Review of Luke 2

Review of Luke 2

by Pastor Adekoya


Who was Caeser Augustus? Enjoy this historical fact culled from Enduring Word Commentary

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

a. It came to pass in those days: Luke clearly tells us that he recorded actual history and real events. This is not “once upon a time.” These are not fanciful stories of Zeus and Apollo on Mount Olympus. This is real.

b. A decree went out from Caesar Augustus: The story of Jesus’ birth began during the reign of one of the most remarkable men of ancient history.

i. He was born with the name Octavian, named after his father. His grandmother was the sister of Julius Caesar, and being a talented young man, Octavian came to the attention of his great uncle. Julius Caesar eventually adopted Octavian as his son, and he was made his official heir in 45 B.C. Within a year Caesar was murdered, and Octavian joined with two others – Mark Antony and Lepidus – in splitting the domination of Rome three ways. For decades, the whole Mediterranean world was filled with wars and violence; now, under the Triumvirate, it became far worse. There were years of bloody, brutal fighting for power and money in Rome and the provinces.

ii. Octavian and Antony soon pushed Lepidus out of the picture. Even though his sister married Antony, for thirteen years Octavian and Antony existed together as rivals, until 31 B.C. For a year, their huge armies assembled and positioned themselves. Antony, with the help of Cleopatra, brought 500 warships, 100,000 foot soldiers, and 12,000 cavalry. Octavian answered with 400 warships, 80,000 infantry and 12,000 horsemen. Octavian had the better strategy and the more mobile ships, and he defeated the combined forces of Antony and Queen Cleopatra of Egypt at the battle of Actium. Now Octavian was the sole ruler of the Roman world and took the title Caesar Augustus.

c. That all the world: For decades, the world Augustus lived in and Jesus would be born into, the world of the Mediterranean basin, was wrecked by war, destruction, brutality, and immorality.

i. “The lusty peninsula was worn out with twenty years of civil war. Its farms had been neglected, its towns had been sacked or besieged, much of its wealth had been stolen or destroyed. Administration and protection had broken down; robbers made every street unsafe at night; highwaymen roamed the roads, kidnapped travelers, and sold them into slavery. Trade diminished, investment stood still, interest rates soared, property values fell. Morals, which had been loosened by riches and luxury, had not been improved by destitution and chaos, for few conditions are more demoralizing than poverty that comes after wealth. Rome was full of men who had lost their economic footing and then their moral stability: soldiers who had tasted adventure and had learned to kill; citizens who had seen their savings consumed in the taxes and inflation of war and waited vacuously for some returning tide to lift them back to affluence; women dizzy with freedom, multiplying divorces, abortions, and adulteries.” (Durant)

d. A decree went out from Caesar Augustus: It seemed that the authority of this man changed the chaos of that time in a dramatic way. He brought three things that turned the tide miraculously. First, he brought peace because he had defeated all his rivals. Second, he brought political and administrative skill, perhaps even brilliance. Third, he brought vast sums of money from Egypt to pay the soldiers and to help the Roman economy.

i. “Jesus was born in the reign of Augustus. After a long period of wars which had racked the Mediterranean and its shores, political unity had been achieved and the Roman Empire had become roughly coterminous with the Mediterranean Basin. Here and there it was soon to spread beyond it. Augustus was the first Emperor. Building on the foundations laid by his uncle, Julius Caesar, he brought peace and under the guise of the chief citizen of a restored republic ruled the realm which for several generations Rome had been building. The internal peace and order which Augustus achieved endured, with occasional interruptions, for about two centuries. Never before had all the shores of the Mediterranean been under one rule and never had they enjoyed such prosperity. The pax Romana made for the spread of ideas and religions over the area where it prevailed.” (Latourette)

ii. But as great a man as Caesar Augustus was, he was only a man. And the man who brought the answers also took a dear price. He demanded absolute power over the Roman Empire. For hundreds and hundreds of years, Rome prided itself on being a republic – a nation governed by laws, not by any man. The idea that no man was above the law, and the Roman Senate and the army and various political leaders lived together in a sometimes difficult arrangement. Now, Octavius would change all that. In 27 B.C. he arranged for the Roman Senate to give him the title Augustus, which means “exalted” and “sacred.” Now Rome wasn’t a republic, governed by laws; it was an empire governed by an emperor. The first Emperor of Rome was this same Caesar Augustus.

iii. Durant on the title Augustus: “Hitherto the word had been applied only to holy objects and places, and to certain creative or augmenting divinities; applied to Octavian it clothed him with a halo of sanctity, and the protection of religion and the gods.”

iv. One of his early titles was imperator, the commander in chief of all the armed forces of the state. But he came to make the title mean emperor.

v. This says something important about the world Jesus was born into. It was a world hungry for a savior, and a world that was living in the reign of a political savior – Caesar Augustus – but that wasn’t enough.

vi. “In the century before Christ was born the evidences of disintegration were so palpable in wars, in the passing of the old order, and in moral corruption, that the thoughtful feared early collapse. From this disaster the Mediterranean Basin was saved by Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar…[but] we must note that the principate devised by Augustus did not cure but only temporarily halted the course of the disease from which Graeco-Roman culture was suffering.” (Latourette)

vii. “Augustus and his successors had not solved the basic problems of the Mediterranean world. They had obscured them. For what appeared to be a failure in government they had substituted more government, and government was not the answer.” (Latourette)

2. (2) The governor of the Roman administrative region near Galilee.

