The church of Christ was born in troublesome times. The bold and uncompromising preaching that was characteristic of those early disciples soon plunged them into grievous persecutions. Peter and John were imprisoned and whipped (Acts 4, 5). Shortly thereafter Stephen became the first martyr (Acts 7:60). Apparently his death triggered the “great persecution” (Acts 8:1), which subsequently came upon the church. For the following two and one half centuries, the church of God was literally bathed in blood. Thousands of saints were tortured and murdered in the most inhumane ways. The hardships tempered those who were truly converted to Jesus.
In spite of the tribulations, the church grew with marvelous rapidity. Scholars estimate that there were possibly some sixty million Christians by the end of the second century. Persecution didn’t kill the Church. If anything, it made their commitment stronger to the cause of Christ. Whenever we feel persecuted we need to be stronger and commit deeper to the cause of our Lord. We need to bring more people to Christ and save as many as we can.