March 08, 2013

Jesus Rise to Power: Martyr Facts

  • Of the 76 emperors who ruled from Augustus to Constantine, just 19 died of natural causes. The majority were murdered (42), 2 more were probably murdered, 6 were forced to commit suicide and 7 were killed in battle.

  • Scholars don’t know why Perpetua, one of the most important martyrs in the history of Christianity, was arrested.

  • Perpetua’s father begged her to reconsider and even brought her baby to the tribunal in an attempt to convince her to save herself.

  • Emperor Decius ordered everyone to sacrifice and they were given a receipt to prove they’d done it. Many Christians refused: some ran away and some got others to sacrifice in their place.

  • Early Christians were mistaken for cannibals by some Romans, who misunderstood the sacrament of Eucharist where under the appearances of bread and wine, Christians eat the body and blood of Christ.

  • There were many more gospels than the 4 that we find in today’s New Testament. Bishop Iranaeus of Lyon was one of the first to suggest that Christians use just four.

  • In Roman culture, sacrifice was transactional: it meant giving a gift to the gods in hopes of gaining favor or forgiveness. Christians, though, believed Jesus already gave his life for the eternal forgiveness of our sins.

  • Trajan’s Column was built by Emperor Trajan to tell the story of a victorious military campaign in Dacia, modern-day Romania.

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