Many cultures throughout history have considered their governmental leaders to be gods—or the leaders declared themselves to be gods. In the first century AD, emperor worship helped unify the provinces of the Roman Empire (although the Caesar wasn’t typically deified until on his deathbed). Romans publicly worshipped many gods, especially Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Privately, families also worshipped household spirits.
The official religion of the Parthian Empire at that time was Zoroastrianism. But, unlike Rome, Parthia tolerated many religions—and the Magi administered a variety of religious services. Parthia’s religion believed in one supreme being, Ahura Mazda. With the help of six angelic beings, they fought against the world’s evil. The heart of the Parthian Empire was Persia, where Magi society was heavily concentrated. Magi society wielded great influence in the empire’s religion and government.
The Jews worshipped Jehovah God of the Bible and knew of the prophecies regarding the coming Messiah. In the first century AD, the Romans oppressed the Jews, so the Jews anticipated salvation by a conquering Messiah—not the suffering Messiah who came to save them from their sins.