Formal hostile activity against a specific group. The most severe instance of persecution against Jews in the biblical period was that instituted by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–164 BCE). Both Daniel and 1 Maccabees record his policy directed against Jewish dietary rules, circumcision, and other central practices. Those who refused to give up such practices were “condemned to death” (1Macc 1:41-61). In the NT Jesus speaks of “persecutions” coming upon his followers (Matt 5:10-12; Matt 10:23). Because of their distinctive faith, Jesus’s followers might lose “house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields” (Mark 10:29). Paul claims that he “persecuted” the church (1Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13; Phil 3:6; Acts 8), and John’s Gospel speaks of a formal synagogue policy to expel those who confessed Jesus as the Christ (John 9:22; John 12:42-43; John 16:1-2). As for government-sponsored persecution of Christianity, Nero attacked Christians after the fire in Rome in 64 CE, but this does not appear to have been empire-wide. By the early second century (ca. 110), however, there was a formal Roman policy to root out Christian beliefs (as attested by Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96–97).

1Macc 1:41-61

Installation of Gentile Cults
41Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people,42and that all should give up their particular customs.43 ... View more

Matt 5:10-12

10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.11“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you ... View more

Matt 10:23

23When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man come ... View more

Mark 10:29

29Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sa ... View more

1Cor 15:9

9For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Gal 1:13

13You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it.

Phil 3:6

6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Acts 8

1And Saul approved of their killing him.
Saul Persecutes the Church
That day a severe persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apos ... View more

John 9:22

22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out ... View more

John 12:42-43

42Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the ... View more

John 16:1-2

1“I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling.2They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will th ... View more

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