Whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10:23)

We should never seek our persecution or want to endure it for its sake—or even ostensibly for Jesus’ sake. God never commanded believers to persist at ministering in a certain place of animosity and danger. Even the apostle Paul followed Jesus’ exhortation of fleeing from one city to the next to get away from persecution.

Paul did not try to test the limits of his opposition but endured fierce opposition as need be while he ministered. However, he departed from a city or region when his effectiveness there ended. Every faithful missionary and minister should follow that pattern until Christ returns.

Even though the apostles spent three years learning from Jesus, ministering with Him, and realizing He was the vine and they were the branches (John 15:5), when they realized He was finally going to leave them, they panicked (cf. 14:5, 8).

Jesus made it clear that if the world persecuted Him, it would persecute His servants (15:20). But just as the Lord promised persecution, He also promised to send the Holy Spirit to indwell His followers (15:26-16:15). It was both necessary and advantageous for Jesus to leave following His death and resurrection, in order to make way for the Comforter to come and empower the apostles and all subsequent believers. Our Lord assures us, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (16:33).[1]

John MacArthur


[1] John MacArthur, Daily Readings From the Life of Christ Volume 2 [Chicago: Moody, 2009], March 9