Roman Soldier

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The Centurion Foreword & Introduction


Dick Stenbakken brings Bible characters to life. His ability to resurrect ancient Bible personalities through first-person narratives amazes me. His presentations at the U.S. Senate received rave reviews as he transported his listeners back into Bible times with gifted narrations. I urged him to capture these experiences in print. Finally, his wonderful centurion has been brought to life on the printed page.

Benefitting from Dr. Stenbakken’s decades of military service as well as his imagination and biblical knowledge, you will meet Longinus, the centurion. Dick, a retired army colonel, will enable you to follow Longinus’s journey from his entry into a Roman legion at age eighteen until this centurion witnesses Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. I enthusiastically recommend this book.

Dr. Barry C. Black, PhD., Chaplain, U. S. Senate


This book is the result of an unfolding series of events set in motion when as a young Army chaplain I “accidentally” discovered the awesome power of first-person narrative preaching. I put “accidentally” in quotes because I know that with God there are no accidents: there are, instead, rich insights.

In the course of developing more than sixty biblical narrative sermons, I began to study first-century Roman beliefs, practices, and religious thinking. After all, that was the world in which Jesus and the disciples lived. All those who said, heard, wrote, or read any of the materials we now know as the New Testament were immersed in Roman issues and aspects of life. Roman soldiers and soldiering were all around them, at every street corner and marketplace.

Because of my nearly twenty-four years of active duty as a U.S. Army chaplain, events and narratives involving soldiers naturally drew my attention and deeper study. That even led to my constructing a full set of historically accurate first-century Roman armor and other Roman military gear, some of which is pictured in this book.

The outcome for me personally and professionally continues to be both unfolding and stunning. Looking at the New Testament through first-century Roman eyes has provided me with new insights into the Gospels, Epistles and other New Testament books. The discoveries—actually epiphanies—began to build, along with eagerness to share the things I had learned. But how to do that? Who could endure a ninety-three-hour-long sermon?

Another epiphany: Jesus told stories … stories that called His listeners—and us as readers—to engage with the characters and situations He told about. This book is meant to do the same. While the story is about the centurion who was in charge at the crucifixion, it is really my story and yours as well. Clothing, customs, and cultures change across time. Human nature and our need for God remain constant. History becomes “His story.”

The discussion questions provided for each chapter are intended for individual or group reflections and responses. I strongly encourage you to write out your responses in a journal or in the book itself. Written responses call for deeper, more profound discovery than quick verbal or thought responses. However, some answers may be so personal that they are best left written on the heart or lifted to God on the wings of private prayer. That’s the reader’s call.

If you do read the book and write out answers to the questions posed and conclude at the end of the process that it was a waste of your time, send the book and your written responses to me, and I will personally refund your purchase price—no questions asked.

So, here’s the challenge: get into the skin and daily life of the centurion, and experience the life-changing power of Jesus.

Dick Stenbakken
2493 Frances Drive
Loveland, Colorado 80537