b) The Meaning of "Hupomone".
As we hinted earlier, there is a word used in the Greek N.T. which summarizes this essential ability to keep on keeping on. Hupomone is generally translated " patience" or " endurance" ; the idea is of the staying power that keeps a man going to the end. The meaning of Hupomone grows as we experience more trials (Rom. 5:3; James 1:3). We find that the longer we endure in the Truth, the more we can echo the words of Peter, when the Lord asked him (surely with a lump in His throat) if he was going to turn back: " Lord, to whom shall we go?" (Jn. 6:68). There is no third road in the daily decisions we face. Over the months and years, hupomone becomes part of our essential character; keeping on keeping on is what life comes to be all about, no matter what short term blows and long term frustrations we face. The longer we endure, the stronger that force is, although we may not feel it. Moses is described as having it at the time he fled from Egypt (Heb. 11:27), even though in the short term his faith failed him at the time and he fled in fear (Ex. 2:14,15). Yet God counted him as having that basic ability to endure, even to endure through his own failure and weakness. This is what God looks at, rather than our day-to-day acts of sin and righteousness. Likewise Job is commended for having hupomone at a time when he was desperate, shaking his fist at God, doubting whether there would ever be a resurrection (James 5:11). Yet God saw all this as surface frustration, and saw that basic desire to endure underneath all those angry words. Likewise Abraham is described as never wavering in faith (Rom. 4:20 RV), even though his relationship with Hagar and his deceit about Sarah would suggest that his faith did waver at moments. But he had that understanding of the meaning of hupomone, that grit to keep going deep underneath, and God saw through his surface failures and recognized that this lay firmly beneath; and this was imputed to him for righteousness. It is our holding fast that is our acceptable service (Heb. 12:28 mg.); not the occasional heroics of outstanding acts of obedience. And Samson, in God's eyes, was a Nazarite from the womb to the day of his miserable death; even though in the flesh, Samson at times broke the Nazarite vow (Jud. 13:7 cp. 16:17, which implies that Samson himself felt he had broken his Nazariteship). Zacharias was " blameless" in God's sight, even though in this very period of his life he was in some ways lacking faith that his prayers would be answered (Lk. 1:6). It is our holding fast that is our acceptable service (Heb. 12:28 mg.); not the occasional heroics of outstanding acts of obedience.
It is only by having this hupomone that we can be saved (Mt. 24:13 cp. Lk. 21:19). And yet Mt. 10:22 would suggest that it will be difficult to have hupomone in our last days; many will fall away. Our present world is ever changing; stability in work, residence, relationships etc. seems impossible. People give up so easily. The generation brought up on telly and Snickers bars and deregulated Capitalism seeks only immediate resolution and satisfaction; and their short-termism fuels yet further their endless quest for the new and novel. And yet we must endure to the end in our work for the Lord and our relationship with Him, believing the same One Faith, living the same spiritual life which those doctrines demand. He amongst us who has hupomone to the end of the last generation, right up to the day when the Lord comes, the same will be saved (Mt. 24:13). The Lord Jesus had hupomone, it lead Him to the cross and beyond; and we must share His spirit of hupomone if we would ultimately share in His salvation (2 Thess. 3:5; Rev. 1:9; 3:10).
There is no greater joy for me than to see brothers and sisters baptized and then holding on, enduring, over the years, through all their personal traumas, through all the rock and roll of ecclesial and secular life. These become pillars in the ecclesia, shoulders one can heavily lean on, real brothers-in-arms, men and women you could give your life for, and who would lay down theirs for yours. The common experience of the meaning of hupomone, of enduring together to the end over the years, creates a bond of fellowship which cannot be broken. So, my beloved brethren, cling to the stability of the Truth, to the Lord God and His Son who have been and will be " the rock of ages" . And " be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord... (and may) our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you" .