Martyrs Of The New Testament

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    Martyrdom has always been common with God's people. Those who truly have a right relationship with God in Christ are persecuted by those who are religious, Pagan or the rebellious God haters. We can trace this back to when it first began, when Cain who slew his brother Abel, because God accepted his brothers sacrifice and rejected his. Joseph was sold into slavery from his brothers because he shared his dream from God that he was to be exalted above his brothers. Many of these stories are typology of what happened to Jesus. Jesus warned that they hated him they will also hate us who follow him. One of the clear blessings in scripture is upon those who are persecuted for His namesake. Peter says the glory of God rests on that person who is persecuted for righteousness sake.

    Heb.11:33-40: “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 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– of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.” The resurrection is what the whole Church and saints of the Old Testament will share together. Being persecuted because of ones commitment to God is not foreign to the saints, it was a normal way of life for the prophets and for the saints.

    In Mt. 23 Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day with 7 woes and then makes this assessment in vs.34-35: “Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, “that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” They intentionally rejected the righteous just as their forefathers did, so Jesus attributes the guilt of all those who murdered the righteous and the prophets on them. Why so great a sentence? Because they had one before them greater than all the prophets, and saw the greatest amount of miracles and despite all the signs given they still stayed in unbelief.

    In Mk.12:1-12 Jesus gave a parable teaching that God sent many servants to his vineyard (Israel) but they ended killing them until finally God said he would send his son (Vs.6-7; Lk.20:13-15). The story illustrates how the prophets were sent to their own people who rejected and killed them. The promise at the end of the story was that the vineyard would be put into the Church's hands to cultivate. However what Israel did to their own prophets they would do to the early church. After Israel was scattered, Rome would do the same and eventually the political Roman Church itself would adopt its policy centuries later for conversion.
    Jesus warned those who followed him early on in Mt. 10:17-21: “But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. “You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles…V.21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.

    It was not an apostle that was the first martyr, but Stephen. Stephen a deacon became the first martyr because he reminded the Pharisees of their fathers rejection in the wilderness and Jesus’ words in Mt. 23. In one of the greatest and boldest recorded sermons in the bible Stephen states in Acts 7:52 “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers.” Is it any wonder they killed him on the spot! We are told by Luke, “there arose a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem;” and that “they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” It is said that about two thousand Christians, suffered martyrdom during this time as Acts 11:19 tells us “those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch.”

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