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The Growing Effects of Persecution

     Throughout the ages of Christianity, there have been many drawbacks to this cause. Many leaders among the Christian community were persecuted due to the disbelief of Christ being the Messiah among pagan worshipers, heathens, and even other credible religious leaders. This persecution more often led to death, or other horrifying results. But no matter what horrendous effects, there was always a brighter side causing the Christian faith to grow even stronger.
     Because of Rome’s strictness in following the laws and rules, they were very tradition bound. Many of the Pharisees were determined that the Old Testament was the only acceptable basis of religious law that the people of Rome should follow. The believed that Elijah was the Messiah, and they were waiting for his return. They also didn’t expect a “Messiah” to act the way that Christ did, having anything to do with sinners was looked down upon. However, after Christ’s death and resurrection, the disciples were told to go out into the world and spread the good news of their salvation. This didn’t appeal to the Pharisees at all, and they immediately set out to stop this message of freedom. The religious officials continuously put Simon and Peter in jail, Stephen was stoned to death, and there have been accounts of John’s attempted murder in boiling hot oil. Many Christians were flogged, stoned to death, skinned alive, fed to lions, and many more gruesome things. Nero burned half of Rome and then blamed the Christians, he even dipped some in kerosene and then lit them on fire so that there was light for the sporting events. Peter was even crucified, but he didn’t feel he deserved to die the same way as Christ so he was crucified upside-down. Persecution was so bad that Christians were accused of having a “hatred for the human race,” cannibalism, and incest.
     The response of the Christians has a lot to do with the influence upon the church. The Bible states in the book of Acts that after being beat by the Roman officials, Peter and James went out celebrating that they had been punished for spreading the news of Christ. After this event, and several escapes from prison due to divine intervention, Peter and the other Apostles were able to bring salvation unto many people. These events helped make the church what it is today. The church at this point in time was growing because of the faith that two groups of people displayed.

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These people were martyrs (people who died for their faith) and confessors (people who were tortured for their faith), these men and women were also known as witnesses. It’s because of these peoples strong faith during the trials of Roman persecution that the church has grown into what it is today.
     Many of the later martyrs suffered persecution under the Roman Empire also. These men and women were inspired by heavenly influence and by the sacrifices of the early martyrs such as the apostles. Tertullian believed that the Pharisees and Sadducees were wrong in their rulings. He states, “If the Lord Christ Jesus sent the apostles to preach, no one should be received as preachers except in accordance with Christ’s institution”. When Terullian states this, it can be perceived that he is agreeing with the message that Christ gave the apostles should be continued. So basically he is saying that we should use the original apostles as a role model for our witness. One reason for persecution is simply because the Romans didn’t totally understand the Christian faith. “Christian theology seemed the uttermost nonsense to most educated and cultured Greeks and Romans. The moral sobriety and devotional piety of Christians made them appear unconventional; at worst, their doctrines made them obnoxious and perhaps politically dangerous. To the Romans, Christianity was a sort of atheism because it acknowledged no visible Gods.” Justin Martyr was beheaded because he refused to offer token sacrifices to the Roman gods.
     In conclusion, Christians throughout the era of the Roman Empire faced a lot of persecution. Whether the reason for these people to be punished for their faith is because of uncertainty, insecure ness, jealousy, fear, or just plain hatred, the outcome has been the same all through history. Every time the Christian faith takes a hit, the body of believers takes a stand and retaliates by winning even more people over to the salvation of Christ.
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