About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman
In the mid 60's AD
Emperor Nero initiated a campaign to execute Christians in
Nero ruled the empire
from 54 to 68 AD, followed by Galba (68 - 69 AD), Otho (part of 69 AD),
Aulus Vittellius (part of 69 AD), Vespasian (69 - 79 AD), Titus (79 - 81
AD), Domitian (81 - 96 AD), and so on.
After Nero died, Christians lived in relative peace until Domitian
initiated his brand of persecution. With
this bit of history in mind, read 1 Timothy 2:1and 2.
"I urge, then,
first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be
made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may
live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."
Many Biblical historians
believe Paul wrote the above as a prisoner of Rome
just prior to his execution by Nero around 64 to 66 AD.
I can certainly understand why he exhorted people to pray as he
did. Christians were being
tortured and killed all around him. We know thoughts of his own death
crossed his mind (Philippians 1:21 - 24).
As Christians, we pray
for our government in the hope it will grant us a peaceful existence.
Should we expect God to answer these prayers in the affirmative?
Is it always God's will for us to benefit from state sponsored
peace? Could He have handed
our nations over to their sin which would lead to their demise?
He has done this before (Romans 1:24 - 26) and He can do it again.
Would this not result in tough times for Christians?
History tells me that
the prayers Paul and others prayed were not immediately answered in the
affirmative as was hoped.
Many Christians, including Paul were executed as those prayers were
being prayed. It took a few
more years of cultural chaos before Christians lived in relative peace,
and that only lasted two decades before Emperor Domitian began to
Jesus never promised us
a life of peace. To help His
disciples keep their faith in Him through tough times, He told them in advance that they
would be persecuted (John 16:1 - 2). Christianity
actually grew at its fastest pace during those ten state sponsored periods
of persecution prior to 312 AD. Tertullian
(155 - 220 AD) was correct when he said "the blood of the martyrs is
the seed of the church." Jesus
said something similar when He said that unless a seed is buried into the
ground, it will not produce more seeds (John 12:24).
After living in relative
peace for about two decades, Jesus rebuked parts of the church for its
laxity of faith (Revelation 2 and 3).
That required Godly discipline (Revelation 3:19) which occurred
with Emperor Domitian's state sponsored persecution of Christians.
Yes, pray for government
so we can live in relative peace, but if peace produces a laxity of faith
as I believe it has today, be warned.
State sponsored persecution of Christians can be God's will.