Tucked away in a small part of the Roman Empire was the Roman Province of Asia Minor…
In this seemingly insignificantly sized province, during the late 1st century AD, I have set the Apostle John series of books.
But to the Romans, no part of their Empire was insignificant. They ruled each part with determination, and on occasion, ruthlessness.
The military engineering of Ancient Rome’s armed forces was of a scale and frequency far beyond that of any of its contemporaries. Indeed, military engineering was in many ways institutionally endemic in Roman military culture, as demonstrated by the fact that each Roman legionary had as part of his equipment a shovel, alongside his gladius (sword) and pila (spears). “Learning to build, and build quickly, was a standard element of training
I wonder how many others have been like me, read over the names of towns and cities in the Bible, with little understanding of the place, the people, or the cultures.
In my research for this book series I discovered many interesting, and previously unknown facts.
Some things were obvious… the apostle John and the Christian brethren of that time walked. They had none of what is pictured below 🙂
- No phones
- No mobile/cell phones
- No bus service
- No GPS system to guide them
- No computers
- No internet
It is not only that they had to walk everywhere, like Christ, our Saviour, there are other differences which I discovered when I set myself to walk in their shoes and discover how they lived, what they ate, how they dressed…
But to focus first on how the gospel was spread.
Well, those Roman conquerors, who made life so difficult for our first Christian forefathers… in other ways made it easy for the ‘Good News’ to be spread.
Wherever the Romans went, they made roads. They needed to move their armies around their Empire.
I well remember the road in the image to the side. It led from London to Edinburgh. When it came to the hills in the north of England, it went up one side, down the other and up the next… and so one. It was a bit like driving on a ‘scenic railway’.
But they were not the only ones who built roads. The Persian empire built the Royal road… for trade, and of course there was the famous Silk road linking Chang’an in China all the way to Rome. There were other branches, as can be seen from the image below…
All the road building did make it easier for the spread of the gospel – but there were dangers. Robbers were a common threat, so too were wild animals. In Hold the Faith, Benjamin is attacked by a bear.
There were also dangers from human beings…
- The Jewish people hated them because they had abandoned the true faith.
- The pagans hated them, Christianity had ruined their trade
- The Romans hated them, calling them subversives, because they would not perform the yearly sacrifice of worship to the Emperor. Domitian, emperor at the time in which this book series was set, styled himself as ‘master and god’.
When the Hold the Faith commences in 92 AD, the apostle John is the only living link with the Saviour, Jesus Christ.
So, in a short series of posts, I will share some of the details about the ‘churches’ in the Roman province of Asia… the churches which John addressed in the book of Revelation.
How did he know about them?
I believe that as well as writing to them, he would have visited them… and I am not ignoring the fact that the letters to the churches were dictated by Christ Himself. But John mentioned his ‘dear friend’ Antipas. In my mind, he would likely have visited and shared fellowship with the brethren… that is part of what Hold the Faith is about.
Stay tuned for more about the seven churches of Revelation.