SERAPIS, The Roman Religion weaponized against Judeo-Christianity
The above coin displays the portrait of Nero on the obverse and Serapis on the reverse(Alexandrian mint 63AD).
The Roman Military machine encompassed total warfare against its enemies. Cultural and religious warfare was an integral part of Roman expansion and domination. Pontius Pilate hated the Jewish religious rites and prohibitions. His coins advertised Roman religious instruments and he violated many Jewish customs which caused riots and near rebellions. His appointment under Sejanus affected his decision to allow Jesus Christ to be crucified. When the Chief Priests challenged Pilate's loyalty to Tiberius Caesar in 33 AD, no doubt the excecution of Pilate's former superior Sejanus in 31 AD came to mind. We know the early expansion of Christianity was a major force Rome had to contend with. Emperor Claudius purged JudeoChristians from Rome in response to the same problems Emperor Tiberius encountered in 19 AD. The Jews in Rome on this occasion were aggressively promoting their faith. It is not hard to believe early Judeo-Chritianity was the reason Claudius sought a nonviolent means to deal with this new faith. Roman authorities would have dealt harshly with any violent or terrorist threat to the empire. The followers of Jesus survived Roman persecution due to their nonviolent ideals. Eastern religions always affected conservative Romans however Rome's religion had changed significantly in the Imperial period. The remark by Pontius Pilate during Jesus's trial sums up Imperial Roman religious policy, "Quid est veritas." What is truth? That enigmatic statement when Pilate was confronted with the absolute truth of Jesus Christ still rings loud today. The Romans made up their gods and mythology. Roman gods were manipulated by religious authorities to adapt to conquered cultures and to assimilate them into "Romanism." The Roman people understood this very well. Emperors became the divine sons of god. This ridiculous policy of humans becoming divine was even more apparent to those close to the emperor. Otherwise every Roman emperor would not have been under constant threat of assassination like so many of them were. The Roman religion was bankrupt on the popular level and this is one of the reasons the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ spread like fire during the reign of Emperor Claudius.
The cultural and religious Roman war machine came up with a "nonviolent solution" to at the time was still "Judaism." The best way to deal with new eastern religions had been dealt with before and it had been very successful. When Alexander the Great had visited an Egyptian oracle at Silwa, he began to think of himself as the son of Zeus. This was the beginning of the hybrid Egyptian-Greek god Serapis. After Alexander died his General Ptolemy had to unite Egypt under Greek rule which was no easy task. He began the slow process of melding Egyptian and Greek culture under Serapis. He built a large temple in Alexandria dedicated to Serapis. His son Ptolemy the second added Hebrew scripture to the Greek language at the Great Library of Alexandria. Serapis was the Greek solution to integrate eastern religions into Hellenism. The below coin is from antichrist Antiochus IV with Serapis on the front.
Photo Eukratides Ancient Numismatics
It is no coincidence an image of Serapis with the Roman Emperor Claudius first appeared on Alexandrian coins. These coins became very numerous under Nero and most Roman emperors thereafter. Serapis worship was associated with emperor worship and became especially popular among the Roman legions. There are many aspects of Serapis worship that seem to be the same as Christianity but these are very general but still cannot be ignored. One of the chief deities of Aelia Capitolina was Serapis. The below coin from Emperor Pius was minted in Aelia Capitolina.
Photo Shick Coins
The Temple of Serapis was the first Roman temple built in Jerusalem after the destruction by Titus in 70 AD. The Third Roman legion out of Alexandria built this temple under Trajan near the pool of Bethesda. Additionally the 3rd legion was involved in Syria during the Kitos War against the Jews. Note from the below coin of Trajan the similarities in architecture of the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria to the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus built by Hadrian over the ruins of the Second Jewish Temple.
Trajan , Serapis , Alexandria
Photo Athena Numismatics
Hadrian , Aelia Capitolina , Roman temple on the site of the Second Jewish Temple Photo Zurqieh
In order to eradicate Temple Judaism, not only did Hadrian have his city rebuilt over Jerusalem but he required a ideological weapon to counter Judeo-Christian thought. The below coin is of Emperor Hadrian with Zeus Serapis on the reverse. Hadrian appeared to be very devoted to Serapis on many of his coins.
Photo Aeternitas Numismatics
This concept of the Greco-Roman Egyptian god Serapis evolved over time but was a direct challenge to Christ by the time of Claudius. Serapis the healer, Serapis the resurrection of life, and most importantly Serapis who anoints the sons of rulers to continue ruling by the divine power of their fathers. The Romans used Serapis as a ideological weapon to bridge the cultural gap between polytheism and Judeo-Christian monotheism.
From a Christian perspective there is the obvious aspect that Serapis represents the spirit of the Antichrist. The name of Serapis is derived from Seraphim. In traditional Christian teaching the Seraphim were the highest order of heavenly beings next to the Throne of God. It is likely Lucifer was a Seraphim. Seraphim are also associated with serpents and one can clearly see the symbolism with the Roman Emperor and the coming Antichrist. What is amazing is that the worship of Serapis which was designed by man to take followers away from Jesus Christ later served as the main vector for the official adoption of Christianity as the state religion by the Roman Emperor Constantine.
Photo Apollo Numismatics
Note the Chi Rho symbol below the eagle on this coin of Ptolemy III. He and his father Ptolemy II built the Great Library in Alexandria. He also helped translate the Hebrew scripture into Greek making the Word of God, available to the known world. This early representation of Zeus Serapis was political and meant to help form solidarity between the Greek and Egyptian civilizations. The Chi Rho may be one of the earliest manifestations of the Greek concept of Christ or the "annointed one." It helped form the Greco Roman concept of "emperor worship." You needed a divine "father" to ensure authority in the transition of government from father to son. I find it amazing God spoke to Constantine and told him to conquer his Roman rival by the "Chi-Rho" sign in the sky. God always is victorious. Instruments designed to be used against His Will eventually are used for His Glory. Serapis became the "grease" that spread the Love of Christ to the Roman world. I also find it ironic that the Romans also called Serapis , "Pluto." If you remember Our Lady of Guadalupe referred to the Aztec temples as those belonging to Pluto.