22 Nov Persecution in the Early Church
Persecution is intrinsic to Christian Faith.
“the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Tertullian, 1st century A.D. Acts of the Apostles
Acts 3 and 4
What happened? Peter and John were arrested Why?
Because of Miraculous Healing, and religious leaders were annoyed at their teaching about Ressurection of Jesus.
They questioned and warned them.
Response of the Persecuted: They were bold, did not compromise
Response of the Authority: They let them go, finding no way to punish them.
Result: They were filled with the Holy Spirit, Boldness, Unity and Care.
Religious leaders were filled with jealousy
Response of the Persecuted: Bold, no compromise; “We must obey God rather than men.”
Response of the Authority: Adopted a “wait and watch” policy after advised by Gamaliel.
Deacon Stephen arrested
Leaders could not withstand the wisdom and Spirit with which he spoke
Response of the Persecuted: Bold. Certain of what and why he believed. Prayed for forgiveness for persecutors.
Response of the Authority: Stoned him to death. (1st Martyr)
Result: Systematic persecution began. Believers scattered. Gospel began to spread.
Apostle James executed, Peter arrested
“Violent hands of Herod”
Response of the Persecuted: Believers together and praying; Peter departed to another place
Result? An angel of the Lord smote Herod and he died. But the word of God grew and multiplied.
Acts 14 (at Iconium)
Plot to molest and stone Paul and Barnabas
Unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds
Response of the Persecuted:
Fled the city
What happened at Lystra?
Miraculous intervention and great response.
Jews from Antioch and Iconium incited the locals. Paul stoned but rescued, left the city, but returned soon after.
Acts 16 (at Philippi)
Paul and Silas faced mob arrest, brought to the magistrate, but no trial, rather they were beaten and jailed.
Response of the Persecuted: Paul claimed his right to trial and justice
Response of the Authority: Apologized
Acts 19 (at Ephesus)
Big stirring of the crowd incited by one person
Response of the Persecuted: Masses joined in the ‘protest march’ without knowing the real reason.
Response of the Authority: Official quelled the mob with tact and persuasion.
Acts 21-28 (at Jerusalem)
Jews from Asia stirred up the crowd and laid hands on Paul
Roman authority protected him fairly.
Response of the Persecuted: Explained his position, claimed his right.
Response of the Authority: Divided opinion between Pharisees and Saducees.
Governor Felix: Expected bribe from Paul for release
Governor Festus: Wanting to please Jewish leaders rather than administer justice.
King Agrippa: Not bold enough to administer justice.
Paul in chains but preaching. (Acts 28:16,30-31)