Through persecution to victory
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Through Persecution to Victory. Key source: F. W. Mattox, The Eternal Kingdom: A History of the Church of Christ , Delight, Arkansas: Gospel Light Publishing Company, 1961. Seeming Rebellion. Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords. Christians share in Christ’s kingdom.

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Through Persecution to Victory

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Through Persecution to Victory

Key source: F. W. Mattox, The Eternal Kingdom: A History of the Church of Christ, Delight, Arkansas: Gospel Light Publishing Company, 1961.


Seeming Rebellion

  • Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords.

  • Christians share in Christ’s kingdom.

  • Christians are sealed members of a new covenant.

  • Opposition led to secret meetings, which led to all kinds of suspicion.

    • The development of extreme gnosticism partly led to these charges.

    • Pagan societies, which were illegal, had actually practiced some of the things of which Christians were accused.


Gnosticism

  • Matter, including the human body, was thought to be evil.

    • One group thought it could only be conquered by depriving it of its desires (asceticism).

    • The other believed the body should be destroyed by indulging its desires until they were satisfied (debauchery).

  • The Apologists explained they could not justify this type of life.

    • They said such actions were not Christian.

    • They also explained Christians are good citizens.


Conflicts with Religion

  • Christians could not take part in the worship of the gods.

    • They were called “atheists,” “godless” and disloyal.

    • When all citizens were called upon to sacrifice, they were conspicuous by their absence.


Gaius (Caligula, 37-41 A.D.)

  • No official persecution

  • When his sister, Drusilla, died, she was deified among the Roman gods as a universal goddess.

  • Caligula then made himself a universal god.

    • Official oaths were taken in his name.

    • People were required to consider him as a deity.

    • When the Jews refused to worship him, the Romans erected images of him in synagogues and outside the temple, with the intention of taking it inside.


Claudius (41-54)

  • Released Jews from obligation to recognize the emperor as deity.

  • Gave Judea to Herod Agrippa who was sympathetic to the Jews.

  • They turned him against the Christians (Acts 12:2).

  • Riots in Rome were said to be at the instigation of Christus and the Christians were expelled (Acts 18:2).


Nero

  • Revolutionary activities of Theudas and “the Egyptian” (Acts 5:36; 21:38) in 53 A.D. were blamed on Christians.

  • Nero came to power in 54 A.D.

  • July 18, 64, fire burned Rome for 6 days

  • Nero blamed it on the Christians

    • Such made them stand out and led to future official persecution

    • Though severe, it was local in nature


Vespasian (69-79) and Domitian (81-96)

  • All Christians withdrew from Jerusalem before the final siege began.

  • Vespasian’s son, Domitian, began to think of himself as divine and instituted persecution against Christians.

  • However, through his reign, Christians were still viewed as a sect of the Jews.


Trajan (98-117)

  • A clear distinction was made between Christians and Jews.

  • The Romans looked on deification of the emperor as necessary to the existence of the state.

  • Christianity was referred to as superstitition


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