(Galatians 5:19-23)


Introduction. (Etymology) –The term “long-suffering” is first recorded in English in William Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament (Oxford English Dictionary‑ 1526: Galatians 5:22 ‑ longe sufferynge).

• Tyndale used this to translate the Greek word makrothumia, a compound formed from the adjective makros, meaning “long” and the noun thumos.

• Derived from the verb thuo, referring to offerings made by fire, the Greeks viewed the thumos as an aspect of the heart, soul or mind of a person.

• The thumos was associated with strong passion, wrath or courage (Liddell, Scott & Jones, 9th ed. Greek-English Lexicon).

• Plato felt the name was drawn “from the raging and boiling of the soul” (Cratylus, 419e).


I.The Use of the Word “Longsuffering.”

            To possess makrothumia was to have the capacity to hold this boiling or raging of the soul under control until the appropriate time.

A. Greek Old Testament.

1. God’s makrothumia allowed Him to hold back although His people were persecuted (Jeremiah15:15).

2. Makrothumia within a faithful person could persuade a leader (Proverbs 25:15).

B. Apocryphal & Historical writings.

1. In non-biblical apocryphal literature it is pictured as the quality which restrains the wrath of God like the reins on a horse (Apocalypse of Baruch, P. Oxy.III. 403).

2. Josephus (Jewish Wars, 6.37) & Plutarch (Lucullus,32) use it of a patient general.


II. “Longsuffering” in the New Testament.  Note: A Divine quality and a Christian virtue.

            A. God’s “Longsuffering.”

1. The Lord’s longsuffering is salvation (II Peter 3:15).

2. God endures “with much longsuffering” the vessels of His wrath (Romans 9:22,23).

3. God displayed makrothumia while waiting for the ark to be finished (I Peter 3:20).

4. To disobey the will of God is to “despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering” (Romans 2:4).

5. God displayed “longsuffering” toward Paul (I Timothy 1:16).

            B. Christian “Longsuffering.”        

1. The elect put on longsuffering (Colossians 3:12).   

2. To walk worthy of the call of the gospel is to walk with longsuffering (Ephesians 4:1,2).

3. A preacher is to “exhort with all longsuffering and teaching” (II Timothy 4:2).

4. Paul demonstrated “longsuffering” (II Corinthians 6:6; II Timothy 3:10).

5. The promises of God are only inherited by faith and makrothumia (Hebrews 6:12).


Conclusion. The sinful and rebellious world in which we live tests the “longsuffering” of God everyday. When we sin, we forget that it is God’s patient restraint which has not given us what we deserve. Let us follow this example, and patiently endure when we are mistreated, tempted or when our soul “rages” and “boils” within.