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Chapter 4

THIRTY-THREE TO ONE HUNDRED A.D.

The Apostolical Church

  A history of the true Church of God could not be written without taking into consideration the lives and work of the outstanding leaders of the Gospel Age, that is, the apostles Paul, Peter and John; for by, or under their direction, most of the New Testament Scriptures were written, and the fortunes of the church advanced during the first century, and fashioned for future centuries.

 The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul, who after his conversion, secluded himself in the desert of Arabia, not mingling with the Church for three years, Galatians 1:17-19, became the intellectual giant of apostolic days, and his writings embrace much of the early history of the church down to 66 A.D.

When the three years were expired and Paul (or Saul) had gone up to Jerusalem, he returned to the church at Antioch, his name still being Saul, Acts 12:25. His office in the church was prophet or teacher, Acts 13:1. His ordination and preparation for the apostleship was performed in the usual way, by the laying on of hands, and prayer, after which service he was called Paul, and the title of "Apostle" applied to him, Acts 13:1-9, also 14:14. Although having been miraculously called by Jesus on the Damascus Road, his preparation covered a similar period of three years as the other apostles, and his ordination was in keeping with the New Testament practice. The thirteenth chapter of Acts, as above, gives us the brief narrative of his being received into the apostleship, which evidently was to fill the vacancy made by the death of James, the apostle, recorded in chapter 12:1, 2.

"In his later years, the Apostle Paul spent more time in preparing the churches for the great future apostasy than in pushing the work farther on. He foresaw that this apostasy would arise in the West. Therefore, he spent years laboring to anchor the Gentile churches of Europe to the churches of Judea.

The Jewish believers had back of them 1500 years of training. Throughout the centuries God had so molded the Jewish mind that it grasped the idea of sin; of an invisible Godhead; of man's serious condition; of the need of a divine Redeemer. But throughout these same centuries the Gentile world had sunk deeper and deeper in frivolity, heathenism and debauchery. It is worthy of note that the Apostle Paul wrote practically all of his epistles to the Gentile churches -- to Corinth, to Rome, to Philippi, etc. He wrote almost no letters to the Jewish believers. Therefore, the great burden of his closing days was to anchor the Gentile churches of Europe to the churches of Judea. In fact, it was to secure this end that he lost his life." -- Wilkinson, Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, pages 13, 14.

This is how the Apostle Paul used the churches Elohim in the land of Judea as an example, a pattern, by which Gentile churches were to be built. He said to the Thessalonians: "For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews, I Thessalonians 2:14.

Nowhere in all the writings of the Apostle Paul can we find where he taught believers to follow the Gentile churches, either the church at Rome, at Corinth, in Galatia, at Thessalonia, or any other place. Why? Without doubt it was because they were not suitable patterns, while those churches in Judea, filled with Jewish believers, were organized, governed, and patterned after the will of the Master, and were doctrinally and organically correct.

"St. Paul did his best to maintain his friendship and alliance with the Jerusalem church. To put himself right with them, he traveled up to Jerusalem, when fresh fields and splendid prospects were opening up for him in the West. For this purpose he submitted to several days restraint and attendance in the temple, and the results vindicated his determination." -- Stokes, The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 11, p. 439.

 Simon Peter, the Apostle

"Peter was the son of a certain Jona or John, and was according to John 1:44, a native of Bethsaida, though later he became a citizen of Capernaum, where he had a house, and with his brother Andrew was engaged in the fishing business in partnership with Zebedee and his two sons, James and John. He was married. Though not wealthy, Simon was a man of some property, not a poor, grossly ignorant laborer . . . In childhood he was probably taught, as many other Jewish children were, to read the Hebrew Scriptures, although in the rabbinical sense he was not learned, Acts 4:13.

