Romans 13 – Be Subject to the Higher Power of God & Romans in Scotland

Finger Pointing Up

1 Gnaeus Julius
Gnaeus Julius Agricola (June 13, 40 – August 23, 93) was a Gallo-Roman general responsible for much of the Roman conquest of Britain.
Written by his son-in-law Tacitus, the De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae is the primary source for most of what is known about him, along with detailed archaeological evidence from northern Britain.

That ends this study, but in the religion section we didn’t touch more on their gods so tomorrow we’ll look at…

Romans 13
Be Subject to the Higher Power of God

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

“High powers” – the civil rulers, all of whom were probably pagans at the time Paul was writing. 

Christians may have been tempted not to submit to them and to claim allegiance only to Christ.

2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

“Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise” – Paul is not stating that this will always be true but is describing the proper ideal function of rulers. 

When civil rulers overstep their proper function the Christian is to obey God rather than man.

God tells us to obey the laws of the land we live in, but not if the laws made by man are against God.

4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

“The sword” – the symbol of Roman authority on both the national and international levels.  Here we find the Biblical principle of using force for the maintenance of good order.

5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

“For conscience sake” – civil authorities are ordained by God, or at least He allows them to be in office, and in order to maintain a good conscience Christians must duly honor them.

6 For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

2 An aerial view
An aerial view of Inchtuthil in its setting. The fortress stood on the plateau surrounded by trees at center right.
Inchtuthil (known to the Romans as Pinnata Castra (meaning “Fortress on the wing”) and Victoria) is the site of a Roman legionary fortress situated on a natural platform overlooking the north bank of the River Tay southwest of Blairgowrie, Perth and Kinross, Scotland.

It was built in 82 or 83 A.D. as the advance headquarters for the forces of governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola in his campaign against the Caledonian tribes.

Positioned at the head of one of the main routes in and out of the Scottish Highlands, it was occupied by Legion XX Valeria Victrix and covered a total area of 53 acres.

7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

8 Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

“But to love” – to love is the one debt that is never paid off.  No matter how much one has loved, he is under obligation to keep on loving.

“One another” – includes not only fellow Christians but all people, even politicians.

9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

“Salvation” – the full realization of salvation at the second coming of Jesus Christ.

12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

“The night” – the present evil age then and now.

3 Nineteenth century
Nineteenth century sketch of Calgacus delivering his speech to the Caledonians.
According to Tacitus, Calgacus was a chieftain of the Caledonian Confederacy who fought the Roman army of Gnaeus Julius Agricola at the Battle of Mons Graupius in northern Scotland in A.D. 83 or 84.

“Is far spent the day is at hand” – a clear example of the New Testament teaching of the “nearness” of the end times (see Matt 24:33; 1 Cor 7:29; Phil 4:5; Jas 5:8-9; 1 Pet 4:7; 1 Jn 2:18).

These texts do not mean that the early Christians believed that Jesus would return within a few years (and thus were mistaken). 

Rather, they regarded the death and resurrection of Christ as the crucial events of history that began the last days.

Since the next great event in God’s redemptive plan is the second coming of Jesus Christ, “the night,” no matter how long chronologically it may last, is “almost gone.”

Nobody knows when Jesus is coming back, but I have feeling that He will return in my lifetime, but don’t quote me on that.

13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans in Scotland

4 Trimontium
Trimontium is the name of a Roman fort at Newstead, near Melrose, Borders, Scotland, close under the three Eildon Hills (whence the name trium montium).
It was an advance post of the Romans in the Roman province of Valentia. The fort was identified by Ptolemy in his Geography.

Trimontium was occupied by the Romans intermittently from 80 to 211. The fort was likely abandoned from c. 100-105 A.D. until c..140 A.D.

At the height of the Roman occupation of the fort, no more than 1500 soldiers and a smaller civilian population lived in the settlement.

How Do We Know About Romans in Scotland?

Mostly from finds made by archaeologists. For example, in 1905 archaeologists found a Roman fort at Newstead, near Melrose in the Borders. The Romans called this fort Trimontium (“three mountains”).

The topmost remains of the fort date from the 140s A.D. when the Antonine Wall was built. Underneath were the remains of an older fort, probably built around 80 A.D. Forts protected Roman military roads.

Recent finds show that the Romans went as far north as Inverness. However, they did not stay and build towns like they did in Roman Britain (England and Wales).

First Outposts

Early evidence for the Romans in Scotland is the Gask Ridge. This earth-bank defense in Perthshire dates from around 70 A.D.  It was made before Hadrian’s Wall or the Antonine Wall and is further north.

The Gask Ridge is about 20 miles long. The Romans set up forts and watch towers along it.

