Seven Roman Emperors
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Seven Roman Emperors
(Revelation 17.9-11)
Page 236

"This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction." (Revelation 17.9-11)✞

Mind with Wisdom

Seven Emperors AmphitheatreThe angel said to John of Patmos, "This calls for a mind with wisdom" which probably meant something like, "Here is a clue. It's up to you to connect the dots and come up with your own conclusions." The angel was giving John of Patmos a hint as to the identity of the seven kings or emperors who ruled from the city of seven hills, that is Rome. The city was deliberately called Babylon to disguise the message but this was well known by Jews and Christians as another name for Rome itself. Ancient Rome had seven hills including the Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Hill which were like the seven heads, described elsewhere as a reference to the great harlot.

Roman Emperors Cruelty

Martyrs in the ColosseumIn the early centuries of Christianity, the Roman Empire through its officials and Roman Emperors were particularly cruel to Christians. Many thousands of Christians died at the hands of emperors such as Domitian and Nero. Believers were burned at the stake, sawn in half, skinned alive, impaled on wooden stakes, crucified, thrown to wild animals and killed simply for sport by gladiators in the Colisseum, the oval amphitheater in the center of Rome. The Colisseum was the largest amphitheater ever built but the Romans built smaller versions in cities across the Empire like at Verona in Italy because they just loved sports like British people love soccer or Americans love baseball. The games were a way for the authorities to keep order in society. John of Patmos believed God would answer such cruelty towards the Christians with equal ferocity. The punishment of Babylon (ancient Rome) was now told as if it were a past event.

Seven Roman Emperors

Emperor Bust"The seven heads were the seven Roman emperors," wrote John of Patmos. "Five have fallen, one at present exists but the other has not yet come. When he does come, he must remain for a short time." The beast, which was and is not, was itself or himself the eighth Roman emperor, that is Domitian. He proceeded from the series of seven emperors, but was soon destroyed.✞

Fallen Emperors

Emperor AugustusThe Roman Empire began with its first emperor and founder Augustus (BC 63-14 AD.) The first five of the Roman emperors were Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. These were the five emperors who had fallen according to Revelation 17. After the death of Nero, there were two years of chaos in which several minor leaders who were not later considered emperors including Galba, Otho and Vitellius came and went in quick succession. They were not generally viewed in any real sense as emperors and were not normally included in any list of emperors. The seven emperors were concluded with Vespasian and Titus. The "eighth emperor" was Domitian, and he was probably the cruelest of them all.✞

"Seven Roman Emperors"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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