Sunday, January 16, 2011


And earthquakes in various places…. (Matt. 24:7)

Did significant earthquakes happen near the time of the end in the first century? Absolutely.

In the writings of the first century historian Tacitus we read a description of the conditions in A.D. 51 in Rome: "This year witnessed many prodigies signs or omens... including repeated earthquakes." Josephus accounts that an earthquake in Judea was such a magnitude that "the constitution of the universe was confounded for the destruction of men."

He also wrote wrote that earthquakes were "a common calamity", and indicated that God Himself had brought them about for a special purpose. Then there is the book of Acts that records "a great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison house" (Acts 16:26). There were earthquakes in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colosse, Campania, Rome, and Judea. Paul started churches at Colosse and Hierapolis. However, these two cities, along with Laodicea, suffered a great earthquake in approximately A.D. 61. Laodicea was rebuilt soon after the earthquake, but Colosse and Hierapolis were not.

The earthquake at the latter place was so destructive, that the emperor, in order to relieve the distresses of the inhabitants, remitted its tribute for five years. Both these earthquakes are recorded by Tacitus. There was one also, in the same reign in Crete. This is mentioned by Philostratus, in his Life of Apollonius, who says, that 'there were others at Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, and Samos ; in all which places Jews had settled.' In the reign of Nero there was an earthquake at Laodicea. Tacitus records this also.

It is likewise mentioned by Eusebius and Orosius, who add that Hieropolis and Colose, as well as Laodicea, were overthrown by an earthquake. There was also one in Campania in this reign (of this both Tacitus and Seneca speak) and another at Rome in the reign of Galba, recorded by Suetonius ; to all which may be added those which happened on that dreadful night. When the Idumeans were excluded from Jerusalem, a short time before the siege commenced. "A heavy storm (says Josephus) burst on them during the night violent winds arose, accompanied with the most excessive rains, with constant lightnings, most tremendous thunderings, and with dreadful roarings of earthquakes. It seemed (continues he) as if the system of the world had been confounded for the destruction of mankind and one might well conjecture that these were signs of no common events."

All this occurred in Jesus’ contemporaries.