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The Persecuted Church


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What did Jesus mean when he said you shall be my witnesses?

Once the gospel was completed by Jesus’ death and resurrection, the apostles were commissioned to go to all the world, to the other nations, the Gentile people that surrounded them.

In Greek the word witness means Martyr, one who bears witness by his death. They were soldiers for Christ, those who have died to their old life are were willing to live in the power of the Spirit and go wherever the Lord would lead them to give the gospel. They were totally committed and were willing to give their life if necessary.

Acts 5:40: “They had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus”

Acts 16:22-23: “and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison”

This what happened often to the apostles, even among their own brethren. In fact the apostles know what their end would be. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:9: “For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death.”

Paul’s attitude is exhibited in Romans 14:8: “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.”

They were devoted to the one they served, who was the King of kings, Lord of heaven and earth.

1 Corinthians 4:11: “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless.”

Paul was called to the Gentiles and was beaten and suffered more than any of the other apostles. 2 Corinthians 11:23-25: “in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned

Philippians 2:30 Paul speaks of Epaphroditus-- “because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life.

Certainly if one made this appeal today and promoted this type of selfless Christianity it would empty out much of the Church, having only the serious ones left. But this is how the early church took their seriousness of their faith

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