I recently watched a lecture by a professor at Yale who mentioned Constantine's belief that he was a instrument of God, but the academic doesn't really explain why Constantine believed he was an instrument of God.

My question is did the belief that the emperor was a divine instrument stem from Constantine's predecessor's pagan beliefs? For example, Julius Caesar was worshiped as a God after he died.

  • Paul freedman,I watched it on YouTube,under Yale courses-"Constantine and the early church"episode 3.
    – turinsbane
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 7:56
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    @SamuelRussell If you view this as a question about whether the idea of the emperor as "God's instrument" was somehow derived from the former pagan notions of the divinity of the emperor then this would be a legit questions, I think, of the history of ideas kind. Actually, even as a question about Constantine's personal beliefs, as known to us, this might be legit, though probably not really answerable as such. But perhaps OP needs to clarify a bit what exactly he had meant. Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 10:59
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    If you want to delete it, why wait for midnight? A bit passive aggressive. Anyway, rather than being offended by close votes, you could clarify your intended question. I do think that why Constantine believed anything is rather a matter of opinion, but it is possible to have a valid question on academic theories. However, that's quite a different question from whether this belief derives from earlier traditions. It's up to you as the asker to decide which to pursue.
    – Semaphore
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 11:28
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    1) The professor mentioned a concept; did you research that concept? Is it commonly accepted, or is the professor a crackpot? Did Constantine hold this belief? 2) You advance a hypothesis without evidence, 3) There is a lot of history between Caesar and Constantine; is Obama's use of executive orders based on George Washington's belief in a strong federal government? There is the beginning of a good question here, but it needs some research. Good luck.
    – MCW
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 12:05
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    I do agree and understand your points about research lol forgive my laziness
    – turinsbane
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 19:11

2 Answers 2


Constantine had a dream about God telling him to put crosses on his soldier's shield and he did and his soldiers won the battle even though they were outnumbered 2:1. He converted and therefore thought he was an instrument of God to stop persecution of Christianity in Rome and legalize it.


This question cannot be answered. No sufficiant primary or secondary sources exist. We know that Constantine made this opinion known in public (great tool to rally the troops) but whether or not he believed it personally cannot be known from extan sources.

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