16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you will be put to death. 17 And you will be hated by everyone because of My name. 18 Yet not even a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your patient endurance you will gain your souls.
Luke 21:12-19 (NLT) 12 But before all this occurs, there will be a time of great persecution. You will be dragged into synagogues and prisons, and you will stand trial before kings and governors because you are my followers. 13 But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me. 14 So don’t worry in advance about how to answer the charges against you, 15 for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you! 16 Even those closest to you—your parents, brothers, relatives, and friends—will betray you. They will even kill some of you. 17 And everyone will hate you because you are my followers. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish! 19 By standing firm, you will win your souls.
Matthew 24:8-14 (NLT) 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 Then they will deliver you over to be persecuted and killed, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will arise and mislead many.
12 Because of the multiplication of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. 13 But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Mark 14:8b-13 (NLT) ...These are the beginning of birth pains.
9 So be on your guard. You will be delivered over to the councils and beaten in the synagogues. On My account you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all the nations. 11 But when they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand what to say. Instead, speak whatever you are given at that time, for it will not be you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by everyone because of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.
The Twelve Disciples and where they ministered:
- Thomas (aka Didymus) labored in Parthia, Persia, and India
- Simon the Zealot unknown ministry
- Philip preached in Phrygia and died a martyr at Hierapolis
- Simon Peter did evangelistic and missionary work among the Jews, going as far as Babylon and dying in Rome
- Andrew, Peter's brother, is claimed by three countries as their Patron Saint-Russia, Scotland and Greece. Many scholars say that he preached in Scythia, Greece and Asia Minor.
- Matthew (aka Levi, son of Alpheus) preached the Gospel to the Jewish community in Judea, before going to other countries
- Jude Thaddeus (son of Alpheus, aka Judas the Zealot) preached in Edessa near the Euphrates River, Assyria and Persia
- James Son of Alpheus (aka James the Lesser or James the Younger, was the brother of Jude Thaddeus) preached in Palestine and Egypt
- John Boanerges Son of Zebedee preached among the churches of Asia Minor
- James Boanerges Son of Zebedee preached in Jerusalem and Judea
- Nathanael Bartholomew preached with Philip in Phrygia and Hierapolis; also in Armenia
- Matthias replaced Judas Iscariot in Acts 1:15-26, Besides the book of Acts, Matthias isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. According to historical sources Matthias lived until 80 A.D. and spread the gospel on the shores of the Caspian and Cappadocia.
At the beginning of the Great Tribulation time, it is my belief that all Christians will be raptured (this is a disputed claim as some believe we will be raptured in the middle of the Great Tribulation and others believe we won't be raptured during the Great Tribulation, but at the end). Those of us who are true believers now, have nothing to fear as far as the Great Tribulation. We are gone! I, personally believe, we are being prepped even now for when the Rapture occurs and Christians disappear. People would rather believe it was a mass alien abduction rather than the Rapture where Jesus Christ comes for His people. We have alien TV shows on one station or another round the clock now. It's satan's campaign to give another explanation for when the Rapture occurs.
But, even though Christians are raptured at the beginning of the Tribulation, there will be people who become believers in Jesus Christ during the Great Tribulation. They will be the ones who are persecuted by the anti-Christ. Many will be martyred. But the Gospel message and the warnings will still go forth:
Revelation 14:6-10a 6 And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. 7 “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”
8 Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen—that great city is fallen—because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.”
9 Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand 10 must drink the wine of God’s anger.
How the Disciples died:
- Thomas (aka Didymus) was killed with a spear as a martyr
- Simon the Zealot was crucified
- Philip died by hanging at Hierapolis
- Simon Peter was crucified, head downward, in Rome
- Andrew, Peter's brother, was crucified on an X-shaped cross
- Matthew (aka Levi, son of Alpheus) died a martyr in Ethiopia
- Jude Thaddeus (son of Alpheus, aka Judas the Zealot) was killed with arrows at Ararat
- James Son of Alpheus (aka James the Lesser or James the Younger, was the brother of Jude Thaddeus) was crucified in Egypt and his body sawn into pieces
- John Boanerges Son of Zebedee was banished to the Isle of Patmos, he was later freed and died a natural death
- James Son of Zebedee was beheaded by Herod, AD 44
- Nathanael Bartholomew was flayed alive with knives in India
- Judas Iscariot committed suicide by hanging himself
- Matthias replaced Judas, death unknown
The First Church era
Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire occurred intermittently over a period of over two centuries between the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD under Nero and the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, in which the Roman Emperors Constantine the Great and Licinius legalised the Christian religion.
The persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire was carried out by the state and also by local authorities on a sporadic, ad hoc basis, often at the whims of local communities. The first persecution of Christians organised by the Roman government took place under the emperor Nero in 64 AD after the Great Fire of Rome. Starting in 250 AD, empire-wide persecution took place as an indirect consequence of an edict by the emperor Decius. This edict was in force for eighteen months, during which time some Christians were killed while others apostatised to escape execution. In the 300 years from the crucifixion of Christ to the conversion of Emperor Constantine, polytheistic Roman emperors initiated no more than four general persecutions of Christians. (Source: Wikipedia)
We also know, throughout history, that Christians have been persecuted to the same extremes. Because we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and as the Son of God, we are targets for those who hate the true God.
