Rome was the capital city of, and gave its name to, the Roman Empire. Located strategically on the Italian peninsula, the city had its beginning in the west, far removed from the Assyrian empire which had already conquered the northern kingdom of Israel (722 BC). The traditional date was April 21, 753 BC, in the thirtieth year of King Uzziah of Judah.
The city-state was ruled by a series of kings for 244 years before finally establishing a republic in 509 BC. By this time, the Assyrian empire had been conquered by the Babylonians who succeeded in subjugating Judah in 586 BC. The Babylonians had been defeated by the Medo-Persians, and the Jews had been allowed to return to rebuild Jerusalem. The exile had ended in 516 BC,
While in captivity, though, the prophet Daniel had been shown the rise of the Romans in the west. It was a matter of time before the young republic would begin to spread, conquering Italy, Greece and points beyond. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that this would be the "legs of iron" of the statue in his vision. Though mighty, the empire would one day fall, according to the vision, due to feet of iron mixed with clay. Later, Daniel would see four beasts, the last of which was a fearsome beast with iron teeth, which may have been depicting the Roman Empire.
By the time of birth of Jesus, Rome had become the center of a vast empire stretching from Britain to the edge of India. The known world was divided into occupied provinces that were allowed a certain amount of autonomy. The fate of the citizens often depended on the emperor. The New Testament mentions of at least three of these emperors: Augustus, Tiberius and Claudius. Another Augustus, mentioned in Acts, was most likely Nero. If the traditional dating of the Revelation is true, then Domitian was the emperor alluded to by John in that book.
The provinces were overseen by Roman governors, such as Pontius Pilate. It was this governor who could not find a reason to execute Jesus Christ, but feared the Jewish crowds and ordered for his death by crucifixion in AD 33. About four years later, he was replaced for mismanagement of the province of Judea.
The Apostle Paul. was arrested in Jerusalem and sent to Rome, where he was imprisoned for a time. Indications are that he was released, only to be recaptured and finally executed in Rome before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.