The English word “martyr” comes from the Greek word “martys”, which means witness in English. In the New Testament, it is specifically referencing a witness to the resurrection of Christ. Being a witness frequently resulted in death, and therefore martyrs became widely known in the early church as Christians who witnessed for Christ by their own death. As Christ followers, we are to be witnesses of the Gospel and to willingly lay down our lives as He did for us over 2000 years ago.
The following statistics include all believers in Christ who lost their lives prematurely, as a witness for Christ, and through human hostility. Each total includes the cumulative martyrs to date since AD33.
- AD33 to 500 – 2.1 million
- AD501 to 950-2.8 million
- AD951 to 1350- 11.8 million
- AD1358 to 1500 – 17.3million
- AD1501 to 1750- 21.9 million
- AD1751 to 1815-22 million
- AD1816 to 1914 – 24 million
- AD1915 to 1950 – 56 million
- AD1951 to 2000 – 69 million
According to Todd M. Johnson and the World Christian Encyclopedia, from AD33 to 1914 24 million Christians died for their faith. Just since AD1915 an additional 45 million Christians died for their faith in Christ.
This means that more Christians were martyred in the 1900s than all the previous centuries combined.
Christians that have died for their faith since the death of Christ total over 69 million.
That means that today over 400 Christians will die for their faith in Christ.
Most American Christians believe that Christians only died for their faith during the early church and “Bible Times”. Yet these statistics clearly show us that Christians today in countries all over the world are dying for their faith. Martyrdom is not only happening in the present day, but is clearly growing as the Kingdom of God is expanding around the world.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
World Christian Encyclopedia, World Christian Trends, Part 4: Martyrology, the demographics of Christian martyrdom AD33 to 2001.