Regular Christians (Part 9): Antipas

Regular Christians

Antipas was one who endured persecution – not just mocking and ridicule; he was put to death. He was mentioned in the book of Revelation in the letter addressed to the church in Pergamum.

And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells” (Revelation 2:12-13).

It is sometimes difficult to imagine persecution like this when we live in a relatively safe and peaceful society. Antipas endured much more than anything we will likely face – he was put to death. This happened in Pergamum, identified as the place “where Satan’s throne is.” In other words, it was a godless and wicked city. It is possible Antipas may have been killed by an angry mob as Stephen was (Acts 7:57-60) or as Paul almost was (Acts 14:19), though we do not know for sure. Regardless of how he was killed, the point to remember was that he was killed for holding onto his faith in Christ.

Jesus warned His apostles that they would be targeted like this: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). This would begin at the hands of the Jews at first (John 16:2), though it would eventually spread. Christians are still targeted for persecution even today.

We need to be prepared to face persecution for our faith. Paul warned Timothy of the certainty of this persecution: “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing; as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Persecution, in one form or another, will come upon us. In order to face this persecution, there are certain things we need to remember:

  • We glorify God in this – “But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:16). This is not about us; rather, we are trying to honor God and bring glory to Him.
  • We must not deny the faith – “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you” (Revelation 2:13). The goal of persecution is to get Christians to compromise or surrender their convictions. We must not do this! Instead, we must hold fast to the Lord and His word.
  • We must not fear – “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Satan wants us to become more fearful of the wrath of godless men than of God’s wrath toward the unfaithful. If we properly understand God’s power and justice, we will have no reason to fear men.

Often when persecution arises against the church, it will be the “leaders” who are targeted – elders, preachers, or others who are seen as strong and influential members of the church. This is designed to stop the “followers” in the church. This may work in man-made organizations and groups (cf. Acts 5:36-38); but in the Lord’s church, we are not following men – we follow Christ. Jesus taught that all who follow Him – regardless of whether they were official or unofficial “leaders” in the church – must be willing to endure persecution: “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great” (Matthew 5:11-12). When we are persecuted, we “share the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 4:13) as we follow Him.

Antipas lost his life when he refused to deny the faith. The promise stated to the church at Smyrna would have applied to him as well: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). That promise also applies to us today. Death is a certainty for each one of us (Hebrews 9:27), yet we do not know when that time may be. It is possible that it could be hastened by persecution. If that is the case, let us follow the example of Antipas, the Lord’s “faithful one,” and remain faithful no matter what the cost.

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