"Among those who flocked to hear John the Baptist were Peter and his brother Andrew -- an indication of their interest in the religious hopes of the times. John's words made such an impression that the brothers attached themselves to him as (at least temporary) disciples. Soon after, Andrew met Jesus and at once sought his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus, who even then foreshadowed his future career by saying that he should be called Cephas, from the Aram. After continuing with Jesus for a while, they seem to have returned to their accustomed occupation. To what extent Peter was with Jesus during the period covered by John, chapters two to four is uncertain. When Jesus opened His public ministry in Galilee He summoned the brothers to a more permanent discipleship, Mark 1:16-20. For this summons their previous acquaintance with Jesus had prepared them, and it was with enthusiastic self-sacrifice that they left all and followed Him. As yet, however, Peter was only one of many whom Jesus attracted to Himself during the early months of His work in Galilee. This was a testing time for Simon. He was a whole-hearted, though often blundering, disciple. While he had much to learn, he was also willing to be taught, and finally he showed such appreciation of Jesus' person and teaching that he was chosen by Jesus to be one of twelve, selected from the larger body of disciples, who were to be `apostles,' i.e., intimately associated with Him to learn of Him and (ultimately) to be sent out by Him to declare His message and carry on His work, Mark 3:14.

"With the brothers James and John, Peter made a group of three with whom Jesus was most intimate and who alone were associated with Him on such occasions as the Transfiguration and the Prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane . . . The twelve remained steadfast even after Jesus' popularity began to wane, and it was Peter who voiced their conviction later in response to Jesus' searching question that He was indeed the Messiah, Mark 8:29; Matthew 16:16a; Luke 9:20; cf. John 6:68.

"When Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his short sword and struck off the ear of one Malchus. Though with the others he fled when Jesus was arrested, Mark 14:50, he followed the party into the city and through the influence of the `unnamed' disciple gained admission into the palace where Jesus' trial was proceeding. Here, when taunted by a servant-maid, with an oath he denied that he knew Jesus. Overcome by shame, he went outside and wept. He witnessed Jesus' sufferings on the cross. These scenes were so indelibly stamped on his mind that years after, the impression was still vivid. The despair that settled over his soul when he saw his beloved Master die was not lit by any strong hope of a resurrection. But when the women early Sunday morning brought the news of an open and empty tomb, Peter and `the other disciple' ran to investigate. They found the tomb empty and wondered, with an incipient faith, at the orderly appearance of the grave-clothes, and then returned to their company. Later in the day Jesus appeared to Peter, the first of the Twelve to whom He showed Himself after the Passion. To Peter this was as a new birth, filled with the living hope. He was present at most of the post-resurrection interviews between Jesus and His disciples, and to him in particular, probably because of his denial, Jesus very tenderly and suggestively reintrusted the Apostolic commission, intimating at the same time the self-denial and suffering involved in his future career.

"Peter now took a leading part in the direction of the little band of disciples that was the nucleus of the Christian Church . . . Up to the time of the persecution that followed the martyrdom of Stephen the new movement was confined almost exclusively to Jerusalem, and it was Peter who had the-chief share in the guidance of affairs. His associate was John. These two figure prominently in the accounts of the first conflicts with the Jerusalem authorities . . . After the martyrdom of Stephen the Christian movement took on larger proportions, spreading throughout Palestine and into the neighboring countries. To a certain extent it was supervised by the Apostles. Acts preserves a record of two visitations by Peter in connection with this work. The first was when he and John were sent by the Apostles to oversee the evangelistic labors of Philip in Samaria . . . The second tour led him as far as Joppa, Acts 9:32 whence he was summoned by a vision and by messengers from Cornelius, a centurion at Caesarea, to be the first to preach the gospel to Gentiles. In this matter Peter also found himself doing what he had never done before, fellowshipping freely with Gentiles, recognizing them as Christian brethren, and eating with them . . .

