Wright Randolph
Cincinnati, Ohio

Our word is defined as a noun, "long and patient endurance of injury or trouble" or as an adjective, "enduring injury or provocation long and patiently" (Random House); or as a verb, "to bear with" (W. E. Fine).

For our purpose in this paper a more pertinent definition is seen in the footnote by Vine: "Longsuffering is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish. It is the opposite of anger and is associated with mercy, and is used of God."

Longsuffering is a characteristic of God, and ought to be of His people in this day.

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).

Adam and Eve

"Longsuffering" is associated with God and the Bible abounds in ever-living demonstrations of the subject. God gave to our fore-parents in the garden a simple, and easy to be understood, law to circumscribe their lives; a law of permission and prohibition. Both Adam and Eve allowed themselves to be deceived and the deception led them to violate God's law. None would deny God the right to have put an end to the human race then and there. However, "longsuffering" entered in and the pair, with their dependents, were saved for the possibility of salvation through the proffered mercy of God.


Noah is one of the better remembered characters of Old Testament history. He is acclaimed by the writer of the Hebrew letter as a man of faith who "prepared an ark to the saving of his house" (Heb. 11: 7). All gospel preachers point to Noah as a man of faith, and he was. Yet, after his successful experience of weathering, the flood, "and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine and was drunken; and he was uncovered in his tent" (Gen. 9:20, 21). This would have been a sufficient act to have warranted God to snuff out the life of Noah. But, the "longsuffering" of God enters once again and he does not "hastily retaliate or promptly punish."

Lot's Wife

Lot's wife violated God's command "look not behind thee," and was immediately turned into a pillar of salt. Lot would not act so foolish but later, like Noah, he imbibed of the wine also and in a state of drunkenness fathered children by his daughters. What a ghastly crime; an insult to God. Again, but for the "longsuffering of God," whose self-restraint prevented it, Lot's life could have justifiably been taken.

Other Instances

Throughout the history of the Old Testament there is instance alter instance of flagrant rebellion against God. He was "tolerant;" when man sinned, God was "longsuffering."

Simon Peter lied, in that he denied acquaintance of Jesus at the time of His arrest and trial, and a dastardly and heinous crime it was. Once again, God's "longsuffering" is present and Peter was spared to receive the commission to "feed my sheep" {John 21:17).

These are interesting and arresting insights into the "longsuffering" of a loving Father; His being tolerant when He could have slain; His granting mercy when He could have "promptly punished." In all these we are inclined to "be on God's side." We condemn those who so sinned.

What of our day? Where would we be today if it were not for the "longsuffering" of God? Why should God have tolerated all the insults of the human race through all the generations of Men? Why should the Lord Jesus Christ have suffered such "contradiction of sinners;" to have suffered, bled and died on the hill of Golgotha? Why should He "restrain" himself when he looks upon the indifference of his people; when He observes our lack of conviction; when He sees our lackadaisical attitude, so void of zeal and determination? Yet, through the mercy of our God He does not "promptly punish" but is willing to "bear with" his children.

We are as the scoffers of old who said; "Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (2 Pet. 3:3, 4). We seem to be immune to the warning of God that "he hath appointed a day, in which he shall judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained" (Acts 17:30).

As it was in the days of wickedness before the blood, God could well say "My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh" (Gen. 6:3). We should remember, that even though God's mercy is ever extended as it was when He, through Noah, preached to the spirits in prison "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is eight souls were saved by water" (I Pet. 3:19, 20), there will be the day of accounting! "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation" (2 Pet. 3:14, 15).


July 23, 1970