In 79 A.D. the Roman general Agricola sent ships to explore the Scottish coast. He was preparing to invade Scotland. To protect their army, the Romans built forts like Trimontium near Melrose.

Scotland’s Biggest Roman Fort

Inchtuthil (its Roman name was Victoria) is the biggest Roman fortress in Scotland. On the banks of the River Tay near Blairgowrie, it was built around 83 A.D. by soldiers of the 20th Legion.

More than 5,000 legionaries were based here, to guard the way to the Highlands.

The fortress was huge! Its outer wall stretched 7 miles. Inside were 64 barrack rooms for soldiers, a hospital, and a headquarters building with a shrine to the gods.

Inchtuthil fortress was abandoned after only four years. The 20th Legion marched back south.

5 Melrose
Melrose (Scottish Gaelic: Maol Ros) is a small town and civil parish in the Scottish Borders, historically in Roxburghshire.
It is in the Eildon committee area.

Melrose is the location of Melrose Abbey, re-founded for the Cistercian order by David I in the early 12th century, one of the most beautiful monastic ruins in Great Britain.

It is the site of the burial of the heart of Scottish king Robert the Bruce. An excavation was led to find a sealed casket, but it was not opened, and it was actually discovered by high school students involved in the dig.

The casket was placed in a sealed lead cylinder, and was then re-buried in the abbey back at its proper resting place.

Battle in the North

Roman soldiers fought the Caledonian tribes in Scotland. These tribes included the Picti or “painted people” as the Romans called them.

The biggest battle was in 84 A.D.  The Roman historian Tacitus says it was at Mons Graupius.

No one knows exactly where this was, but it was possibly in the Grampian Mountains in the north of Scotland.

Led by a chief named Calgacus, the Caledonians had about 30,000 warriors. The Roman army led by Agricola was probably smaller, but the Romans won.

Soon after, Agricola went back to Rome.

Why Didn’t the Romans Conquer Scotland?

Some experts think the Romans marched as far north as Cawdor, near Inverness. There are remains of a Roman fort here. But the Romans did not stay in the north.

In the 160s A.D., they abandoned the Antonine Wall, making Hadrian’s Wall the northern frontier of Roman Britain. The last big Roman army campaign in Scotland was in 208-210.

There are Roman remains (such as bath-houses, roads and forts) in southern and central Scotland. But the Romans never settled the north.

Their main concern was to protect Roman Britain from attacks by northern tribes. Such attacks increased in the 300s A.D.  

6 Farmland from Gask Ridge
Farmland from Gask Ridge
The Gask Ridge is the modern name given to an early series of fortifications, built by the Romans in Scotland, close to the Highland Line.

Modern excavation and interpretation is pioneered by the Roman Gask Project and directors Birgitta Hoffmann and David Woolliscroft.

The Gask Ridge system was constructed sometime between 70 and 80 CE.

Construction on Hadrian’s Wall was started 42 years after completion of the Gask Ridge (from 122 to 130 CE), and the Antonine Wall was started just 12 years after completion of Hadrian’s Wall (from 142 to 144 CE).

Although the Gask Ridge was not a wall, it may be Rome’s earliest fortified land frontier.

The fortifications approximately follow the boundary between Scotland’s fertile Lowlands and mountainous Highlands, in Perth and Kinross and Angus.

The later Hadrian’s Wall and Antonine Wall were further south, and, by taking advantage of the heavily indented coastline of Great Britain, were considerably shorter.

The Roman army left Britain in 410 A.D.

Fun Facts:

Scotland takes its name from a tribe from Ireland whom the Romans called “Scoti”. The Antonine Wall took between 8 and 12 years to build.

At Inchtuthil people found 750,000 iron nails, buried by the Romans to stop the Caledonians getting them.

Picti is Latin for ‘painted people’. The Picts liked tattoos and body-painting.

The Roman general Agricola was actually born in France.


Not all Tacitus wrote may be true; he was married to Agricola’s daughter. So he wrote only nice things about the Roman general.

The 20th Legion built Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall.

Emperor Antoninus never saw the Antonine Wall. He never left Rome.

The Caledonians threw short spears, and held long spears to jab at the enemy.

Caledonians had small shields and long swords (says Tacitus).

One nasty Roman weapon was a weighted dart, tossed high in the air to fall on an enemy’s head!

The Roman fort at Mumrills is as big as 3 soccer pitches.

Bones dug up at Mumrills Fort include ox, sheep, pig, deer and wolf.

Near Falkirk, builders making a supermarket dug up bones, jewels and Roman coins from Camelon Fort.

The name Calgacus probably means “swordsman”.

Roman soldiers in Scotland included people from as far away as Bulgaria.

…Roman Gods and Goddesses.

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