Christian Persecution Under Emperor Nero (54-69)

Nero was a crazy, cruel Roman emperor who ruled for fourteen years, from 54 to 68. A great fire burned down much of Rome in 64; most historians believe that it was started by Nero, but that he blamed the fire on Rome’s Christian community. As a result, Nero martyred many Christians in Rome. Paul and Peter were martyred there during the reign of Nero, around 65.

While imprisoned in Rome, Peter wrote 1 Peter, which he sent to churches that were experiencing hardships throughout central and northern Asia Minor. However, the let-

ter gives no indication that these Christian persecutions were the result of a direct imperial decree by Nero. Rather, they were likely initiated by local governing officials responding to the growing number of Christians and churches.

Some Bible teachers suggest that the apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos during the reign of Nero. They hold to an early writing date of the book of Revelation before 70, instead of a later date, during the reign of Domitian, around 95. Nero committed suicide in 69.