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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 32: Martyrdom of Paul and Peter.

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Part:  A  B

While the apostle lost sight of his own near sufferings, he felt a deep solicitude for the disciples whom he was about to leave to cope with prejudice, hatred, and persecution. He endeavored to strengthen and encourage the few Christians who accompanied him to the place of execution, by repeating the exceeding precious promises given for those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake. He assures them that nothing shall fail of all that the Lord hath spoken concerning his tried and faithful ones. They shall arise and shine; for the light of the Lord shall arise upon them. They shall put on their beautiful garments when the glory of the Lord shall be revealed. For a little season they may be in [p. 332] heaviness through manifold temptations, they may be destitute of earthly comfort; but they must encourage their hearts by saying, I know in whom I have believed. He is able to keep that which I have committed to his trust. His rebuke will come to an end, and the glad morning of peace and perfect day will come.

Paul declared to his brethren, It did not appear to our fathers what great and good things should be given to those who believe in Jesus. They desired to see the things which we see, and to hear the things which we hear, but they died without the sight or the knowledge. The greater light which we have received is shed upon us by the gospel of Christ. Holy men of old were acknowledged and honored of God because they were faithful over a few things; and it is only those that improve with the same fidelity their greater trust, who will with them be counted profitable servants, and be crowned with glory, honor, and immortality.

This man of faith beholds the ladder presented in Jacob's vision,—the ladder which rested upon the earth and reached to the highest heavens, and upon which angels of God were ascending and descending. He knows that this ladder represents Christ, who has connected earth with Heaven, and finite man with the infinite God. He hears angels and archangels magnifying that glorious name. His faith is strengthened as he calls to mind that patriarchs and prophets relied upon the same Saviour who is his support and consolation, and for whom he is giving his life. Those holy men who from century to century sent down their testimony for the truth, and the apostles, who to preach the gospel of Christ went out to [p. 333] meet religious bigotry and heathen superstition, who counted not their lives dear unto themselves if they might bear aloft the light of the cross amid the dark mazes of infidelity,—all these he hears witnessing to Jesus as the Son of the Most High, the Saviour of the world. The martyr's shout of triumph, the fearless testimony for the faith, falls upon his ear from the rack, the stake, the dungeon, from the dens and caves of the earth, from steadfast souls who are destitute, afflicted, tormented, yet of whom the world is not worthy. With a continually strengthening assurance they declare, "I know whom I have believed." And as they yield up their lives as witnesses for the faith, they bear a solemn, condemning testimony to the world, declaring that He in whom they trusted has proved himself able to save to the uttermost.

The Captain of our salvation has prepared his servant for the last great conflict. Ransomed by the sacrifice of Christ, washed from sin in his blood, and clothed in his righteousness, Paul has the witness in himself that his soul is precious in the sight of his Redeemer. His life is hid with Christ in God, and he is persuaded that He who has conquered death is able to keep that which is committed to his trust. His mind grasps the Saviour's promise, "I will raise him up at the last day." His thoughts and hopes are centered in the second advent of his Lord. And as the sword of the executioner descends, and the shadows of death gather about the martyr's soul, his latest thought springs forward, as will his earliest thought in the great awakening, to meet the Lifegiver who shall welcome him to the joy of the blest. [p. 334]

Well-nigh a score of centuries have passed since Paul the aged poured out his blood as a witness for the word of God and for the testimony of Christ. No faithful hand recorded for the generations to come, the last scenes in the life of this holy man; but inspiration has preserved for us his dying testimony. Like a trumpet peal has his voice rung out through all the ages, 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 a good fight, I have finished 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."

Part:  A  B

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