The Early Christian Church - Vol. 1

By Philip Carrington | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
PAUL IN ROME

The emperor Nero, p. 166. Paul in Rome, A.D. 59- 61), p. 170. Paul's staff and correspondence, p. 171. Philemon and Onesimus, p. 172. The Epistle to the Colossians, p. 173. The Colossian 'heresy', p. 173. Christianity as a world-religion, p. 175. The Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 177. The church in the world, p. 179. The Epistle to the Philippians, p. 180. Bishops and deacons, p. 181. The date of the Acts, p. 182. The release of Paul, p. 184.


THE EMPEROR NERO

The story of the Roman empire in the first half of the first century lends colour to the constant refrain of the Jewish apocalypses that everything was gradually getting worse. The excellent system of administration inaugurated by Augustus was preserved by his successor Tiberius; but the funds which had been accumulated by his frugality were wasted by the extravagance of Caligula. The reorganization of the imperial civil service under Claudius and the careful economy of his management left the administration in a good condition, but it suffered severely under Nero.

Claudius had married a widow named Agrippina with a boy of seven named Nero, who was soon married to his daughter Octavia. When Nero was seventeen, Agrippina arranged for Claudius to be poisoned, so that Nero could succeed him as emperor. Britannicus, the son of Claudius, did not long survive, and neither did Octavia.

During the first eight years of Nero's rule, from 54 to 62, the government was administered under the direction of Seneca and Burrhus. Seneca was the brother of the proconsul Gallio who had acquitted Paul at Corinth or at any rate dismissed the charge against him. He was a philosopher of the Stoic persuasion, and believed in a providence which overruled human affairs. He identified the highest promptings of the human heart with the voice of God. He even tried to teach these views to Nero. Burrhus was a soldier of high reputation, in charge of the praetorian cohort, that is to say the military guards attached to the emperor's person. As 'praetorian prefect', he had the supreme jurisdiction over criminal cases, including such as came from a distance.

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