2 Timothy 3:12—Are all who live godly lives persecuted, or only some?

Problem: Here the apostle makes the sweeping statement that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” This appears to be in flat contradiction to Solomon’s claim that “When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Prov. 16:7). How can both be true?

Solution: Neither of these passages should be taken universally. Proverbs were only general statements, not universal truths. Likewise, Paul’s statement seems hardly appropriate for persons who die shortly after becoming believers or who live in a Christian environment all their life.

Even if taken with strict literalness, being at “peace” with one’s enemies does not mean they are not persecuting us. It simply means that the believer, like Christ commanded, is not retaliating against his enemy or fighting back (cf. Matt. 5:39–40).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.