Roman Empire

The city-state of Rome was founded about 753 BC.  Roman domination continued to extend over the surrounding areas to encompass most of Europe, North Africa and the near East and by about 63 BC Jerusalem was under its control.  In 30 BC Augustus Caesar became the Roman emperor.

This was a relatively peaceful time although there was bitterness and hatred between both nationalities

The Land of Israel was administered by a series of Herod’s, later these became governors.  Under Pontius Pilate Christ was crucified, later Felix and Festus ruled (Mt 27:24; Act 23:24, 24:27).  Roman authority appointed the political leaders (Herod and Pilate); the religious leaders (eg. Caiaphas, the high priest Mt 26:57); and tax collectors (such as Matthew and Zaccheaus) who because of their occupation and collaboration with the occupying power, were not popular with the Jews.  The Jewish Supreme Court (Sanhedrin) was allowed to govern in minor affairs but any death sentence had to be authorised by the Roman authority. In some situations Roman citizenship could be bought permitting greater privileges (Act 22:28).

Jesus taught His listeners to obey the laws of the land (in this case the occupying authority) and in some instances do more than required (Mt 5:41, 22:16-21). Paul also reinforced this telling his readers to “be subject to the governing authority” and to pay their taxes (Rom 13:1,5,7).

In spite of Jesus stating, “My Kingdom is not of this world”, the Jews thought the Messiah or Saviour would liberate them from Roman rule (Lk 19:38, 24:21; Jn 12:13; Act 1:6). When He was crucified their hopes of freedom from political oppression were destroyed as reflected in their downhearted bewilderment (Lk 24:17; Jn 18:36). However, the freedom Jesus came to provide was of greater significance to the people of that day and is also of eternal value to us (Jn 8:32,36; Rom 8:2; 1 Thes 1:10).

It was to “All in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints” that Paul addressed his letter in about 52 AD (Rom 1:7). Jewish believers returning to that city after the day of Pentecost started the Church in Rome and during the latter part of the first century, the Christians suffered intense persecution because they refused to worship the emperor (Act 2:5-40). Rome is linked to power, crushing whatever opposes it and is anti-Christian forcing people to worship 'Caesar'. 

Although the term Revived Roman Empire is not used in Scripture there is mention of a powerful government regime that will rise to power and dominate the world during the end times. The Roman Empire, defunct since the fifth century is considered to be revived in some way to fulfill the end times prophecies. Various interpretations of the books of Daniel and Revelation point either to a worldwide politcal system or a specific nation under a specific ruler – Rome, Turkey or somewhere in the Middle East have been suggested (Dan 2:33,41-43, 7:7,19-24; Rev 13:1).  Rome continues to be significant in church history and western civilization especially with the political and religious influence of the Roman Catholic Church. However rather than focusing on how the closing period of human history as we know it will unfold, ensure you are living for Jesus and share the message of salvation with the lost.

See also: end timesHerod, Pilate, nations, Romans (Rom).

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