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Essay on Roman Persecution of Christians

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From the third to the fourth century, the Roman Empire witnessed a widespread attempt to stop the spread of Christianity. Initially, leaders of the church were predominately targeted, but later anyone admitting to Christianity became a target. The persecutions hit a climax during Diocletian’s reign. These persecutions actually helped the spread of Christianity by glorifying Christians and beginning a tradition of martyrdom that shaped the Church, and the strength that Christians displayed shows that the persecutions could not have possible stopped the spread of Christianity. In the first half of the third century, Christian persecution was fragmented and while Christianity was illegal, there is not evidence that it was widely persecuted.…show more content…
This also persisted throughout the fourth century. Often, enforcement of persecution laws was really left up to local officials. There are reports of terrible and unrelenting persecution in some areas, while there are no reports at all in others. Additionally, issues at the border throughout this time often plagued emperors, so it was impossible to ensure that their edicts were universally carried out. As a result, the empire simply was not equipped to completely halt the spread of Christianity.
Because Christianity could not be completely purged by the Empire, it created an opportunity for Christians to display how strongly they were devoted to the religion. The way in which they responded made all the difference. Under pressure, they would not submit, and this was proof of the force and influence of Christianity.
During the persecutions, churches and scripture were destroyed. Many were killed and tortured. Despite this, many remained brave and unafraid according to accounts. The idea of redemption and a magnificent afterlife led many Christians to almost fervently pursue martyrdom. These martyrs were glorified, and miracles were reported to have occurred in their presence. They refused to reject Christ and, in turn, were subjected to torture and humiliation. Eusebius describes the proceedings during the Great Persecution: “…the rules in question brought a certain man into a public place and commanded him to sacrifice. When he refused,
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