In a Nutshell
In a time of hardship, and perhaps persecution, the writer strikes a surprisingly up-beat note.
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Does this letter call on readers to welcome persecution? Why not?
Consider it all a joy, my fellows, when you are confronted by various kinds of tests, since you [already] know that resilience is produced when your faith is tested. And so let resilience come fully to expression [in how you live], that you may be perfect and whole, lacking in nothing.
We have already confronted an important "contextual" issue from reading the opening lines of this New Testament letter. Even though we may now read keeping in mind that it is an attempt to reiterate the specific teaching of Jesus, we might need to confirm its continuity with the Gospels and other New Testament books and letters, by learning how to re-read the entire New Testament in order to do justice to the affirmation that the One this letter refers to as Lord and Christ is actually God's nominated Prince who now presides over all the rulers of the earth. This is the Messiah who in His own person brought the proclamation of God's love and mercy to the entire world who now leads a new people drawn from every nation upon the earth. God is busily establishing His Kingdom, bringing His creation to its true purpose and fulfilment. It is in this context, the reign of Jesus Christ, that these opening encouraging lines that we now consider should be read.
Thus this is not teaching that because we will all eventually get to heaven then we should patiently endure all the different problems that come our way. Rather, this is encouragement about the rule of the Lord God, over this earth, here and now, which has been established by His confirmation of Jesus Christ as ruler of all the princes of the earth. It may be a letter sent out in the midst of intense persecution, but it reminds readers that they are part of the ongoing work of Jesus to build His Kingdom by forming a new humanity.
Here a profound spiritual principle is at work. Human growth to fulness requires the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and one of these is patience. This admonition to us to patiently endure calls up ancient Old Testamental imagery, and now Jesus Christ has fulfilled the stewardship in which all people everywhere are created and likewise in which they are now invited to participate. This resilience is all about our work as stewards.