Life of Christ
at the Time of Christ
Rev. Mark Perkins, Pastor
Denver Bible Church
326 E. Colorado Ave.
Denver, Colorado 80210
of Christ Main Menu
Notes Home Page
After many wars, the Roman Empire was established. After the
death of Julius Caesar, there was a civil war, and then Augustus
Caesar (Octavian) was given absolute power over the senate and
people of Rome. Augustus was a good man who desired peace and
prosperity for Rome. After many long years of warfare, external
and internal, the people were tired of it, and longed for peace.
Augustus was sensitive and thoughtful, a good ruler. Through
his long rule many great things were provided.
Because of the state of peace, there was a great emphasis on
trade and commerce. Many Romans made their fortunes because of
the advantages of freedom through military victory and peace
through military strength. There were great building programs
in every city, financed by donations from the private sector.
Theatres and temples and viaducts all sprouted as if there were
a spring season for buildings.
There was a fantastic system of roads and trade routes on the
sea, all protected by the police and the Roman equivalent of
the coast guard. Piracy and highway robbery remained at a minimum
through capital punishment.
Augustus also preached the virtues of morality and discipline
and justice and courage. He realized that the Roman empire was
centered on the family, and that its stability depended on it.
There was a rigidly pro-family bank of legislation, which encouraged
marriage and children inside the marriage relationship. Some
of this was circumvented, while much of it was taken to heart.
Augustus was Caesar at the time of the birth of Christ. Although
Augustus died in 14 A.D., Tiberius continued the Augustan tradition
of the Pax Romanum. Tiberius was the emperor for the remainder
of the life of Christ.
The Jews (and especially the Pharisees and Zealots) had absolutely
nothing to complain about. The peace of Rome was very pro-establishment.
Greek, the Language of the Roman Empire.
Koine' Greek was the language of Alexander's conquest. Attic
Greek was a difficult language to master. When Alexander expanded
the Greek empire as far as Afghanistan and India, the people
had to assimilate in order to be a part of that empire. Without
Greek the foreigners could not trade or prosper. However, since
Attic Greek was so difficult, the people of the empire commonized
it, so that it could be easily used.
This commonization was a great simplication which retained the
subtle and detailed nature of its predecessor.
Koine' Greek was the greatest language in history for written
communication. Through it many complex and subtle concepts could
be communicated with clarity. Koine' Greek was retained in the
Roman Empire as the language of the common man. Nearly everyone
knew it and used it throughout their lives.
The Romans borrowed much of their culture from their Greeks.
Greek literature, drama, and games were all retained by the Romans.
The Romans admired almost all aspects of Greek culture, even
the most debauched things.
The Romans had spent much of their developing years in war and
in a very disciplined and workaholic environment, and so they
lacked cultural self-esteem. The Greeks had much to offer in
the way of culture although much of theirs was corrupt. The Greeks
had died from their cultural debauchery - it was the ruin of
No nation has ever survived the corruption of their morals. The
homosexuality of the Greeks was rampant; it destroyed them. The
Romans adopted even this - even to the point of pederasty. It
would also destroyed them.
Analogous to this is the popularity of all things American to
the Japanese. Whether its baseball or disco or Madonna, the Japanese
people love it, as long as it is American. The contrast is that
while Japan was conquered by the U.S. and it adopted much of
U.S. culture, the Greeks were conquered by the Romans, and yet
the Romans adopted the Greek culture.
However, at the time of Christ, the Romans remained for the most
part moral and family oriented. It was the most stable time in
the history of the world.
The Roman postal service was for government use only - a great
idea. Imagine the reduction in garbage from the elimination of
junk mail. Personal mail went with travellers and traders.
The Romans had no public schools. The education of their children
was a two-tiered system. The first tier was that of the disciplinary
training. This was usually administered by a well educated and
trusted household slave. He would teach manners and self-discipline
to the children of the household.
The second tier was that of the educational training. Science,
math, astronomy, medicine, botany, zoology, linguistics, literature,
music, and sports were all common subjects in the education of
the child. There was also a great emphasis on logic and rhetoric.
6. Next, there was the institution of slavery.
It is important to note that the Romans could never imagine a
state of total abolition, so ingrained was the institution of
slavery in their nation and their culture and even their thinking.
The moral question of slavery was never raised.
Slaves became slaves because of the conquests of the Roman Empire.
Whenever a new territory was conquered, much of the population
was deported back to population centers elsewhere in the empire.
o This served a twofold purpose: it provided cheap labor,
and the insurance against guerrilla warfare in the conquered
o The people who were deported received a low form of welfare:
they would have the basic logistics provided in exchange for
their labor. Slavery did much to provide for those who would
otherwise be charity cases.
The slaves of the Roman Empire took on what was considered the
menial tasks of the day - much of the manual labor was done by
them. As the Empire grew and prospered, the more educated and
presentable slaves become household helpers and educators.
Slaves were always dependent on their masters, and as long as
the Empire stayed on the virtuous side.
o Manumission was often granted to faithful slaves.
o Emancipated slaves had great opportunities for upward mobility.
o There was not an extreme prejudice against slaves - often they
were respected for who they were.
Although slaves were considered property, they were allowed to
have their own lives, marrying and producing families. The New
Testament is written from this frame of reference.
o Masters are considered legitimate authority, as long as
they stayed within the laws of Divine established. Therefore,
slaves are called upon to obey their masters.
o Masters are called upon to emancipate their slaves.
Rome was a very martial society. The military was an important
part of their everyday lives. Good soldiers received tremendous
rewards for their performance on the battlefield. The military
was considered a very virtuous profession, and soldiers were
given great respect.
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