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Quotable Church History — “The blood of the martyrs…”

By Wes Bredenhof - Posted at YINKAHDINAY

Today I’m starting a new series on famous quotes from church history. Most of the quotes will be familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention — but who knows? Perhaps you’ll learn something new. We’ll look at who said it, in what context, and whether it’s biblical.

You may have heard it said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” It’s often said to point out that persecution, rather than diminishing the church, often has the opposite effect. It’s counter-intuitive. Where do we get this saying from?

The original source is the early church father Tertullian (~155-~240 AD). He was an African church father based out of Carthage. He lived in the days of the Roman Empire and so was familiar with persecution and martyrdom. Tertullian’s most important writing is entitled The Apology, a work in which he provided a defense of the Christian faith to the provincial governors of the Roman Empire. Towards the end of the document, Tertullian makes the memorable statement: “The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed” (Apol. 50.13, original Latin: “Plures efficimur quotiens metimur a vobis; semen est sanguis Christianorum.”).

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