The Christian Martyrs Last Prayer

Painting by Leon Gerome  (Click to Enlarge) 100k

This painting reveals the horror of Christian persecution during the times of the Roman Empire. Lions and other wild animals would tear the Christians apart limb from limb, entertainment for the crowd.

Christian Persecution

Paul said, "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Jesus said, "no servant is greater than his master, if they hated me they will hate you also." He also said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake."

Persecution is something that every Christian must welcome, there is no Christian who is not persecuted in some way. In fact the very word "witness" comes from a Greek word which is translated in English "martyr". When Christianity was born on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection of Christ, the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were the first to persecuted Christians. Later it was the Roman Empire who heavily persecuted Christianity.

"Suffer me to become food for the wild beasts, through whose instrumentality it will be granted me to attain to God. I am the wheat of God, and let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ." - Ignatius

According to tradition there were 10 great persecutions upon the Christian church by the Roman Empire. The most famous Roman Emperor who was a persecutor of the Christians was the Emperor Nero who subjected the Christian church to severe persecution in Rome in 64 A.D. and also in 65 A.D. and that is when the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter both perished. The author of the book of Revelation claims that he was in exile for the Christian faith on the island of Patmos near the end of the first century A.D. It is assumed that this persecution took place under the Emperor Domitian. Later Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, was martyred in 107 A.D. during the reign of Trajan. There was a conversation recorded in history of the Emperor Trajan and Pliny in 112 A.D. which makes clear that there was a growing persecution of Christians in Asia minor. Also in 177 A.D. there was a major persecution of Christians at Lyons under the reign of Marcus Aurelius. During the beginning of the third century A.D. the Roman Empire attempted to prevent any conversions to Christianity and during this time came about the sad story of the martyrdom of Perpetua and her companions at Carthage. Later there was the persecution of Decius who required that every citizen of Rome sacrifice to the Emperor, which actually led to many apostasies within the church. The last major persecution within the Roman Empire was under the reign of Diocletian, and this was probably the most severe. In 303 A.D. Diocletian persecuted the Christians so intensely that he ordered the destruction of many churches, and many sacred books. In 313 A.D. the Emperor Constantine terminated persecutions with the Edict of Milan which granted toleration of the Christian church.

Christian Persecution in Easton's Bible Dictionary
The Christian church passed through many bloody persecutions. Of subsequent centuries in our own and in other lands the same sad record may be made. Christians are forbidden to seek the propagation of the gospel by force (Matt. 7:1; Luke 9:54-56; Rom. 14:4; James 4:11, 12). The words of Ps. 7:13, "He ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors," ought rather to be, as in the Revised Version, "He maketh his arrows fiery [shafts]." Read Full Article

Also See:

PERSECUTION in Naves Topical Bible

PERSECUTION in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

The First Imperial 'Persecution' of Christians

The Great Fire of Rome

The Scapegoats

Heart Message

A Constant Craving

Rome had so conquered its domain, achieving dominion, knowledge and wealth in varied disciplines of warfare, science, art, & architecture among others, that citizens had leisure and could enjoy the glorious civilization. But nations, like individuals, when strife for survival is no longer demanding, can feel the emptiness inside of our fallen nature rather than being able to enjoy what was built. An entire population can become unruly when it has time on its hands. Governments should be directing their citizen’s to higher aspirations, but without leadership, a people can fall to its baser instincts.

Amusements have a shelf life before they become boring. A joke can only be told once and be funny. Wealth in our own time is producing darker and darker forms of entertainment as society is continually desensitized and requires more and more stimulation.

The ugly bottom of this never-ending craving can become a bloodlust, the desire to see others suffer. The self-hatred inside an empty soul can be hyped up and projected towards a scapegoat who seems offensive enough to be blamed for one’s own fallen emotions. The Romans offered up the Christians who in faith to Christ were trying not to ride along with the corrupted culture but received the forgiveness of God and fullness of the Holy Spirit.

As Gladys Knight once sung, “I’d rather live in his world, than live without him in mine.”


The Bible mentions a lot regarding persecution:

Psalms 69:26 - For they persecute [him] whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded.

Jeremiah 17:18 - Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.

Romans 12:14 - Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Psalms 7:1 - O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:

Matthew 23:34 - Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and [some] of them ye shall kill and crucify; and [some] of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute [them] from city to city:

Psalms 31:15 - My times [are] in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

Jeremiah 29:18 - And I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them:

Psalms 7:5 - Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take [it]; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.

Luke 21:12 - But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute [you], delivering [you] up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.

Matthew 5:44 - But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Psalms 10:2 - The wicked in [his] pride doth persecute the poor: let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined.

Psalms 119:84 - How many [are] the days of thy servant? when wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me?

Matthew 5:11 - Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 10:23 - But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

John 5:16 - And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

John 15:20 - Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

Psalms 35:3 - Draw out also the spear, and stop [the way] against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I [am] thy salvation.

Luke 11:49 - Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and [some] of them they shall slay and persecute:

Psalms 35:6 - Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them.

Psalms 83:15 - So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm.

Psalms 119:86 - All thy commandments [are] faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.

Lamentations 3:66 - Persecute and destroy them in anger from under the heavens of the LORD.

Job 19:28 - But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?

Psalms 71:11 - Saying, God hath forsaken him: persecute and take him; for [there is] none to deliver [him].

Job 19:22 - Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?

Lamentations 3:43 - Thou hast covered with anger, and persecuted us: thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied.

Psalms 143:3 - For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.

Galatians 4:29 - But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him [that was born] after the Spirit, even so [it is] now.

Deuteronomy 30:7 - And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.

Isaiah 14:6 - He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, [and] none hindereth.

Galatians 1:13 - For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:

Psalms 109:16 - Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.

Matthew 5:12 - Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Acts 7:52 - Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

Acts 26:11 - And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled [them] to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted [them] even unto strange cities.

John 15:20 - Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

1 Corinthians 4:12 - And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

Galatians 1:23 - But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.

Revelation 12:13 - And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man [child].

Psalms 119:161 - SCHIN. Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.

Matthew 5:10 - Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Acts 22:4 - And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

1 Corinthians 15:9 - For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:15 - Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

2 Corinthians 4:9 - Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;


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The Christian Martyrs Last Prayer by Leon Gerome

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