TWO CLAUDIUS EMPEROR & TRIBUNE (Fr. Varghese Paul, S.J.)

In the New Testament we come across two Claudius The Roman Emperor Claudius and the Roman Tribune Claudius. Both Claudius appear only in the Acts of the Apostles.

The name of the Roman Emperor Claudius (AD 41-54) appears twice in the Acts. First, in chapter 11 of Acts. Luke speaks of some prophets from Jerusalem coming to Antioch. Prophet Agabus was one of the prophet who prophesized in Old Testament style that there will be severe fame in Roman Empire. That famine took place during Emperor Claudius time. Luke writes, About that time some prophets went from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and by the power of the Spirit predicted that a severe famine was about to come over all the earth. It came when Claudius was emperor (Acts 11, 27-28).

The second time Emperor Claudius name comes in the context Aquila and Priscilla who came from Italy to Corinth because Emperor Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Luke writes, Paul left Athens and went on to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, for the Emperor Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and stayed and worked with them (Acts 18, 1-3).

If Emperor Claudius is mentioned in passing, his namesake, Claudius Lysias, the Roman Tribune plays a major role in the Acts especially in protecting and saving the life of Paul at Jerusalem.

Claudius Lysias was the commanding officer of the troops at Antonia Fortress when Paul was assaulted by the Jews in the Temple area. The news of the Jewish mob trying to kill Paul reached the commander Claudius and he went over to Paul with some officers and soldiers and arrested him, and ordered him to be bound with two chains (Acts 21, 33).

The commander Claudius Lysias was not sure what had happened so he gave permission to Paul to speak to the people. Paul addressed Jews in Hebrew. The people listened to Paul until he spoke about his mission to the Gentiles. When the people again got wild and screamed to kill Paul, the Roman commander ordered his men to take Paul into the fort, and he told them to whip him in order to find out why the Jews were screaming (Act 22, 24). But Paul protested when they had tied him for whipping. Is it lawful for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasnt even been tried for any crime? (Acts 22, 25). Then the commander Claudius Lysias got frightened when he came to know that Paul was a Roman citizen.

Then, the commander allowed some freedom to Paul under custody and on the following day he took Pauls chain off and called the chief priests and the Jewish council to meet him to find out what exactly was Pauls crime.

Then, Paul spoke to them about resurrection claiming himself to be a staunch Pharisee. A fight broke out among the Pharisees and Sadducees about their respective belief and unbelief in the resurrection of the dead. Their fight becomes violent. The commander was afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces. So he ordered his soldiers to go down into the group, get Paul away from them, and take him into the fort (Acts 23, 10).

Then there was a plot to kill Paul. Paul came to know about it through his sisters son whom he sent to the commander. So the commander immediately decided to send Paul safely the same night to the Governor Felix at Caesarea.

Claudius Lysias wrote a letter to Felix as follows:

Claudius Lysias to His Excellency, the governor Felix: Greetings. The Jews seized this man and were about to kill him. I learnt that he was a Roman citizen, so I went with my soldiers and rescued him. I wanted to know what they were accusing him of, so I took him down to their Council. I found out that he had not done anything for which he deserved to die or be put in prison; the accusation against him had to do with questions about their own law. And when I was informed that there was a plot against him, at once I decided to send him to you. I have told his accusers to make their charges against him before you (Acts 23, 26-30).

As one can easily see Claudius Lysias is very tactful and diplomatic his letter! It is brief and objective. But we know that Claudius did not behave with Paul exactly as he had described himself in the letter. Anyway, Claudius certainly was an instrument in helping Paul to reach Rome. (contact the author : यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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