The Study of Martyrdom
The Glorious Life and Death of God’s People
By: Alfredo M. Inso Jr
The life and death of the early martyrs, the early saints, the ancient holy people of God were not simply a vanity, but it was undoubtedly glorious and pleasing and precious in the eyes of the LORD.
As the Book of Psalms says:
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” – Ps. 116:15
The history of the martyrdom of God’s people at all times are worth to contemplate for. Their life and death were neither scripted by a skilled author nor directed by a famous director as we can see the prejudice in this media world.
The story of their lives are totally unique and true thereby it is difinetly incomparable and unsuitable to compared with other mere stories.
The reason is because in the sight of the LORD their death is precious. Not precious in the sight of mere men but precious in the sight of the Holy Creator God.
I. Persecution of the Old Testament Saints
The Author of Hebrews says: (Hebrews 11:36-38)
Heb 11:36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea,
moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
Heb 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were
slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and
goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
Heb 11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in
deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
The Author here speaks of the Old Testament Saints (The men and women of faith) whose lives they live for God even until death.
They suffered persecutions in their times not because they believe the gods of the pagans but because they standed up for their faith to the true and living God.
They never renounced nor denied their faith and their love to the God of Israel. In fact even in the mouth of death they were more excited and even rejoicing inspite of the pain they suffered. They endured trials of mockings, scourgings, chains and imprisonments, being stoned, being sawned in two, were tempted and slained with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being distitute, afflicted and tormented, yet they never count their lives dear to them, because they’re looking for a better life with God and His promises.
Even these ancient people of God never escaped the cruelty of the children of the Devil.
II. Lord Jesus Christ Foretold the Cost of Following Him.
Jesus made it clear to those who desired to follow Him and be His disciple that they must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and they will be hated, persecuted and will have tribulations that will possibly losed their lives, because of Him and for the gospel’s sake.
See the Scriptures below:
Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mt 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
Mt 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
Lu 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
Joh 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Joh 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth service to God
Mt 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Joh 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Based on the Scriptures above, Lord Jesus Christ never hide the cost of being His disciple. He made it clear what would be the outcome of their lives with Jesus. Persecutions and tribulations and hatred and imprisonment and scourgings and even death,these are the prizes of following Him. It will come to them as they follow Him for He Himself was persecuted so do His disciples.
Jesus told these things when He was in this world with His disciples. He told them what will exactly happen to them in this world so that they will not be surprise, instead they will expect.
But the beginning of the tension of what was predicted by the Lord Jesus to His disciples can be seen in the History of the Church - The book of Acts and the rest of the epistles. It was recorded there exactly as what the Lord Jesus Christ being predicted.
The prediction is about to be fulfilled and they will about to experience its reality.
We may now see the panorama of this reality.
III. Persecutions of the New Testament Saints.
1. The Age of the Apostles A.D 100
Let us begin in the Book of Acts where the history of lives of the apostles were recorded:
Ac 4:3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next
day: for it was now evening.
Ac 5:18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common
Ac 5:40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles,
and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of
Jesus, and let them go.
Ac 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord
Jesus, receive my spirit.
Ac 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there
was a great persecution against the church which was at
were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea
except the apostles.
Ac 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
Ac 14:19 ¶ And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
Ac 16:22 And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them
Ac 16:23 And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely:
Ac 21:32 Who immediately took soldiers and centurions, and ran down unto them: and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left beating of Paul.
Ac 23:35 I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come. And he commanded him to be kept in Herod's judgment hall.
Ac 26:10 Which thing I also did in
2Co 11:25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
Other references (1 Cor 4:12; 2 Cor 4:9; 11:24; 2 Ti 2:9; 3:11)
As you can see and read those bunch of text but there are still many texts that will tell us how they suffered the persecutions and tribulations in their time. But how also they endured and rejoiced for they count it worthy of the Lord. They never love their lives, but they lost it just for the name of the Lord and for His gospel’s sake.
They were even threatened not to speak nor to teach in the name of Jesus but they chose to obey God rather than men. They chose to be beaten, to be stoned, to be imprisoned, to be scrouged, to be shame, to be mocked and even to die rather than to live and be silent and be coward. They never deny the Lord Jesus Christ nor renounced their faith in Him.
Stories of 2 Martyrd Girls
In the beginning of the third
century A.D. (202) there was a girl by the name of Felicitas,
her faith in Christ not only cost her, her life but her motherhood as
well. At the time of her arrest she was eight months pregnant, and
because pregnant women were not punished publicly, she, along with the others
who were arrested, were grieved that when the time of
execution came she would be left behind and die alone. The group then,
"joining together in prayer poured forth their united cry to the Lord
three days before the exhibition. Immediately after their prayer her
pains came upon her and she brought forth a little girl, which a certain sister
brought up as her daughter. Standing near by during the time of the
delivery was a guard who, when he saw Felicitas
crying from the pain of childbirth told her: "If you can hardly stand the
pain now, what will you do then you are thrown to the beasts, which are your
punishment for refusing to sacrifice?" She replied, "now it is
I that suffer what I suffer; but then there will be another in me, who will
suffer for me, because I also am about to suffer for Him." When
"the day of their victory" (execution) arrived, Felicitas,
along with another girl, who was also a young mother, were stripped, covered
with nets, and lead out into the arena. So degrading was the sight of
these women that the crowd demanded that they be allowed to wear robes.
Soon they were brought out again and were exposed to a wild cow that tossed
them around; leaving Felicitas crushed on the ground
unable to get up without the aid of Perpetua-who was
the other girl. In a moment of compassion the crowd decided that their
lives should be spared, and they were then recalled. Only to be put to
death by the sword.
During the reign of Marcus
Aurelius (161-180 A.D.), a despiser of Christians, the churches of Christ in
Application and Reflection
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer I have overcome the world.” – Jo 16:33
Ro 8: 35-39 No one can separate us from the love of Christ.