This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.

a. This census: The registration and census described wasn’t for simple record-keeping or statistics. It was to efficiently and effectively tax everyone in the Roman Empire.

i. According to Leon Morris, Justin Martyr, writing in the middle of the second century, said that in his own day (more than a hundred years after the time of Jesus) you could look up the record of the same census Luke mentioned.

b. First took place: The idea in the original language is that this was “the first enrollment.” Using a census for taxation was common in ancient Rome, so Luke called this one “the first enrollment” to distinguish it from the well-known enrollment in A.D. 6 that he later mentioned in Acts 5:37.

c. While Quirinius was governing Syria: This is another historical anchor, securing Luke’s account with the reign of known, verifiable historical people.

3. (3) The world responds to the command of Caesar Augustus.

So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

a. So all went to be registered: It is an impressive thought; one man, in the ivory palaces of Rome, gave a command – and the whole world responded. It may well be that up to that point there had never been a man with power over more lives than Caesar Augustus.

i. Overall, Caesar Augustus was a good ruler. He expanded the territory of the Roman Empire and he did much for his people. The greatest sorrows of his life came from his home, because he had an out-of-control daughter, no son, and all of his nephews, grandsons, and his favorite stepson died young. But like most every man of such ambition and authority, he thought a lot of himself. It is easy to imagine how invincible he felt when he made a decree… that all the world should be registered for taxation. It’s pretty heady to think, “I make the command and the whole Roman world has to obey it.”

Now, it is principally up to you, whatever you make out of the above historical fact about Caesar, particularly as you study along to see his reaction at the news of Jesus’ natal arrival into the world. It is important however to note that (as it is till date) Jesus was born into a world that needs a saviour not just from sin, but also from governmental tyranny, plutocracy and autocracy. What I just said now will also help you understand why many Jews eventually didn’t get to believe in Jesus while on earth. Their area of focus and interest was fundamentally a political savior. Not understanding that that will be after Jesus’ accomplished mission as our eternal Savior.


Isn’t it amazing to see that one man could issue a decree and everyone all over the world would be on the run?! This shows how powerful Caesar Augustus had grown to become at that time, as the story availed us earlier depicted. However it is interesting to note that, everyone that ever came into this world, however powerful or socially and politically well placed was just but a Cast – an Actor – playing his or her role in the script of God towards the overall actualization of His agenda up till eternity to come so much that, He Himself had to come putting on the rag of immortality to play the role that only Him could play, when the fullness of time was come. Hallelujah!

However Caesar Augustus was powerful, maybe he wasn’t knowledgeable enough to know, or he was just not conscious that there is He that sits upon the circle of the Earth and the inhabitants before Him are as grasshopper; He that rides upon the wings of the wind! He that stretched out the heavens like by His outstretched hand. Little did he know that He that reigns in heaven and rules in the affairs of men was actually working behind the scene, motivating him (Caesar) to issue that decree because that was the only way the prophecy concerning Jesus being born in Bethlehem could have been fulfilled.

The decree necessitated Joseph to travel about 80 miles all the way from Galilee to Bethlehem and it was during their stay in Bethlehem that Jesus was born according to prophecy. It wasn’t all so accidental that Jesus was born in the manger as it was also in accordance with the plan of He that knows the end from the beginning! It was a necessary event of eternal and redemptive significance that Jesus had to be born in a manger. That was the Good Shepherd Himself being born in a manger, actually in a trough where the sheep feed because He’s the bread of life to be feasted upon by the sheep and, of course, the Good Shepherd of the sheep.

This is written, beyond a matter of historical fact, to let us know that no matter how unsweatable and unpalatable any event of our lives may appear to be (except that we see ourselves as the scriptwriter or deliberately going against the will and the ordinances of God) we should be rest assured that God has the original Script and He’s the Director and He has purposed all things to work together for the good of His creatures, particularly those of us that are in Christ Jesus. I believe this understanding among others, is the reason why Paul was bold enough to declare that all things work together for good to them the love God and to them who are the called according to His purpose. We are the ones called out of darkness according to God’s eternal purpose and it is an eternally unimpeachable fact that all things are mandated to work together for our good, hallelujah!

Therefore, the BELOVED of God in Christ Jesus, prophecy comes but most often, if not all the times, it is not in human capacity to chart the path towards the fulfillment of any prophecy but God is fully in control. That which has been said or written concerning you will surely come to pass because God your Father is both the SCRIPTWRITER and the DIRECTOR of The Script. Everyone in your life and everyone else that will still come across you or else, everyone you will still come across is ordained by God to play a certain role in your life towards the overall fulfillment of His agenda, purpose or plan for your life and in the end, is shall be clear that indeed the thoughts of God towards you are of good and not of evil. All the praise and glory shall be to his name alone.

Hallelujah, Amen!

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