The Berean Expositor
Volume 27 - Page 117 of 212
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The powers that be.
(Being a series of studies of Roman history,
and Roman laws and customs,
in so far as they throw light upon the N.T. narrative).
#1.
The Edicts of Julius Caesar in favour of the Jews.
pp. 163 - 166
"The faith of God's elect and the truth which is after godliness" (Titus 1: 1) may at
first sight seem rather far removed from such mundane things as Roman laws. And yet,
when we remember that the writer of the Epistle to the Ephesians was a prisoner in
Rome, and that he was not only a Hebrew, but also a Tarsian, a freeman and a Roman
citizen, we begin to realize that there is some connection. The apostle Paul was protected
by several Roman governors, and was the instrument for the conversion of at least one
(Sergius Paulus:  Acts 13: 12).  He reasoned with another on the subject of
righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come (Acts 24: 25), while yet anther,
King Agrippa, had said upon hearing his defence: "Almost thou persuadest me to be a
Christian" (Acts 26: 28).
Not only does Paul come into direct touch with Rome and its law, but in connection
with the Saviour Himself--at His birth, at the commencement of His public ministry, at
His trial and at His crucifixion under Pontius Pilate--there is a series of points of contact
with the Roman power. We remember also that both Paul and his Lord have something
to say about paying tribute and recognizing authority. Taking all these things into
account, therefore it would seem that a knowledge of Roman history and Roman laws
would provide valuable sidelights upon the New Testament. We are nevertheless aware
that it is not every reader who will find the subject of great interest, and we do not intend
to give prominence to a study which is, after all, a side-issue. The articles of this series
will be kept within modest bounds so that more important Scriptural exposition shall not
be crowded out, but we hope that no reader will find the subject so uninteresting that he
cannot find at least one item each time that will prove of use in the study of the Word of
God.
The Roman Emperors who figure in the New Testament are: Augustus, Tiberius,
Gaius, Claudius, and Nero. Before we speak of these rulers, however, we will go back a
little before the birth of Christ to Julius Csar, whose influence, both among the Jews
and in the Roman world, was very strong, both in the days of our Lord and of His
apostles.
Julius Csar was the first of the Roman Emperors, and died by assassination in
B.C.43. The important point with which we are concerned at the moment is his attitude
towards the religion of the Jews. When we remember the jealous way in which Rome
looked upon any political movement within the Empire, prohibiting public meetings and
allowing no tax-gathering to be undertaken apart from its own agents, it is at first a matter