Day 4

Israel Under Roman Rule

from the Countdown to Acts reading plan


Romans 13:1, John 11:45-53, Acts 28:17-28

Throughout the book of Acts, Israel was under Roman rule, which had been the case since Rome wrested the region from Syria in 64 BC. During the New Testament era, the Roman Empire ruled most of the known world.

Legend tells us that Rome was founded by Romulus and Remus in 753 BC. The first seven kings of Rome increased the size of the kingdom by conquering neighboring territories. But eventually, a tyrannical king named Tarquinius Superbus drove the people to revolt. After this uprising, Rome became a republic which gave her citizens a voice in political and national affairs. As a republic, Rome grew even more powerful, reaching well beyond the borders of Italy into Africa, Asia, and Europe.

As anyone who has ever read Shakespeare knows, Roman leadership became increasingly unstable as the Empire grew larger. Ambition, paranoia, distrust, betrayal, and a lust for power made it very difficult for anyone to govern with stability for any length of time. Positions of authority in Rome had a high turnover rate due to assassinations, promotions, demotions, and transfers of power.

By the time Rome took occupation of Israel, the Empire was large, but spread thin. Israel’s location was strategic. It lay at the crossroads between Europe, Asia, and Africa. Ruling Israel meant Rome would be able to move freely between the continents.

The Jews were defined by their worship, their temple practices, and their history as followers of one God, and one God only—Jehovah. Rome knew that devotion like this was hard to extinguish, so they reckoned it would be politically wise to leverage Israel’s religious zeal as motivation to live at peace with their occupiers. Rome arranged a compromise. Israel could continue to practice their monotheistic religion so long as they obeyed Roman rule, paid their taxes, and kept the peace.

This was a shrewd psychological move. Under this arrangement, many in Israel came to see their right to worship God as a privilege that was now granted to them by Caesar, who could take it away if they fell out of line. We see this on display during the Triumphal Entry, when the Jewish religious leaders pleaded with Jesus to tell those laying down their palms and coats to stop referring to Him as a king. If Roman authorities heard this was happening, they might have shut down the Passover celebration (Luke 19:37-40).

Under Roman law, Jews were given certain rights that made the arrangement more palatable. For example, they were excused from military service and from ever having to appear in court on the Sabbath. By the time we come to the book of Acts, the dealings between Jews and Romans were predominantly positive.

Post Comments (40)

40 thoughts on "Israel Under Roman Rule"

  1. Luke Stockeland says:

    No matter what people do, God will perform His will on earth and the gospel will keep spreading.

  2. Luke Stockeland says:

    God is in control. I should follow Him (even when that means submitting to a government with which I may disagree.)

  3. Luke Stockeland says:

    Even though Rome was in power, they were still under God’s rule and control.

  4. Luke Stockeland says:

    I will live remembering that God has a plan that’s bigger than what I can see today, but also living today as a part of His plan.

  5. Luke Stockeland says:

    Lord, please bless me as I strive to love for You today. I know You have a plan bigger than I can see but I know that you have also chosen to use me. Help me be Your faithful servant. Amen.

  6. Clint says:

    It is true and carries out prophecy from hundreds of years prior to Jesus birth.

  7. Clint says:

    God is not in the business of revealing his plans to those that unwittingly carry them out. He plans all things for His good and works even through evil actions and people to carry out His commands.

  8. Clint says:

    By praying every day to make me more like Paul and less like Caiaphus.

  9. Clint says:

    I am foolish to plan my own life other than to make it my daily chore to ask God for His guidance and direction. His will is my joy. I have no life but for His grace. It is my mission to make my life reflect His grace to others so that they might see me as different.

  10. Clint says:

    Aloud and boldly

  11. Isaac Jones says:

    Nothing happens except what God Wills. God is sovereign over everything. We complain when we do not like things, but we perpetuate evil behavior. If we were faithful God would give us better leaders or better situations.

  12. Isaac Jones says:

    God is the ultimate authority. God sets all political leaders and powers in place whether positive or negative. Gods message is not one of political unravel; a Christian should be able to love peaceably in any political environment.

