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Perpetua - Courageous Christian Martyr

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Perpetua was a Christian noblewoman who, at the end of the second century, lived in Carthage (North Africa). Her Christian courage and steadfastness so impressed the famous theologian Augustine that he preached four sermons about her witness for Christ.

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Perpetua - Courageous Christian Martyr

  1. 1. PERPETUA – COURAGEOUS CHRISTIAN MARTYR By Dr. Peter Hammond
  2. 2. PERPETUA – COURAGEOUS CHRISTIAN MARTYR By Dr. Peter Hammond
  3. 3. Perpetua was a Christian noblewoman who, at the end of the second century, lived in Carthage (North Africa). Her Christian courage and steadfastness so impressed the famous theologian Augustine that he preached four sermons about her witness for Christ.
  4. 4. In AD 202 when the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus determined to eradicate the vibrant Christian community in North Africa, Perpetua, a 22 year old mother, was amongst the first to be arrested.
  5. 5. From her diary, and that of another prisoner, we have some insights as to her witness in prison. Her pagan father visited her and pleaded with her to deny that she was a Christian. Perpetua responded that it was impossible that she “be called anything than what I am, a Christian.”
  6. 6. Some days later, when her father again visited her, Perpetua was nursing her young son. The father pleaded with her: “Have pity on my grey head. Have pity on me, your father…do not abandon me to be the reproach of men. Think of your brothers; think of your mother and your aunt; think of your child, who will not be able to live once you are gone. Give up your pride!”
  7. 7. Perpetua remained steadfast. “It will all happen in the prisoner’s dock as God wills, for you may be sure that we are not left to ourselves but are all in His power.”
  8. 8. On the day of her trial, Perpetua and her friends were marched before the governor Hilarianus. The friends of Perpetua were questioned first. Each of them readily admitted to being a Christian and each refused to make an act of Emperor worship.
  9. 9. As the governor turned to question Perpetua, her father, carrying Perpetua’s son in his arms, dramatically rushed to Perpetua and, grabbing hold of her arm, pleaded: “Perform the sacrifice. Have pity on your baby!”
  10. 10. The governor, Hilarianus, added: “Have pity on your father’s grey head; have pity on your infant son. Offer the sacrifice for the welfare of the Emperor.”
  11. 11. The response of Perpetua was straightforward: “I will not.”
  12. 12. “Are you a Christian then?” asked the governor.
  13. 13. “Yes I am,” Perpetua responded decisively.
  14. 14. The Roman governor then condemned Perpetua and her friends to be thrown to the wild beasts and to die in the arena.
  15. 15. When Perpetua and her friends entered the stadium they were dressed in belted tunics and they were singing Psalms. The amphitheatre was filled with nobles, ladies, senators, ambassadors, and tens of thousands shouted their insults and derisions as she was led to her death. Wild beasts and gladiators circled them on the arena floor and the crowds in the stands roared, demanding to see blood. Because of their joyful demeanour the crowd demanded that the Christians be scourged first. This was done.
  16. 16. Witnesses described Perpetua in the arena as “young and beautiful”, “a pure and modest Christian lady “with shining countenance and calm step, as the beloved of God, as a bride of Christ, putting down everyone’s stare by her own intense gaze.”
  17. 17. As the mob screamed abuse, Perpetua was heard to say: “You have condemned us, but God will condemn you.”
  18. 18. Perpetua encouraged the other Christians: “You must all stand fast in the Faith and not be weakened by what we have gone through.”
  19. 19. A wild heifer charged and tossed Perpetua into the air. As she fell on her back she sat up and adjusted her ripped tunic, “thinking more of her modesty than of her pain.” She then walked over to help Felicitas, her servant to her feet.
  20. 20. Then a starved leopard, which had been goaded, was let loose, but it would not harm Perpetua. The impatient crowd began to scream for the death of the Christians.
  21. 21. Perpetua, Felicitas and their Christian friends were lined up and one by one they were slain with the sword by gladiators.
  22. 22. Perpetua was only 22 years old when she died in the arena in Carthage. Her bold testimony: “I am a Christian and cannot deny Christ” was repeated throughout the empire. Those in the amphitheatre who had witnessed her martyrdom reported that Perpetua and Felicitas came into the arena “joyfully as though they were on their way to Heaven.”
  23. 23. Perpetua became the most famous Christian lady to die a martyr’s death in the Roman Empire. Her example of Christian resolve and courage, choosing to suffer and die with a clear conscience, rather than deny her Saviour, inspired generations of Roman Christians to stand firm in the face of relentless persecution.
  24. 24. “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10
  25. 25. The Lord Jesus taught: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet, because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you ... A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you ...” John 15: 18-20
  26. 26. The Scriptures clearly teach: “Yes, and all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12
  27. 27. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
  28. 28. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you fear God. " Luke 12:5
  29. 29. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour and glory at the Revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
  30. 30. Suffering should drive us to depend upon God and grow in faith. Therefore, the Scriptures exhort us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience ... Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:2-3, 12
  31. 31. “For to this you were called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that you should follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21
  32. 32. Observe the International Days of Prayer (IDOP) for the Persecuted Church each year.This year it is 10 November.
  33. 33. REFORMATION SOCIETY PO Box 74 Newlands, 7725 Cape Town South Africa E-mail: info@ReformationSA.org Web: www.ReformationSA.org

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