The Martyrs

Dec. 27, 2021

We looked at chapter six of the Book of Acts, how Stephen was charged by the Hellenists of blasphemy against God and Moses and the Temple. In chapter seven, we read Stephen’s indictment against the Jews, reciting their history to them and then this happens:

56And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

57Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,

58And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.

59And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

60And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

St. John the Evangelist had a different martyrdom. “Tradition, more or less trustworthy, completes the history. Irenaeus says that Saint John did not settle at Ephesus until after the death SS. Peter and Paul, and this is probable. He certainly as not there when Saint Timothy was appointed bishop of that place. Saint Jerome says that he supervised and governed all the Churches of Asia. He probably took up his abode finally in Ephesus in 97. In the persecution of Domitian he was taken to Rome, and was placed in a cauldron of boiling oil, outside the Latin gate, [Eusebius makes no mention of this. The legend of the boiling oil occurs in Tertullian and in Saint Jerome]. He was sent to labor at the mines in Patmos. At the accession of Nerva he was set free, and returned to Ephesus, and there it is thought that he wrote his gospel. Of his zeal and love combined we have examples in Eusebius, who tells, on the authority of Irenaeus, that Saint John once fled out of a bath on hearing that Cerinthus was in it, lest, as he asserted, the roof should fall in, and crush the heretic. On the other hand, he showed the love that was in him. He commended a young man in whom he was interested to a bishop, and bade him keep his trust well. Some years after he learned that the young man had become a robber. Saint John, though very old, pursued him among the mountain fastnesses, and by his tenderness recovered him.” (Catholic Online)

The slaughter of the Holy Innocents: “is the incident in the nativity narrative of the Gospel of Matthew (2:16–18) in which Herod the Greatking of Judea, orders the execution of all male children two years old and under in the vicinity of Bethlehem. The Catholic Church regards them as the first Christian martyrs …” (Wikipedia)

Revelation chapter six tells us “9And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

10And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

11And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

Slain for the Word of God – Jesus. There’s a warning to us, too – ‘fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were … ‘. Many people believe we are now living in the End Times. I don’t think so. Things will have to get worse beyond our imaging for that to be so. Regardless of the times or the age, we are to lead the best Christian lives we can, praying daily and often, and remembering that Jesus overcame the world.

6 thoughts on “The Martyrs”

  1. Sorry Audre, I am confused. Did St. John die from the immersion in boiling oil or did he survive? Also, why was he afraid of the roof of the bath collapsing and why would he fear the death of the heretic Cerinthus?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He survived the boiling oil – evidently it had no effect on him. Roof collapsing is a common way of stating that someone is Christian in name only; people who’ve lived away from the church for years and lived their lives however they wanted to and then come back often laugh (albeit nervously), that they expected the roof to fall in when they entered the church.

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      1. I guess it’s an ‘Americanism’ because it’s said all throughout the country, regardless of region.

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