How Persecution Led to the Early Church's Growth

Pages: 11 (3561 words) Published: February 24, 2014



Research Paper
CHHI 520


July 7,2013
How Persecution Lead to the Early Church’s Growth
Persecution of those who stand for God has been occurring since Genesis, and stories of persecution have spread throughout the world. Many times we think of persecution as being only prevalent in the early church. The treatment of Christians was probably the worst during the times of the early church. This persecution had a big impact on the early church and helped lead to its growth. Author Bryan Litfin displays in his book that Justin Marty in his First Apology “describes Christian behavior and worship in an attempt to show that Roman society has nothing to fear from the new religion.”1

All the way through the history of the Catholic Church, persecution has been a well-known face particularly in its early years. The Bible, for one, reveals how persecution shook the foundation of the Early Christians from the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament to the Book of Revelations in the New Testament. Even as the stories have varied in its harshness on how Christians have been persecuted, it is remarkable that they continued to grow in small communities and in time turned into communities still present in the period despite the suffering and hardship they have faced while spreading the Gospel. God commands us as diciples to spread the good news to this dying world, who can yet live when they yield to the bread of life which is the word. So we as Diciples have a responsibility to uphold, for the Bible states in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” After the retellings displayed in the Bible, persecutions have been noted in history as many Christians were murdered, cut off, forced out of their homes, and were even considered heretics by people who believed they were practicing the true Word of Jesus Christ. __________________________

[1] Bryan Litfin, Bryan. Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazon Press, 2007
While history had highlighted the harsh reality Early Christians had undergone to in the early beginnings of the Church, these persecutions had actually created a starting point of change and development the Church needed to become a strong foundation to maintain its influence to roughly millions of followers active in the faith.. Since the time of its inception, the Christian Church, like other religious faith, had already been subjected to various persecutions from various sects: from local leaders, other religious groups, and from conquerors that wished to control the faith of their subjects. Author John Foxe displays ten primitive persecutions in his book entitled” Foxe's Book of Martyrs. The first persecution of the Church took place under Nero; he was the sixth emperor of Rome, in the year 67.2 Nero is remembered as the emperor who set Rome on fire and he put the blame on the Christians. The second persecution takes place under Domitian in A.D. 81, during his time everything terrible that occurred whether it was starvation, earthquake or plagues, Domitian pointed the finger at the Christians and the punishment for the Christians would be death.3 The third primitive persecution occurred under Trajan in A.D. 108. Under the leadership of Trajan Christians were beaten, beheaded, and devoured by wild beasts.4 Also during Trajan term there was about ten thousand Christians that were put to death.5 The fourth persecution occurred under Marcus Aurelius Antoninas in A.D. 162 and the fifth persecution was ascribed to Severus in A.D. 192. 6 ­­­_______________________

[2]William Byron Forbush,  Fox's Book of Martyrs: A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Deaths of the Early Christian and Protestant Martyrs. Hendrickson Publishers / (July 3, 1978) [3] ibid, p54.

[4] ibid,...

Bibliography: Bryan Litfin, Bryan. Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction.
Grand Rapids, Michigan: Brazon Press, 2007
Gaddis, Michael (2005). There is no crime for those who have Christ: Religious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire. University of California Press.
William Byron Forbush,  Fox 's Book of Martyrs: A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Deaths of the Early Christian and Protestant Martyrs. Hendrickson Publishers / (July 3, 1978) Chapter.2
Baker, R.A. A Concise History of the Christian Church: From the Apostles to the Council of Nicea. North Miami: ABConsulting and Publishing Inc, 2005.
Boer, Harry. A Short History of the Early Church. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1976.
De Ste Croix, G.E.M. "Why were the Early Christians Persecuted." Past and Present, no. 26 (November 1963): 6-38.
Farkasfalvy, Denis. Inspiration and Interpretation: A Theological Introduction to Sacred Scriptures. Washington, D.C: Catholic University of America Press, 2010.
Odonnell, Gabriel, and Robin Maas. Spiritual Traditions for the Contemporary Church. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1990.
McGrath, Alister. Christianity: An Introduction. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2006.
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