Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
This quote is most often attributed to Medgar Evers, a civil rights leader who was shot in the back in his own driveway in June of 1963. A variation is “you can kill a protest singer but you can't kill their lyrics.” The point is that what we are witness to is greater than ourselves. The word martyr, martus in biblical Greek, actually means witness. The fact is that early Christians were arrested, imprisoned, tortured and even killed for their testimony. They were killed for witnessing. As such, the term martyr has come to mean just that.
Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
The Gospel is predicated on the fact that the death of Jesus is not the end of the story. The victory that comes after death is essential. The resurrection defeats those who opposed the Gospel message. The idea that humility, generosity and peace will survive boastfulness, greed and war is part and parcel of the resurrection. Only Matthew includes the story of the “slaughter of the innocents” (Matthew 2:16-18) where Herod is threatened by the message of the Magi and, to ensure he retains his throne, orders the killing of all male infants in the vicinity of Bethlehem (commonly understood by historians to number about 20). With this story, Matthew introduces the idea that people believe they can solve problems by killing people. Jesus says a resounding no to such a claim.