Original Research - Special Collection: HTS 75th Anniversary Maake Masango Dedication

‘All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Tm 3:12) – An Eastern Orthodox perspective on persecutions and martyrdom

Nicolae V. Mosoiu
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 4 | a5576 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i4.5576 | © 2019 Nicolae V. Mosoiu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 May 2019 | Published: 12 December 2019

About the author(s)

Nicolae V. Mosoiu, Andrei Șaguna, Faculty of Orthodox Theology, Lucian Blaga University, Sibiu, Romania, South Africa; and, Department of New Testament Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The purpose of this article is to offer a perspective on persecutions and martyrdom in the context of today’s world, when so many Christians are under threat and even die for their faith. In the Introduction section, some short exegetical comments on 1 Timothy 3:12 and some impressive references to the religious persecutions in a Communist regime are made. The first part contains some terminological aspects and biblical references concerning the term ‘witness’ (martys, testis), from Genesis to Revelation where Jesus Christ is called ‘the faithful Witness (Martys)’ (1:5). Then special emphasis is put on the martyrdom of St Stephen, St Polycarp and St Ignatius of Antioch. In the second part, the author tries to offer a theological perspective on persecution and martyrdom. Although persecution is a deeply spiritual struggle and a result of satanic attack, it is also an opportunity for witness (martyria), while martyrdom is the fruit of sacrificial love. Acts 9:4 clearly reveals who is the main target and who is finally persecuted; hence, the conclusion is that persecutions and martyrdom represent a permanent condition of the Church, the Body of Christ. During persecutions, Christians are advised to keep their faith, but not to force martyrdom, not to self-inflict it on themselves.

Keywords

Communist prison; atheism; ecumenism of suffering; ecumenism behind the bars; persecution; martyr; martyrdom; death; birth in the kingdom of God

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