What is the biblical meaning of long-suffering?

Charles asked: Please explain the biblical meaning of "Long Suffering."

The word long-suffering in the Bible is a word made up of two Greek words meaning “long” and “temper”. So literally, long-suffering means “long-tempered.” 

A person who is long-suffering is someone who is shows restraint when stirred to anger. It would be a person who is not quick to take retaliation or to punish. 

Perhaps you've heard of people being described as having a "short fuse," meaning that they are quick to lose their temper. This would be the opposite of that. A long-suffering person has a “long fuse” and patiently endures when stirred to anger. 

The Bible describes God as being long-suffering toward us. We read in 2 Peter 3:9:

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

God does not immediately avenge sin, but is patient and long-suffering with sinners. His patience is rooted in His desire that we respond to Him in faith and receive forgiveness and mercy. 

Long-suffering does not mean that God will never take action against His enemies. We know He will. But He restrains Himself and allows men and women time to respond to His offer of forgiveness. 

As Christians, we are told to be long-suffering as well. For example, Paul said in Ephesians 4:2:

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.

Long-suffering results from a work of the Holy Spirit in us. God's long-suffering nature toward us is the model we follow when people test our patience, treat us wrongly, or cause us to suffer. 

Add a Comment

How to use this page:

Here at Wisdom International, we believe that the Bible is God's Word. Therefore, it carries the authority of God himself and is the final authority by which we order our lives. 

Sometimes the Bible can be confusing and difficult to understand. But God desires to be known. Scripture answers the big questions of life and should seek to know and understand what it says. 

This section of our website contains Stephen Davey's articles and his ever-growing archive of answers to questions from people like you. If you have a Bible question and are seeking an answer from the Bible, use our contact form to submit your question for Stephen. 

If you have questions, the Bible has answers and we want to help you! Ask Stephen your question here

You can browse this section to read Stephen's previous answers and read all of his previous posts. To search and see if your question has already been answered, click on the search icon above.