The term “patience” occurs frequently in the Bible. Patience is a difficult lesson to learn in the age that we live in, yet, it is a trait that Christians must have. The church at Ephesus, for example, was commended for their patience (Rev. 2:2-3). Hebrews 12:1 says that Christians are to “run with patience” the race that is set before them; II Peter 1:6 says that patience must be added to the Christian’s faith.
What is patience? Patience might simply be called “enduring under trials or tribulations.” Thayer, in his Greek Lexicon (p. 644), says that in the New Testament it is, “…the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.”
Patience is very similar to “longsuffering,” but a distinction between the two words can be made. Patience generally refers to an enduring with respect to situations or circumstances. Longsuffering, on the other hand, is more of an endurance, or the quality of self-restraint, with respect to people. Patience involves difficult circumstances; longsuffering involves difficult people. If a person is longsuffering, for example, towards another, he will not retaliate when provoked. Also, a person facing trials and tribulations will patiently continue to serve God.
Patience comes by the trying of our faith (Jas. 1:3) and by tribulation (Rom. 5:3-5).
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