While all of this excitement is happening and the new church is growing, there is turmoil in Rome. Emperor Tiberius is dead, and his successor, Gaius Julius Caesar, is shaking things up. Gaius is the son of the revered army general Germanicus, Tiberius’ adopted nephew. Although he isn’t fond of the nickname, most people in Rome know him as Caligula, which means “little boots.” When he was a young boy, he went on campaigns with his father and wore a child size version of the uniform that Roman soldiers wore, complete with little soldier’s boots. Though Gaius knows that the nickname was given as a term of endearment, he feels that it is not a title becoming to an emperor of Rome. During the first six or seven months of his reign as emperor, Gaius is beloved by the people. He reverses many of the hated laws put in place by Tiberius and brings back people that Tiberius exiled. But then, he gets sick, and he suspects that he has been poisoned. After his recovery, he grows suspicious of everyone and everything, and sets himself up as a living god, calling on the whole Roman world to worship him. He earns the outrage of the entire population of Judea when he orders a life-sized statue of himself to be placed in the Temple in Jerusalem. Even Herod Antipas fights against this abomination that flies in the face of the first commandment – “I AM the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt, and you shall have no other gods besides Me.” Everyone in power in Judea knows that if this is allowed to happen, it will mean mass rioting against Roman rule and the consequent slaughter of all who take part in the riots. It will also likely mean that those currently in power will not remain in power, and after working so hard to keep their positions, they can’t allow that to happen. Emperor Caligula doesn’t trust the Jewish people, but he doesn’t make any leadership changes in Jerusalem itself. He does, however, remove Herod Antipas from his position as Tetrarch after Antipas is accused of and confesses to planning a rebellion against Rome. The Emperor places his good friend Herod Agrippa in the position instead. Between all of this uproar throughout the Roman world and Caiaphas losing Saul to the Followers of the Way, things are fairly peaceful for the church all throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. The small communities of believers grow and are strengthened through their deep faith, building up the church. The Holy Spirit is with them and leads them in all that they do, and the apostles are able to travel to areas where new small branches of the church are forming, teaching, healing, and strengthening the small groups.
Acts 9:31, Exodus 20:2-3, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caligula