Roman coin showing Augustus’s two
maternal grandchildren. Used with the kind
permission of Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.,
The Roman Emperor Augustus was the maternal grandfather of Gaius Julius Caesar [20 BC-AD 4] and Lucius Julius Caesar [17 BC-AD 2]. Since Augustus had no sons himself, he adopted them as his heirs. Roman society had a special ceremony when young boys reached their middle teen years and could wear the new garment, the toga virilis, indicating their arrival into manhood. This rite of passage in Rome for Gaius Caesar was acknowledged and celebrated many miles away by one of the 7 cities of Revelation.
Gaius Julius Caesar; British Museum
Not only does this decree from the city of Sardis mention prayers being offered to Augustus for the safety of his children, but the city proclaims this day of transition from youth to manhood for Gaius Caesar as an annual “sacred day” on which the city of Sardis will offer prayers and sacrifices to the gods and “all shall wear wreaths and festal garments.” Furthermore, a statue of Gaius Caesar was to be erected in the imperial Temple of Augustus located in Sardis. In addition, this news was regarded as such “good news” [euangelisthē] by those in Sardis that they wore wreaths and gave sacrifices to the gods on that very day that such “good news” was received. The “good news” language of this inscription is noteworthy since it uses the same Greek verb [euangelizō; e.g., Matt. 11:5; Lk. 4:18; Acts 5:42; 17:18; 1 Cor. 1:17; 15:1; Gal. 1:11] that would be used later by Jesus and his followers when describing the proclamation of their own “good news.”