Monday, September 05, 2011

Nero Blames Great Roman Fire On Christians (Part 1) - 64 AD (Church History)

This is the first part in a four part series.

The year was 64 AD, and a great fire was sweeping through the streets of Rome. The fire burned for days, destroying a large portion of the city. Not only did it cut a path of ash through the city, but it also ignited a major persecution of Christianity.

It had been just over 30 years since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. During those years, Christianity had expanded quickly, reaching cities far beyond Jerusalem. In fact, Christianity had reached the very heart of the Roman Empire: Rome itself.

The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Romans to... you guessed it: the church in Rome. The common Christian belief is that Paul wrote Romans somewhere between 56 AD to 60 AD. This means that the book of Romans was written shortly before the great fire in Rome of 64 AD.

Perhaps many Christians in Rome were familiar with the book of Romans when the fire swept through the city on that dark, and yet blazing July 19th night. This, however, is not the only reasons why the great fire is an important event in church history. The fire also marked the beginning of a major persecution of Christianity. In this persecution, some think that the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul were martyred (although some believe that Paul lived past 64 AD, reaching Spain, where he continued spreading the gospel).

Tacitus (an ancient, secular historian, born in 56 AD) wrote the following about the great fire in Rome (I have added additional commentary in brackets for clarity's sake):
“Consequently, to get rid of the report [that Nero started the fire], Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. (source)
If you are unfamiliar with Roman History, you are probably wondering: Who is this Nero guy?

Here is a brief synopsis: Nero was the fifth emperor of the Roman Empire. Nero was so hated among many in Rome that some thought that he was the one who had started the destructive fire. In order to "get rid of the report" that he started the fire, he had to find someone to blame. And who did he decide the blame? The Christians.

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Related Posts:
Nero Blames Great Roman Fire On Christians (Part 2) - 64 AD - Church History
Noah's Birth - Genesis 5:28 - 2948 BC (Pre-Flood History)
The Flood - Genesis 7:11 - 2349 BC (Pre-Flood History)
Slavery, The Great Fire In Rome, and Nero

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