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Oxford Bible Atlas Contextualizes the stories and lands of the Bible through user-friendly maps and illustrations.

The Church in Rome

It seems likely that when Paul arrived in Rome there was already a reasonably strong church there, to which he had written his epistle. This suggests that Christianity had expanded in ways not mentioned in Acts, probably thanks to the activity of other apostles and the movement of believers around the Empire. Claudius (41–54) is said to have expelled all the Jews from Rome. Aquila and Priscilla, natives of Pontus, were among those expelled from Rome at this time and they came to Corinth where Paul met them (Acts 18: 2 ). The Roman historian Suetonius suggests that this expulsion was the result of disturbances caused by a certain Chrestus; this may indicate that Christianity was already causing dissension in the Jewish community.

Tradition associates Peter with the founding of the church in Rome, and perhaps Peter and Paul should be regarded as co‐founders. The closing verses of Acts suggest that Paul spent two years in Rome, continuing his preaching ministry (Acts 28: 30–1 ). By 64 the Christians in Rome were numerous enough for Nero (54–68) to accuse them of having started a disastrous fire in the city. Although it is widely believed that they were innocent, many were put to death at the instigation of the emperor. Tradition says that Peter and Paul were included among their number. The church in Rome became the chief centre of Christianity in the West, and continued to be so for many years. Mark's Gospel has been thought to have been written there, perhaps incorporating traditions which may have come from Peter. There is an enigmatic reference to Christians from Italy in Hebrews 13: 24 .

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