December 24 (Daily reading: 2 Timothy) Paul began 2 Timothy 3 with, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come” (v. 1). He gave a vivid description of the nature of godless men and told Timothy: “Avoid such men as these” (v. 5). By way of contrast, Paul reminded Timothy of what he had seen in Paul’s example: “You followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings” (v. 10). Paul used in this list of virtues two Greek words, both of which can be translated “patience.”
The first word is “makrothumía.” It is found in the list of the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is…patience…” (Gal. 5:22). This patience is provided by the Holy Spirit when He comes into our life. It has the meaning of forbearance, or longsuffering. Impatient people are often short-tempered. “Makrothumía” is used to describe God: “The Lord is not slow about His promise…but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9) It indicates patience in our relationships with other people, as seen in Paul’s encouragement: “I therefore…urge you to walk…with all humility and gentleness, with patience (makrothumía), showing tolerance for one another in love” (Eph. 4:1-2).
The second word, “hupomoné,” indicates patience in respect to things or circumstances. It has the meaning of endurance, perseverance, or “a patient, steadfast waiting for.” James used this word for patience when he wrote, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (Ja. 1:2-3) Paul told the Thessalonians: (I thank God) “for your perseverance (hupomoné) and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure” (2 Thes. 1:4). God will give us a patient strength in our times of difficulty!
– Al Gary