At the time of Jesus, the area of what is today Israel, was controlled by Rome. It was known as Palestine back then and was the area around the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
This was called Palestine and it was a "powder keg." Generally speaking, the people of Palestine were not happy with Roman rule. Jewish revolts against Rome were common place. Many people believed in the coming of the "messiah."
There were two groups who were very influential in Palestine at this time:
- ZEALOTS: Led by Judas of Galilee, the Zealots sought to rid Palestine of the Romans. They refused to pay taxes and often battled with Roman soldiers, sometimes killing innocent people in the process.
- THE APOCALYPTIC MOVEMENT: This was a widespread belief in first century Palestine that the coming of the Messiah is near. As the ravages of war and revolt became widespread, any people started claiming to be the Messiah---hundreds, if not thousands of “messiahs” appeared in Palestine between 100 BCE and 100 CE. Some believed that Judas of Galilee was the Messiah. In addition, Anthronges was a shepherd who led a rebellion against king Herod. He was also seen as a Messiah by some. And then, of course, there emerged a man known only as “Jesus of Nazareth."