Jesus' Followers and the Roman Empire

Christopher Bryan

in Render to Caesar

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780195183344
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835584 | DOI:
Jesus' Followers and the Roman Empire

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Luke’s primary purpose is theological, but he is also interested in preparing his readers for persecution, whatever its source, and he is concerned with “legitimation”: the process whereby those who become members of a new order need to have it explained and justified, especially if they have commitments that bind them to the old. Luke portrays some Roman officials negatively; he portrays many more positively. As Luke’s narrative begins, Mary’s obedience to Caesar is God’s instrument, bringing her to the place where she may fulfill God’s purpose; as it ends, Paul’s Roman citizenship is God’s instrument, protecting him and bringing him to proclaim the gospel in Rome. 1 Peter tells believers to “honor” the Emperor, though they are to “fear” no one but God. The seer of Revelation attacks Rome for what he sees as its idolatry (worship of emperor and empire), but even he does not counsel resistance to Rome or rebellion.

Keywords: Caesar; Citizenship; Emperor; Legitimation; Luke; Mary; Paul; Persecution; Rome; Worship

Chapter.  8115 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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