Persecution of Christians in 2020
North Korea “If North Korean Christians are discovered, they are deported to labor camps as political criminals or even killed on the spot. Driven by the state, Christian persecution in North Korea is extreme.”
Afghanistan because of Islamic militants
Somalia because of Islamic militants
Pakistan because of Islamic militants
Eritrea because of Islamic militant groups
Sudan because of Islamic militant groups
Yemen because of Islamic militant groups
Iran because of Islamic militant groups
India by Hindu Nationalists
Syria because of Islamic militant groups
Nigeria because of Islamic militant groups
Maldives because of Islamic militant groups
Usbekistan anti-any god
Vietnam, Turkmenistan, China, Mauritania, Central African Republic, Morocco, Qatar, Burkina Faso, Mali, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Nepal, Jordan, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Brunei, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Colombia, Oman, Kuwait, Kenya, Bhutan, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, Cameroon, Indonesia, and Niger
Intolerant interpretations of Islam are the greatest structural enemy of religious liberty. Second-greatest is authoritarianism in regimes that are determined to suppress freedom of conscience, thought, speech, and worship. A variety of other factors follow, such as Buddhist, Hindu, and Orthodox nationalism. - National Review
Open Doors USA calls persecution of Christians “one of the biggest human rights issues of this era,” citing instances of violence, imprisonment and murder in countries around the world. According to Open Doors, in 2018 over 245 million Christians were living in places where they experienced high levels of persecution.
What about America?
2 Peter 3:3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.
What shaped America in its earliest days is the fact that we were a predominantly Christian nation, but never an exclusively Christian nation. The common Christian moral and cultural heritage contributed to our original institutions. The ability to communicate with each other in the common language of shared Christian morals allowed movements like abolitionism and the civil rights movement to draw upon the authority of Christian scripture and teachings and to recognize a higher moral standard than “what the law currently allows.” Irreligious progressives are refusing religious tolerance and are openly hostile to Christianity. They champion diversity while excluding Christians. More and more Christians are becoming marginalized. American citizens are guaranteed religious freedom through the First Amendment but this freedom is slipping away as Christian persecution and anti-Semitism swells. "Free exercise" of religion, in the U.S. Constitution, has become freedom from religion. As the government continues to make arbitrary rulings, a clear message of intolerance is sent to Americans and to the world. The government itself is cultivating hatred toward those practicing religion. As the culture has changed and become more hostile to Christianity, more people are leaving the church. Pew Research reports the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as religiously affiliated (from 83% to 77%) has shrunk while the percentage describing themselves as unaffiliated has grown from 2007 to 2014. The exodus from the churches and the failure of young people to join churches is alarming. But we must realize that those who leave and choose to no longer affiliate themselves with Christianity, were never true converts to start with. John wrote, "When they left it proved they did not belong with us" and "they never really belonged with us". They were in church for reasons other than a true salvation experience and a relationship with God. They may have called themselves Christian because it was an acceptable label. It was a cultural christianity versus a born again conversion. They were never truly Christians to start with. So they easily turn from the truth. If history shows anything, it shows that this kind of persecution will only grow and intensify. It's been cyclical. It builds up, it spews forth, it backs away. But each time, it's worse and that is the meaning of the analogy of "birth pangs". A woman knows that the pain of birth pangs builds, peaks, ebbs only to build even stronger the next time the pain comes.
Apostasy (people who turn from the truth, they were never really saved anyway)
1 John 2:15-23 15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
18 Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come. 19 These people left our churches, but they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left, it proved that they did not belong with us.
20 But you are not like that, for the Holy One has given you his Spirit, and all of you know the truth. 21 So I am writing to you not because you don’t know the truth but because you know the difference between truth and lies. 22 And who is a liar? Anyone who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Anyone who denies the Father and the Son is an antichrist. 23 Anyone who denies the Son doesn’t have the Father, either. But anyone who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
2 Timothy 3 1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
6 They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. 7 (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.) 8 These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith. 9 But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres.
10 But you, Timothy, certainly know what I teach, and how I live, and what my purpose in life is. You know my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You know how much persecution and suffering I have endured. You know all about how I was persecuted in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra—but the Lord rescued me from all of it. 12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.
14 But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 15 You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
The birth pangs started and have increased and intensified over the last 2,000 years. But the ultimate fulfillment will come in the End Days. During the Last Days it will be unprecedented persecution.
Matthew 5:10-12 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.
Revelation 7:9-17 9 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”
11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. 12 They sang,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength belong to our God
forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”
14 And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne
and serve him day and night in his Temple.
And he who sits on the throne
will give them shelter.
16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty;
they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.
17 For the Lamb on the throne
will be their Shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of life-giving water.
And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 13:7-12,16-18 7 And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. 8 And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made.
9 Anyone with ears to hear
should listen and understand.
10 Anyone who is destined for prison
will be taken to prison.
Anyone destined to die by the sword
will die by the sword.
This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.
11 Then I saw another beast come up out of the earth. He had two horns like those of a lamb, but he spoke with the voice of a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast. And he required all the earth and its people to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed...
16 He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. 17 And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. 18 Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.