David A. deSilva explains clearly why the early Christians suffered persecution: “Christians adopted a lifestyle that . . . would have been considered antisocial and even subversive. Loyalty to the gods, expressed in pious attendance at sacrifices and the like, was viewed as a symbol for loyalty to the state, authorities, friends, and family. Worship of the deities was something of a symbol for one’s dedication to the relationships that kept society stable and prosperous. By abstaining from the former, Christians (like the Jews) were regarded with suspicion as potential violators of the laws and [as] subversive elements within the empire.”—Perseverance in Gratitude (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000), p. 12.
“For the disheartened there is a sure remedy—faith, prayer, work. Faith and activity will impart assurance and satisfaction that will increase day by day. Are you tempted to give way to feelings of anxious foreboding or utter despondency? In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, fear not. Have faith in God. He knows your need. He has all power. His infinite love and compassion never weary. Fear not that He will fail of fulfilling His promise. He is eternal truth. Never will He change the covenant He has made with those who love Him. And He will bestow upon His faithful servants the measure of efficiency that their need demands. The apostle Paul has testified: ‘He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. . . . Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.’ 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10.”—Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 164, 165.
Is it possible to be “different” because of our Christian commitment and yet not be accused of “separation” from and disregard for others? If yes, how?
The word “exhortation” in the Bible can refer either to reproof or to encouragement. What care should we take in reproving a person who is discouraged?
What similarities do you find between the experience of the readers of Hebrews and that of the Laodicean church of Revelation 3:14–22? In what ways is our experience today, two thousand years later, similar to theirs, and what can we learn from the similarities?
Supplemental EGW Notes
Selected Messages, “To Have Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” book 1, pp. 189, 190;
The Acts of the Apostles, “Written From Rome,” pp. 475, 476.
The above quotations are taken from Ellen G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons, published by Pacific Press Publishing Association. Used by permission.