Since I will be taking up my final exams this Wednesday on Church History, New testament, Systematic Theology I decided to blog some of the lessons so that I’ll be able to retain the things I’ve learned from my professor Paul Barker.
1. Domitian (81-96) called himself “Master and God” ( The nerve!!!) When Jews and Christians refused to give him divine honors, he accused them of treason, and either banished them or killed them.
2. Trajan (98-117) was the first emperor to pronounce Christianity a restricted religion. He decreed that Christians should not be sought out but punished unless they repented and worshiped the gods. In 107 AD, Ignatius was tried for this offense and thrown to the lions at Rome.
3. Marcus Aurelius (161-180) instituted a system of spies to accumulate evidence against the Christians rather than waiting for legal allegations against them. Thousand of Christians were beheaded or thrown to wild beasts including Justin Martyr ( not Bieber, though he is also a professing Christian)
4. Decius (249-251) tried to destroy the church by publishing an edict returning the empire to the official pagan state religion. This was the first persecution to cover the entire empire. Many nominal Christians yielded to the pressure, sacrificed to the gods and underwent excommunication as apostates.
I call this TESTED BY FIRE. My prayer is that when the time comes my faith is tested I will stand firm till the end.
5. Diocletian (284-305) instituted a systematic plan to destroy Christianity to consolidate the crumbling empire by restricting old pagan state religion. In 303, he issued an edict, requiring the destruction of churches and the burning of all Bibles. All were to sacrifice to the gods upon pain of death.
Here is my take home for the persecution that happened during the apostolic period of the church: EXTERNAL PERSECUTION MAKES THE CHURCH STRONGER.
“Lord I pray that as my fellow church planters, pastors and missionaries face persecution of many kinds, it would make us grab a hold of you, your presence and your strength. I pray that it will make us realize that apart from you – the church won’t grow. Thank you Jesus for the privilege of shepherding the flock and pastoring the church. Amen!