-A. Ralph johnson


SECTION I: Outline of events to follow from the time John writes.


1    TRIUMPH (96-180 AD)


TRAJAN was adopted when Nerva (96-98) was an old man and followed him to the throne (98-117A.D.).  Nerva (96-98 A.D.) was a native of the island of Crete, which was renowned for its archers and had the bow as its ensign.  He adopted Trajan (98-117) who extended Rome's sway from the straits of Gibraltar to the Persian Gulf.  Of his conquests around the gulf, Gibbon, in his great history of the Roman Empire states, “He enjoyed the honor of being the first, as he was the last, of the Roman generals, who ever navigated that remote sea.”


He  was followed by Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius.  Of the period covered by all of those emperors, Gibbon says, “If a man were called to fix the period of the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domition to the accession of Commodus”.


2.   BLOODSHED (180- AD)


COMMODUS was 19 years old when his father, Marcus Aurelius, died.  He was very degenerate.  He was cruel, lustful, vengeful and devoid of every virtue.  At length he became such a monster that his favorite concubine and some of his closest friends murdered him during a drunken sleep. (193 AD)  This began a period of bloodshed which continued for a hundred years, in which over thirty out of thirty-four emperors died violently.


3.   SCARCITY (211- AD)


CARACALLA and Geta were brothers who were to share the throne after the death of their father, Septimus.  Caracalla treacherously murdered his brother in his mother's arms and then went mad.  He killed over 20,000 people who knew his brother or knew of what he had done.  He drained the national treasury with his outlandish living and then extended and doubled the taxes.  He brutally extracted assessments against the producers until the effect was to depress the output of grain, oil and wine.  Prices soared and scarcity prevailed.


4.  DEATH (249- AD)


DECIUS's second year was jolted by a disastrous plague which ravaged the world for almost twenty years.  Famine swept the empire and the barbarians on the borders pressed in from all sides.  There is even an account of the Christians being accused of responsibility for the great increase of attacks upon the population by animals.  It was claimed that over 5,000 people a day were dying in the city of Rome for a while.  It is estimated that over one-fourth of the population of the empire was swept away in these years.


5.   PERSECUTION (284- AD)


DIOCLETIAN divided up the rule of the empire.  During his reign he launched the tenth and bitterest persecution against Christians.




CONSTANTINE took the cross for his banner and by 322 AD had swept away the six emperors among which the empire was divided.  The upheaval was so great and the impact so extensive that the pagans were dismayed and terrified.  As many of the surrounding nations turned to Christianity the superstitious pagans grew in fear and expected the end of the world before the fury of the gods.  Many of them closed their temples and professed Christianity to avoid disfavor of the Emperor and the people.  (Compare Isaiah's use of symbols of heavenly bodies falling to picture the collapse of Babylon's empire. (is. 13: --especially 10-13)




After Constantine, Christianity spread throughout the world with little hindrance.  Delay of the destructive invasions by the barbarians gave it a chance to take solid root.




A   Destruction of Western Empire.


1)      Alaric (395-AD.) Led the Visigoths who sacked Rome three times.

2)      Genseric (428- AD) Led the Vandals through Spain into North Africa and then built a navy and sacked Rome from the sea.

3)      Attila (433- AD) “The scourge of God”, led the Huns in a swarm down across the Danube and utterly devastated the Roman provinces.

4)      Odoacer (476- AD) ousted the Western Emperor and proclaimed himself, “King of Italy.”  This ended the Western Roman Empire.  The Dark Ages rolled over the Empire and there are times when the City of  Rome was entirely deserted and only inhabited by wild animals.


B.  Destruction of the Eastern Roman Empire:


      1)   SARACENS (622- AD) (Arabians)


Mohammed started the Moslem or religion of Islam.  In a few years it conquered the Middle East and then they swarmed down across Egypt and North Africa and up into Spain.  In 732 they were defeated by the barbarian chief, Charles Martel, in the Battle of the Tours and driven back across the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain.  They were unsuccessful in their attempt to crush Constantinople but their depredations further darkened the empire and brought anguish upon the people who supported it.


Their aim was conversion and they gave the choice of paying tribute.  They were ordered to leave the ordinary Christians alone and aimed their prime attacks at the state church and the government.  Abu Beker, Mohammed's successor, gave the order, “Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of corn.  Cut down no fruit-trees, no do any mischief to cattle...”


They wore turbans and long beards.  In battle they loosened their long flowing hair and charged in fierce mounted attacks with their women cheering them on from the rear.  Their cloths were of bright colors and they wore coats of mail.  This period lasted about 150 years.


      2)   Turks (1057-1453 AD)


The Turkmens moved down from the area of the Caspian Sea and invaded Persia, India and Baghdad.  They accepted the Moslem religion.  For several centuries they were restrained from crossing the Euphrates River.  In 1057, Togrul was commissioned as the temporal lieutenant of the Caliph at Baghdad and given the assignment to go out and convert the world to the Moslem faith.  He swept across the Euphrates at the head of a vast number of horsemen and in a little over 396 years Constantinople fell and the Eastern Empire of Rome was crushed.  Much of their fighting was done in mounted charges.  They wore bright colored clothing and fired muskets.  Rank was denoted by the number of tails their horses were given.




1)      Luther calls for a reformation of the corrupt conditions within the Catholic church.

2)      Rome hurls forth excommunications against the Reformers.

3)      The Bible is placed in the hands of the people.

4)      The people eagerly accept it but it results in great unrest and bitterness.

5)      There begins a careful re-examination to discover the full scope of God's will, and the 1, 260 years of Papal temporal domination of the church approaches its end.

The temporal struggle of the Papacy against the reading the Bible is culminated in the French Revolution.  Sept. 20, 1792, the French Revolutionary government declared that there should be no god but  “reason” and “liberty.”  This was followed by the “Reign of Terror” which became so bad that Voltaire wrote, “If there were no God, it would be well to invent one.”  In 1795 (about 31/2 years later) the National Convention was reconstituted and revoked the edict.

6)      Following the turn of the century, a great period of revival swept the world.  Out of this came a great effort to restore the church in its original purity and a great movement towards freedom to read and follow the Bible.  This has set in motion a great upheaval which has been breaking down barriers to the Gospel around the world.