Slanderous Lies: The Fuel of Anti-Christian Persecution

Matthew 11:18,19; John 15:20; Matthew 5:11, 12
       John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.
       The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
       Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Lies are Satan’s chief weapons against God’s saints.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Count it not strange to be traduced, disgraced, scandalized―there are tongue-smiters, as well as hand-smiters; such as malign and molest God’s dearest children, as well with their virulent tongues as violent hands: “Such as will revile you,” saith our Saviour. Austere John hath a devil; sociable Christ is a wine bibber, and the scribes and Pharisees―whose words carry such credit―say as much.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Herein they show themselves the devil’s children, for he is a liar, and the father of lies (John 8:44).

JOHN ROBINSON (1575-1625): Slanderers may be called devilish, seeing the devil hath his name of slandering.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): The world hates Christian people if they can see Christ in them.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The treatment they meet with is on His account, and the same that He Himself met with; the like reproaches fell on Him.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Reviling and speaking evil of persons falsely, because of their profession of Christ, and because they dare not sin against God, is a species of persecution, Genesis 21:9; Galatians 4:29, though the lowest degree of it. It hath been the constant lot of God’s servants. David said that false witnesses did rise up, and laid to his charge things that he knew not, Psalm 35:11. Thus John and Christ were served.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Persecutors may pretend what they please, but it is the saint’s religion and piety that their spite is at.

MATTHEW HENRY: Whatever pretence persecutors have, it is the power of godliness that they have an enmity to; it is really Christ and his righteousness that are maligned, hated, and persecuted.

HUGH MARTIN (1822-1885): Now here is the principle on which all persecution against the godly is conducted. It is not for being godly that the world professedly persecutes them. The world feels that decency forbids to touch them till a semblance of some other charge is raised to cover and, if possible, conceal the real ground of hatred. It is not as a holy and benevolent teacher, winning the esteem of the nation, that Jesus is arrested: it is as a felon. It is not as holy and heavenly minded men that primitive Christians are persecuted. It is as disturbers of the peace of the Roman empire; as setters forth of strange gods; enemies of the imperial authority, as it prescribes the imperial religion. It is in that character they are given to the wild beasts at Ephesus or at Rome.

JOHN GILL: But all were malicious lies of men, invented on purpose to bring them and Christianity into disgrace.

MATTHEW HENRY: Those who have had no power in their hands to do them any other mischief, could yet do this; and those who have had power to persecute, had found it necessary to do this too, to justify themselves in their barbarous usage of them; they could not have baited them, if they had not dressed them in bear-skins; nor have given them the worst of treatment, if they had not first represented them as the worst of men.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Paul was treated with contempt and despite, his character traduced, his doctrine misrepresented: and, though his natural and acquired abilities were great, and he spoke with power and the demonstration of the Spirit, yet he was esteemed the filth and off-scouring of all things, a babbler, and a madman.

HUGH MARTIN: It is the same principle and policy in all cases, great or small. Look into the family, the field, the workshop, where the ungodly scorn and ridicule the righteous. It is not under the character of righteous that they persecute him. That would be too obviously and visibly the very spirit of hell. It must be a little masked and hidden from the view of others; aye, they seek even to hide it from themselves. It is not because he is a Christian, righteous, godly man they hate him. They cannot condemn him under that which is the true aspect of his character. They must misrepresent him first.

WILLIAM GREENHILL (1591-1677): It matters not much what the world saith of men: it called Paul a babbler, Acts 17:18, a heretic, Acts 24:14, a pestilent fellow, Acts 24:5; but what said God of him? “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” Job’s friends and the devil said that Job was hypocrite; but God said he was a perfect man, fearing God, and eschewing evil, Job. 1:1.

MATTHEW POOLE: Others had trial of cruel mockings, Hebrews 11:36. The same gospel faith enabled prophets and saints as Micaiah, (1 Kings 22:24); Elisha, (2 Kings 2:23); Isaiah, (Isaiah 8:18); Amos, (Amos 7:10); readily, cheerfully, and patiently to accept and receive the experience and trials of mocking, from the insulting, cruel enemies of God and his church, both national and aliens; being exposed and made a laughing-stock by reproaches, sarcasms, and nicknames.

MATTHEW HENRY: Note—there is no evil so black and horrid, which, at one time or other, has not been said, falsely, of Christ’s disciples and followers.

JOHN TRAPP: Elijah, for telling truth, shall hear, troubler; Jeremiah, traitor.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It has ever been the portion of God’s servants and people to be derided, reproached and insulted; and, my reader, if we are not being “mocked”—sneered at, scoffed at—it is because we are too lax in our ways and too worldly in our walk. Human nature has not changed; Satan has not changed; the world has not changed; and the more Christlike is our life the more we shall drink—in our measure—of the cup He drank from.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): On one occasion, when John Wesley was preaching, he said, “I have been falsely charged with every crime of which a human being is capable, except that of drunkenness.” He had scarcely uttered these words before a wretched woman started up and screamed out at the top of her voice, “You old villain!―will you deny it? Did you not pledge your bands last night for a noggin of whiskey, and did not the woman sell them to our parson’s wife?” [Then she] sat down amid a thunder-struck assembly.
       Wesley lifted his hands to heaven, and thanked God that his cup was now full, for they had said all manner of evil against him falsely for Christ’s name’s sake.


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