John 15:12-17English Standard Version, David Cochran Audio Bible
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Last Memorial Day, Scripture for Today Blogspot remembered my oldest son's dear friend, Kory Costers, who gave his life, in Iraq, for freedom. Kory told his parents when he joined the army, freedom isn't free. On the airplane to Iraq, Kory was looking at the first Bible specifically give to him - his mother is a Baptist Youth Minister, Bibles were part of their household - and remarked to the Army recruit sitting next to him, that it was his first Bible. The Corpsman said he'd never owned a Bible, ever. So Kory gave him the Bible and his new friend asked Kory to show him some of the "good stuff."
Kory's middle name, literally, is Christian. So, he wouldn't mind at all if we remind each other the Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends is actually Jesus telling about His New Covenant. And the men who followed Jesus, who hid, received the gift of the Holy Spirit. The next week these men preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Temple, itself, to multitudes and thousands received Christ's Holy Spirit. These men were willing to lay down their lives to proclaim God's Great Love.
When Jesus died, Claudius was Emperor of Rome. It was Claudius who imprisoned Paul, the first time. In the remote, far away country of Judea, the name of Jesus Christ and His promises and His word, created unease for Claudius. Imagine this could occur in the time there were no mass methods of communication. It is historical fact.
Claudius – Imprisoned Christians. Reigned 25 -54 AD. Emperor during the death and resurrection of Jesus. Imprisoned Paul, for his first imprisonment, house arrest.
Nero – Tortured, burned and vilified Christians. Blamed them for burning Rome . 54- 68 AD
Galba – Put St. Paul and others to death. 69 AD
Otho & Vittelius– only 4 months as Emperor
Vespasian – Sent Titus to destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD, it was the natural end time of Jesus’ life. It is said it is the prophecies Jesus spoke of, His forgiveness was given to the people of His generation. In that destruction, the Temple of the Jews has not been built in 2,000 years. (In 300 A.D, a third temple had the materials gathered, but earthquake, war and fire put an end to that.) Jewish Sacrifice has not been practiced for 2,000 years, it is forsaken. The Jews don’t even know why. God said Jesus was the sacrifice for you.
Titus – See Arch of Titus, still standing, in Rome today. The Temple Tools minus the Ark of the Covenant, is carved in the marble. The profit from the sack of Jerusalem is used for the Coliseum. The Coliseum was used to burn Christians until Constantine naively adopted Christianity thinking Christians would be model citizens. Still a triumph for the 1,100 Bishops, Priests, Christians proclaiming Jesus Christ for 300 years even if they would be burned alive for it.
Domitian – Hauled St. John from Ephesus and exiled him to Patmos. Continued to be fearful of Christians. Conducted one of the fiercest battles against Christians. Under Domitan, the Church split in half. Domitan Heresy - the Church is only for saints. Domitan tortured until Christians surrendered every fragment of the Gospels and New Testament he could find. 81-96. Because of Domitan – we have the word traitor . Part of the Church wanted to forever exile anyone who lied to get out of torture or gave up Scripture. Forgiveness is the business of the Church and Jesus Christ.
Because of Domitan, we only have 15 fragments of the Gospel before 96 AD. But these portions exist and date to 30 AD.
ARE YOU GOING TO TELL ME THESE MEN WERE AFRAID of the scaries? No, the name of Jesus Christ opening His arms to slaves, lepers, women, the poor, the wife of the steward of Herod’s household, Nicodemus of the Sanhedrin Council and Josephus. Jesus converted thousands, leaving Jewish rabbi letters saying it would be the end of Judaism because of the incredible miracles of healing, restoration, life transformation and complete hope. These are letters confirming the Gospels where the Rabbi is extremely unhappy. Josephus, the Israeli General turned traitor, turned Historian says Jesus was the Christ and his brother James formed the later Christian Church until martyred in 62 AD.
Trajan (c. 53 - 117) Philosopher Pliny the Younger's letter to Trajan on the subject of the Christians and the response of Trajan to Pliny the Younger. On Early Christian Writings. How to torture Christians to discredit the claims of Jesus Christ.
Hadrian (c. 76 - 138) Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- Persecution Under Trajen...... The forenamed authors, Antoninus and Equilius
Antoninus Pius (c. 86 - 161) Instead of stirring up persecution against the Christians, he extended to them the strong hand of his protection throughout the empire. Rather than give occasion to that oppression which he regarded as inseparable from an emperor's progress through his dominions, he was content to spend all the years of his reign in Rome, or its neighborhood. Under his patronage the science of jurisprudence was cultivated by men of high ability, and a number of humane and equitable enactments were passed in his name. 161 – 180
166 Christian persecution returned - The period was one of ever-increasing calamities. The earthquakes which had alarmed Asia under Antoninus were but the prelude to more serious convulsions. The Tiber rose to an unprecedented height and swept away the public granaries. This was followed by a famine, and that by a pestilence, which spread from Egypt and Ethiopia westward. Everywhere on the frontiers there were murmurs of insurrection or invasion. The year 166 was long known as the "annus calamitosus," and it was in that year that the persecution broke out and that Justin suffered. These calamities roused the superstition of the great mass of the people, and a wild fanaticism succeeded to an epicurean atheism. The gods were wrath, and what had roused their anger but the presence of those who denied them?
