Preparing for Victory

The Great Persecution

       The Roman emperor Diocletian initiated "The Great Persecution” in A.D. 303. Determined to eradicate Christianity, he wrote laws designed to undermine faith, destroy churches, kill resisters, and prompt mass exodus from the Christian community.

       No one knows how many thousands of Christians were killed, but testimonies from various parts of the Roman empire describe the cruel torture and death faced by uncompromising believers. Most familiar are the vicious battles in the Roman coliseum, where men and women were forced to face lions or gladiators, then died before cheering crowds.

      Diocletian's edicts included the following orders:

  • "Christians holding public office were to be put out of office;
  • All accusations against Christians were to be welcomed and received;
  • Christians were to be tortured for their faith;
  • Scriptures were to be confiscated and burned immediately;  
  • Church buildings were to be destroyed;
  • A Christian’s civil rights were to be forcefully denied; and  
  • Presidents, bishops, and leaders of churches were to be arrested in order to sacrifice to the gods."

"During this time, a young writer named Eusebius documented [some of] the atrocities committed against the early church. A church leader and theologian named Pamphilus greatly inspired him. Pamphilus was arrested and tortured in A.D. 308, but not before he made a significant impact on Eusebius’s life.

"Eusebius wrote, “We saw with our very eyes the houses of prayer cast down to their foundations . . . and the inspired and sacred Scriptures committed to the flames . . . and the pastors of the churches, some shamefully hiding themselves here and there.”

"Pamphilus’s execution in A.D. 309 did not deter Eusebius from writing the manuscript, History of the Church.

Eusebius was later arrested for his contribution to the Christian cause. However, his life was spared. God protected him so he could continue to write his message to the future church. His writings opened the eyes of future generations to the tribulations the early church faced."

"If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.... If they persecuted Me they will persecute you... for they do not know the One who sent Me." John 15:19-21

From Extreme Devotion  - 10/17/2009  -

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