The Earliest Persecutions of Christianity
2,000 years ago Christianity was considered nothing more than a “sect” of Judaism referred to in Paul’s day as “The Way.” But Jesus’ apostles boldly testified for Jesus despite the many negative rumors that had spread about them. They began in Jerusalem but quickly spread as far as Europe and Asia. St. Andrew carried the gospel as far as Scythia (Ukraine and southern Russia) and was crucified in Achaia (southern Greece). Phillip evangelized as far as modern day Turkey and Asia minor before being martyred there at Hieropolis. Simon (the Zealot) went as far as North Africa and Persia (Assyriean empire which is modern day Iraq) where he was killed along with Jude(Thaddaeus).
Peter Evangelized even in Prison
During the final days of Peter in Rome, he was cast into a horrible prison called the Mamertine for nine months, in absolute darkness; he endured monstrous torture manacled to a post. In spite of all the suffering Peter was subjected to, he converted his jailers, Processus, Martinianus, and forty-seven others.
They preached Jesus’ words with unflinching conviction and courage in the face of severe persecution by the Roman state. Their legacy remains and continues through the faithful actions of those who continue to evangelize in the face of great obstacles. Here is a brief mention of more recent examples.
Heroic Examples of Faith in Modern Times
Lives of Exemplary Faith
A. W. Milns sold everything he had, placed it in a coffin, and then went to missionize a tribe of head hunters from which no missionary had ever come out alive. 35 years later (they didn’t kill him) when he died the tribe burried him and wrote this as his epitaph, “When he came there was no light. Now that he leaves there is no darkness.”
When the experts told pastor Joshua Jung Myung Seok, the founding pastor of Providence church, that the rock landscape God wanted him to build could never be built with such huge rocks, he decided to direct the construction himself. After months of intense labor the rock landscape collapsed like a set of dominoes. And so they rebuilt it again. It crumbled again. They rebuilt it again and again each time learning how to get the work done properly. After what they thought was the final construction it collapsed yet a fourth time. Many lost hope. Pastor Joshua himself wouldn’t eat or speak. Finally in the morning he said, “Because it is God’s will, we will rebuild it 1,000 times if we have to. Though the rock stadium crumbled, my heart hasn’t crumbled.” The fifth rock stadium still stands to this day.
By their fierce mentality, devotion to the Lord’s will, and by the grace of the Holy Spirit the heroes of faith accomplished great things for the kingdom of Heaven in the face of huge persecutions. But now that the message has reached nearly every tribe of the earth the work has not stopped. Even today we are preaching the gospel despite many persecutions.
Today Jesus’ message is more important than ever as his second coming approaches. As he said in the Mathew 24, the greatest persecutions will take place in these end times.
Rev 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
One should not be surprised to see that those who preach about the Lord’s Second Coming the most passionately are persecuted to this degree even in the 21st century. In the following article I will describe one such case in more detail.