Do not be overcome by evil. Romans 12:21
During the first 70 years of the first century there were five Roman emperors. The first of these was Augustus (27 BC–AD 14). We read about him in Luke 2:1. “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” Augustus was the emperor of Rome until he died in the year 14.
He was followed by Tiberius (AD 14–37). We read about him in Luke 3:1-2. “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar… the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.” The fifteenth year would have been AD 29.
After Tiberius came the infamous Caligula. Six months into his reign Caligula had an illness that seems to have turned him into a tyrant who was increasingly losing his mind. He ordered an altar to be built to himself. The Roman historian Suetonius records, “He ordered all the images of the gods… to be brought from Greece, that he might take the heads off, and put on his own. He also instituted a temple and priests… in honor of his own divinity.” Four years later there was widespread relief when Caligula was finally assassinated by two of his own guards.
After Caligula, came Claudius (ad 41–54), who is referred to in Acts 18:2, where we read about a married couple Aquila and Priscilla, who moved to Corinth from Italy, “because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.” There are hair-raising stories about Claudius, but his rule brought some relief from what had gone before and from what was soon to come.
Things were hard for Christians during the reigns of these four leaders, but the hardest times were yet ahead.
What are the names of some world leaders who have made the lives of Christians difficult during your lifetime?