Marcus Aurelius (c. 121 - 180) The Thundering Legion incident (174)
During the war with the Quadi in 174 there took place the famous incident of the Thundering Legion (Legio Fulminatrix, Fulminea, Fulminata) which has been a cause of frequent controversy between Christian and non-Christian writers. The Roman army was surrounded by enemies with no chance of escape, when a storm burst. The rain poured down in refreshing showers on the Romans, while the enemy were scattered with lightning and hail. The parched and famishing Romans received the saving drops first on their faces and parched throats, and afterwards in their helmets and shields, to refresh their horses. Marcus obtained a glorious victory as a result of this extraordinary event, and his enemies were hopelessly overthrown.
That such an event did really happen is attested both by pagan and Christian writers. The former attribute the occurrence either to magic (Dion Cassius, LXXI, 8-10) or to the prayers of the emperor (Capitolinus, "Vita Marci", XXIV; Themistius, "Orat. XV ad Theod"; Claudian, "De Sext. Cons. Hon.", V, 340 sqq.; "Sibyl. Orac.", ed. Alezandre, XII, 196 sqq. Cf. Bellori, "La Colonne Antonine", and Eckhel, "Doctrina Nummorum", III, 64). The Christian writers attributed the fact to the prayers of the Christians who were in the army (Claudius Apollinaris in Eusebius, Church History V.5; Tertullian, "Apol.", v; ad Seap. c. iv), and soon there grew up a legend to the effect that in consequence of this miracle the emperor put a stop to the persecution of the Christians (cf. Euseb. and Tert. opp cit.). It must be conceded that the testimony of Claudius s the most valuable of all that we possess, as he wrote within a few years of the event, and that all credit must be given to the prayers of the Christians, though it does not necessarily follow that we should accept the elaborate detail of the story as given by Tertullian and later writers 161 - 169
Lucius Verus (co-emperor) (c. 130 - 169) with Marcus Aurelius
180 - 192
Commodus (c. 161 - 192) All these who failed to follow the decree were brought to the senate and were tried. This decree was a forceful attempt to put down Christians completely. But the followers who believed in Jesus Christ refused to accept this and many were ready to face the trial. "The Passion of the Scillitan Martyrs" written.
Persecution slows down -
Didius Julianus (193) .
Septimius Severus (193-211) Edict makes it illegal to convert to Christianity; persecution especially in North Africa
ca. 203: Perpetua & Felicity martyred in Carthage (North Africa)
Severus Alexander (222-235)
Gordian I and II (238)
Gordian III (238-244)
Philip the Arab (244-249) .
Trajanus Decius (249-251) 250: Major Empire-Wide Persecution; Christians required to participate in Emperor Worship
Bishop Fabian of Rome martyred; Bishop Cyprian of Carthage exiled; Origen of Alexandria tortured to death
Trebonianus Gallus (251-253)
Aemilian (253) .
Valerian (253-260) ca. 258: Bishop Cyprian of Carthage martyred
Claudius Gothicus (268-270) .
Aurelian (270-275) some persecutions
Numerian (283-284) .
Diocletian (284-305) Major Empire-Wide Persecution begins ca. 303; confiscation of Christian churches and books; arrest, torture, and execution of many Christian leaders. Personally sends troops to Nazareth, the Bishop of Caesarea Eusibius records Diocletian offering clemency to the nephews carefully recording their ancestry to Jesus Christ. All refuse and are tortured and put to death. Diocletian sends troops to Turkey to place the Bishop Nicholas in prison.
& Maximian (286-305) Major Empire-Wide Persecution begins ca. 303; confiscation of Christian Churches and books; arrest, torture, and execution of many Christian leaders
Constantius Chlorus (305-306)
Maxentius (306-312) .
Licinius (311-323) 311: Edict of Galerius: toleration for Christians, allowing them to worship openly
Constantine (307-337) 313: Edict of Constantine (Edict of Milan): toleration for all religions, including Christianity; ends persecutions
Constantine's position on the religions traditionally practiced in Rome evolved during his reign. At first he prohibited the construction of new temples and tolerated traditional sacrifices; by the end of his reign, he had begun to order the pillaging and tearing down of Roman temples
The triumph of Christianity is actually a very remarkable historical phenomenon. ... We begin with a small group from the backwaters of the Roman Empire and after two, three centuries go by, lo and behold that same group and its descendants have somehow taken over the Roman Empire and have become the official religion when it was people believing in Jesus Christ and having life transformations in hope in the life of Jesus Christ and the promises He brought.John 1:35-42 ~ He said to them, “Come and you will see.”
Father God, let us always remember to be grateful to the men who have protect our lives, our freedoms, our way of life and those who proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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