"Some time after this Peter was arrested by order of Herod Agrippa, with a view to executing him on the following day. But he escaped and left Jerusalem immediately. Whither he went is not said, and for all further knowledge of Peter's movements we must trust to incidental statements in the New Testament or the somewhat unreliable notices in early Christian literature. Since Herod Agrippa died in 44 A.D., the events narrated in Acts, chapters one to twelve, in case they are arranged in chronological sequence, must have covered a period of about fifteen years. We may say, then, that for that length of time Peter was the foremost figure of the early apostolic church. It was during this period, three years after his conversion, that Paul visited Jerusalem to talk matters over with Peter staying with him fifteen days. Paul's desire to have this personal interview with Peter incidentally reveals the important place held by the latter in the apostolic church at that time. His subsequent career was just as important, but its details have not been preserved. About five years later, Peter was present at the council in Jerusalem and took a leading part in its deliberations. By this time he had become recognized as the `apostle of the circumcision,' Galatians 2:7, through whom God was working as effectually as he was through Paul for the `uncircumcision' (i.e., the Gentile world). These expressions suggest that Peter's activity was like his own largely missionary in character and to the Jews of the dispersion as his was to the Gentiles. For this reason Peter was in Jerusalem probably only occasionally after his escape from Herod Agrippa in 44 A.D. We learn further, from Galatians 2:11-14, that at Antioch (either soon after the Council of 49, before Paul set out on his second missionary journey, or at the close of that journey, when Paul was at Antioch for a while; cf. Acts 18:23, Peter was sharply rebuked by Paul for weakly yielding to emissaries of the strict Judaistic party of Jerusalem and withdrawing from that familiar fellowship with the uncircumcised Gentile members of the church . . .

Of the remainder of Peter's career we are in almost ignorance. He appears to have continued his missionary labors. Early Christian tradition erroneously looked back to him as the first bishop of the Church of Antioch. But it is certain that he did not organize the great Church. Other ancient traditions speak of his labors in Asia Minor, especially in the regions near the Black Sea. Mark was with the apostle (serving as his `interpreter' and gathering the material [in part] for his Gospel), also Silvanus, who appears to have penned the Epistle 5:12-13. According to a wide-spread tradition, which has become generally accepted in Christendom, Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome." -- A New Standard Bible Dictionary.

 John the Revelator

The Apostle John is also deservable of special mention in this work. He is the apostle spoken of as the one Jesus loved, and without doubt he was, like Paul, a chosen vessel of the Lord to fulfill a special mission.

John was sentenced to death, and it seemed his fate was to have been much the same as most of the other apostles had been, a martyr's death. He was to be killed by being cast into a caldron of boiling oil, which was always fatal to the victim. His would-be-executioners carried out the orders to the letter; but, to their amazement and surprise, he arose from the boiling oil, praising God, and without bodily injury. Such fear was thus caused among many who witnessed the miracle, that hundreds of conversions were made to the faith they were vainly endeavoring to stamp out. Fearing further to try to take the apostle's life, he was banished to the island of Patmos, about seventy-five miles off the northeast shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It was on this island where the angel of God visited the apostle, and gave him the last book of the New Testament, the Revelation. See chapter 1:1-9.

"The last of the apostles to pass away was John. His death is usually placed about 100 A.D. In his closing days he cooperated in the collecting and forming of those writings we call the New Testament." -- Dr. Adam Clarke, Commentary on New Testament, Vol. 11, p. 544.

"While St. John lived, these heretics (the Docetae, or Gnostics, and the Ebionites), were much discountenanced; and those who embraced their sentiments, were always considered as perfectly distinct from the Christian church. Doubtless they called themselves Christians, and so do all heretics, for obvious reasons; and for reasons as obvious, all, who are tenders of the fundamental principles of the gospel, should not own their right to the appellation." -- Page 57, 58, -- Townsend's Abridgment of Milner's Church History, Ed. 1816.

"While St. John lived, heresy could make no serious headway. He had hardly passed away, however, before perverse teachers infested the Christian church . . . These years were times which saw the New Testament books corrupted in abundance." . . . "Eusebius is witness to this fact. He also related that the corrupted manuscripts were so prevalent that agreement between the copies was hopeless; and that those who were corrupting the Scriptures, claimed that they really were correcting them." -- Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., Bk. 111, Chap. 24, and Wilkinson's Our Authorized Bible Vindicated, p. 15.

In spite of these efforts to pollute the words of God, and bring confusion, the Lord was able to care for these sacred writings, and He wonderfully directed, when certain manuscripts were chosen to become a part of the New Testament.

 

The Early Protestant Church

  Its various names falsely ascribed: The true name, and its doctrine and practice will now be considered.

