Rome in the Bible and the Early Church

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Persecution in the Early Church: Did You Know? At this time, Christianity was an underground movement attracting persecution from Jews who said that they were still the only chosen people and Romans who have no king but Caesar alike. The first Christians therefore met for the Eucharist what we now call the Mass in private houses 3.

You can learn more about this on our Rome Catacombs Tour which visits the underground house of Pope St Clement before moving on to the underground Catacombs. Of course it was not just women who hosted the Eucharist where Christians gathered. The 12 Apostles journeyed far and wide and all were eventually martyred except John the Evangelist who lived with Mary the Mother of Jesus in Ephesus before his natural death in around AD.

Persecution in the Early Church: Did | Christian History | Christianity Today

With the rapid growth of the Church so too did the hierarchy grow quickly with new deacons, priests and bishops being ordained to help shepherd these new converts. This rapid growth also meant that there was a need for codification and uniformity with various writings being distributed for the faithful to read at the Eucharist. Some of these writings were later recognised to be divinely inspired and included in the New Testament Canon by the Council of Rome in Others such as the Didache or Epistles of St Clement , although lauded, were not chosen by the bishops at this Council to be included in the Bible.

The liturgical praxis too, although already based on Jewish priestly rituals, and the experience of the apostles with Jesus, was also requiring written comment to cope with the rapid expansion. These remodelled houses were rented, purchased by or given to the Church and were the earliest Domus Ecclesia or Titulus Ecclesia which architecturally grew to be churches once the persecutions ended with Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century.

The best known example of a remodelled Roman house is the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. With the growth of the Catholic Church by the blood of the martyrs came also a need by the authorities to intensify the persecutions. In , Emperor Decius ordered the systematic persecution of anyone who refused to sacrifice to the Roman Gods, and in , Emperor Valerian ordered the persecution of bishops and senior clergy. Jews maintained their distinct identity and practices through participation in synagogues that were found mostly in poorer districts of the city.

They encountered suspicion from outside observers and occasional unwelcome intervention by the government.

Second, the Jewish sources help us to understand later important texts more accurately. Several important texts relating events in the reign of Claudius A. In this section we will inspect the primary testimony of Cassius Dio, Suetonius, and Luke, supplemental information presented by Josephus and Orosius, and conflicting theories derived from the records. The text states clearly that Jews, while restricted from congregating, were not removed from Rome. There are similarities between the two descriptions Claudius enacting measures against the Jews , and neither Dio nor Suetonius mentions two separate edicts.

Still, Dio specifically indicates that Claudius did not expel the Jews, which seems to contradict the account by Suetonius. The arguments for these options will be further evaluated in a later section. Josephus presents an edict given by Claudius:. It is right, therefore, that the Jews throughout the whole world under our sway should also observe the customs of their fathers without let or hindrance.

Instead, Claudius appears to guarantee certain Jewish rights. Finally, Orosius, who as a Christian authored an account of history in A.

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In the ninth year of his reign, Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome. The problem is that the sources he relies on cannot verify the date he puts forward. Most scholars view this testimony with suspicion, regarding Orosius as biased and unreliable. The major questions surfacing from the above documents are 1 were there one or two moves by Claudius against the Jews, and 2 did one or both events involve conflicts between Christians and Jews?

Following the majority view, it is most likely that Claudius initiated two actions against the Jews in Rome, with the event recorded by Dio preceding that of Suetonius. In addition, Luke and Suetonius agree that Claudius actually expelled the Jews, while Dio specifies that Claudius did not remove them. The attempt to harmonize the different accounts of edicts against the Jews fails to convince. Major contradictions in dates Dio versus Luke and outcome Dio versus Suetonius and Luke must be resolved through assuming a major error or omission by one or more of the historians.

Penna dismisses the historical value of the account in Acts 18 and opts for an early date A. If two different events are distinguished, it remains to be seen whether one or both were instigated by controversy over the claims of Christianity.

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It is possible that the decree in A. Indeed, in A. Similar dynamics in A. First, it is easier to place the conversion of Aquila and Priscilla in Rome rather than in Corinth, after they met Paul. It is noted also that Paul does not mention baptizing Aquila or Priscilla 1 Cor The claim that Christ stands at the center of the conflict of A.

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Spence counters by explaining that the chief aim in Claudius Scholars skeptical of a Christian angle to the controversy offer an alternative theory. They assert that the reference to Chrestus indicates that a messianic figure living in Rome was generating turmoil among the Jews.

Years after the expulsion of the Jews from Rome, Paul addresses Christians in the city. Advocates of this view argue that in this chapter Paul names too many people for a city he had never visited, and that some of the names fit especially well with Ephesus rather than Rome. This is because Paul wrote his magisterial epistle to them in 56 AD, a church that he never yet met but longed to see. Peter was crucified upside-down around the same time.

So this was probably part of the persecution of Nero. Why would the Romans think this?

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He did. But he also told them that if he was persecuted, so would his followers. John Because he claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life — to the exclusion of all others. John , Acts This exclusive message is no more popular now than it is today.

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In fact, it was probably was even less popular back then. Christians were not saying that Jesus was another god, like Jupiter, Diana or Ares. They were saying that he was the one true God, and everything else was a mere idol. We learn a lot about Jesus and the early church from just a paragraph. And all this from someone who thought the Christians had it coming to them.

The Church and the Roman Empire

We knew a lot of these things already from reading the Bible. But you can use sources outside the Bible to confirm what the Bible already says and see what they think. Erik is a former atheist turned Christian after an experience with the Holy Spirit. Who is Tacitus? There was a group of people called Christians. The Romans saw Christians as superstitious. The Romans hated Christians — they believed they performed abominations.

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The movement started in Judea and spread to Rome. Summing it up: We learn a lot about Jesus and the early church from just a paragraph. For more on evidence for Jesus outside of the Bible, watch:. Erik Manning.