Luke 6:23

ESV Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
NIV Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
NASB Rejoice on that day and jump for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For their fathers used to treat the prophets the same way.
CSB "Rejoice in that day and leap for joy. Take note--your reward is great in heaven, for this is the way their ancestors used to treat the prophets.
NLT When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.
KJV Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

What does Luke 6:23 mean?

Jesus finishes His list of blessings for those who suffer on earth with an exhortation. His followers should rejoice when they are being persecuted. This reaction is contrary to human nature. We may endure persecution, but who can celebrate it?

First, they should celebrate because they are receiving affirmation that God will bless them in eternity. The point is not that persecution earns someone the right to blessings. Rather, it's that God is present with believers even in persecution. They know God sees and they will one day laugh, be satisfied, and inherit the kingdom of God. Remembering such blessings are coming gives them endurance and hope of a better future (Romans 5:3–5; 2 Corinthians 4:17–18).

Second, they are following a great and godly tradition. The prophets of the Old Testament faced the same persecution even though they were servants of God. This crowd of laborers, tradesmen, and women probably never imagined they could approach the honor of Isaiah or Elijah. Although many prophets met horrible ends, their reward in heaven is great. The persecution is better than the alternative, to seek the accolades of people on the earth and suffer the judgment promised to false prophets. Herod Agrippa I learned this when he accepted the praises of the fawning crowd and died of intestinal worms shortly after (Acts 12:20–23).

The Bible gives us a strong example of people who rejoiced in persecution. When the Sanhedrin first arrested Peter and John for preaching about Jesus, the counsel let the two off with a warning to stop (Acts 4:1–22). They didn't stop, of course. So, the Sanhedrin arrested all the apostles and beat them (Acts 5:17–40). Luke records, "Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name" (Acts 5:41).

Some Christians think they see persecution lurking behind every tree. Sometimes the persecution is real, but often not. The Old Testament prophets were not seen as persecuted because the civil government didn't give them the rights they thought they deserved. They were mutilated and killed because they chastised that government for rampant idolatry. The apostles weren't beaten because they complained that the government made it inconvenient to practice their faith. They were beaten—and worse—for claiming that Jesus is God and the Son of God and the Messiah who died and rose again to cover the sins of the world. True Jesus-followers are persecuted by the world for righteousness' sake (Matthew 5:10).
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