New King James Version 2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

is patient/longsuffering
μακροθυμεῖ (makrothymei)
Verb - Present Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 3114: From the same as makrothumos; to be long-spirited, i.e. forbearing or patient.

In https://biblehub.com/2_peter/3-9.htm, 6 out of 28 translate μακροθυμεῖ as "longsuffering".

Is God actually suffering? What is the meaning of the English word "longsuffering"? Is it a good match for the Greek μακροθυμεῖ?

2 Answers 2


The English verb “suffer” has several meanings. In 2 Peter 3:9, it is used in the now obsolete sense of:1

intransitive. To endure, hold out, wait patiently. (Often with abide, bide.) to suffer long: to be long-suffering. Obsolete.

In modern English, we could translate it as “is patient.” Yes, both “to be longsuffering” (now obsolete) and “to be patient” are appropriate translations of the Greek verb μακροθυμέω.

The Oxford English Dictionary also has the following entries on the noun long-suffering and the adjective long-suffering.

long-suffering (n.)

Origin: Formed within English, by compounding; modelled on a Greek lexical item. Etymons: long adj.1, suffering n.

Etymology: < long adj.1 + suffering n., ultimately rendering Hellenistic Greek μακροθυμία (see longanimity n.).

Chiefly in religious contexts.

Patient endurance of provocation or trial; forbearance, longanimity.

long-suffering (adj.)

Origin: Formed within English, by compounding. Etymons: long adv.1, suffering adj.

Etymology: < long adv.1 + suffering adj., after long-sufferance n., long-suffering n.

In quot. 1535 perhaps influenced by German langmütig (see longmood adj. at long adj.1 and n.1 Compounds 4a), itself after classical Latin longanimus and ultimately after Hellenistic Greek μακρόθυμος (see longanimous adj.). The Hebrew original has 'ereḵ appāyim slow to anger.

Patient or forbearing in spite of troubles or provocation.


        1 Oxford English Dictionary, “suffer,” v., 6.


“long-suffering, adj.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/110083. Accessed 8 August 2020.

“long-suffering, n.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/110082. Accessed 8 August 2020.

“suffer, v.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2020, oed.com/view/Entry/193523. Accessed 8 August 2020.

  • 1
    I disagree with Oxford that the definition provided is obsolete. I use the word "suffer" in that regard to this day. Of course, it's possible that Oxford is surreptitiously letting me know I am now obsolete. Aug 6, 2020 at 0:04
  • Whether obsolete or not "longsuffering" is poetically superior to "patient." I also like "slow to anger." I suspect the Greek scripture is groping for the concept expressed in Ex. 34:6 - 'The LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.' Aug 8, 2023 at 18:29

Regarding "Suffering" (סֵבֶל) or Endurance [2 Peter 3:9] - "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." - Are all Souls imprisoned in bodies on earth until they seek repentance?

  • We learn in [Hebrews 10:36] "You need to suffer so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."

We learn in [Iyov (Job) 2:6] the Satan (הַשָּׂטָ֔ן), a prosecutor angel for YHVH, is allowed His Hand (יָֽדְךָ֔) to touch (גַ֥ע) Iyov (אִיּוֹב֒) to the point of "preserving His life" (נַפְשׁ֖וֹ שְׁמֹֽר). - Does this mean "suffering" comes from God's Hand or Satan's Hand?

Why does God allow suffering? [Iyov 36:15] "He rescues the lowly from their affliction, And opens their understanding through distress." - Distress (לַּ֣חַץ)

King David explains (לַּ֣חַץ) is from adversaries not God. In [Tehillim (Psalms) 56:2-3]. Regarding physical stress (לַּ֣חַץ) or "suffering", David (דָוִ֣ד) adds "in God I trusted, I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?" - Demonstrating his soul is more important to save than his body. Souls can only suffer in a body that suffers. - But if all bodies eventually endure some form of suffering, why would God put souls in them? Are souls being taught a lesson before returning to Heaven?

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