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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Vettius Epagathus

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Vettius Epagathus. In the early persecutions, the Christians felt it to be a gross injustice that a man should be put to death merely because he acknowledged himself to be a Christian, and without any investigation whether there was anything contrary to morality or piety in the Christian doctrines or practices. It not unfrequently happened [LUCIUS] that a bystander at a trial would press on the judge the necessity of such an investigation, whereupon the magistrate would say, I think you must be a Christian also yourself, and on the advocate's confessing that he was, would send him to share the fate of those whom he had attempted to defend. This befell Vettius Epagathus, a distinguished Christian citizen of Lyons in the persecution of a.d. 177. He came forward as the advocate of the Christians first apprehended, and in consequence was himself "taken up unto the lot of the martyrs." The word "martyr," as at first used, did not necessarily imply that he who bore witness for Christ sealed his testimony by death; and Renan ( Marc Aurèle , p. 307) is of opinion that Vettius had "only the merits of martyrdom without the reality," since no mention is made of Vettius in the subsequent narration of the sufferings of Christians tortured in the amphitheatre, and, what Renan thinks decisive, the epistle of the churches says of Vettius that "he was and is a genuine disciple of Christ, following the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." But the addition "following the Lamb, etc." indicates that the "is" does not refer to the life of Vettius in this world, but rather to that which he enjoyed in company with Christ. Vettius was probably a Roman citizen, and as such was simply beheaded instead of undergoing the tortures of the amphitheatre.


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Vettius Epagathus'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. 1911.

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