ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME
I just returned from a visit to Rome. Last year I was able to visit Israel and now this year I was able to visit the other major destination of biblical history. Certainly Turkey and Greece are also significant and I hope to visit them soon as well. I enjoyed my time in Rome very much and I was able to see many sites. The original walled part of the city is filled with places crucial to understanding the Christian faith.
Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire. It was a city located on the Tiber River with seven hills. It was the largest city in the world with over one million residents. It boasted the Circus Maximus, a huge arena used for chariot racing and other games, the Coliseum a stadium where over 50,000 people would watch gladiators fight and Christians killed by animals and the Forum where citizens engaged in political, commercial and religious enterprises. This is where Paul defended himself and the Christian movement. I visited every one of these sites and saw first hand the enormity of their size and impact.
The apostle Paul wanted very much to visit Rome. He wrote in Romans 1:13-15, “I want you to know that I have often planned to come for a visit…I want to win followers to Christ in Rome…That’s why I am eager to visit all of you in Rome”. He was driven to get to Rome. He knew it was the center of the known world and it was the place where Christianity must have a great influence. He wrote the book of Romans to the church at Rome. Romans is the most theological book of the Bible. Paul works his way through a sophisticated argument constructing a book that holds together logically and theologically. Romans shows the gospel is big enough to deal with the weighty issues of the world. Reading it will give you a grand perspective on what it means to be a Christ follower.
Paul did eventually get to Rome though not in the way he may have hoped. His ministry there laid a foundation for the Christian faith. In fact Rome became the center of the Church. To this day it is the home to the Roman Catholic Church the largest Christian group in the world. For 1600 years we were all one “catholic” (meaning universal) Church. The world’s largest church building St Peter’s is located at the Vatican in Rome. The Christian Church is the largest group in the world with over 2 billion followers. There is no doubt in my mind that Rome was crucial to the growth of the Church. Paul’s ministry in Rome and the faithfulness of those who followed created a huge launching point for the expansion of the Gospel throughout the world.
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