The early Christians were revolutionaries of the Spirit, heralds of the last judgment and the coming transformation; they had to be ready for martyrdom at any moment. Their witness meant they had to reckon with being sentenced to death by state and society.Martyrs aren't simply individuals who choose death over renouncing their beliefs. Martyrs are individuals who make great sacrifices or suffer much in order to further a belief, cause or principle. Martyrs are individuals like our brothers and sisters around the world, making a stand for Jesus Christ in the midst of persecution.
Therefore, “martyrs” were those witnesses ready to die for their faith, those who bore this testimony before kings and judges with the steadfastness of soldiers of God. They were martyrs, that is “confessors,” even if they did not have to die.
To give witness is the essence of martyrdom. Martyrs uphold the truth of their testimony as eyewitnesses of the Lord and his resurrection. They see Christ and become his prophetic spirit-bearers. Through the Spirit, the blood-witness of the martyrs becomes part of the decisive battle waged by Jesus, the battle in which he himself died as a champion and leader of the future.
By dying, [Jesus] finally judged and routed the hostile powers of the present age. Put to death by the most devout Jewish people and the Roman state, Christ fettered and disarmed the demons and their darkness through his cross. Since then, each new martyrdom—each new dying with Christ—becomes a celebration of victory over the forces of Satan.
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