HOW CAN LUKE 2:1 REPORT “ALL THE WORLD” WAS SUBJECT TO CAESAR AUGUSTUS?
by Shawn Brasseaux
Luke 2:1-2 tells us: “ And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.  (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)” How can the Bible suggest Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus decreed a tax for “all the world?” Is Scripture implying he had jurisdiction outside the Roman Empire?
The Holy Spirit, of course, was aware Caesar Augustus could tax people only within the empire’s borders. We are not to suppose, for example, the mandate extends to the North and South American continents, or Antarctica, or Australia. The point is this: Gentiles, not Jews, are the chief nation in the Earth. Why?
Remember, Adam relinquished to Satan his God-given dominion over the Earth when he sinned in Eden (Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8). Israel became God’s supreme nation in the Earth (Genesis 12:1-3), but lost her dominion in the Earth because of King Solomon’s habitual pagan idolatry (cf. Leviticus 26:18-19; 1 Kings 11:1-43). Here, circa 930 B.C., Israel’s 12 tribes were divided into two nations or kingdoms—Israel (10 northern tribes) and Judah (two southern tribes). As the centuries passed, the Jews waned politically. Ultimately, approximately 722 B.C., the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom, thus beginning Israel’s Assyrian Captivity (2 Kings 17:6-23; cf. Leviticus 26:27-39). Between 606 and 586 B.C., the Babylonians thrice invaded the Southern Kingdom, culminating in the Fall of Jerusalem and the burning of Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C. (2 Kings chapters 24–25; cf. Leviticus 26:27-39). Thus commenced Judah’s Babylonian Captivity.
Study the Book of Daniel, especially chapter 2. World history agrees with Scripture. The Babylonians conquered Judah, the Medes-Persians overcame the Babylonians, the Greeks vanquished the Medes-Persians, and the Romans conquered and extended the Greek Empire. All these military conquests occurred during the six centuries prior to Luke chapter 2. The Holy Spirit through Luke is reminding us that Israel is under the fifth course of chastisement, still subject to Gentiles, and it will remain this way until Christ’s Second Coming and subsequent earthly kingdom (see Daniel 2:44-45). JEHOVAH God, having temporarily removed Israel from the chief political position, afforded Caesar Augustus the potential to conquer every known people on Earth. Rome can possibly acquire all the governmental potency Adam and Israel lost.
Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar confessed that was the case with him in Daniel 4:1,22. Had God not brought in the Medes-Persians to overthrow prideful Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar would have eventually conquered all continents. The Medes-Persians would have had worldwide dominion, but God used the Greeks to defeat them (most humbly) before that happened. Before the Greeks became too powerful, the LORD brought in the Romans to conquer them. Eventually, the Roman Empire collapsed. These successive kingdoms and empires have come and gone because of God’s allowance of it.
As touching the entire duration of our Dispensation of Grace (last 2,000 years), Israel has been without the Davidic dynasty. The evil world system is still awaiting a thorough purging. Satan is still reigning in the Earth. After our dispensation closes, the Antichrist will endeavor to overtake all nations (Revelation 13:7,14,16), but Christ’s return will interrupt and destroy him (2 Thessalonians 2:8), thus bringing to a permanent end Gentile dominion in the Earth. The Lord Jesus Christ will restore David’s throne to Israel—yea, to universal supremacy—and thus reign for Father God’s glory forever (Luke 1:31-33; Revelation 12:15; cf. Isaiah 9:6-7). Satan and pagan Gentiles will no longer rule in the Earth! Furthermore, through us the Church the Body of Christ, David’s throne will extend out into the heavenly places throughout the endless ages to come (2 Timothy 2:8-13). (For more about David’s throne impacting the heavenly places in the future, and our role in it, see our related study about the heavens, whose link you will find below.)
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» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?
» Why are the heavens not clean in God’s sight?
» Who was “Caesar?”
» Who was “Herod?”
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?