The Roman Empire and Christianity
vast empire of which Rome was the centre had only become
recently consolidated when Christianity appeared in the
world. In the reign of Augustus its boundaries were--the
Atlantic on the west; the Euphrates on the east; the Black
Sea, the Danube, and the British Channel on the north; and
the deserts of Africa and Arabia, and the cataracts of the
Nile, on the south.
The German tribes alone on the north, and the Parthians on
the east, remained independent. The population has been
variously estimated: it probably lay between 85,000 and
120,000. To control such a variety of turbulent races, many
of them hovering on the skirts of barbarism, a large
military force was required; and a standing army of about
170,000 men, besides the troops stationed in the capital,
overawed the malcontent, and guarded the frontiers.
subjugated countries lying beyond Italy were called
provinces, and were governed by officers who received their
commission from the authorities at home...
devout student of history must recognize in the political
state of the world at this time a remarkable preparation for
the promulgation of Christianity. The peace which the empire
enjoyed; the excellent roads which the Romans constructed
wherever they established themselves; the presence of the
imperial legions in every important place repressing the
outbreaks of religious fanaticism, and so affording
protection to the infant church; the increase of commerce;
and the leveling tendency of an imperial despotism--all
manifestly contributed to the success of the gospel...
could not have been a more favorable moment for the heralds
of the gospel to commence their mission."
Arthur Litton, contributor, "The Imperial Bible
Dictionary" (originally published by Blackie and Son,
1891.) pp. 40-41