Roman Dominance became useful for the Spread of Christianity Vol. 4, No. 19

First of all, it could be observed that Rome’s dominance of the Mediterranean world secured a favourable material condition for the missionaries.

This Mediterranean world covered from the Euphrates River in Syria to the Thomas in Britain, from the Rhine and the Danube to the sands of the Sahara. And it bound this great multitude of many races and languages with a befitting road connection and shipping. This created an enabling environment for Christian missionaries who were able to travel the length and breadth of the empire with relative ease. More still, the promotion of a common culture derived from Hellenism enabled the missionaries to preach in Greek in almost all the large cities and were understood.
Far more importantly, the peaceful atmosphere secured by Emperor Octavian Augustus was also a major factor for the rapid spread of the gospel. He reigned at the time of Christ’s birth and early youth, as the designated heir of the assassinated Julius Caesar. He was able to maneuver the other contenders for power, and in 31 B.C, he defeated Mac-Anthony and Cleopatra and so won supreme command of the Roman Empire with a stable form of government. This enabled him to keep the barbarian menace at bay and give a large measure of peace to the world for nearly two hundred years.
Again, it was a period, when there was a growing spiritual hunger. In spite of increasing prosperity and the possibilities of enhanced enjoyment in the cities there was also an in depth yearning for God. The successors of Augustus; Tiberius (d. 68) were Emperors whose personal lives were darkened by bizarre macabre incidents and crimes. The atmosphere of their courts was heavy with intrigue and fowl suspicion. Tiberius, for instance, under whom Christ was crucified, was a competent soldier but an unhappy Emperor. He was crushed by the discovery that his son, Drusus, had been murdered by his own most trusted adviser, Sejanus. His successor Caligula was a mentally deranged megalomaniac who was assassinated. Claudius, weak in body and will, was dominated by his wife, Aggripina, who finally poisoned him to make room for her son, Nero. Then Nero in turn murdered her (Aggripina) and began a reign of terror that took the lives of many of Rome’s outstanding leaders, before he himself was forced to commit suicide. This pitiable state of affairs created the choiced atmosphere for a religion that could help fill the spiritual vacuum experienced by the vast majority of Roman inhabitants. Providentially, Christianity maximized this opportunity but not without challenges from other religions (including philosophy) as we shall see in next edition! Don’t miss the series.

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