"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Revelation 2:10.

For a couple of centuries after the first Apostles carried the Gospel to the entire known world, Pagan Rome under emperors like Diocletian and Nero fiercely persecuted the Early Christians. This persecution kept the churches pure as few who were not really serious about following Jesus would join a church where he might quickly be arrested.

Often the Christians were gathered up and then thrown to Lions or other ravenous beasts in the arena of the Coliseum and people enjoyed coming to watch this--it was a circus for them. But it seemed the more Christians were killed, the more people became Christians because they could see that there had to be something real about a religion that would give even women and children courage to die for their Lord.

When Constantine became emperor it seemed that Stan decided to change his strategy.  Constantine pretended to become a Christian and a new kind of 'Christianity' was set up, a kind that mixed pagan rites and customs with Christian names. All it was really was paganism with a few Christian terms thrown in. It became popular and many were happy with it and glad to see the persecution stop.

But there were some faithful ones who wanted no part of a watered down Christianity with paganism mixed in. They refused to keep the venerable Day of the Sun and continued to honor God's seventh-day Sabbath. They refused to worship idols and call them the names of the apostles and so on. They stood for the right and many were persecuted and killed.  This new apostate church was even more vicious that the pagans had been against anyone who would not bow to her false teachings.

A large group realized they could not get the church to go back to its purity, so they fled into the mountains of northern Italy and others fled East and North and carried the true Apostolic Christian teachings with them. They had the true Bible in their own language and  we know them as the 'Church in the Wilderness'. One group of these people became known as the Waldenses.

After 538 AD this new apostate power ruled supremely for 1260 years. We call this time the Dark Ages.