Notable as the capital city of the Roman Empire, situated at the first ford from the mouth of the Tiber River, halfway up the west coast of Italy. Traditionally founded on the Palatine Hill in 753 B.C., it grew to emcompass the seven hills of Rome. It was ruled by kings until 510 B.C., afer which a republic was established, lasting until 31 B.C., when Augustus Caesar became its first emperor. Augustus began massive reconstructions on Rome in the 1st century A.D., and claimed to have "found the city built of brick and left if built of marble." The magnificent and elaborately constructed temples and public buildings of Rome contrasted sharply with the crowded multi-story tenements that housed the general populace, whose numbers exceeded 1 million by NT times.

In the 3rd century B.C., Rome began the expansion which would , over the next three centuries, unite most of the civilized world uder a single government. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Judea was but a tiny district in the huge Roman Empire, stretching from Hispania (modern Spain and Protugal) to the Caspian Sea. Although the empire created by Rome provided an ideal condition for the rapid spread of Christianity, it also fostered idolatry and, under Nero and later emperors, persecuted the early church. As a result, the city became a symbol of paganism and worldly power in opposition to the gospel of Christ (Rev. 17-18).

Rev. 17-18; Acts 18:2; 25:25; 28:14-16; Rom. 1:7, 15

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