Why did the Church move to Rome from Jerusalem?
Many imagine why the Church ended up in Rome since the Scripture talks about the “New Jerusalem” and did not talk about the Church in Rome until the end of the Book of Acts.
Peter, who was the rock on which Jesus built his church, died in Rome and that’s where his successors were. Meanwhile in Jerusalem in 70 AD great persecution made the Church almost completely inactive there until about 130 AD.
The New Jerusalem of Revelation was not a physical place
After the crucifixion, the curtain of the Jewish sanctuary tore into two (Mk 15:37-39, Lk 23:44-46, Mt 27:51). At that point, a transfer of authority happened and we believe that the fledgling Church became the New Israel. Thus, the Catholic Catechism Article 63 explains:
Israel is the priestly people of God, “called by the name of the LORD”, and “the first to hear the word of God”, the people of “elder brethren” in the faith of Abraham.
After the death of Jesus, the Old Testament prophesies about Jerusalem were understood to be God’s people rather than the historic city of Jerusalem. This means that the seat of the Church could be established anywhere on earth. This opened the door for a move to somewhere that would be best for the struggling fledgling Church. This does not mean that there is no historical or spiritual importance to Jerusalem, nor does it deny the fact that the Lord’s promise to the Jewish people is eternal.
Jesus intentions were for the Gospel to be preached throughout the world. Jesus said “make disciples of all peoples” (Mat 28:19) and that could best be accomplished through the communications nerve center of the world, which was Rome. If there weren’t persecutions in Jerusalem it would be questionable how far the Gospel would have traveled. The persecutions forced the apostles outward. We see in the book of Acts a powerful movement to establish the Church in Rome. While James was the Bishop of Jerusalem. That is where the book of Acts finishes. St. Luke states, “This is how we finally came to Rome” (Acts 28:14). Some Evangelicals think the Book of Acts ends too abruptly. They fail to see that the establishment of the Early Church in Rome was the goal and Luke ends his book when this is accomplished. The move to Rome has its historical background dated in the biblical times with reference to the Bible.
The sense in Moving the Church to Rome from Jerusalem
From a clear perspective, we can’t possibly imagine how the Church could have survived with the Pope in Jerusalem. Jerusalem has been in a constant state of chaos and has been conquered many times. Jerusalem was under Islamic rule for many centuries since the time of Christ. We can imagine the fate of the seat of the Vicar of Christ (the Pope) under Islamic rule. It would have been a disaster. Yes, Rome was sacked in 410, 455, and 546 AD by the Germanic tribes, and again in 1527 by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, but this is still nothing compared to the constant turmoil of Jerusalem. Catholics believe God knew exactly what he was doing when he moved the seat of the Church to Rome away from the middle east during the first generation after Christ.
of all places that the church could be moved, why rome? thank you for this article.