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Christianity and the Roman Empire: Chapter 1

The Roman Empire had been the most dominate force in Western civilization for centuries. It was also one of the largest empires of the ancient world, covering areas throughout the Mediterranean Sea, North Africa, and Western Asia. Soon after the Punic Wars took place, Emperor Augustus expanded the empire to other regions such as Egypt, Spain, and certain parts of the Middle East, including the land of Judea. Once Judea had become part of the Roman Empire, it would lead to the first coming of Christ to the beginning and spread of Christianity.

Augustus would eventually meet his death with Tiberius becoming the new Emperor of Rome. When they heard about Jesus proclaiming to be the Messiah, the Roman Emperor would respond with great discouragement and plot his arrest. After learning about his teachings, the Roman Empire and majority of citizens refused to believe that he was the Messiah. Others who did oversaw and gave an account of the events that took place with him, including his ability to cure the blind and the paralyzed man, cast out demons, and turn water into wine.

The twelve men who did follow Jesus became concerned that he would be taken captive by the romans. They planned on defending him from being arrested, but Jesus warned that one of them was going to betray him with a bribe, so they did not fully understand what was going to happen. The apostles wanted to protect Jesus no matter where they were to follow him. But Jesus knew that God’s will was not to prove that he’s the Messiah enclosed on earth; he came to rescue from their sin on earth. He was not going to save himself and build an earthly kingdom but become a sacrifice to justify his people through his own blood.

When Pilate questioned Jesus about being King of the Jews, he replied, “My servants would have fought if my kingdom were of this world,” but because his kingdom isn’t of this world, he wouldn’t release himself, nor would Pilate except on his own terms. After they chose to free a robber named Barnabas instead, Pilate washed his hands clean to say he is innocent of this man. Pilate did not sentence Jesus to be crucified, in fact, he didn’t convict him of anything during the trial. But by rendering Christ innocent, he claimed himself to be innocent of what they were about to do to him under Roman law.

His position could not decide Jesus’ death by any means. Even if he were to say “live,” it would be in conjunction with Rome and denial that he was God, who made his own decision to lay down his life. Jesus’ arrest did not put himself on trial under Roman law but to fulfill the law of Moses. Since he did not break any law, Pilate had no say in what Jesus was to carry out. He did not understand the spiritual element of sin and what Christ had to do as he gave in to the demands of the world and the Roman system.

 While he may have tried to waiver off the accusations toward Jesus, he was clueless that his sin was still pushing the Lord, leaving the final verdict up to the crowd — a choice made by the Jews, one that doesn’t involve himself. Pilate’s motives not to crucify the Son of God was contradicted by an act of self-righteousness. You can only become righteous by what Christ had to do, so in washing his hands innocent of his blood, he acted upon the circumstance of his crucifixion, unaware that he was also a sinner. 

The romans who crucified Jesus wanted to prevent their emperor from falling inferior and the empire from being overruled. In fact, the Roman Empire still put forth its policies to stop Christianity after the death and resurrection of Christ. Anyone who would be found a Christian would be put to death or imprisoned. Almost all of the apostles were martyred for teaching God’s work of salvation and his power over all kings and emperors of the world. 

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