For to you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;…
The men whom a general, at the critical moment of a great battle, specially appoints to hold the key of his position, or whom, in the assault of a besieged city, he sends on a "forlorn hope," are, by his choice of them for peril and probable suffering, marked out as in his judgment "the bravest of the brave." Their comrades, even while rejoicing in their hearts, it may be, that the selection has left themselves out, feel that those on whom the choice has fallen are honoured. Similarly, is there not "grace" shown in the choice made by the "Captain of salvation," when in His providence He calls this soldier of the cross, and that, to suffer or die under the standard? In the old persecuting times in our country, men who "bore in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus," in limbs crushed by the iron boot or torn by the rack — looking back in after days upon the patience which the Saviour had given them amid their anguish, and the increase of spiritual wisdom and energy which had come through the trial to themselves, and to some extent also to others, could not but esteem the suffering for Christ as a "gift of grace." When under sentence of death, good Bishop Ridley wrote thus to his relatives: "I warn you all, my beloved kinsfolk, that ye be not amazed or astonished at the kind of my departure or dissolution; for I assure you I think it the most honour that ever I was called unto in all my life. And therefore I thank God heartily for it, that it hath pleased Him to call me, of His great mercy, unto this high honour, to suffer death willingly for His sake and in His cause; unto the which honour He called the holy prophets, and His dearly beloved apostles, and His blessed chosen martyrs." And when the end came, and Latimer and he were burned at the same stake — whilst the persecutors could see only the flame which consumed the flesh, the faith of the martyrs could discern for themselves a chariot of fire waiting to bear them home to their Lord, and for their country a fire of pious zeal lighted up, which all the arts of the wicked one should never be able to put out. There was great "grace" there.
(R. Johnstone, LL. B.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;