"Punishment [by Nero] was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition."
Suetonius was a well-known ancient historian and biographer. He also served as a secretary to Emperor Hadrian. In his collection of writings called “The Twelve Caesars,” Suetonius wrote a biography about Emperor Nero. In this text, he wrote about early Christians being very religious people. He also detailed the persecution of Christians under Nero’s rule.
Suetonius specifically stated, “Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians [Chrestianos]. Christus, the founder of the name [auctor nominis], had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator [procuratorem] Pontius Pilatus.” Suetonius’s account of “Christus,” or Christ (another name for Jesus) and his execution aligns with the biblical account of this event.
Additionally, Suetonius wrote about Emperor Claudius and his expulsion of the Jewish Christians in Rome. He stated, “As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome." Some commentators believe that this expulsion may be the same event mentioned in the Bible in Acts 18 regarding a couple whom Paul met who recently were expelled from Rome by Claudius.
Suetonius identifies the term “Christians” as the followers of Christ and confirms Jesus and His teachings as the reason behind the Jewish conflicts.
The Life of Caesar
Writing by Suetonius
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus