Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer:
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Augustine of Hippo
Lastly, there is the matter of Faustus’ crafty insinuation, that the Old Testament misrepresents God as threatening to come with a sword which will spare neither the righteous nor the wicked. If the words were explained to the pagan, he would perhaps disagree neither with the Old Testament nor with the New; and he might see the beauty of the parable in the Gospel, which people who pretend to be Christians either misunderstand from their blindness or reject from their perversity. The vine’s great farmer uses his pruning hook differently on the fruitful and in the unfruitful branches. Yet he spares neither good nor bad, pruning one and cutting off the other. No one is so just that he does not need to be tried by affliction to advance or to establish or prove his virtue. Do the Manichaeans not reckon Paul as righteous, who, while confessing humbly and honestly his past sins, still gives thanks for being justified by faith in Jesus Christ? Was Paul himself then spared of suffering by God w...
For an example of the just judgment of God. That is, that the persecutions and troubles you suffer in this world show the justice of God in punishing men for their sins, even in this life, so that by these temporal pains you may be found worthy of a crown of eternal glory in the kingdom of God. (Witham)
The afflictions, which are here frequently the portion of the just, are sensible proofs of the rigour with which the Almighty will, at the day of final retribution, pour out his indignation on the wicked. For, if he is unwilling to let the just be free from all temporal punishment, (though he discharges their debt of the eternal) and if he continually exposes them to the derision, calumnies, and persecutions of the wicked, what have not the wicked to apprehend when he shall stretch forth his hand in vengeance? Or, as others explain it, God permits the good to be persecuted here, that one day he may treat the wicked according to the rigour of his justice. He permits them here to fill up...
See how he gathers comfort for them. He had said, We give thanks to God, he had said, We glory among men: these things indeed are honorable. But that which he most seeks for, who is in suffering, is, deliverance from evils, and vengeance upon those who are evil entreating them. For when the soul is weak, it most seeks for these things, for the philosophic soul does not even seek these things. Why then does he say, a token of the righteous Judgment of God? Here he has glanced at the retribution on either side, both of those who do the ill, and of those who suffer it, as if he had said, that the justice of God may be shown when He crowns you indeed, but punishes them. At the same time also he comforts them, showing that from their own labors and toils they are crowned, and according to the proportion of righteousness. But he puts their part first. For although a person even vehemently desires revenge, yet he first longs for reward. For this reason he says,
That ye may be counted worth...
so that you may be held worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer
The persecutions and tribulation did not make them worthy, but rather the grace of God that bestows to them the power of enduring those things patiently.