About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Paul Before Nero


Acts 9:15 and 16 states that Jesus commissioned the Apostle Paul to preach the gospel to Israelis, to Gentiles, and Gentile kings.  In the process he would suffer immensely, which included imprisonments and subsequent trials before the Jewish Sanhedrin and Roman legal system.  Acts 18 records Paul's first Roman trial before Gallio, the Roman governor of the province of Achaia.  Paul was acquitted because he had not broken any Roman law.     


In Acts 21 an ill advised plan by the Christian elders in Jerusalem landed Paul before the Sanhedrin and then before Felix, the Roman governor of the province of Judea.  Like Gallio, Felix concluded that Paul had not broken any Roman law.  He suggested that Paul return to Jerusalem to be tried by the Jews.  Paul refused.  He was a Roman citizen and believed he should be tried in a Roman court.  In Acts 25:11 he uttered some of the most important words of His life.  "I appeal to Caesar".

Caesar was Nero.  Once knowing what kind of man Nero was, you'd scratch your head and wonder why Paul would make such an appeal.  Of course, it was Jesus who commissioned Paul to stand before Nero as seen in Acts 27:24.    


Nero became emperor at the age of 16.  His mother was Caesar Claudius' fourth wife.  She plotted against Claudius and had him poisoned so Nero could become emperor.  Since Nero was too young to rule the empire effectively, he was tutored by a philosopher politician named Seneca.  In all practicalities, Seneca ruled the empire until Nero became of age. 


Nero's mother doted over him to the extent that he turned into a spoiled brat of a teenager.  The life of luxury and fame went to his head.  He had little interest in ruling an empire.  His interest was in the arts.  He considered himself to be the best poet, musician, singer songwriter, and actor in the empire.  The fact of the matter is that he was a pathetic example of all these endeavors.  To prove he was talented he entered numerous contests and won them all.  His success wasn't based on his talent but based on him being the emperor.  If he lost, he'd have the judges beheaded.   


If Nero was a spoiled brat of a teenager, he was an egotistical brat as an adult.  To make a long story short, anyone who opposed him was banished to a far off place or executed.  He had an incestuous relationship with his mother, whom after many attempts had her murdered.  Besides his extra marital affairs and numerous wives, his last spouse was a young boy.   


In 64 A D a large portion of Rome burned to the ground.  Many residents of the city blamed Nero for the fire.  In order to counteract this accusation Nero proclaimed the fire was started by Christians.  He thus gathered about eight hundred or so Christians and had them executed in the public forum.  As a form of entertainment to the masses, Christians had their arms and legs ripped out of their sockets.  They were fed to hungry lions, burned to death, and, beheaded.  Why in the name of heaven would Jesus ever want Paul to stand trial before this madman who hated Christians?


It's obvious that Nero needed hear the gospel so he could turn his life over to Jesus, but there was more to Paul standing before Nero than Nero's salvation.  The empire needed to hear the gospel at its highest level.  Once hearing the gospel, whether as an individual or a nation, one is responsible for what one hears.  Nero heard the gospel for himself.  He rejected it and therefore at the Great White Throne judgment as seen in Revelation 20, the rejected gospel will stand as a witness against him.  In other words, the rejected gospel is the evidence by which God will judge Nero and send him into the Lake of Fire.  The same was true with the Roman Empire .  As emperor of the empire, Nero rejected the gospel on behalf of the empire.  The rejected gospel stood as a witness against the Roman Empire on the day God judged it, which He did as seen in its eventual collapse.    


Like Paul, the prophets of God have, and still are, proclaiming the gospel to the nations of the world.  The western nations, in which many of us live, like the Roman Empire , are rejecting the gospel.  Therefore, the rejected gospel will stand as a witness against our nations.  Our nations will soon fall at the hand of God's judgment unless there is a prompt and swift turn of events towards genuine repentance. 


The gospel message is not only meant to lead people to salvation.  It is meant to stand as evidence in God's heavenly courtroom for the nations.  How our nations respond to the gospel will determine how God responds to our nations.  It was for this reason that Paul proclaimed the Christian gospel to Nero and the Roman Empire .  It is for the same reason that we proclaim the same gospel, not only to individuals, but to the leaders of the nations in which we live. 



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