Death of a Roman Legion

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Last Sunday I preached a sermon in Cragg Baptist church in Horsforth about Roman soldiers living and dying for Christ. Here is that story.

In 286 AD an entire Roman legion of 6600 men was put to death by the emperor Maximian because of their stubborn refusal to give up the Christian faith. The pagan emperor Maximian commanded his army to swear that they would persecute and kill Christians in Gaul (France). All the soldiers of the Theban Legion refused to do this. The emperor became enraged and he ordered the legion to be decimated, that is, every tenth soldier to be selected from the rest, and put to the sword. The survivors persisted in declaring their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the butchery continued; the blood of another 660 was shed.  Again the remaining soldiers refused to obey Maximian and so the entire legion was put to the sword.

Before dying, the Theban legion sent this letter to Maximian in order to explain its conduct.

"Emperor, we are your soldiers but also the soldiers of the true God. We owe you military service and obedience, but we cannot renounce Him who is our Creator and Master, and also yours even though you reject Him. In all things which are not against His law, we most willingly obey you, as we have done hitherto. We readily oppose your enemies whoever they are, but we cannot stain our hands with the blood of innocent people (Christians). We have taken an oath to God before we took one to you, you cannot place any confidence in our second oath if we violate the other (the first). You commanded us to execute Christians, behold we are such. We confess God the Father the creator of all things and His Son Jesus Christ, God."

Questions

1) Why did these Christian soldiers refuse to obey the emperor?

2) How should modern Christian people subvert the consumerist empire?

3) Where are Christians being persecuted today?

Comments

Fascinating story, Mark. I wrote a little about the legion some years ago, in a different context. Didn't run across that event. What's the source? Keep up your good work.

brave people, makes me ask too could I do the same?

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