It has already been shown that the New Testament name for the true church organized by Jesus Christ was the "Church of God," and as we leave the New Testament writings and launch out into secular history, which we must do, as the New Testament narrative only carries us to about 96 A.D., we will find the same name brought to view down through the Gospel Age. These people, however, have always been called, by their enemies, by other names. The name "Nazarenes," applied to them by the world, during the first period following the days of the apostles, will be considered first.

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he gave warning to his followers of the great destruction decreed upon Jerusalem, and the Jewish temple there. He told those living in Judea to flee to the mountains. Consequently, when they saw Jerusalem compassed with armies, the church fled to a town called Pella. The following bit of history gives us information concerning this flight and escape.

"Under the reign of Vespasian, Rome declared war against the Jews because of their repeated revolts, and General Titus besieged the city of Jerusalem 70 A.D. It is said that eleven hundred thousand Jews perished in the six month siege, but the church there escaped the horrors of the siege by following the instruction of Christ in Matthew 24, and fleeing to the mountains beyond the Jordan. This timely retreat was made to the small town of Pella." -- Hugh Smith's History.

"In the fall of Jerusalem, few if any Christians perished. From the prophetic utterances of Christ, the Christians received warning, escaped from the doomed city, and found refuge at Pella, in the Jordan valley." -- Pages 41, 42, Hurlbut's Story of the Christian Church.

Of the early apostolic Christians, Hurlbut says, "All the members of the Pentecostal Church were Jews; and, so far as we can perceive, none of the members, or even of the apostolic company, at first dreamed that Gentiles would ever be admitted to membership . . . The Jews of that age were of three classes, and all were represented in the Jerusalem church, . . . Hebrews, . . . Grecian Jews or Hellenists, . . . Proselytes." -- Pages 21, 22, Idem.

The first secular name given the true church by the outside world was "Nazarenes," and of them Encyclopaedia Britannica has the following:

"Nazarenes, an obscure Jewish-Christian sect existing at the time of Epiphanius (fl. A.D. 370) in Coele-Syria, Decapolis (Pella) and Basanitis (Cocabe). According to that authority, they dated their settlement in Pella from the time of the flight of the Jewish Christians from Jerusalem, immediately before the siege in A.D. 70; he characterizes them as neither more or less than Jews pure and simple, but adds that they recognized the new covenant as well as the old, and believed in the resurrection, and in the one God and His Son Jesus Christ. He cannot say whether their Christological views were identical with those of Cerinthus and his school, or whether they differed at all from his own. But Jerome (Ep. 79, to Augustine) says that they believed in Christ the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rose again, but adds that, `desiring to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither the one nor the other.' They used the Aramaic recession of the Gospel according to Matthew, which they called the Gospel to the Hebrews, but, while adhering as far as possible to the Mosaic economy as regarded . . . sabbaths, foods, and the like, they did not refuse to recognize the apostolicity of Paul or the rights of (Gentile) Christians," Jerome, Comn. in Isaiah 9:1 -- The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Vol. 19.

From the above quotation we have learned that the church during the first four centuries used the Aramaic recension of the Scriptures. Also they were known by the world as Nazarenes (Acts 24:5). The name originated from Nazareth the city of the nativity of our Lord, as Jesus was raised to manhood in and around the city of Nazareth. We read from Matthew 2:23, as follows: "And He came and dwelt in the city of Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, He shall be called a Nazarene."

It is not strange therefore, that the early church would be known by the name Nazarenes, as the prophet long before his birth said that Jesus would be given this title of national distinction. The people of Nazareth spoke the Aramaic tongue, consequently, this was the native language of our Savior. Hence, we find on the event of his death he cried, "Eli, Eli, lama Sabachthani," which is in the ancient language of Nazareth, the Aramaic. The name Nazareth, or "Nazarenes," is therefore the national name, as American, Ethiopian, Russian, etc. In no way, however, was this name intended by the Lord to apply to His church, or He would never have given the name, "The Church of God," twelve times, as He did in the New Testament writings.

