Nero

14 11 2007

nero1.jpgIn Acts 24 it speaks of Paul being taken in front of the Governor Felix by Ananias, the high priest and Tertullus which the Bible says was a gifted speaker. After years Festus moved on and a new Governor, Felix sat over the lot of Paul.  Because Paul was a Roman he had the right to declare his defence to the King and so it was that even King Agrippa had the Gospel laid out by none less than Paul himself. In fact Acts records Agrippa as saying, “Act 26:28  And Agrippa said to Paul, A little more and you will be making me a Christian.”  Do not think this is a compliment or indication that he was believing. It was a statement of scorn! History shows Agrippa as a man without morals.  As applied by Gentiles there was no doubt an implication of scorn, as in Agrippa‘s statement in Act_26:28. Tacitus, writing near the end of the first century, says, “The vulgar call them Christians. The author or origin of this denomination, Christus, had, in the reign of Tiberius, been executed by the procurator, Pontius Pilate” (Annals xv. 44). From the second century onward the term was accepted by believers as a title of honor.   Paul was under house arrest and after two years released. The precise details are somewhat unsure as we do not even know if the charges were brought or not.  In this time… One of the two children from previous marriages of the Emperor Claudius and his new wife Agrippina was Nero and Brittanicus respectively. After Claudius agreed that the son of Agrippina, Nero be declared heir to the kingdom Claudius was poisoned and Nero became Emperor. Stay with me, I know this becomes confusing, but when one is so depraved and murder and scheming is the order of the day it is difficult to follow.  As poison was a skill in these times and the method of choice for murder the 13 year old Brittanicus was fearful for his own life. He had a food and drink sampler who would test all foods and drink before Brittanicus would taste.  A warm drink was offered to Brittanicus who found it too warm and some cooler water was added. The cup was not tested once more and Brittanica was poisoned and any challenge to the throne eliminated.  Nero claimed he was having an “epileptic fit” and he was left to die. Agrippina had her eye on the crown and Nero was also aware of this and after numerous attempts at killing each other he eventually arranged for an evening sail on the lake. The ship was rigged to sink mid-stream. When it did the servant of Agrippina was instructed to call out that she was the Queen and needed assistance. She was beaten to death with oars as the Queen watched and swam to shore on her own.  Games over and Nero issued instructions that she be killed and Agrippina, his mother, was killed without ceremony with a sword! Nero was known for his aberrations and he would disguise himself as a peasant and wander the streets getting into drunken brawls until he was recognised. The senator who recognised him made apologies, which was seen as an insult by Nero who promptly ordered him to commit suicide.   Open air orgies with all possible depravities were held. This was the world in which Paul brought the message of love and forgiveness. I stand amazed that the Word could even be heard in this time of violence and sin. It was Nero who had Christians fed to the lions as simple entertainment. He would take such enjoyment that he would personally participate in these killings. He had both his wives killed and the head of Octavia presented to his second wife as a warning. It did not help as history shows she too was killed.  Then the disaster of Rome burning to the ground while Nero was reported to be dancing and clapping his hands as he observed the death by fire of hundreds of citizens. At last the people had had enough. It was obvious he needed another scapegoat as they turned on him and the obvious target was chosen. The Christians, who were already despised. He claimed, “my hands are clean, it is the Christians”.  Nero was the first to proclaim that those based on a belief to be fair game and must be “hunted down”. Nero died cowering in a corner where he committed suicide.  

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