|SECTION A- THOSE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE|
|NAME OF BIBLE CHARACTER||AGE AT DEATH||MANNER OF DEATH AND COMMENTS||BIBLE REFERENCE|
|John the Baptist||approx 30||Violent (beheaded). Finished task on earth. Essential calling to prepare the way for the Lord (Isaiah 40:3; Matt 3:3; Luke 1:16,17). He knew his time was coming to an end when Jesus' ministry started....`He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.' John 3:30 KJV. Addition mine.||Mark 6:27,28|
|Jesus Christ||approx 33||Violent (crucified). He death was no accident.
About a thousand years before His birth, Isaiah had already prophesied
about the Messiah being brought as a lamb before his slaughterers (Isaiah
53:7,8). An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and told him....`She
(Mary) will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.' Matt 1:21. Addition
Notice our Lord's calling even whilst in Mary's womb. Jesus was aware of this high calling (Matt 2:28) and often prophesied about His own death (Matt 16:21; Luke 9:22). He was also aware of the manner of his impending death (Luke 18:32). Although Jesus died a violent death we must understand the nature of His high calling and that His sufferings also brought healing to us (Isaiah 53:5).
|Matt 27:35; Luke 23:23|
|Apostle Peter||not mentioned||Violent. The nature of his death was already prophesied
by our Lord Jesus Christ (John 21:18,19). Take a closer look at verse 19....."Jesus
said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter WOULD GLORIFY
Emphasis Mine. Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down. It was a calling and it glorified God.
|Apostle Paul||not mentioned||Violent. Tradition has it that he was beheaded
in Rome. Paul accomplised his mission on earth when he said..."I have
fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
2 Tim 4:7. Notice that our walk on earth is likened unto a 'race' and
a 'fight'. The bible is quite clear that...`everyone who wants to live
a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.' 2 Tim 3:12
It is also important that we keep our faith 'to the end' (Mark 13:13). Paul was certainly 'aware' of his impending death as we can gather from the statement he made in Acts 20:36-38.
|SECTION B-THOSE NOT PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE|
|Saul (Old testament)||not mentioned||Violent. He committed suicide (1 Sam 31:4,5). Had his head cut off by the philistines and body burned- Reference 1 Sam 31:9,12 (cremation is not the norm for a man of God). As we discussed before, Saul started off life well but allowed rebellion and self-will to control his life (1 Sam 15:23). Besides disobeying God, he also had fits of jealousy against David (1 Sam 18:11,12). Lack of repentance brought him downhill till he reached a point of no return (death by suicide). Life is sacred to God and no man (as opposed to a judicial agent) has the right to take a life even if it is his own (Gen 9:6; 1 Cor 3:17). Saul's death was untimely and out of God's will. Let me state categorically here that suicide is murder of self , without any hope of repentance and this is only putting it mildly. A suicide victim whether christian or non-christian cannot be saved (spiritually) and this should be borne in mind when there is a request for a christian funeral or burial.||1 Sam 31:4,5|
Probably still quite young as he led Israel for only 20 years (Judges 16:31)
|VIOLENT. Died after pushing down the two central pillars of the philistine temple which subsequently collapsed (Judges 16:29,30). Had a weakness for 'foreign women' which was prohibited in the Law of Moses (Deut 7:3,4). His father also advised him against marrying a philistine (Judges 14:3). His final downfall came when he 'fell in love' with Delilah a philistine woman who betrayed him for money. He broke a vow made to God by 'allowing' a razor to be used on his head against God's command -Judges 13:5 (though coerced and tricked into doing so by a foreign woman- a natural enemy of God). This event led to his rapid downfall-he had his eyes gouged out and died violently in the temple of Dagon (Judges 16:21,29,30). Though he may have repented in the last hour (Judges 16:28), he did not live out his full calling (served 20 instead of 40 years).||Judges 16:29,30|
|Judas Iscariot||Not mentioned (probably early thirties)||VIOLENT (hanged himself). Judas was one of the
original twelve disciple hand-picked by Jesus (Luke 6:12-16). Since the
seventy-two other disciples had their names written in heaven (Luke 10:20),
it must be assumed that Judas also had his name originally written in heaven.
Judas 'betrayed' his high calling because of a love of money (John 12:6;
Luke 22:4,5). Take a look at the verses below......
1 Tim 6:10-11
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
(NIV) Emphasis mine.
The apostle Paul tells us in no uncertain terms to "FLEE FROM ALL THIS" i.e. the love of money. The implication here is that "The Love of Money" is actively pursuing us and we ought to turn away from it.
Finally, Judas' remorse (not repentance) over the betrayal
of Jesus led to his suicide (again untimely and out of God's will).
|Annanias and Sapphira||Not mentioned||SUDDEN. Guilty of lying against the HOLY SPIRIT and in so doing testing or tempting God (Acts 5:4, 9). When confronted by the Apostle Peter, they dropped dead (one at a time) in front of him (Acts 5:5,10). Though this incident is isolated, we are reminded of the grave danger of lying against the Holy Spirit and of 'testing God'. The sad fact was that their life spans were shortened in the midst of a revival!||Acts 5:5, 10|