How did the Roman Empire affect the early church?

The Roman Empire was at the peak of its success during the era of the early church history. The Emperor Augustus set a strong administrative basis for the emperors who succeeded him. And the Roman civilization gave privileges to the people which continued even when a leader was oppressive. During the period of the book of Acts, 31–63 AD, the emperors were Tiberius (14–37), Caligula (37–41), Claudius (41–54), and Nero (54–68). The Emperors Tiberius and Claudius used their power to promote the good of the people. But, unfortunately, Caligula and Nero brought evil on the early church.

Factors that helped the church at the beginning

The empire kept a favorable atmosphere to the preaching of the gospel and the mission that the apostles undertook in spite of its unbalanced ruler-ship. The government had a stable government, joint administrative structure, and a Roman justice. It also expanded its  citizenship and allowed for a state of peace in the controlled masses. It provided roads to connect every corner of the world. And it used one language (Greek) that was generally known to most people within its domain.

The Jews spread to many corners of the Roman empire. And the Romans tolerated their main beliefs. Christianity, as a side-shoot of Judaism, shared in this toleration at first. But when Judaism lost its popularity, Claudius kicked its followers from Rome (Acts 18:2). As a result, a strong Jewish national ambitions led to rebellion in Palestine and to the tragic wars of 66–70 A.D. These wars ended in the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D.

The Persecution of the church at the end

As the situation of Judaism deteriorated, the conditions for Christianity grew more unsafe. It became a religion with no legal ground and its members were without protection in the eyes of the law. When trouble sprouted, such as when Rome burned in 64 AD, Christians were falsely blamed for causing it. This led to the severe persecution that followed and many Christians shed their blood for their faith.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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