:14; and Psalm 7:1 (place one reference on each card or slip of paper). Distribute them to four class participants before class and ask them to read them when called for, indicating what they believe should be a Christian’s response to persecution according to that verse.
Create Learning Readiness: Using the Context section of the accompanying sermon outline, give some of the background to 1 Peter 4:12-17.
Ask class participants what they believe contributes to the lack of discussion about persecution in our churches today. After they have shared their ideas, point out that we do not suffer much in the way of persecution like our brothers and sisters in Christ in other nations.
Point out that persecution has been around since the beginning of time. Note that the secular media “misses” the stories of men and women being harassed, injured, or killed for their faith because their own faith lacks such substance. Point out that those who don’t hold to such a strong, all-out faith cannot understand those who do.
Then ask class participants to cite examples of persecution in the Old Testament (list answers on a whiteboard, if available). See sermon outline for a suggested list.
Next, ask participants to cite examples of persecution in the New Testament (list answers on the board). See sermon outline for a suggested list.
Ask participants if they know of other examples of persecution from other eras of history. After they have given their answers, share one or more of the examples you found on the websites listed above (or others that you know about).
Read this quote from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (p. 5):
“In [the martyr] we behold a spirit upheld, not by the motives of vanity, self-sufficiency, or indifference, but by the simple power of truth; we witness a soul so under the influence of good, that evil, even in its most cruel form, cannot dim its beauty, but serves as a contrast to heighten its luster. Here is self-sacrifice, springing not from pride, but from humility; founded not upon ignorant prejudice, but upon a faith based upon conviction; arising not from hatred or contempt for man, but from the love of God. Truly theirs was the victory that overcame the world, even their faith—a faith which, accepting the future as a true inheritance, enabled them to give up for Christ’s sake houses and lands, children and relationships, yea, and their own lives also, rather than be false to their conscience and their God. The history of Christian Martyrdom is, in fact, the history of Christianity itself; for it is in the arena, at the stake, and in the dungeon that the religion of Christ has won its most glorious triumphs.”
Ask participants what passages of Scripture they can think of which indicate that persecution should be expected by Christians and what those passage indicate are the reasons for it. (Answers should include John 15:20-21—because of faith in Christ; Luke 21:12—because of bearing the name of Christ and the approaching end of time; and 2 Timothy 3:12—because of a godly lifestyle.) Allow discussion time for each of these as appropriate.
Indicate that the Bible gives at least four reasons why persecution exists. Ask class participants to look up the following passages and give the reason indicated by each one:
- John 15:20-24 (Hatred toward Christ).
- John 16:1-3 (No knowledge of God or His Son).
- Psalm 10:2 (An attitude of arrogance).
- Acts 26:9-11; 13:50; 14:2 (Misplaced zeal).
Ask, what should be our response to persecution if it comes knocking on our door? After group responses, ask everyone to turn to First Peter 4:12-17.
Ask, what does verse 12 suggest should be our response to persecution? (Don’t be surprised by it.)
Ask, what do verses 13-14 suggest should be our response to persecution? (Rejoice in it.) If time permits, ask someone to look up Matt. 5:11-12 and read it aloud.
Ask, what do verses 15-16 suggest should be our response to persecution? (Give glory to God.)
Ask, what does verse 19 suggest should be our response to persecution? (Commit yourself to God.)
Ask whoever has 1 Cor. 4:12 to read the verse and give their response.
Ask whoever has Matt. 5:44 to read the verse and give their response.
Ask whoever has Rom. 12:14 to read the verse and give their response.
Ask whoever has Psalm 7:1 to read the verse and give their response.
In conclusion, ask class participants what they believe that they could do in response to the persecution of Christians around the world. (See What Can One Person Do below for suggestions.) After responses, ask each person to commit themselves to adopting one of these actions and following through on it individually or in conjunction with one or more other people from the group this week.
Close the class with a prayer of commitment.
What Can One Person Do?
- Pray regularly for those around the world who are suffering persecution.
- Financially support organizations (like Voice of the Martyrs) who keep us informed about those suffering persecution.
- Invite someone who has been persecuted (or someone who has worked with those who are being or have been persecuted) to speak on the subject in your church.
- Form a group in your church that has as its purpose to study the issue of world persecution and keep the church informed on what is happening.
- When you become aware of a brother or sister in Christ who is being persecuted in some foreign land, write to the State Department asking them to work with the government in that land to seek freedom for that person.