Getting Baptized Late in Life , Fourth Century, A History of the Christian Church, Lesson 5, 3-6

As with most dictators, they could not rule jointly, and Galerius soon forced Diocletian and Herculius to resign, leaving Constantius ruler in the West and Galerius ruler in the East. Those Christians under Constantius, that is those in Italy, Africa, Gaul and Britain, enjoyed some degree of tranquility during these years. Those in the East under Galerius still suffered greatly. Finally in 311 AD, Galerius, on death bed, issued an edict stopping the persecution of the Christians.

In the year 312, we find a different lineup in the Roman Government. Constantine, son of Constantius, is ruler in the West and Maxentius in African and Licinius in the East. Maxentius was determined to wage war on Constantine and become ruler of all the western part of the Empire. Constantine marched to meet Maxentius and in a battle just north of Rome, Maxentius was defeated and drowned in the Tiber River trying to escape. Constantine about this time embraced Christianity, the first Roman Emperor to publicly embrace it, although some of the miller rulers of the last century were thought to have embraced it. The reason for his embracing Christianity is said to have been a miraculous cross which appeared to him in the air as he was marching toward Rome to do battle with Maxentius. There is no proof of this happening, and in fact, although Constantine was well disposed toward the Christians at this time, he did not actively try to dispel the pagan religions as one who was miraculously converted would do, until much later.

Constantine the Great died in 337 AD, being baptized just before he died. This late baptism was almost customary in this century, the idea being that by being baptized just before death, one ascended into heaven pure and spotless.

The remainder of the Fourth Century was one of reigns of many Emperors. The sons of Constantine the Great succeeded him and reverted to paganism, so that no only was there some persecution, but the heathen philosophers were allowed to flourish, publishing their false doctrines. The zeal of Constantine helped the spread of the Christian gospel all over the world that was then known. Armenia, a province in Asia, received the gospel during this century. During the middle of the century, a person named Frumentius went from Egypt to Ethiopia and converted and baptized their king and several of his court. The gospel was introduced into Georgia, a province in Asia, which we know as one of the states in the former Soviet and the native place of Stalin. A considerable number of the Goths became Christians during this century, partly because they were vanquished and ordered to.


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