I have trouble understanding how the Romans converted to Christianity. In the Bible, the Romans weren't portrayed very nicely. For example, Herod the Great did quite a lot of awful things. Jesus was crucified by Roman soldiers. The Bible obviously seems to portray the Romans as the enemy of the Chosen People of God. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me that the Romans could still become Christians.

[I want to apologize ahead if my questions sound disrespectful to anybody. This isn't my intent. I grew up in East Asia which has very few Christians. I have been studying the Bible on my own. My knowledge could have serious defects and my terminologies could be way off. I would appreciate if you guys can bear with me, and help me understand the history and the Bible better.]

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    This question is a little less clear than it should be. Are you asking what would convince ancient Romans to convert or why ancient Romans could call themselves Christian with they were violent and sometimes wicked people? Either way, I am not sure the question is constructive for this site. Please clarify.
    – user3961
    Mar 29, 2013 at 4:25
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    I don't think as written, this is a good fit for the site. We do see several examples of prominent Romans (like the Centurion) converting to Christianity. Saying how can Romans be Christians when they killed Jesus is like asking how can Germans be Jewish because of the Holocaust. Just because some members of a people group did bad things, doesn't mean they were all like that or all supported it.
    – SSumner
    Mar 29, 2013 at 4:31
  • @SSumner: (Just pointing out that you have the rep to cast a close vote if you feel it necessary.) Mar 29, 2013 at 5:22
  • @El'endiaStarman - I did not realize that. I'm used to needed 3000 rep to close, but I forgot that beta sites are different.
    – SSumner
    Mar 29, 2013 at 15:12
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    @CodeNoob - Herod the Great was not Roman, even though he was installed by the Romans. He was an Edomite
    – SSumner
    Mar 29, 2013 at 15:15

2 Answers 2


You seem to have a basic confusion over who are the ‘good people’ in the Bible. The Bible declares all are equally bound up under sin and are equally guilty before God. Therefore, all require salvation by Christ who personally died for the penalty of their sin. In this sense the more wicked you are, the greater candidate you are for Christianity. The blood of Christ brings peace between sinners and God by his free loving kindness not by collecting the good people together, but by forgiving and collecting the bad people together by salvation. Salvation is not at all dependent upon any good behavior or lack of animosity on the part of those who are converted to Christ by faith.

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ro 3:10–12).

You also seem to think the Bible had a long-term view of treating the Jews as ‘God’s people’ as though he was not always planning to include the entire world into his salvation. God is not a racist. God planned to save the world by calling one physical race, from which a Messiah would be born, in order that the whole world might be offered salvation. Right from the beginning God called Abraham in order that through his seed, (i.e. the Christ) Abraham would be the genealogical source of a ‘blessing to many nations’. The fact that the non Jewish world has accepted the Jewish Messiah, vindicates that Jesus is how Abraham became a source of blessing to the world. There has been no other 'Jewish religion' received by the world. Only this one by faith in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ. This is miraculous that what happened was predicted to occur so long ago.

I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ge 26:4)

The basic idea to Christianity is that Jesus was the long awaited ‘Jewish Messiah’ to extend the Jewish religion to the entire world. Therefore the good people are the sinners who have taken hold of this Savior, who forgives and frees them from their sins, through his dying love. This includes Jews, Romans, Chinese, etc. In this sense a Jew (a person separated to God) is not a Jew according to race but is a Jew inwardly, according to faith in Christ.

For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ro 2:28–29))

Basically race and moral dispositions have no relevance to our candidacy for Christianity. The only qualification is that we recognize we are all sinners and have faith that Christ died for our sins. The Romans were ideal candidates as they were clearly a wicked and violent part of human history. They were just the type of people God has great joy in forgiving, saving and making holy. We are also just that type.


Try Reading The Epistle of Paul to the Romans

The bible 'book' (it was originally a letter) called 'Romans' is a systematic explanation of the 'gospel' (good news message) of Jesus Christ. It's a great place to start when trying to understand concepts such as 'salvation' 'sin' 'universal guilt' etc. Some key premises of Christianity can help in understanding Romans getting saved in contrast to Romans persecuting the church:

I. The gospel (message of Jesus Christ that provides salvation) clearly teaches universal guilt and universal opportunity.

A. Universal Guilt means everyone is guilty from the murderer to the person who told a little white lie. This guilt corrupts man in general and makes him utterly unworthy of God's holiness (ultimate perfectness.) The epistle (letter) written to the Romans (the Christian church that was in Rome) is replete with statements of universal guilt. A most famous scripture is Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

B. Universal Opportunity means that everyone has the opportunity to accept God's chosen method for salvation which is belief in His Son Who:

  • Is the atoning (satisfy debt) sacrifice for your sins
  • Resurrected from the dead

Consider Bible Examples of Persecutors turned Converts

Consider the many bible examples of outright persecutors who became Christians.

  1. Paul (the author of 'Romans') was once a Jew who fervently (very dedicatedly) persecuted the Christian church even to move politicians to grant him authority to imprison and kill Christians.

  2. Peter, one of Jesus original disciples and later apostle (church leader), openly denied Jesus during his public trial. He later went on to become one of the most instrumental leaders of the church.

  3. The Jailer in Acts 16 was an instrument of the Roman government set to imprison Paul and keep him under lock and key. After a miracle which loosed Paul and his companion from their chains along with every other prisoner the Jailer was converted.

Jesus came to save 'Sinners'

Another major concept to understand is that the gospel was not intended for people who think they are right. It's intended for people who realize they are wrong and NEED salvation.

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." I Timothy 1:15-16

Jesus taught that people who aren't sick don't need a doctor. "And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Mark 2:16-17

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