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The Church In The Torture Chamber

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The Church In The Torture Chamber

Eight years before Nero sat upon his throne, Paul started a church in Philippi. It was the first Christian church in all of Europe.

In Philippi, Paul met Lydia. It was here too that he and Silas were beaten and thrown in jail.

Ruins of Philippi City Center. Foreground: Philippi's Forum. Background: Ruins of market and basilica. Photo by Marsyas

The little congregation of believers in Philippi had no idea what painful days were ahead of them. No one had ever heard the name ‘Nero’ but they were about to.

Nero became an absolute tyrant soon after he attained the throne. He was a monster with authority to do whatever he wanted. Those that knew him believed him to be heartless and without natural feeling. Historical writer Josephus called him a Mad Man. He was totally given to sensuality.

He came into the royal bloodline by adoption. Being two years older than his new stepbrother, he became the heir apparent. At 14, he addressed the Senate and by the age of 17, he had attained the throne.

Nero was an atheist. His life was lived without morals, without restraint and without regard for human life.

He was given Octavia his stepsister in marriage and later forced her to commit suicide. Three times he tried to kill his own mother. He finally succeeded by clubbing her to death publicly.

He seduced his best friend’s wife, Poppea and married her. She was put in charge of arranging his sensual parties. Although he already had a palace, he built a playhouse for his sex parties that had over 300 rooms. He called it the Golden House.

He hated Christians deeply. He really hated them. They were against everything he loved and did.

When he felt Britannicus, his stepbrother, was becoming a threat to him, he decided to kill him with poison. Nero made a poisonous laxative and gave it to a goat. It took the goat five hours to die. He increased the dosage and gave it to a pig. The pig died immediately. He then served it to Britannicus with the same results.

Poppea died because Nero kicked her in the stomach when she was with child. Undaunted, Nero found a young boy named Sporus who closely resembled Poppea. He castrated him, married him in a formal ceremony and Sporus became his wife.

Nero loved chariot racing. He wanted to have chariot races even at night. He ordered Christians to be gathered at random and crucified. Their bodies, dead or alive, were covered with pitch and set ablaze so there would be enough light to race by.

Christians were thrown to the lions for his amusement. He delighted in watching them being eaten alive.

He ordered the Christians to be covered with the bloody skins of slain animals and then tied. When they were securely tied, he turned wild dogs loose to kill them.

Roman soldiers were given permission to behead Christians at their own discretion.

Many Christians were killed to appease the people who disliked them.

The Christian were robbed often.

The women were often assaulted and horribly mistreated on a regular basis.

Many Christians were sold into slavery to help pay the debt of the rebuilding of Rome after it burned.

In the midst of all these unimaginable horrors, the Apostle Paul sat down his prison cell and wrote a letter to these precious people. Paul no doubt felt a strong attachment to them and they to him as well.

He concludes his beautiful letter to theses battered saints with:

Phil. 4:22 “All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.”

In spite of their brothers and sisters in Christ being killed and abused, they were living for God right under Nero’s nose. They were saints in Nero’s own household.

They no doubt cooked, cleaned, served, preformed their required duties, and still kept their testimonies intact. Each day that they awoke, they knew there was a chance that they would be killed for what they believed. That didn’t stop them.

They proved 2,000 years ago that it is possible to live for God anywhere. Even under the worst conditions imaginable.

Nero committed suicide at the age of 31. He may have died, but the Anti-Christ spirit that drove him is alive and well today.

Today, I honor every brother and sister in Christ who is trying to survive in their own personal ‘hell on earth’ situation. May the comfort of the Holy Ghost especially be yours today and may you feel his hand upon you, guiding your every step. I pray the peace and protection of the Lord upon you, in Jesus Name. God knows where you are at and what you are going through.

Written by Martyn Ballestero

April 3, 2011 at 12:45 am

Posted in Christian Living

5 Responses

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  1. Wow! This is amazing. Thank you for the words of encouragement! It sure is worth putting up with stuff over here to make it over there! Though our problems sure seem small compared to those dear saints 2000 years ago.


    April 3, 2011 at 2:49 am

    • I don’t ever want to complain how hard it is to live for God. There are those that will stand in the judgement and they have come through so much hardship.

      Marcia Ballestero

      April 3, 2011 at 9:04 am

  2. Thank you. I needed this and thank you for praying.


    April 3, 2011 at 11:27 am

  3. Moses lived for God in Pharoah’s House. Thankfully there came a day he oouldn’t do it any more. However, even while there, he refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter. He CHOSE to suffer, rather than enjoy….based on godly principles instead of personal pleasure.

    Like has already been said by Sis. B…I must NEVER complain, God has been too good.
    Thanks Elder for a timely word of encouragement!

    james self

    April 3, 2011 at 3:06 pm

  4. God is so very good to me so I try never to complain. He answers my prayers. I can’t walk but I can drive. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13.

    Margaret Hale

    April 3, 2011 at 4:09 pm

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