Showing posts with the label Martyrs

Faithful Witness

In the salutation to the seven churches, Jesus is called the Faithful Witness because of his self-sacrificial death  – Revelation 1:5.  The vision of John begins  with salutations  to the churches of Asia from God, the “ seven spirits ,” and Jesus, the “ faithful witness .” The Son of God bore “ witness ” in his death, it is the pattern the “ churches ” are summoned to emulate as they give “ testimony ” in the midst of tribulation “ for the word of God .”

First Martyr

Under the guidance of the Spirit, Stephen gives eloquent and effective testimony to the leaders of Israel .  Early on, the church experienced conflicts between its Greek and Aramaic-speaking members. The apostles instructed the community to select seven men “ full of the Spirit and wisdom ” to take charge of the matter. One of the seven chosen men was Stephen, and  Acts  notes especially that he was “ FULL OF FAITH AND THE SPIRIT .”

Martyrs and Overcomers

Two themes that are repeated in  Revelation  are closely related - “ witness ” and “ overcoming .” Beginning with Jesus of Nazareth and his own martyrdom on Calvary, his followers are summoned to persevere in his “ testimony ,” and in this way, they “ overcome ” and they will emerge victorious in the city of “ New Jerusalem .” They must “ overcome, even as I overcame .”

Great Harlot Revealed

Babylon is revealed as a bejeweled harlot dripping with the shed blood of martyred saints  –  Revelation 17:1-6 .  In chapter 17,  Revelation  presents the impressive figure of “ Babylon .” She is labeled “ harlot ” and identified as the “ great city ,” and she is responsible for the deaths of the martyrs. “ Babylon ” is also closely associated with the deceptions and economic power of the “ Beast .” In her, the book’s first audience would see the city of Rome.

Two Witnesses Slain

The “ second woe ” does not end until the “ Two Witnesses ” have completed their “ testimony ” and their “ corpse ,” singular, lies on the streets of “ Babylon .” Only then will the final trumpet be heard as its ushers in the hour of the judgment. The martyrdom of the “ Two Witnesses ” puts the end into motion and seals the doom of the “ Dragon .”

Fifth Seal - Martyrs

The fifth seal opening reveals the souls of martyrs kept underneath the altar as they plead with God for vindication and justice  –  Revelation 6:9-11 .  The opening of the fifth seal reveals the souls of men slain for their testimony “ underneath ” the altar, where they plead with God for vindication for what they have endured at the hands of their enemies. But they must wait for justice until the complete number of their “ fellow servants ” who are to be slain - “ just as they ” - are gathered to join them.

Cost of Discipleship

Jesus sent the twelve disciples to proclaim the kingdom throughout the region. And in  Mark , his instructions to them are followed by the execution of John the Baptist. His death prepares the reader for the rejection that inevitably will result when any disciple follows Jesus of Nazareth.