The Colosseum

Much of our vocabulary has its roots in Greek and Latin of the New Testament era. Examples: “arena” is Latin for sand; “circle” is Latin for circus; and “podium” is Latin for a place of honor. 

Paul was writing to young Timothy from Rome, from within sight of the construction of the Colosseum and the existing Circus Maximus. The Circus Maximus in the time of Caesar seated 150,000. In the time of Titus 250,000; in the 4th Century, 385,000.

These places saw much blood shed. At one feat 600 bears and 800 lions died. During the 120 days of dedication of the Colosseum 12,000 beasts and many humans were killed. Here many of our ancestors in the faith died.

Come inside the Colosseum for a moment. Beneath the main floor are cages for 2,000 wild beasts. At one end of the arena is a large arched entrance. It is the “Porta Sanavivaria,” Latin for the “Door of the Living.”  

The choicest location in the seats was reserved for Caesar. It was called the Podium. He was considered by the Romans to be their God. As the gladiators entered the Porta Sanavivaria they chanted “Ave, Caesar, Morituri Salutant” = “Hail to Thee, O Caesar; those about to die greet thee.” How could they enter with such joyful delight knowing many of them would die? Because they believed they were offering their life for their god, Caesar.

When a person was dismembered, wounded or killed, slaves dressed like the goddess of the underworld, used large hooks to grab them in the chest and drag them through the Door of Libertina, the “Goddess of Corpses.”

This was the environment in which the roots of Christianity grew.

When you are called on to take a stand for Jesus in an alien environment remember the examples of your spiritual ancestors. This is a good moment to pause and declare your devotion to our Lord who died for us.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1