Persecution was really on the increase at the end of the first century. Rome was persecuting the church as never before under Emperor Domitian. As John is penning the Revelation persecution is about to get worse.
Domitian was the first Roman Emperor that demanded to be called “dominus et deus”, which means master and god. He revived the imperial cult deifying the emperor. “4th century writings by Eusebius of Caesarea maintains that Jews and Christians were heavily persecuted toward the end of Domitian's reign.” (Wikipedia) It’s important that we look at the book of revelation in this historic context. Because, it explains the purpose of sending the revelation to churches that were about to undergo persecution.
Why would Domitian persecute the Jews and the Christians so vigorously? When you think about it it is very simple. Jews and Christians cannot and will not call any man god. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3 ESV)Christian are to remain faithful to Jesus and they will be rewarded “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 ESV Domitian wanted to be called god and they refused and preached against doing it. Christians were defiant in an even more troublesome way than the Jews, they claimed Jesus as their King. Domitian couldn’t tolerate any other god or king, so they must be made an example of what happens to those that do not worship the emperor.
So let’s keep these thoughts in mind as we delve further into the book of Revelation.
© 2013 Leo J. Woodman