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Persecution, however, soon arose from both Jew and Gentile, with the result that many of those who bore faithful witness experienced physical attack and even death. Stephen the Deacon (
In post-NT times the tendency became common to regard those who died for their witness as having a special place in heaven, with special rights of intercession. Under the influence of Neo-Platonism this led to the development of the idea of “saints” who had the privilege of intercession for Christians upon earth. The NT, however, provides no ground for such beliefs, since it gives no place of special privilege even to those who have as “martyrs” died for the faith.
H. B. Workman, Persecution in the Early Church, n.d., see Persecution.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
One who gives heed, and so, a "witness," so translated in numerous passages, both as of one bearing testimony, and also as of one who is a spectator of anything (see Witness). In the rendered "martyr" in