In the recount of Stephen's martyrdom, he was described as calm and in control of his emotions as he faced charges of slandering Moses and God, "And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel" (Acts 6.15). Describing him as having the face of an angel most likely meant that his face was serene and showed no outward display of emotion. According to Cobb, controlling one's emotion was a major attribute to ancient ideas of masculinity. Seneca even mentioned that an inability to control one's emotions was typical of women and that anger was a womanish and childish emotion. Cobb also mentioned that Marcus Aurelius considered himself to be manly because he could control his temper. All in all, the "mastery of the passions was a central component of masculinity in the Roman world" (Cobb, 62). So in this regard Stephen would be considered a man since he kept his cool and didn't give in to the pressures of the council because "real men choose to die rather than acquiesce to another's will (Cobb, 67). Peter states in Acts 6.5 that "We must obey God rather than men...". And in Peter 2. 21-22, he mentions that Christians should follow in the footsteps of Christ since he suffered for them. This means that Christians should not hesitate to suffer for him in return. Peter also said "Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin..." (Peter 4. 1-2). This a prime example of Cobb's idea that real men should die rather than give in to another's will. Peter would probably agree since he said, "If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you" (Peter 4.14).
Early Christians held the collective memory of Christ's suffering and crucifixion. To them, Christ suffered for their sins and so that they could live, so they felt compelled to suffer as he suffered. According to Middleton, "early martyrological reflection portrayed the martyrs as imitators of Christ. Indeed at times it appears that in order to become a disciple of Christ, one had to imitate his death" (Middleton, 65). When Christians were charged with preaching the word of Jesus and brought before a council like Stephen and Peter, instead of denouncing their faith and choosing to live, they remained faithful and chose to suffer like Christ did. Middleton mentions that "Often the way the deaths of the martyrs are narrated are modeled on the passion of Jesus" (Middleton, 65).