• Ben Emery

This is a Rebellion isn't it?

“Salvation is to be found in no other save Augustus, and there is no other name given to men in which they can be saved.”


Sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it. This wasn’t just a sentiment given to Augustus but was common to all the Caesars. Caesar was God. Caesar was Saviour. Caesar was Lord. Chilton makes this point,

“They claimed not only the titles but the rights of deity as well. They taxed and confiscated property at will, took citizens’ wives (and husbands) for their pleasure, caused food shortages, exercised the power of life and death over their subjects, and generally attempted to rule every aspect of reality throughout the Empire.”[1]

“Caesar is Lord!” was the mantra of the time. And it was precisely this issue which caused the Christians so much trouble. They weren’t killed because they worshipped Jesus. People were free to worship whatever or whomever they pleased. That is, if it didn’t disrupt the unity of the state, which again, was summarized by the cry, “Caesar is Lord”.


Consider the charges against Paul and his companions, brought by their Jewish opponents to the Roman authorities: “They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, Jesus” (Acts 17:7).

“What harm is there in saying ‘Caesar is Lord?’” Polycarp was asked. It was his and other’s refusal to speak this simple phrase that resulted in countless thousands of martyrdoms. Clearly, for them Jesus was not Lord simply over their hearts or over some spiritual realm only, which left room for another Lord elsewhere. They recognized that no area of their life was neutral in terms of Lordship and their Lord demanded it all. Therefore, Jesus was the only God, the only King, the only Saviour and the only Lord.


It was this understanding that led Peter to make this highly politicized statement, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).


Tyrants do not persecute Christians because of their religion per se. They are persecuted because in recognizing Christ’s Lordship over all, that includes the tyrant and his state. Early Christians were persecuted because, in the eyes of Rome, they were political rebels.


In a political environment that is becoming increasingly tyrannical (demanding our total allegiance) and increasingly god-like (providing for our “salvation” at every turn), would that we have the courage of the saints that have gone before us to be seen as rebels, declaring “Jesus is Lord” over every realm.


[1] Chilton, David. The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation, Dominion Press, Ft. Worth, Texas. 7.

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