A World-Changing Impact: The Roman Empire’s Impact on the Early Christian Church It would be simple enough to say that the Christian faith has much to do with Rome’s political status and the instatement of the Pax Romana, but there are so many other factors that had the great empire closely correlated with the Christian faith. For one, a succession of rulers with different types of ruling styles would force believers and converts to flee in fear of persecution, but one important and overlying factor was the spread of the Word of God and his works through his son, Jesus. Throughout history, the Roman Empire has had a great impact on the Christian faith both positively and negatively, but the Message and the fervor of its followers has been able to stand the tests of man and time. The Pax Romana’s reign over the Roman Empire can be followed after the end of the Republic Civil Wars and the rise of Augustus in 27 BC. During this time, fighting relatively ceased with some skirmishes still occurring in Spain and in the Alps and Augustus instated himself as the lead power of Rome. Alternatively, the name speaks for itself: Pax Romana translates to “Roman peace”. Some scholars believe that because of this emergence of peace, the Roman world was “set up” for the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This openness to His ministry meant that more and more people would be accepting to hear it, but as history shows us, this religious tolerance would not last forever.
During Augustus’ rule, a rise to power that has some scholars arguing over whether or not his claim to the throne was out of necessity or greed, much – if not all – of Rome’s institutions underwent reformation. Changes to society, politics, and the governing of land were not necessarily “changed” for improvement, but simply directed to one person: Augustus. One event that has a major impact on the Christian faith is the Census of Quirinius. In Luke 2:1-7, readers will find the story of Christ’s birth which happens under Augustus’ rule. Verses one through 3 read: 1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census.
One cannot speak about the impact the Roman Empire had on Christianity unless he or she mentions the Census of Quirinius. In context, during this time, the countries of Syria and Iudaea were acquired by the emperor and in order to increase profit, he had the census – which had every person in the Empire go back to their homes of origin – instated. Joseph and Mary, who was pregnant with Jesus, travel back to Bethlehem. There, the life of Christ and his ministry would take off.
Whether one would argue over Augustus’ impact on Christianity being positive or negative, his reforms would bring peace to Rome for at least two hundred years. After Augustus, another emperor would rise to power: Tiberius. Tiberius’ reign began 14 AD and continued on through until his death 37 AD. Jesus’ ministry began, according to Luke 1, fifteen years into Tiberius’ reign. Albeit the spread of the miracles performed by Jesus spread through Abigania 3
Rome quite rapidly, some debate that Tiberius may not have even known of Jesus’ existence because in 26 AD, Tiberius had moved to his palace on the island of Capri. The impact Tiberius had on the early Christian church was not so direct, but through another governor during his reign.
Pontius Pilate would be very important to Jesus’ ministry in that he is pivotal in the completion of Jesus’ purpose on earth by way of The Crucifixion. Brought before Pilate, Jesus would be sentenced to death because of Pilate’s fear of rumors of a rising “King of the Jews”. Pilate’s decision is mentioned in each book of the Canonical Gospels. Some may argue...
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