Let’s identify ourselves with the born again believers of the day. For two centuries real Christians had suffered terrible persecution at the hands of the different Roman Emperors (Vespasian, Titus, Nero etc.) prior to Constantine. Nero especially did his utmost to eradicate the followers of this Jewish deity – Yahshua. He became very popular with the populace of Rome in that he provided daily entertainment in the Coliseum to satisfy their bloodlust. Christians by the thousands had to face starving wild animals bare handed.
The term “underground church” originated from this period of intense persecution, because the believers were forced to literally go underground in order to escape with their lives. They actually lived like moles in the tunnels beneath the city of Rome. These underground passageways were known as the catacombs. Recesses were cut into the sides of these subterranean galleries for tombs. So, many believers, especially the leaders, actually lived and held their secret meetings in Rome’s underground cemetery.
The main prayer subject of these early believers must have been to continually intercede for their personal protection, as well as for them to remain faithful to their Messiah should they be caught. When a believer was “discovered” he/she was given an opportunity to escape with their lives. They were given a choice; “Renounce this Saviour by cursing his name, or be thrown to the lions.” That was the so-called simple choice. “Just curse his name and you’re free to go.” How Satan hates this Name, which always was, and always will be a “thorn in his flesh”.
Placed before such a terrible choice, some did recant, and were set free. But were they really free? Can you imagine the mental and spiritual anguish these unfortunate believers must have had to endure, knowing that they had denied their Master, while many of their brothers and sisters had died a martyr’s death. Their intense wish must have been that they had also been strong enough to remain faithful to their Messiah.