  13. Isaac Jones says:

    Man fears man over God. The Jews looked to Rome as their authority. The people forgot the power of God. Man likes to believe he is in power and control. This is folly.

  14. Isaac Jones says:

    I will pray for our leaders and remember that God is President and King.

  15. Isaac Jones says:

    Heavenly Father King of the Nations,

    Forgive me for my narrow view. Open my eyes and grant that I worship and fear only you. Thank you Lord for showing how to live peaceably and with faith. Amen

  16. Nick says:

    I really enjoyed learning a bit about Rome’s national history.
    Connecting it to God.. He brought Romulus and Remus to life (believers or not), He allowed Rome to develop and grow into a superpower, He incited the people to overthrow a tyrannical king in order to set up a democracy, He allowed their nation to grow more devastatingly awesome, then He came to earth right in this place to live and die by this empire…so what’s the connection?
    God is in such utter control of EVERYTHING. Doubting is absolutely futile. Whether it takes minutes or millennia, His Kingdom is ultimate, will prevail, cannot be stopped, and is located in the most undefeated land of all…our hearts.

  17. Nick says:

    Follow God’s leading and keep myself in check for the days are evil.

  18. Nick says:

    Despite my good or bad intentions, good or bad results, nothing depends on me when it comes to eternity.
    Jesus rescues me from myself.

  19. Nick says:

    Here’s my heart Lord, speak what is true.

  20. Nick says:

    Man loves taking God’s rich plans and plundering them.

  21. Johnsan says:

    God has put our leaders in place, regardless of what we think of them. God’s plan is all encompassing.

  22. Johnsan says:

    We’re fallible, greedy, needy, and power hungry. We think we can change things ourselves when it’s really God that has ultimate control.

  23. Johnsan says:

    I’ll show respect for my leaders and those in positions of power. It’s God who put them there for a reason.

  24. Johnsan says:

    That I would be humble when someone reprimands me or guides me, regardless of what I may think of their advice or of them.

  25. Geoffrey Belk says:

    This teaches us that GOD is all powerful, ruler over all that exists and that he has allowed or ordained our government leaders even if we don’t agree with the leaders.

  26. Geoffrey Belk says:

    I will try to respond to our leaders with respect knowing that they have been appointed or allowed by GOD. I will pray for our leaders and our country.

  27. Geoffrey Belk says:

    This teaches us that the Gospel is the living word of GOD. Written by HIM through godly men to each of us.

  28. Geoffrey Belk says:

    This teaches us that man is a servant to GOD and put on earth worship HIM. To give HIM praise for all that we have including our leaders.

  29. Geoffrey Belk says:

    Lord I thank you for our leaders, in our churches, local government and federal government. I know that you have allowed them to govern the people as part of your plan. Lord we may not agree or understand why certainly leaders are in place so help us understand in your love your purpose for our lives.

  30. Ethan Wymer says:

    That God is in control even when the leadership isn’t quite worthy of Him.

  31. Ethan Wymer says:

    That we can find peace with others that we don’t completely agree with when we trust in God.

  32. Ethan Wymer says:

    It teaches us that there is a lot more history behind the making of the Bible that we can learn about.

  33. Ethan Wymer says:

    I will respond by trying to find a middle-ground with those that I disagree with.

  34. Ethan Wymer says:

    I will pray that I can be a more loving, godly person. Also that I can seek God out even when I am persecuted for my beliefs.

  35. Nathan Porter says:

    I would say that God is always present even
    in a culture that does now acknowledge him as the one true king.

  36. Nathan Porter says:

    Politically, put my support behind life giving things.
    Spiritually, pray for those around me and share the gospel.
    Personally, be ready to give account for both my political and spiritual standings.

  37. Nathan Porter says:

    Man will always have a desire to grow or create more power for himself.

  38. Nathan Porter says:

    The gospel is stronger than any man made power.

  39. Nathan Porter says:

    I will pray for people.

  40. Devison Kachingwe says:

    May the love of God be with me and all the believers.It is my wish to follow you Lord till my last breath.

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