In the ancient records of the early writers when sending letters back and forth between the churches, they always addressed one another as "The Church of God in Smyrna," the "Church of God in Philadelphia," etc. In the second century Ignatius wrote to the Smyrnaeans thus: "To the Churches of God in Smyrna." On page 79, in the epistle to the Philadelphians, he writes, "To the Church of God, which is at Philadelphia." -- Ante-Nicean Fathers, Vol. 1.

Eusebius, who wrote of the church of the first centuries, speaks of the church observing the Lord's supper at the same time the Jews kept the passover; viz., on the 14th of the first month, Nisan. There were at first two elders, or bishops, appointed for each city, as instructed by Paul to Titus (Titus 1:5); but toward the close of the second century this practice began to give away to the appointment of one bishop instead of two, and these bishops were appointed over not only the city, but a certain community or district, while an inferior order of ministers were appointed called deacons to preside over the local affairs of the church.

"The first Christian church established at Jerusalem by apostolic authority became in its doctrine and practice a model for the greater part of those founded in the first century. The first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem were all Jews, except [possibly] one, St. Mark, and the congregation over which they presided united the teachings of Moses with the doctrines of Christ." -- History of the Christian Church, by Hugh Smith, pp. 50, 51, a Presbyterian work.

Hugh Smith says further, in his history of these Christian adherents to the faith as taught by the first fifteen bishops of Jerusalem, "These Judaizing Christians were first known by the outside world as `Nazarenes'." He speaks again of this matter on page 69, as follows: "All Christians agreed in celebrating the seventh day of the week in conformity to the Jewish converts."

"As long as the Christians were supposed to be Jews they were not especially molested. They simply suffered from the ill-feeling which the Romans had for the Jews. But in a process of time the Christians were hated for other reasons. They nearly all came from the lower classes, the tradesmen, the freed-men and slaves. Being devoted to their religion, they refused to engage in the practices commonly engaged in by the Romans. They disapproved of the Roman amusements, the gladiatorial shows, the races in the circus, the plays, the dances, and the theaters. They were hence regarded as unsocial, and `Haters of mankind.' Their churches were looked upon as secret societies, which were contrary to law. They were hated, and frequently subjects of mob violence." -- Myer's General History.

Mosheim's History speaks of a sect of Christian worshipers who were made poor by the destruction of Jerusalem, and who kept all of the commandments given by the great law-giver.

 

The Real Bible Name

  While the name given these people by the world during this period was "Nazarenes," still they were known among themselves by the Bible name, "The Church of God." The following sketches bear out this fact.

Regarding the death of Polycarp, who was an associate with John the Revelator, the church at Smyrna addresses the church in Philomelium thus: "The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium, mercy, peace, and love from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be multiplied." -- Vol. 1, Ante-Nicean Fathers.

 

The Day of Rest

  In the history of the first centuries by Eusebius, he speaks of Jewish Christians who observed the Sabbath, and also says that Polycarp, baptized by St. John, held to the Passover as an institution peculiarly handed down by St. John. -- Eusebius p. 243.

Bishop White, in speaking of Sabbathkeeping as opposite to the practice of the church, and as heretical, says, "It was thus condemned in the Nazarenes, and in the Corinthians . . . The ancient Synod of Laodicea made a decree against it, 321 A.D. (chapter 29), also Gregory the Great affirmed it was Judaizing. In Saint Bernard's day it was condemned. The same likewise being revived in Luther's day, by Carlstadt, Sternberg, and some sectaries among the Anabaptists, (rebaptizers)." -- History by Lewis, p. 8.

"As long as the church was mainly Jewish, the Hebrew Sabbath was kept; but as it became increasingly Gentile, the first day gradually took the place of the seventh day." -- Hurlbut's Story of the Christian Church, p. 45.

That the observance of the Sabbath was not confined to Jewish converts, the learned Gieseler explicitly testifies: "While the Jewish Christians of Palestine retained the entire Mosaic Law, and consequently the Jewish festivals, the Gentile Christians observed also the Sabbath and the Passover (I Corinthians 5:6, 8), with the reference to the last scenes of Jesus' life, but without Jewish superstition." -- Eccl., Vol. 1, chap. 2, sec. 30.

