What a nasty piece of work. The 5th Emperor of the Roman Empire from AD 54 to 68. A man famed for his hell-raising. He was thought to be (though not confirmed I may add) the man holding the match after the Great Roman fire of AD 64. The story goes that he needed to clear some land for a building he wanted.
However, the most spine-chilling story about Emperor Nero is that he would capture Christians and burn them at the stake, using them as street lamps for his back garden so he could enjoy an evening stroll. He must not have minded the smell of burning flesh, but that’s a matter for another time. What concerns me most is what Paul and Peter, two of the most influential early church leaders have to say about this hooligan of a leader who is charge during their ministry in Rome.
Paul: ‘Every person is to be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.’ Romans 13:1-2 (feel free to read on to verse 7 if you want more!)
Peter: ‘Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.’ 1 Peter 2:13 (you can read on if want here too!!)
So Paul and Peter are trying to show people who Jesus is and they have a homicidal, unbalanced, arsonist(unconfirmed!) in control of Rome and they say ‘Honour the Emperor’ (literally – 1 Peter 2:17) .
Really?!? That’s all you lads are giving us?!?
The book of Acts records times when Peter disobeyed the authorities who were in power at the time. So what is it Peter? Obey the government or not?
What do you think?
How should we, following Jesus, react to the government in good and bad times?