The Martyr

“And indeed I know you all, among whom I have gone
preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more”
(Acts 20:25).

Chapter 50 of The Acts of the Apostles tells about the end of Paul’s life. There is no record of the last scenes, but there is of his last testimony: 

Like a trumpet peal his voice has rung out through all the ages since, nerving with his own courage thousands of witnesses for Christ and wakening in thousands of sorrow- stricken hearts the echo of his own triumphant joy: “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finnished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-9).”

Nero delivered the  sentence: Paul would behealed. He was led to the place of excecution with the precence of a few witnesses, for they wanted to prevent the testimony of his death from gaining more believers than his preaching. The blood of Christians was like a seed that produced more Christians. Even the rude soldiers were astonished and converted by their peace, their spirit of forgiveness, and their unwavering trust in Christ.

Paul carried with him the atmosphere of heaven. It may be that arguments, however inrrefutable they are, provoked nothing but opposition; but a pious example entails irresistible force.

The apostle forgot his sufferings. When he reached the place of martyrdom, he saw not the sword of the excecutioner or the earth that was to absorb his blood, but he looked with hope toward the throne of the Eternal.

This man of faith saw Christ, saw the patriarchs and saints from century to century testified for their faith with certainty that God is faithfull. From the wheel of torment, the stake, the dungeon, and the caverns of the earth, he heard the cry of thriumph of the martyrs.

Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, washed from sin, and clothed in His righteousness, his soul was precious in the sight of his Redeemer. He clung to the promise of ressurection on the final day. His thaughts and hopes were concentraded on the sure coming of his Lord.

Nero ended his existence with these words: “What an artist the world will lose,” while Paul’s last word were:

“My life is being given as an offering for God. The time has come for me to leave this life here. I have fought the good fight. I have finnished the race. I have served the Lord faithfully. Now, a price is waiting for me – the crown that will show I am right with God. The Lord, the Judge who judges righty, will give it to me on that Day. Yes, He will give it to me and to everyone else who is eagerly looking forward to His coming” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

The gold crown will not just be for him. There is one for me… and one for you, too! 

God bless you, let’s carry the atmosphere of heaven with us…