Claudius, emperor of Rome (Acts 11)

Claudius, the Roman emperor from A.D. 41 to 54, was an effective ruler, with the style of administration becoming less despotic and more bureaucratic during his tenure. He expanded the empire and improved roads and aqueducts in Italy and the provinces. Classical writers have reported, however, that the reign of Claudius was a period of distress and scarcity due to scanty harvests and other causes.

Early in his rule Claudius issued edicts favouring the Jews, reversing the policy of Caligula (Acts 37-41) and permitting Jews in all parts of the empire to freely observe their own laws and customs. Claudius made poor choices, however, in appointing procurators over Judah, and the situation there continued to deteriorate. Jews in Rome were not allowed to assemble because of their large number. Later, around year 50, he expelled the Jews from Rome (Acts 18:2). The historian Suetonius (ca. 70-130) recorded this event (Claudius 25.4), which is historically significant for its connection to the rise of Christianity. For the infant Christian church, the reign of Claudius was a relatively quiet environment in which to grow, in contrast to the tumultuous reign of his successor, the infamous Nero (reigned 54-68).

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