The Claim to Roman Citizenship
In the first century C.E. Roman citizenship was highly prized. The Roman citizen enjoyed certain valuable rights and immunities. For example, he could not be scourged or tortured with the intent of extracting a confession from him.
The Christian apostle Paul made use of his rights as a Roman citizen, and his claim to citizenship was accepted on his own statement. Why did officials accept Paul’s personal statement without getting it confirmed? (Acts 16:37, 38; 22:25-29) There was little likelihood of anyone’s making a false claim, as that was an offense punishable by death. The ancient historian Suetonius wrote with reference to the reign of Emperor Claudius: “It now became illegal for foreigners to adopt the names of Roman families, and any who usurped the rights of Roman citizens were executed on the slopes of the Esquiline Hill.”