I am reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,
“Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.”
From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:
- “Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
- Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
- Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
- Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.”
James the son of Zebedee and Salome was the elder brother of the Apostle John. He was the first of the 12 Apostles to be martyred (Acts 12:2). His martyrdom may have been a fulfillment of what Jesus foretold about him in and his brother John (Mark 10:39).
It was ten years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took place; for no sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea, than, with a view to ingratiate himself with them, he raised a sharp persecution against the Christians, and determined to make an effectual blow by striking at their leaders. The account given us by an eminent primitive writer, Clemens Alexandrinus, ought not to be overlooked. As James was led to the place of martyrdom, his extraordinary courage impressed one of his captors to such a degree, that he fell on his knees before the Apostle, asked his forgiveness, and confessed he was a Christian too.
He said that James ought not to die alone, whereupon they were both beheaded.
Thus did the first apostolic martyr cheerfully and resolutely receive that cup, which he had told our Savior he was ready to drink. Two of the seven deacons, Timon and Parmenas suffered martyrdom about the same time; the one at Philippi, and the other in Macedonia. These events took place A.D. 44.
Ten years later, Apostle Philip is said to have been scourged, thrown into prison, and crucified at Hieropolis in Phyrigia.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters today enduring prison, beatings, and executions for the name of Jesus.
*This essay first appeared on The End Time in 2013.