"While the Christians of Palestine, who kept the whole Jewish Law, celebrated of course all the Jewish festivals, the heathen converts observed only the Sabbath, and, in remembrance of closing scenes of our Savior's life, the Passover, though without the Jewish superstitions." -- Church History, Apostolic Age to A.D. 70, Sec. 29; Lewis Hist. S. & S., page 135.

The first century closes with the death of St. John the Revelator, which is said to have occurred in the year 100 A.D. As a summary of the work accomplished by the church of this century, we shall quote the following from Townsend's Abridgment of Milner.

"In this century (First), a revolution took place, in the human mind and in human manners, the most astonishing that was ever seen in any age, and was affected against the united opposition of all the powers then in the world; and this too, not in countries rude or uncivilized, but in the most humanized, the most learned, and the most polished part of the globe, within the Roman empire; no part of which was exempted from its effects. This empire, within the first century seems to have been the proper limit of Christian conquests.

"And what was the change? It was from bad to good. The religious and moral principles of both Jews and Gentiles were, before their conversion, grossly bad. The idolatries, abominations and ferocity of the Gentile world, must be allowed not to have been less than they were described in the first chapter to the Romans. The writings of Horace and Juvenal prove, that the picture, painted by the apostle, is not overdrawn. The extreme wickedness of the Jews cannot be denied.

"In this revolution, are thousands of men, turned from sin to holiness, many in a very short space of time, reformed in understanding, in inclination, in affection; knowing, loving, and confiding in God; from a state of mere selfishness converted into the purest philanthropists, living only to please God, and to exercise kindness toward one another." -- Pages 58, 59, Townsend's Abridgment, Ed. 1816.

 

History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions under Nero

  "Christ our Savior, in the Gospel of St. Matthew, hearing the confession of St. Peter, who, first of all other, openly acknowledged Him to be the Son of God, and perceiving the secret hand of His Father therein, called Him (alluding to His name) a rock, upon which rock He would build his church so strong that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. In which words three things are to be noted: First, that Christ will have a church in this world. Secondly, that the same church should mightily be impugned, not only by the world, but also by the uttermost strength and powers of all hell. And, thirdly, that the same church, notwithstanding the uttermost of the devil and all his malice, should continue.

"Which prophecy of Christ we see wonderfully to be verified, insomuch that the whole course of the church to this day may seem nothing else but a verifying of the said prophecy. First, that Christ hath set up a church, needed no declaration. Secondly, what force of princes, kings, monarchs, governors, and rulers of this world, with their subjects, publicly and privately, with all their strength and cunning, have bent themselves against this church! And, thirdly, how the said church, all this notwithstanding, hath yet endured and holden its own! What storms and tempests it hath overpast, wondrous it is to behold: for the more evident declaration whereof, I have addressed this present history, to the end, first, that the wonderful works of God in His church might appear to His glory; also, that, the continuance and proceedings of the church, from time to time, being set forth, more knowledge and experience may redound thereby, to the profit of the reader and edification of Christian faith.

"As it is not our business to enlarge upon our Savior's history, either before or after His crucifixion, we shall only find it necessary to remind our readers of the discomfiture of the Jews by His subsequent resurrection. Although one apostle had betrayed him; although another had denied Him, under the solemn sanction of an oath; and although the rest had forsaken him, unless we may except the disciple who was known to the high priest; the history of His resurrection gave a new direction to all their hearts, and, after the mission of the Holy Spirit, imparted new confidence to their minds. The powers with which they were endued emboldened them to proclaim His name, to the confusion of the Jewish rulers, and the astonishment of Gentile proselytes.

 

I. St. Stephen

"St. Stephen suffered the next in order. His death was occasioned by the faithful manner in which he preached the Gospel to the betrayers and murderers of Christ. To such a degree of madness were they excited, that they cast him out of the city and stoned him to death. The time when he suffered is generally supposed to have been at the passover which succeeded to that of our Lord's crucifixion, and to the era of his ascension, in the following spring.

"Upon this a great persecution was raised against all who professed their belief in Christ as the Messiah, or as a prophet. We are immediately told by St. Luke, that `there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem'; and that `they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.'

