Study of the Roman Empire is essential in order to gain a clearer understanding of the events and teachings found in the New Testament. They 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 this great world power and Christianity would intertwine for many years to come.
On the positive side, the Roman Empire 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 Emperor Augustus that Jesus was born. Their influence, however, was many times negative. It was Herod the Great, the officially-appointed ruler of Judea, who sought to kill a newborn Christ (Matthew 2). Later, it became a pawn in the hands of Jewish leaders, who used its authority to murder Jesus Christ (Matthew 27). Emperor Nero began the first of ten waves of persecution against Christians by killing both Apostles Paul and Peter.
Relationship with Christianity
Did ancient Romans write about Jesus?
Did the Empire officially record events like Jesus' trial or crucifixion? Did they ever mention Nazareth, the hometown of Christ?
Animated map of the Empire's Rise and Fall View
Was it the greatest world power? View
Map of Roman power at its peak View
Under Diocletian and Constantine View
Which rulers heard Paul preach? View
Rome in the First Century A.D. View
Timeline related to Old Testament Events View
Map of Byzantine Empire in 1025 A.D. View
The Roman Coliseum
The largest stadium built by an Emperor, 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 first and most important road built by the Empire. 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 travel to prison.
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 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.
Life and Church
How and when did the city of Rome begin? View
Why was it difficult to get citizenship? Read
Did Caesar have a child with Cleopatra? Read
Did Christians like the Roman games? Read
Was apostle Paul a citizen of the Empire? Read
What laws did Jesus break? Read
How long was Paul a prisoner? Read
Do Popes have the keys to heaven? Read
Did Apostle Paul die in Rome? Read
Nazareth Inscription Stone
A marble tablet, dated shortly after the death of Jesus in 41 A.D., contains an edict from Caesar showing the early preaching of the gospel within the Empire.
Michelangelo and 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.
Saint 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.