Study of the Roman Empire is essential in order to gain a clearer understanding of the events and teachings found in the New Testament. Rome played both a positive and negative role in the early history of Christians delineated in the Bible. Even after the close of the New Testament, the histories of both Rome and Christianity would intertwine for many years to come.
On the positive side, Rome helped pave the way not only for Christianity to start but also to rapidly spread throughout the world. It was under the relative peace of the first Roman Emperor Augustus that Jesus was born. Rome's acceptance of the Grecian tongue made the Greek language one of the most commonly used throughout the empire and considered a universal language among Jews. Because of its extensive use in commerce, most people learned how to speak Greek as well as their native tongue. When it came time to write the gospels and communicate with Christians around the world, the language chosen in order to reach the greatest number of people was Greek. Rome, through its extensive network of roads and ships, enabled early believers such as the apostle Paul, to carry the gospel thousands of miles from where they lived.
Rome's influence, however, was many times negative. It was Herod the Great, the Roman-appointed ruler of Judea, who sought to kill a newly born Christ (Matthew 2). The empire later became a willing pawn in the hands of Jewish leaders who used its authority and power to murder Jesus Christ (Matthew 27). It was Roman tetrarch Agrippa I who not only beheaded the apostle James but also had Peter arrested (Acts 12). It was Emperor Nero would began the first of what would become ten waves of persecution against Christians by killing both Apostles Paul and Peter. In addition, the Emperor Domitian had the apostle John exiled to the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9).
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Rome in Pictures
|The Roman Coliseum |
The largest stadium built by Rome, it seated more than 50,000 spectators. It hosted gladiator games and even held naval battles within its walls.
|The Appian Way |
The Way was the Republic's first and most important road, especially for the military. Countless troops used the Appian Way. The crucifixion of the defeated slave army of Spartacus occurred on the road. The apostle Paul used the Way to go to prison in Rome.
| Circus Maximus |
The first and largest circus ever built, it could hold up to 150,000 seated visitors. It hosted games, festivals, chariot races and the martyrdom of countless Christians.
| The Forum |
The Forum was the center of public life. It held elections, trials, speeches, and business deals. It is the most FAMOUS meeting place in all of human history.
|The Nazareth Inscription Stone |
A marble tablet, dated shortly after the death of Jesus in 41 A.D., contains edict from Caesar showing the early preaching of the gospel.
| Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel |
The Last Judgment fresco, on the altar wall of the Sistine chapel, is considered Michelangelo's crowning work. It is the largest fresco painted in the 16th century. It depicts several beliefs including an eternal hell. It also displays a humorous caricature of one of his harshest critics.
|St. Peter's Square |
The square, ruled by the Roman Catholics, is the centerpiece of Vatican City. It is within an area that is the world's smallest state.