"About two thousand Christians, with Nicanor, one of the seven deacons, suffered martyrdom during the `persecution that arose about Stephen.'

 

II. James the Great

"The next martyr we meet with, according to St. Luke, in the history of the apostles' acts, was James the son of Zebedee, the elder brother of John, and a relative of our Lord; for his mother Salome was cousin-german to the Virgin Mary. It was not until ten years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took place; for no sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea, than, with a view to ingratiate himself with them, he raised a sharp persecution against the Christians, and determined to make an effectual blow, by striking at their leaders. The account given us by an eminent primitive writer, Clemens Alexandrinus, ought not to be overlooked; that as James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was brought to repent of his conduct by the apostle's extraordinary courage and undauntedness, and fell down at his feet to request his pardon, professing himself a Christian, and resolving that, James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. Hence they were both beheaded at the same time. Thus did the first apostolic martyr cheerfully and resolutely receive that cup, which he had told our Savior he was ready to drink. Timon and Parmenas suffered martyrdom about the same time; the one at Philippi, and the other in Macedonia. These events took place about A.D. 44.

 

III. Philip

"Was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee and was first called by the name of `disciple.' He labored diligently in Upper Asia, and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified, A.D. 54.

 

IV. Matthew

"Whose occupation was that of toll-gather was born at Nazareth. He wrote his gospel in Hebrew, which was afterwards translated into Greek by James the Less. The scene of his labors was Parthia, and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah, A.D. 60.

 

V. James the Less

"Is supposed by some to have been the brother of our Lord, by a former wife of Joseph. This is very doubtful, and accords too much with Catholic superstition, that Mary never had any other children except our Savior. He was elected to the oversight of the churches of Jerusalem; and was the author of the Epistle ascribed to James in the sacred canon. At the age of ninety-four he was beat and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller's club.

 

VI. Matthias

"Of whom less is known than most of the other disciples, was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.

 

VII. Andrew

"Was the brother of Peter. He preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations; but on his arrival at Edessa he was taken and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground. Hence the derivation of the term, St. Andrew's cross.

 

VIII. St. Mark

"Was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. He is supposed to have been converted to Christianity by Peter, whom he served as an amanuensis, and under whose inspection he wrote his Gospel in the Greek language. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria, at the great solemnity of Serapis their idol, ending his life under their merciless hands.

 

IX. Peter

"Among many other saints, the blessed Apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome; albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof. Hegesippus said that Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to death; which, when the people perceived they entreated Peter with much ado that he would fly the city. Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshiping, said, `Lord, whither dost Thou Go?' To whom he answered and said, `I am come again to be crucified.' By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the city. Jerome said that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.

 

X. Paul

"Paul, the apostle, who before was called Saul, after his great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ, suffered also in the first persecution under Nero. Abdias, declareth that under his execution Nero sent two of his esquires, Perega and Parhemius, to bring him word of his death. They, coming to Paul instructing the people, desired him to pray for them, that they might believe; who told them that shortly after they should believe and be baptized at his sepulcher. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers were made, gave his neck to the sword.

 

XI. Jude

"The brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa A.D. 72.

 

XII. Bartholomew

"Preached in several countries, and having translated the Gospel of Matthew into

the language of India, he propagated it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.

 

XIII. Thomas

"Called Didymus, preached the gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.

 

XIV. Luke

"The evangelist, was the author of the Gospel which goes under his name. He traveled with Paul through various countries, and is supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree, by the idolatrous priests of Greece.

 

XV. Simon

"Surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, . . . Britain, in which latter country he was crucified, A.D. 74.

 

XVI. John

"The `beloved disciple,' was a brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor to Domitian, recalled him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.

 

XVII. Barnabas

"Was of Cyprus, but of Jewish descent, his death is supposed to have taken place about A.D. 73.

"And yet, not withstanding all these continued persecutions and horrible punishments, the church daily increased, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and of men apostolical, and watered plenteously with the blood of the saints." -- Fox's Book of Martyrs, pp. 1-5.

 
 
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