I am amused and baffled by what amuses and baffles our culture. Trends rise and fall and what is new today is despised and forgotten tomorrow. A video trend today is to ask men how often they think about the Roman Empire. Apparently, it’s a thing now to be amused at (particularly men) who think of the Roman Empire daily or weekly (I know, I don’t understand it either).
If you are in the New Testament at all in daily Bible reading, chances are, you’re thinking about the Roman Empire. It was “in the days of these kings” that God set up a “kingdom which will never be destroyed” (Dan. 2:44). Did you ever ask the question, “why during the Roman Empire?” (See, you’re thinking about it!) Here are just a few reasons culturally why this was “the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4):
The Pax Romana. “Roman Peace” governed the largest empire in the world during the time of Christ. It provided a general rest from fear of attacks from barbarians from about 27BC to 180AD. Over two million square miles of territory enjoyed peace, enabled movement between provinces (states), and provided easy freedom of travel (Consider Mary and Joseph going to Egypt after Jesus was born or Paul on his missionary journeys).
An Open Road. In the infrastructure of Rome, there was an estimated 50,000 miles of paved roads (29 highways from Rome). Remember, “all roads lead to Rome” is not just a saying! There were strict rules for building them and they were not done haphazardly. In fact, many of these are still around today. When the disciples were scattered going everywhere “preaching the word” I wonder what they used to move from place to place (Acts 8:4).
A Common Language. Three hundred years before Rome, Alexander the Great of the Greeks did culturally what the Romans did militarily. Alexander spread common Greek throughout the known world that he conquered. Greek was a language no one had problems speaking or understanding in the Roman Empire (Acts 21:37-40). Our New Testament comes entirely in that dead language!
A Starving World. Consider that both Jews and Gentiles were ready at this time for a loving and merciful God to send a Savior. It is our God who chose to be born of a poor Jewish family and to provide the gospel power of salvation to both Jews and Gentiles (Rom. 1:16)! Even when persecution began, the church so valued the gospel, that they continued to flourish because their hope in Jesus provided a peace that no other Kingdom ever would or could!
Graeber Road church of Christ