The language of imperial Rome and ancestor of the Romance languages. Because of its use by the Roman army and civil administration, Latin had some currency in the eastern Mediterranean in the first century CE, in such provinces as Syria and Judea. Latin inscriptions marked mileposts on roadways, and warned gentiles against entry into the Temple courts in Jerusalem. Other inscriptions survive from military camps and buildings dedicated by Roman officials, such as the aqueduct and the temple for emperor worship at Caesarea Maritima. The charge for which Jesus was condemned was written on a plaque above his cross in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew (Aramaic), according to John 19.20.

Several words of Latin origin are found in the Greek New Testament. Some had become familiar through the spread of Roman influence in the East, including words like denarius, found in Jesus' parables (Matt. 18.28; 20.2–13; see Money) and in his dispute over paying taxes to Caesar (Mark 12.15 par.). Despite the presences and influence of Roman institutions, some terms of Latin origin, such as praetorium in Philippians 1.13, or census, centurion, legion, and speculator in the gospel of Mark (12.14; 15.39–45; 5.9; 6.27) are though by some scholars to prove that those works were written in Rome.

Most Christians of the Mediterranean basin were Greek speakers at the start (Paul wrote to the Christians of Rome in Greek). Western Christians began to write in Latin only in the third century CE.

Philip Sellew