Stephen was the first Christian martyr: right? Well it depends what you mean by martyr. Stephen’s death is described in the Acts of the Apostles. In verse 58 of chapter 7 it says:
“….and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.”
So according to this account it’s those who watched the stoning of Stephen who were the martyrs. The Greek word means simply ‘witness’. Gradually the word came to be applied only to those whose witness to their faith caused their death. As us Christians move towards Easter in our liturgical calendar we enter a fortnight known as Passiontide. So let me introduce you to three ‘martyrs’ – two Dutch women (one a Jew) and a German man. Two were killed for their commitment to the truth as they understood it. One survived into old age.
Etty Hillesum (1914 – September 1943) was…
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