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Cloud of Witnesses

I suggest you read Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Although at first I thought reading about martyrs was something to avoid, I realize now the stories are vital to our fulfilling our God-given destinies. I realize THESE are the REAL people cheering ME on from the grandstands of heaven. They fought the good fight.. I have come to realize that hundreds of thousands of people died so that I can preach the gospel without fear of reprisal and use the uncompromising undiluted Bible--and all because of them. Below are the stories of the original disciples, but the stories that follow covering the next 2000 years are astoundingly inspirational.

JESUS said in Mathew 16:18 "I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

STEPHEN: stoned to death about AD 35. About 2000 people were martyred after this, including Nicanor, one of the 7 deacons.

JAMES: John's older brother was the 1st of 12 disciples to be martyred. He was executed by the sword. It happened about AD 44. One of his captors was so impressed with his courage he fell on his knees asking forgiveness and was beheaded with James. Around the same time, Timon and Parmenas, 2 or the 7 deacons were executed, one in Philippi and one in Macedonia. Then Philip is said to have been scourged, imprisoned and crucified in Phrygia.

MATTHEW: Legend says he went to Ethiopia and was pinned to the ground and then beheaded.

JAMES, brother of Jesus: His death was likely in AD 66. There are two conflicting accounts as follows a) he was stoned b) he was thrown from the temple and then clubbed.

MATTHIAS: stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.

ANDREW: brother of Peter. Tradition says: Preached to many Asiatic nations and martyred in Edessa on an X shaped cross (came to be known as the St Andrew cross).

MARK: tradition says he was dragged to pieces in Alexandria when he spoke against the idol Serapis.

PETER: when he was old, Nero planned to put him to death. Peter was persuaded to leave Rome but as he was walking out the city gate, Christ came walking toward him. Peter asked where He was going, and He said "to be crucified again." Peter knew this was his time. He asked to be crucified upside down counting himself to be unworthy to be killed the same way as his savior.

PAUL: Had a Roman imprisonment in AD 61 where he wrote 3 books of the Bible. In AD 64 Rome burned. Paul was free for a while and then put back in prison when they blamed Christians for the fire. He was beheaded in AD 66.

JUDE: crucified in Edessa (Mesopotamia) in AD 72.

BARTHOLOMEW: Translated Mathew's gospel into language of India. Taught there. Cruelly beaten and crucified by pagan idolaters.

THOMAS: preached in Persia Parthia, and India. In India, he was tortured by pagans, run through with spears, and thrown into the flames of an oven.

LUKE: a Gentile, possibly Greek. The details of his conversion to Christianity are unknown, but it probably took place in Troas when Paul preached there. Luke began traveling with Paul from Troas. After Paul dies, Luke evangelized. Ancient sources say he a) fell asleep full of the Holy Spirit in Boeatia at 84 years old b) was martyred by being hung from an olive tree in Athens.

JOHN: John, brother of James, is credited with founding the seven churches of Revelation. It is said he was arrested in Ephesus and sent to Rome where he was cast into boiling oil that did him no harm. He was banished to the Isle of Patmos and after his release, returned to Ephesus where he died an old old man in AD 98.

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