LISTEN: Ambrose of Milan, Part 5: The Bishop and the Throne (The History of Christianity Podcast #146)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #146, titled, “Ambrose [AM-BROZE] of Milan [MEE-LAHN] (Part 5): The Bishop and the Throne.

Our Scripture for today is Daniel 2:21 which reads: “And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Ignatius of Antioch. He said: “It is right, therefore, that we not just be called Christians, but that we actually be Christians.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Ambrose [AM-BROZE] of Milan [MEE-LAHN] (Part 5): The Bishop and the Throne” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Eventually, with the apparent connivance of Justina, Maximus invaded Valentinian’s [VAH-LEN-TIN-EE-UHN’s] territories. Part of the arrangement was probably that Maximus would rid the empress of the annoying bishop of Milan [MEE-LAHN]. But the Eastern emperor, Theodosius [THEE-UH-DOH-SHEE-UHS], intervened and defeated Maximus. When Valentinian [VAH-LEN-TIN-EE-UHN] was killed, probably by some who sought his power, Theodosius [THEE-UH-DOH-SHEE-UHS] intervened once again, and thus became sole ruler of the empire.

Theodosius was a Nicene Christian–it was under his auspices that the Council of Constantinople gathered in 381 CE and reaffirmed the decisions of Nicea. But in spite of this, and now for other reasons, he clashed with Ambrose [AM-BROZE] on two separate occasions. Both times he had to yield before the firmness of the bishop, although in all fairness one must say that the first time justice was on Theodosius’s [THEE-UH-DOH-SHEE-UHS’s] side.

The first clash took place when some overzealous Christians in the small town of Callinicum [KAL-IN-EE-KUM] burned a synagogue. The emperor decided that they be punished, and that they also must rebuild the synagogue. Ambrose [AM-BROZE] protested that a Christian emperor should not force Christians to build a Jewish synagogue. After several stormy interviews, the emperor yielded, the synagogue was not rebuilt, and the arsonists were not punished. This was a sad precedent, for it meant that in an empire calling itself Christian, those of a different faith would not be protected by the law.

The other conflict was different, and in it justice was on Ambrose’s [AM-BROZE’s] side. There had been a riot at Thessalonica, and the commandant of the city had been killed by the rioters. Ambrose [AM-BROZE], who knew the irascible temperament of the emperor, went to him and counseled moderation. Theodosius [THEE-UH-DOH-SHEE-UHS] seemed convinced, but later his wrath was rekindled, and he decided to make an example of the disorderly city. He sent word that the riot had been forgiven, and then, by his order, the army trapped those who had gathered at the circus or arena to celebrate the imperial pardon, and slaughtered some seven thousand of them.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Ambrose [AM-BROZE] of Milan [MEE-LAHN] (Part 6): The Bishop and the Throne.”

Let’s pray.


Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.