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I had never given it much thought until now, but, it is amazing how influential and vital, Roman culture, history, wars, and conquests, were to Judaism and Christianity. God utilized the Romans down through the ages as adversaries and facilitators of events and individuals. Their political strength, expansive empire, and powerful control, set into motion events that testified to God’s Glory, Honor, Love, and Compassion, to ever-widening groups of people. Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection, and the spread of the Good News to all people, including Gentiles, was accomplished with resistance and assistance from the Romans.
As prophesied in the Old Testament, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem.
Micah 5:2 Easy-to-Read Version
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are the smallest town in Judah.
Your family is almost too small to count,
but the “Ruler of Israel” will come from you to rule for me.
His beginnings are from ancient times,
from long, long ago.
But that’s not where Mary and Joseph were. They were in Nazareth. Rome proclaimed they must leave and travel to their hometowns for the census. Joseph’s hometown was Bethlehem.
They had to obey this decree; they had no choice in the matter. There had never been a counting of all the people before. Why now? Hmm …
Luke 2 Easy-to-Read Version
The Birth of Jesus Christ
It was about that same time that Augustus Caesar sent out an order to all people in the countries that were under Roman rule. The order said that everyone’s name must be put on a list. This was the first counting of all the people while Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone traveled to their own hometowns to have their name put on the list.
So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea. It was known as the town of David. Joseph went there because he was from the family of David.
Rome was in complete control of their empire, the people, currency, the language (Greek), where people traveled, and how they got there (roads). Without ever knowing it, Rome prepared the way for Jesus, God’s Son, to be born according to prophesy, live, teach, die, and rise from the dead.
Being a Roman citizen was advantageous to Paul in spreading Christianity after the death of Jesus.
Acts 22:22-29 Easy-to-Read Version
The people stopped listening when Paul said this last thing. They all shouted, “Get rid of this man! He doesn’t deserve to live.” They kept on shouting, ripping off their clothes and throwing dust into the air. Then the commander told the soldiers to take Paul into the army building and beat him. He wanted to make Paul tell why the people were shouting against him like this. So the soldiers were tying Paul, preparing to beat him. But he said to an army officer there, “Do you have the right to beat a Roman citizen who has not been proven guilty?”
When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and told him about it. The officer said, “Do you know what you are doing? This man is a Roman citizen!”
The commander came to Paul and said, “Tell me, are you really a Roman citizen?”
He answered, “Yes.”
The commander said, “I paid a lot of money to become a Roman citizen.”
But Paul said, “I was born a citizen.”
The men who were preparing to question Paul moved away from him immediately. The commander was afraid because he had already put Paul in chains, and he was a Roman citizen.
I’m sorry, I just think Paul is funny. : )
He gets thrown in a Roman jail, is told he’s free to go, then won’t leave until he gets an apology and be publicly escorted out of jail.
Acts 16:35-40 Easy-to-Read Version
The next morning the Roman officials sent some soldiers to tell the jailer, “Let these men go free.”
The jailer said to Paul, “The officials have sent these soldiers to let you go free. You can leave now. Go in peace.”
But Paul said to the soldiers, “Those officials did not prove that we did anything wrong, but they beat us in public and put us in jail. And we are Roman citizens. Now they want us to go away quietly. No, they must come here themselves and lead us out!”
The soldiers told the officials what Paul said. When they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid. So they came and told them they were sorry. They led them out of the jail and asked them to leave the city. But when Paul and Silas came out of the jail, they went to Lydia’s house. They saw some of the believers there and encouraged them. Then they left.
There are many more examples of Roman resistance and assistance that furthered God’s message to all people. I will look upon the Bible stories with renewed interest and awe.
God, You are All-Mighty, All-Powerful, All-Knowing. You took Rome, a powerful nation, and worked Your Will through them.
Work Your Will through me, Dear Lord. I am in need of an intervention. Bless me with Your Grace, Mercy, and Compassion. Amen
I love this song. It says it all. : )
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