Religion and Spiritual Studies
How Early Christianity Started
Some Facts and History of Early Christianity
Knowing the roots of what we believe gives us a deeper understanding of why we believe. Ignorance to one’s belief is ignorance to what and who we love and hope. As Christians, we should know some facts answers on questions like “when did Christianity begin?” or “how did Christianity start?” These questions give us a clear picture of how early Christians struggled and made a great impact on the western history and culture.
To clarify the account of early Christianity and how Christians were able to survive the persecutions, we have listed some facts below.
- Christians were Jewish Christians in origin
The early Christians were considered to be Judeo-Christians in the Greco-Roman world during the first century. They began as an aberrant movement within the religion of Judaism throughout the Roman Empire. It was claimed that early Christians deviated from the polytheism of the majority of the Romans, their refusal to worship and offer gifts to their many gods. But as early Christianity grew larger due to Jesus’s influence, they slowly swerved from their Jewish origins and formed a more distinct religion.
- Jesus Christ is the central figure of early Christianity
The foundation of early Christian church was built through the teachings of Jesus Christ (6 BC–4 BC), the Messiah—the son of God and the word made flesh (John 1:14). His life is written, known today as the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in the New Testament of the Bible. It was Jesus of Nazareth who taught in parables and performed miracles that defied the common teachings during his time. But due to his controversial ministry, he was persecuted and crucified.
In the gospel before his Ascension, Jesus appointed his apostles to build his church. He commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit …” (Matthew 28:19-20)
- Paul is the greatest missionary ever lived
St. Paul, a once nonbeliever of Jesus, is the second most important figure of early Christianity. He spread Christianity through God’s words, and gathered fishers of men (Mark 1:17). His real name is Saul of Tarsus. He proclaimed Jesus’s teachings to different cities, like Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, and Thessalonica confronting the pagan world, and leading the denomination of Christianity worldwide during the years of AD 30–AD 100.
- The Romans considered Christians as a threat and rebels
Christians disrespected ancestral pagan beliefs and refused from participating in Roman’s polytheistic practices. This led to martyrdom and persecution of their disloyalty to the Roman Gods. Nevertheless, Christians were accused as a vicious cult promoting blood and body that grants eternal life. And in AD 64, the emperor Nero blamed the Christians for the Great Fire of Rome, and slaughtered them mercilessly.
- Emperor Constantine freed the suffering of Christianity
After the reign of Emperor Diocletian, Constantine was the first Roman emperor who accepted Christianity. In AD 313 he ended the Christian persecutions and became a devout Christian emperor, yet only received baptism before his death. Many scholars stated that Constantine owed his imperial success to the Christian God, and to strengthen his empire. It was also said that his mother taught him reverence on Christian teachings.
- The Edict of Milan is the greatest triumph of Christianity
The Edict of Milan brought an end to persecution. In February of AD 313, Licinius and Constantine made an agreement in Milan to have Christianity be recognized as a legal religion freed from the shackles of oppression. The edict restored Christianity, and Christians were given freedom to spread and practice their beliefs and practices. During this time, Christianity became prevalent, and there were many established churches and followers. Until today, the Christian religion continues to rise and proclaim the word of God throughout the world.