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.
What followed?

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.
Acts 5

What happened?

Apostles arrested

Religious leaders were filled with jealousy
What followed?

Miraculous intervention
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.
Acts 6&8
What happened?

Deacon Stephen arrested

Leaders could not withstand the wisdom and Spirit with which he spoke
What followed?

False accusation
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.
Acts 12
What happened?

Apostle James executed, Peter arrested

“Violent hands of Herod”
What followed?

Miraculous intervention
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)
What happened?

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.
What followed?

Jews from Antioch and Iconium incited the locals. Paul stoned but rescued, left the city, but returned soon after.
Acts 16 (at Philippi)
What happened?

Paul and Silas faced mob arrest, brought to the magistrate, but no trial, rather they were beaten and jailed.

Economic reason
Response of the Persecuted: Paul claimed his right to trial and justice
Response of the Authority: Apologized
Acts 19 (at Ephesus)
What happened?

Big stirring of the crowd incited by one person

Economic reason
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)
What happened?

Jews from Asia stirred up the crowd and laid hands on Paul
What followed?

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)

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