33: Christians under Fire

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Revelation 2:10

Decius Trajan reigned two short years (249-251 AD) but the period was long enough for him to instigate the fiercest general persecution throughout the empire that the Roman had conducted since the emergence of Christians.

Reviving the old laws outlawing Christians Decius Trajan hunted down the people of God on account of their atheism, they did not believe in the gods of Rome. Many Christian leaders died during this tragic season including Fabianus of Rome, Babylas of Antioch and Alexander of Jerusalem. Others went into hiding not just for their own lives but so as not to endanger the lives of their flocks, and so they waited for better days.

As with all persecutions this was a time of winnowing the Church. The false professors departed from the ranks of the Christians sacrificing to the Roman gods, therefore trampling the blood of Christ underfoot.

Dated from the period, however, is a letter sent from the Roman Church to Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in North Africa. This letter gives us a insight into the prayers and the courage of our ancient brothers and sisters as they faced suffering and death for the sake of Christ:

What more glorious and blessed lot can fall to man by the grace of God, than to confess God the Lord amidst tortures and in the face of death itself; to confess Christ the Son of God with lacerated body and with a spirit departing, yet free; and to become fellow-sufferers with Christ in the name of Christ? Though we have not yet shed our blood, we are ready to do so. Pray for us, then, dear Cyprian, that the Lord, the best captain, would daily strengthen each one of us more and more, and at last lead us to the field as faithful soldiers, armed with those divine weapons (Eph. 6: 2) which can never be conquered.

History Of The Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes In One) by Philip Schaff
Our martyred Fathers’ dying words
As at the stake they stood
Bid us resist thee to the end,
Words written in their blood.

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