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In today’s Christain Religious Studies class, We will be discussing the Persecution of the Early Church. We hope you enjoy the class!
- The arrest of Peter and John (Acts 4: 1-31)
- Martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 6: 8, 7: 1-60)
ARREST OF PETER AND JOHN
After the Holy Spirit had descended upon the disciples, they preached the gospel with power and authority. They performed miracles in the name of Jesus Christ. One of the miracles was the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful gate of the temple. When Peter and John got to the temple to pray the lame man gazed at them in expectation to receive alms. But Peter looked at him back and said, “Silver and gold, I have not but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus stand up and walk.” Peter then grab the man and pulled him up. Immediately the man got up, limped and began to run.
The people who witnessed this miracle gathered together around Peter and John. Peter quickly used the opportunity to preach to them in the name of Jesus Christ. The authority got angry at the apostles’ preaching because they were preaching about the resurrection of Jesus. This made the religious leaders arrest Peter and John and put them in prison for one night. Many people who received the message became Christian converts and their number increased to five thousand. The following day Peter and John were brought into the presence of the elders, the scribes, Annas, the high priest, Caiaphas, Alexander and members of the high priest family to face the charge brought against them. After serious questioning, Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, declared publicly that they performed the miracle in the name of Jesus Christ. The religious council, not knowing what to do and also seeing the man that was healed, they warned the apostles not to preach in the name of Jesus again. But Peter replied to them whether it right to listen to man instead of God.
- Discuss what led to the arrest of Peter and John.
- Why was it difficult for the council to punish the apostles?
MARTYRDOM OF STEPHEN
Stephen, a man full of the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit was one of the seven deacons appointed by the apostles to distribute food items and other materials. He preached the gospel with zeal and great power of God. But this displeased the Sadducees and some religious sectional leaders. They attacked him verbally but they were not able to silence him. When they could not flaw him, they accused him of the following:
- Blasphemy against God and Moses.
- Contradiction against the temple and the law.
- The declaration that Jesus would destroy the temple in Jerusalem and change the laws of Moses.
In the Law of Moses, this is punishable and the penalty is death. But Stephen full of the power of God traced the long history of the Jews to the point of Jesus crucifixion. At this juncture, the people became enraged and furious that they dragged Stephen out of the city and stoned him to death. Stephen demonstrated exceptional grace here as he prayed to God for the forgiveness of his accusers.
- Critically examine the controversy that led to the death of Stephen.
- What advice will you give to Christians after considering the martyrdom of Stephen?
- Critically examine the action of those that stoned Stephen to death.
- Over 90% of martyrs were Christians! Why? Back up your points with biblical facts.
- Why did Stephen pray for his assailants?
- Examine the story of the arrest of Peter and John.
- Christian Religious Knowledge for JSS. BK 3, by T.N.O Quarcoopome et al. Chapter 3 pages 37-39.
- Christian Religious Knowledge for JSS. BK 3, by Adeyinka et al. Chapter 3 pages 19-22.
- The first Christian martyr was (a) James (b) Peter (c) Stephen (d) Abel
- Peter and John were arrested because they were (a) filled with the Holy Spirit (b) healed the lame man, (c) preached the gospel they so confident (d) disobeyed the laws of the land.
- The leader of the church after the death of Christ was (a) James (b) Peter (c) Stephen (d) Paul
- Those who killed Stephen gathered cloth at feet of (a) Saul (b) James (c) Annas (d) Alexander
- …………… was healed at the beautiful gate (a) A paralytic man (b) A lame man (c) A blind man (d) A deaf man
- State two lessons from the healing of the man at the beautiful.
- State three lessons from the martyrdom of Stephen.
We have come to the end of this class. We do hope you enjoyed the class?
Should you have any further question, feel free to ask in the comment section below and trust us to respond as soon as possible.
In our next class, we will continue our lesson on Persecution of the Early Church. We are very much eager to meet you there.
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