Religion in the Roman Empire had a large scale affect on society and politics. In the 1st c. AD the Roman Empire was the largest empire in the world and it had many enemies surrounding it. The problems lay not only outside of the empire but internally also. There are corrupt and power-hungry leaders. The first assassination of a Roman Emperor is committed during this time. Another problem develops. Peoples religious views are changing and talk of a single god who is going to send a savior and new king develop. These Christians, as they call themselves, are proclaiming all over the Empire denouncing the Roman civil religion. The emperors cannot have that so they look to end this new problem with persecution which should end it quickly. The emperors could not suppress Christianity, however, and in time Christianity would take over the empire and it would be the pagans who would begin to be persecuted.
The first form of persecution was done more by the Jews. The Jewish leaders were the ones who had Jesus arrested and tried, then they turned him over to the Romans to be crucified. The Jews began persecuting the Christians before the Emperors did. The first martyr for Christianity was Saint Stephen. The word martyr is derived from the Greek word "martyros" which means "witness". In the bible (Acts 6:8-7:60) the story of Stephen's martyrdom is told. Stephen is arrested by the Jews, put on trial by the Sanhedrin for blasphemy, and condemned to death by stoning.
Christiantity is a sect of Juadiasm. The empeorors had little problem with Judiasm until Claudius came to power. When the Jews began making trouble due to the Christians, Claudius expelled the Christians from Rome. The next emperor to come to power was Nero. Nero is most well known for his persecution of the Christians. The Roman empire was almost completely pagans. The Pagans did not like the Christians. A trait of Christianity which Christians emphasized was that it was a revolt...
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