Summary of Ruler History Around Years of John

John's descriptions in Revelation show nothing but hatred and contempt for Rome. One of the worst practices seen by the Jews was the practice of worshipping Caesar. Once a year all persons had go to the magistrate, burn some incense, and say "Caesar is Lord". After that declaration, the person for the rest of the year could worship any God wished. The worship of the Emperor was primarily political, not religious. This practice was to have at least one "unity of thought" over the vast Roman empire. There was even a peace (pax Romana) and security in the Roman empire as long as you followed the rules. Because of the Roman patrols, the roads and the seas were generally safe for travel.

Christians saved the declaration of Lord for only Christ. The Romans dealt severely (usually death) with those who would not make the worship statement.

It is kind of interesting to note this practice was essentially brought about by the people in the Roman empire. It was a show of gratitude to the Roman heads. It was originally to Deify the goddess Roma. A temple to Roma was erected in Smyrna about 195 BC. The worship of the Emperor then started at the death of Julius Caesar. Around 29 BC, permission was granted to build temples for joint worshipping of Julius Caesar and Roma, in Ephesus. Augustus gave permission to build a temple in Pergamum for the worship of Roma and Augustus.

As time went on, since the Romans found it easier to worship someone they could see, the worship of Roma was less and less until the worship was almost entirely the Emperor. Augustus died 14 AD.
  • Tiberius (14 - 37 AD) tried to stop the Caesar worship; but, could not. He did not allow new temples to be built.
  • Caligula (37 - 41 AD) was an epileptic and a madman. He demanded worship, even from the Jews. For a long time the Jews were exempt from the Caesar worship. Now Caligula was requiring even the Jews to worship him.
  • Claudius (41 - 54 AD) reversed this requirement and exempted the Jews from the worship of Caesar.
  • Nero (54 - 68 AD) did not insist on the worship of Caesar. However, he sorely persecuted the Christians. He needed a scapegoat for the burning of Rome. It is thought he purposely burned Rome because he had a fanatical desire to build (buildings, cities, etc). Nero committed suicide after being overrun by Galba.
  • In the next 18 months, there were three Emperors: Galba (accused as a coward and slain), Otho (defeated by Vitellius), and Vitellius (defeated in a battle). They did not have a great impact on changes.
  • Vespasian (69 - 79 AD) was said to have been a fairly wise ruler. He did not insist on Caesar worship.
  • Titus (79 - 81 AD) was also considered to have been a fairly wise ruler. He was the eldest son of Vespasian and was a legion commander under Claudius. He did not insist on Caesar worship. Titus was responsible to crush the Jewish revolt in 70 AD.
  • Domitian (81 - 96 AD) brought about major changes. He was also the younger son of Vespasian. He was a evil ruler that persecuted the Jews and Christians without mercy. He demanded Caesar worship. Domitian called all those persons, who did not worship the ancient gods, atheists. He called himself a god. He would even give proclamations from "Your Lord and God, Domitian demands .......". What could the Christians do in a case like this? They had no influence. They were not strong. Their choice: Caesar or Christ. Some say that Domitian was the emperor who exiled John to the island of Patmos.
  • Nerva (96 - 98 AD) repealed some of the laws of Domitian; however, much of the damage had already been done. Nerva allowed John to return to Ephesus.

Return to Revelation TOC email to Bill
Return to BJM Master Home Page