Smith's Bible DictionaryClaudius
(lame), fourth Roman emperor, reigned from 41 to 54 A.D. He was nominated to the supreme power mainly through the influence of Herod Agrippa the First. In the reign of Claudius there were several famines, arising from unfavorable harvests, and one such occurred in Palestine and Syria. (Acts 11:28-30) Claudius was induced by a tumult of the Jews in Rome to expel them from the city. cf. (Acts 18:2) The date of this event is uncertain. After a weak and foolish reign he was poisoned by his fourth wife, Agrippina, the mother of Nero, October 13, A.D. 54.
International Standard Bible EncyclopediaCLAUDIUS
klo'-di-us (Klaudios): Fourth Roman emperor. He reigned for over 13 years (41-54 A.D.), having succeeded Caius (Caligula) who had seriously altered the conciliatory policy of his predecessors regarding the Jews and, considering himself a real and corporeal god, had deeply offended the Jews by ordering a statue of himself to be placed in the temple of Jerusalem, as Antiochus Epiphanes had done with the statue of Zeus in the days of the Maccabees (2 Maccabees 6:2). Claudius reverted to the policy of Augustus and Tiberius and marked the opening year of his reign by issuing edicts in favor of the Jews (Ant., XIX, 5), who were permitted in all parts of the empire to observe their laws and customs in a free and peaceable manner, special consideration being given to the Jews of Alexandria who were to enjoy without molestation all their ancient rights and privileges. The Jews of Rome, however, who had become very numerous, were not allowed to hold assemblages there (Dio LX, vi, 6), an enactment in full correspondence with the general policy of Augustus regarding Judaism in the West. The edicts mentioned were largely due to the intimacy of Claudius with Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great, who had been living in Rome and had been in some measure instrumental in securing the succession for Claudius. As a reward for this service, the Holy Land had a king once more. Judea was added to the tetrarchies of Philip and Antipas; and Herod Agrippa I was made ruler over the wide territory which had been governed by his grandfather. The Jews' own troubles during the reign of Caligula had given "rest" (the American Standard Revised Version "peace") to the churches "throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria" (Acts 9:31). But after the settlement of these troubles, "Herod the king put forth his hands to afflict certain of the church" (Acts 12:1). He slew one apostle and "when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize" another (Acts 12:3). His miserable death is recorded in Acts 12:20-23, and in Ant, XIX, 8. This event which took place in the year 44 A.D. is held to have been coincident with one of the visits of Paul to Jerusalem. It has proved one of the chronological pivots of the apostolic history.
Whatever concessions to the Jews Claudius may have been induced out of friendship for Herod Agrippa to make at the beginning of his reign, Suetonius records (Claud. chapter 25) "Judaeos impulsore Chresto assidue tumultuantes Roma expulit," an event assigned by some to the year 50 A.D., though others suppose it to have taken place somewhat later. Among the Jews thus banished from Rome were Aquila and Priscilla with whom Paul became associated at Corinth (Acts 18:2). With the reign of Claudius is also associated the famine which was foretold by Agabus (Acts 11:28). Classical writers also report that the reign of Claudius was, from bad harvest or other causes, a period of general distress and scarcity over the whole world (Dio LX, 11; Suet. Claud. xviii; Tac. Ann. xi. 4; xiii0.43; see Mommsen, Provinces of the Roman Empire, chapter ix; and Conybeare and Howson, Life and Epistles of Paul, I).
klo'-di-us lis'-i-as (Klaudios Lysias): A chief captain who intervened when the Jews sought to do violence to Paul at Jerusalem (Acts 21:31; Acts 24:22). Lysias, who was probably a Greek by birth (compare Acts 21:37), and who had probably assumed the Roman forename Claudius (Acts 23:26) when he purchased the citizenship (Acts 22:28), was a military tribune or chiliarch (i.e. leader of 1,000 men) in command of the garrison stationed in the castle overlooking the temple at Jerusalem. Upon learning of the riot instigated by the Asiatic Jews, he hastened down with his soldiers, and succeeded in rescuing Paul from the hands of the mob. As Paul was the apparent malefactor, Lysias bound him with two chains, and demanded to know who he was, and what was the cause of the disturbance. Failing amid the general tumult to get any satisfactory reply, he conducted Paul to the castle, and there questioned him as to whether he was the "Egyptian," an postor that had lately been defeated by Felix (Josephus, BJ, II, xiii, 5; Ant, XX, viii, 6). Upon receiving the answer of Paul that he was a "Jew of Tarsus," he gave him permission to address the people from the stairs which connected the castle and the temple. As the speech of Paul had no pacifying effect, Lysias purposed examining him by scourging; but on learning that his prisoner was a Roman citizen, he desisted from the attempt and released him from his bonds. The meeting of the Sanhedrin which Lysias then summoned also ended in an uproar, and having rescued Paul with difficulty he conducted him back to the castle. The news of the plot against the life of one whom he now knew to be a Roman citizen decided for Lysias that he could not hope to cope alone with so grave a situation. He therefore dispatched Paul under the protection of a bodyguard to Felix at Caesarea, along with a letter explaining the circumstances (Acts 23:26-30. The genuineness of this letter has been questioned by some, but without sufficient reason.) In this letter he took care to safeguard his own conduct, and to shield his hastiness in binding Paul. There is evidence (compare Acts 24:22) that Lysias was also summoned to Caesarea at a later date to give his testimony, but no mention is made of his arrival there. It is probable, however, that he was among the chief captains who attended the trial of Paul before King Agrippa and Festus (compare Acts 25:22). For the reference to him in the speech of Tertullus (see Acts 24:7 the Revised Version, margin), see TERTULLUS.
C. M. Kerr
Easton's Bible Dictionary
(1.) The fourth Roman emperor. He succeeded Caligula (A.D. 41). Though in general he treated the Jews, especially those in Asia and Egypt, with great indulgence, yet about the middle of his reign (A.D. 49) he banished them all from Rome (Acts 18:2). In this edict the Christians were included, as being, as was supposed, a sect of Jews. The Jews, however soon again returned to Rome.
During the reign of this emperor, several persecutions of the Christians by the Jews took place in the dominions of Herod Agrippa, in one of which the apostle James was "killed" (12:2). He died A.D. 54.
(2.) Claudius Lysias, a Greek who, having obtained by purchase the privilege of Roman citizenship, took the name of Claudius (Acts 21:31-40; 22:28; 23:26).
The chief captain (chiliarch) who commanded the Roman troops in Jerusalem, and sent Paul under guard to the procurator Felix at Caesarea (Acts 21:31-38; 22:24-30). His letter to his superior officer is an interesting specimen of Roman military correspondence (23:26-30). He obtained his Roman citizenship by purchase, and was therefore probably a Greek. (see CLAUDIUS.)