Who Was Caesar Augustus?

Who was Caesar Augustus and why does he matter?

While we all have a general idea about the history of the Roman Empire and we all know that Jesus was born during his reign, there is much more that we need to know about this first emperor of the Roman Empire.

For someone who lived so long ago, we know quite a bit about Caesar Augustus and about the events surrounding him.

Caesar is a title and the name Augustus was bestowed on him, but his name was Octavius (also known as Octavian. Octavius was born in 63 BC and was the great nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was, of course, assassinated in 44 BC. At that time Octavius received the rewards of Julius’ will. At first, Octavius shared power with Mark Antony. Later, when Antony rebelled and joined forces with his mistress Cleopatra (the leader of Egypt), Octavius sent his navy to fight Antony and Cleopatra. When their forces were defeated at the Battle of Actium (31 BC), Octavius began consolidating his power. What we know as the Roman Empire came from these events.

Octavius reigned as the first emperor of the Roman Empire from 27 BC (some date it as 31 BC because of the Battle of Actium) to AD 14. Jesus was born at about the midpoint of Octavius’s reign.

Octavius is known for many things, including instituting censuses for the purposes of extracting taxes from subject people and consolidating power. This is why Joseph and Mary made the trip to Bethlehem.

The Roman Senate granted Octavius the name Augustus which means grand or lofty. Later, they honored him as they had Julius Caesar before him by proclaiming him a god and naming a month after him (August). July was named after Julius Caesar.

I love history, but I can’t look at history without looking through the lens of Christian faith.

Isn’t it amazing how significant Augustus was in his day (even being named a god) and how forgotten he is, but Jesus is known, worshiped, and served around the world? This past Sunday over 2 billion people called the name of Jesus in worship. Today, people are going to the ends of the earth to make Him known. Next week, people around the world will celebrate His birth.

Octavius affected world history, but Jesus Christ continues to change lives everyday. Soon He will return to earth and gather His own people to Himself. He will be proclaimed who He truly is: Lord of all lords and King of all kings, the holy and righteous One.


One Comment

  1. Mark Graham
    Dec 18, 2018

    Thanks Waylon for pointing out this amazing comparison of earthly power and heavenly glory. A man proclaimed “god”, fading away in history, and God becoming man, shining brighter than ever. My prayer is that many people who do not know Him will be drawn to Him this Christmas.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. — Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)