Hatred, Threats, Beatings, Jail and DEATH

Was the early Christian life a peaceful idyllic and placid life in separation from trouble? Not when you consider the waves of persecution they faced! While it is true they were separated, trouble came to them as they obeyed God and lived holy lives.early christian life Also, the trouble that came to the Christians was serious stuff! First century Christian life was not boring due to the hatred, threats, beatings, jail time and DEATH that happened to them and their spiritual family! It was the same even for the women, that is, the females were hated just as bad! Again, the earliest Christians were HATED just for being a Christian! That was life as an early Christian:

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out MURDEROUS THREATS against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest (Acts 9:1)

I persecuted the followers of this Way TO THEIR DEATH, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished. (Acts 22:4,5)

So it wasn’t just Stephen who was persecuted to his death. There were others, who are not specifically mentioned. It says, “I persecuted the followers [PLURAL] of this Way to their DEATH, arresting both men AND WOMEN.”

The Apostles

The Lord’s Apostles were focused in upon in the Book of Acts. Peter was jailed at least 3 different times and Paul shed his blood on 9 different occasions EARLY in his ministry! They paid a great price to rescue others from the fires of hell and to be faithful to Jesus by spreading the gospel. That was their life of self-denial, as Jesus demands:

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

The Christians were dedicated to spreading the word of God, as commissioned. A dark world needs light to guide and that is exactly what God’s eternal word is. Such an act of love and obedience brought persecution and hatred to them. How could that be? How could loving and godly people be hated like that? It’s because the word of God hurts the lost, who want sin more than truth and spiritual life. See John 3:19,20.

Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “WE GAVE YOU STRICT ORDERS NOT TO TEACH IN THIS NAME,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.  (Acts 5:27-33) … His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 5:40-42)

Their Sermon Was Interrupted To Go To Jail

At an earlier time, Peter and John were both jailed for preaching the truth and while doing that very thing:

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they PUT THEM IN JAIL until the next day. (Acts 4:1-3)

Then they called them in again and COMMANDED THEM NOT TO SPEAK OR TEACH AT ALL IN THE NAME OF JESUS. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” After further THREATS they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. (Acts 4:18-21)

It Takes COURAGE To Serve God

No rational and informed person could deny that obedience to God under such adverse conditions requires courage on the part of the righteous. COURAGE, not cowardice, is a glaring characteristic of the saints (Heb. 3:6). They ignored murderous threats, disregarded jail time and continued on as living martyrs suffering as they gave out the life-giving gospel, but that brought on even more persecution:

And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. (2 Tim 1:11,12)

That is also why Paul gave this strange gospel preaching invitation to Timothy:

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, (2 Tim 1:8)

You will pay a price to serve God, but that is what people need and what God wants from his children. Are you enduring hardness as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:3)? There is no escaping it. ALL who live godly will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). Remember Paul’s chains (Col. 4:18).

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