Roman Emperors of the New Testament Period



Contact with New Testament Concerns

27 BCE–14 CE



usually regarded as the first Roman emperor; credited with establishing the Pax Romana; birth of Jesus during his reign (Luke 2:1)

14–37 CE


ministry and death of Jesus occurred during his reign (Luke 3:1); appointed and later removed Pilate as governor of Judea; his image would have been on the coin shown to Jesus (Mark 12:14–17); see also Luke 23:2; John 19:12, 15; Acts 17:7

37–41 CE



established reputation of emperors for cruelty and decadence; demanded that a statue of himself be placed in Jewish temple but died before this could be carried out

41–54 CE


installed as a figurehead but turned out to be surprisingly competent; expelled Jews from Rome due to a disturbance over “Chrestus,” which brought Priscilla and Aquila into contact with Paul (Acts 18:1–4); made Herod Agrippa I king over Palestine (Acts 12:1–3)

54–68 CE


an exemplary ruler during his first five years, then turned self-indulgent and violent; responsible for horrific persecution of Christians; Peter was crucified and Paul beheaded during his reign (ca. 62–64)

69 CE




a time of civil war known as the “Year of Four Emperors”; Galba, Otho, and Vitellius rose to power in quick and forgettable successions before stability was restored under Vespasian

69–79 CE


the Roman general in the war with the Jews; returned to Rome to seize power when Nero died

79–81 CE


son of Vespasian; took over command of troops when his father became emperor; crushed the Jewish rebellion, destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, and presided over prolonged siege of Masada

81–96 CE


reported to have persecuted Christians, but solid evidence for this is lacking; his reign perhaps forms the background for the anti-Roman sentiments in the book of Revelation