hearing before visiting King Agrippa was in order that Festus might have clearer information to submit in transmitting Paul’s case to “the August One,” Nero. (Acts 25:12-27; 26:32; 28:19) Paul’s appeal served a further purpose, that of taking him to Rome, fulfilling an intention expressed earlier. (Acts 19:21; Rom. 15:22-28) Jesus’ prophetic promise and the angelic message later received both show divine direction in the matter.—Acts 23:11; 27:23, 24.
It was apparently during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome or about 60-61 C.E. that he wrote his letter to the Philippians. At the letter’s close, Paul includes the greetings of the brothers in Rome and “especially those of the household of Caesar.” (Phil. 4:21, 22) The term “household of Caesar” does not necessarily refer to the immediate family of Nero, then reigning, but may apply to those in government service, Caesar’s slaves and minor officials. Whether these Christians from Caesar’s household were products of Paul’s preaching is not stated. If his prison quarters were at all connected with the Praetorian Guard (Phil. 1:13), this would place him, and the preaching he there did, in the proximity of Nero’s palace, hence near many of the “household of Caesar.” (Acts 28:16, 30, 31) Whatever the manner of his meeting these Christians of Caesar’s household, they apparently had special interest in the brothers of Philippi. Since Philippi was a Roman colony with many retired soldiers and government servants, it may be that a number of the Christians there were related to or were friends of those on whose behalf Paul conveyed greetings.
A great fire ravaged Rome in 64 C.E., destroying about a fourth of the city. The rumor circulated that Nero was responsible and, according to Roman historian Tacitus, Nero tried to protect himself by placing the blame on “a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.” (Tacitus’ Annals XV, 44) Mass arrests followed and Christians, or suspected Christians, were put to death in large numbers, among other tortures some being burned alive in public. This appears to have marked the start of a great wave of persecution, not from religious opposers, but from political sources bent on exterminating the Christian congregation. Likely Paul, who evidently was freed after two years’ imprisonment in Rome (c. 59-61 C.E.), now experienced his second imprisonment (c. 64 or 65 C.E.). It is generally held that he thereafter was put to death at Nero’s order.—Compare 2 Timothy 1:16, 17; 4:6-8.
The Jewish revolt began in 66 C.E., two years before Nero’s death, but was not suppressed until 70 C.E. in the reign of Vespasian (69-79 C.E.). The apostle John is thought to have been exiled to the island of Patmos during the rule of Domitian (81-96 C.E.), a harsh opponent of Christianity.—Rev. 1:9.
An important seaport city built by Herod the Great on the Mediterranean seacoast during the latter part of the first century B.C.E. The original site was previously known as Straton’s or Strato’s Tower, thought to be so named after a Sidonian ruler. Now called Keisariyeh, it is situated about twenty-three miles (37 kilometers) S of Mount Carmel and about fifty-four miles (86.9 kilometers) N-NW of Jerusalem.
The Jewish historian Josephus is the prime source of information about the construction and early history of the city. Herod the Great had received the site along with Samaria and other towns, as a gift from Caesar Augustus. After rebuilding Samaria, which he named Sebaste, he turned his attention to the seacoast and proceeded to build a magnificent port and city at Strato’s Tower, the construction covering a period of ten to twelve years, and the time of its dedication coming about the year 10 B.C.E. (according to some authorities). These projects were named in honor of Caesar Augustus, the city being called Caesarea Sebastos. The city was built in Grecian style with colonnades, arches, a temple, theater, amphitheater, and a hippodrome with seating capacity for some 20,000 persons. An aqueduct supplied Caesarea with fresh water, and a drainage system underneath the city carried water and sewage out to the sea.
The major feat, however, was the construction of the city’s artificial harbor. The coastline in this area is very regular, affording virtually no protection for ships against the prevailing winds from the SW. Herod built a mole or breakwater some 200 feet (61 meters) wide out into the sea by lowering huge stones, described by Josephus as fifty feet (15.2 meters) long, eighteen feet (5.5 meters) wide, and nine feet (2.7 meters) high, setting them into water twenty fathoms (36 meters) deep and on top of reefs. The harbor entrance lay toward the N and, according to modern investigation, was 180 yards (164.6 meters) wide. Caesarea thereafter rivaled Joppa in importance as a principal seaport on the Palestinian coast S of Phoenicia. It was also situated on the caravan route running from Tyre down to Egypt and had excellent communications with the cities inland as well.
Following the removal of Herod the Great’s son, Archelaus, in the year 6 C.E., Caesarea became the official residence of the Roman procurators who governed Judea. In the Bible account of the Acts of Apostles the city figures prominently both as a seaport and a seat of government.
Philip, who had accomplished successful missionary service in Samaria, subsequently engaged in “declaring the good news” in the coastal territory from the city of Ashdod in Philistia through all the cities on up to Caesarea, about fifty-five miles (88.5 kilometers)