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The Near-Extinction of Christianity: But the closest Christianity ever came to being wiped out was during the reign of the emperor Diocletian.
He administratively went through the empire and found an anomaly, a group of people that didn’t behave the way they were supposed to.
They didn’t worship the emperor like everyone else, they didn’t visit the pagan temples and engage in sexual immorality, and they didn’t sacrifice to the Greek pantheon of gods that so dominated the way of life.
They were anomalies, and so Diocletian decided to get rid of them.
First, he went through and found the meeting places, anywhere the church gathered together, and tore them down.
Then he went in and arrested the Christian leaders, killing every one of them he could find.
Then he searched out and destroyed every copy of the Scriptures he could get his hands on so that not a single, complete copy of the Scriptures survived from before the fourth century.
Diocletian came closer to exterminating Christianity than any other emperor, and there were at least thirty of them that tried.
This was just beginning at the time that John was writing down the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and in the midst of this persecution, the struggling believers at Smyrna receive a letter from Jesus.