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The Jews were under Roman rule during Jesus’ time. They had a strong military presence throughout the entire country. Each centurion oversaw a unit of 80 to 100 soldiers as a military officer. Centurion is the Latin word that means one hundred. The centurions played a crucial role in the Roman military, overseeing discipline, training, and leading troops in combat. Their experience, leadership skills, and valor often earned them respect.

The New Testament refers to Centurions multiple times, usually portraying them positively.

1. A Roman centurion approaches Jesus in Capernaum, asking Him to heal his servant (Mt 8:5-13; Lk 7:1-10). The Jewish elders believed he deserved Jesus’ favor due to his love for the Jewish nation and his construction of a synagogue for them (Lk 7:3-5). In addition to being known for his charitable acts, he also became an embodiment of humility and faith in Jesus. His faith is evident as he asserts that a single word from Jesus can cure his servant. Jesus praises the centurion’s faith, saying, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith” (Lk 7:9).

2. A centurion present at Jesus’ crucifixion witnesses the events surrounding His death (Mt 27:54; Mk 15:39; Lk 23:47). Pilate assigned him the task because the Jews lacked the power to carry out executions. When the centurion sees Jesus die and the signs that accompany it, he exclaims, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” (Mk 15:39). This acknowledgment reflects a significant recognition of Jesus’ divine nature from a Gentile and a Roman officer.

3. While Jesus hung dead on the cross, “one of the soldiers thrust a lance into his side and immediately there flowed out blood and water” (Jn 19:34). According to legends, this soldier was Longinus, a blind centurion. When he pierced Jesus’ heart, blood fell upon his eyes, and he regained sight. Because of this miracle, he became a Christian, and the church venerates him as a saint.

4. Acts chapter 10 presents an exemplary centurion. “There was in Caesarea a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was called the Italian Cohort. He and his whole household were religious and God-fearing. He gave generously to the people and constantly prayed to God” (Acts 10:1-2). Cornelius had a divine vision in which an angel of God told him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial offering before God” (Acts 10:4). He receives instruction to approch Peter, who shares the gospel with Cornelius and his household. They receive the Holy Spirit and are baptized, marking a significant moment in the early church as Gentiles are welcomed into the Christian faith.

5. A centurion interceded with his commander to avoid scourging Paul because he was a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:25-30).

6. Another centurion helped Paul to send his nephew to the Roman commander to communicate the conspiracy of the Jews to kill Paul (Acts 23:17-18).

7. When a Roman commander sent Paul to Felix, the governor of Caesarea, two centurions escorted Paul to protect him from the hostile Jews (Acts 23:23).

8. Another centurion was Julius of the Cohort Augusta, who oversaw Paul and other prisoners’ transportation to Rome (Acts 27:1-44). Julius demonstrates compassion towards Paul and values his advice during a dangerous ocean voyage. Paul’s influence and the events during the voyage resulted in the preservation of all on board, showcasing God’s providence and protection.


The Jews despised Roman military officers due to their association with the Roman government, pagan origins, and brutal behavior. Nevertheless, some centurions maintained positive relationships with Jesus and his disciples. Let’s recognize that there can be both good and bad people within both the outsiders and the self-righteous. Prejudice can cause us to make incorrect judgments about others.

The centurion who approached Jesus displayed deep faith and humility. Although he was in a position of authority, he acknowledged Jesus’ superior power and sought His assistance, demonstrating that genuine faith requires acknowledging our reliance on God.

By recognizing Jesus as the Son of God, the centurion at the crucifixion showed that Christ’s identity surpasses cultural and religious limits. It demonstrates the broad scope of Jesus’ mission and the gospel’s embrace of all people.

The story of Cornelius highlights the significance of embracing God’s work and guidance. His desire to locate Peter and his willingness to embrace the gospel brought about a profound change for him and his family, urging Christians to be open to God’s call and spread the gospel message.

The way Julius treated Paul and followed his advice during the journey to Rome showcases the virtues of kindness and respect. These qualities are vital in fostering trust and cooperation, even in challenging circumstances.

Accounts of centurions often emphasize God’s sovereignty and protection. These stories serve as a reminder to Christians that God is actively involved in the world and cares for His people, whether it’s through healing, affirmation, or preservation.

In brief, centurions in the New Testament are shown as symbols of faith, humility, and integrity. Their interactions with Jesus and the early Christians offer rich lessons on faith, recognition of divine truth, openness to God’s guidance, and the importance of kindness and respect, providing enduring messages for Christian living.


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