The capital of the Roman Empire, traditionally founded in 753 BCE. In NT times it had a population of about one million, mostly crowded into tenements, though the wealthy lived in pleasantly heated villas. The emperor Augustus undertook a magnificent building programme for which materials were imported from Africa, Greece, and Asia Minor. Such commercial enterprise attracted to Rome a cosmopolitan mixture of customs, languages, and religions, though Greek was the language of communication. Latin was spoken only by the social élite.

There were enough Jews in the city by 49 CE for the emperor Claudius to issue an edict expelling them on account of disturbances (see Acts 18: 2), which probably revolved round the arrival of Christians. The latter were numerous and unpopular enough to be blamed by Nero for the calamitous fire of 64 CE, which conveniently laid waste a part of the city which he needed for his own building. The Christian community nevertheless grew and both 1 Peter and 1 Clement were written from Rome.