The Great Controversy: Persecution in the first centuries

October 18, 2023

Persecution in the first centuries

(internet image)

Matthew 24:9, 21, 22 (NKJV)
9Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you,
and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
For then there will be great tribulation,
such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 
22 And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; 
but for the [a]elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

[a] chosen ones’

*it’s important to note that this is before Constantine accepted Christianity, the Christians here were Jesus followers, not Roman Catholics or any denomination that came later.

“When Jesus revealed to His disciples the fate of Jerusalem and the scenes of the second advent, He foretold also the experience of His people from the time when He should be taken from them, to His return in power and glory for their deliverance. From Olivet the Saviour beheld the storms about to fall upon the apostolic church; and penetrating deeper into the future, His eye discerned the fierce, wasting tempests that were to beat upon His followers in the coming ages of darkness and persecution. In a few brief utterances of awful significance He foretold the portion which the rulers of this world would mete out to the church of God. Matthew 24:9, 21, 22. The followers of Christ must tread the same path of humiliation, reproach, and suffering which their Master trod. The enmity that burst forth against the world’s Redeemer would be manifested against all who should believe on His name.”

~ The history of the early church testified to the fulfillment of the Saviour’s words.
~ The powers of earth and hell arrayed themselves against Christ in the person of His followers.
~ Paganism foresaw that should the gospel triumph, her temples and altars would be swept away; therefore she summoned her forces to destroy Christianity. 
~ Wherever they sought refuge, the followers of Christ were hunted like beasts of prey

Hebrews 11: 36-28 (NKJV)
 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, [a]were tempted, were slain with the sword. 
They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 
38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, 
in dens and caves of the earth.

[a] NU omits were tempted

“Satan therefore laid his plans to war more successfully against the government of God by planting his banner in the Christian church. If the followers of Christ could be deceived and led to displease God, then their strength, fortitude, and firmness would fail, and they would fall an easy prey.

~ Some of the Christians stood firm, declaring that they could make no compromise.
~ Others were in favor of yielding or modifying some features of their faith and uniting with those who had accepted a part of Christianity, urging that this might be the means of their full conversion.
~ That was a time of deep anguish to the faithful followers of Christ.
~ Under a cloak of pretended Christianity, Satan was insinuating himself into the church, to corrupt their faith and turn their minds from the word of truth

“The great adversary now endeavored to gain by artifice what he had failed to secure by force. Persecution ceased, and in its stead were substituted the dangerous allurements of temporal prosperity and worldly honor. Idolaters were led to receive a part of the Christian faith, while they rejected other essential truths. They professed to accept Jesus as the Son of God and to believe in His death and resurrection, but they had no conviction of sin and felt no need of repentance or of a change of heart. With some concessions on their part they proposed that Christians should make concessions, that all might unite on the platform of belief in Christ.”

~ Most of the Christians eventually consented to lower their standard, and a union was formed between Christianity and paganism
~ Although the worshipers of idols professed to be converted, and united with the church, they still clung to their idolatry, only changing the objects of their worship to images of Jesus, and even of Mary and the saints

source: Persecution in the first centuries: EG White

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