The Suffering of the Righteous

The suffering of the righteous in the hands of the unrighteous is a crucial biblical truth. It is also another case of intertextuality. According to Acts 1:20, Peter quotes from the book of Psalms, in this case it is Ps 69:6,

May his camp become desolate,

and let there be no one to dwell in it”[1]

The text says only that the quotation comes from the book of Psalms because Peter lived and Luke wrote long before chapter and verse divisions. According to Luke, Peter said that this is the fulfilment of what happened to Judas, as David, inspired by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:16), had announced. Hermeneutically, this works as principle and application. The OT motive is the suffering of the righteous in the hands of the unrighteous. However, God always vindicates the righteous. So Jesus, the incarnation of the righteous, the perfect righteous one suffered and died, partly because of Judas. Jesus could then not end up differently than by the resurrection and glorification. This is mishpat, this is shalom. Concerning Judas, who left his ministry, becoming desolate, he must have ended like this. Judas is not mentioned in the Psalms. Akeldama is not mentioned in the Psalms, but the principle is fulfilled in Judas. The principle applies in a perfect way to Judas. Judas is the incarnation of the unrighteous, the perfect unrighteous one. So he must die in this way, without hope, living a terrible example to all those that walk in unrighteousness. This is a warning giving by love because God does not want the unrighteous end up like this, without any hope of restauration, without any hope of shalom.

Yes, the righteous must suffer in the hands of the unrighteous. However, the righteous is filled, even in these times of suffering, with the joy and the peace of the Holy Spirit. The righteous follows Kingdom principles laid down in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, according to Matt 5-7. He offers the other cheek, he blesses those that persecute her or him. The righteous woman and the righteous man seek peace with their enemies, just as Jesus offered his peace to all, especially to his enemies.

Even on the cross Jesus died for those that crucified him so that they could find God’s shalom by understanding and by finally trusting in him. The disciples went around offering God’s peace to all and were ready to suffer for it. Since the fall with Adam and Eve, the Holy Spirit is at work to seek to restore God’s enemies in a shalom relationship with him. According to Matt 11:28, the one who is in Jesus, is in shalom. This shalom is inaugurated now, when we start to walk with Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit and it will be fulfilled then, when the Lord comes back and when no devil and no evil person can limit in any way that eternal peace. Let us therefore walk now, worthy of our Lord Jesus and seek peace with everyone, as much as it depends on us, by God’s grace.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ac 1.20.


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