When Did Christianity Start
When Did Christianity Begin
The 12 Apostles were Jewish men who walked and lived with Jesus Christ during his Earthly ministry. The Apostles testified they saw Jesus on numerous occasions after He rose from the dead. 40 days later, Jesus ascended to Heaven in their presence. These 12 Apostles had the task set before them of spreading the Gospel (Good News) to all peoples in all lands. The Good News is that Jesus was resurrected; and by becoming a Believer, our sins are forgiven, we can be transformed into His likeness, we can receive the greatest gift ever offered to humankind: Eternal Life after death.
But how could 12 Apostles with 120 other Believers accomplish this mission? None were learned men; they had no political power; no army—they were a collection of nobodies from a backwater. Yet within 150 years there were perhaps one million Believers from Britain to India. And today Jesus is the most well known and revered person in the history of this planet. How did this happen? It seems so . . . supernatural.
What was it about these men that was so convincing? They and their followers were cut off from their communities, harassed, beaten and murdered for believing in the resurrection of their Lord. Some wonder why we don't know more about the 12 Apostles. That is because the story is not about them. It is about the message they delivered to the world.
Peter was the rock upon which Jesus said He would build His church. He was strong, confident, and courageous—and flawed like all men. Why Peter? Why not John, the beloved disciple who was probably closest to Jesus in Spirit? I will paraphrase Dorothy Sayers, "John was all gold, and gold is rare. The work could not wait while God found enough men like John. Peter was a common man; made of stone as are most men."
On the Day of Pentecost (50th day since the resurrection) Peter took the reins as the leader and spokesman for the Apostles. He preached that day and 3,000 persons were converted. Peter would go on to preach throughout Judea and Samaria for many years. He was a successful evangelist because he performed a number of miracles in Jesus' Name through the power of the Holy Spirit. He healed the sick and raised the dead.
Peter and the other Apostles were arrested in Jerusalem by the Jews, who were incensed that the Christians had begun including Gentiles (non-Jews) in the Apostolic Church. They each received 39 lashes, were imprisoned, but miraculously freed.
Peter went to Rome and because of his stature as one of the 12 Apostles was named the first bishop of the church in Rome. Emperor Nero crucified him upside down in the Hippodrome (circus stadium) in 64 A.D. His bones lie in the Vatican.
John was one of four fishermen among the Apostles. His character was a reflection of his Master's. He was with Jesus at His Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane. John braved the hostile crowd to be at the foot of the Cross when his beloved Lord was crucified. Jesus entrusted to John the care of His Mother Mary.
John left Palestine about 55 AD after Mary, Mother of Jesus, died. He spread the Gospel throughout Syria and Asia Minor. When John laid his hands on people they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is not known when he wrote the Gospel of John, or his three Epistles. Speculation is between 38 and 67 AD. It is known that he lived in Ephesus for many years, where he discipled Ignatius and Polycarp, two of the well known Apostolic Fathers of the church. John was exiled to the Island of Patmos as an old man and it is there he wrote Revelation in 97 AD. He was the only Apostle known to have died of natural causes (estimated to be 100 years old) and his tomb is in Ephesus.
History About Christianity
Andrew was Peter's brother. Andrew traveled widely as a missionary, winning converts in what are now Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Greece and Turkey. He is the Patron Saint of all these countries except Turkey; and also of Scotland. It is likely as not that he also traveled through parts of Bulgaria, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and maybe even Poland. Andrew founded the church in Byzantium (Constantinople or Istanbul) in 38 AD. He was crucified on an X shaped cross in Patras, Greece around 75 AD. Relics of his bones are in many countries including Scotland. The X on the British Flag, the Union Jack, is in honor of St. Andrew.
James was John's brother and the first Apostle to be martyred, in 44 AD. James was one of the first followers of Jesus and one of three present at the transfiguration. He was a leader in the earliest church in Jerusalem.
Herod Agrippa, King of the Jews, had James killed by the sword in the midst of a wave of persecution of Christians he had unleashed to please the Jews. James converted his prison guard, who volunteered to be beheaded next to James—and so he was.
James is the Patron Saint of Spain and there lie his remains.
Thomas became the missionary to Persia and India (and modern day Pakistan). There have been rumors he journeyed as far as China and Japan; and spent time in Ethiopia. He certainly traveled farther from Israel than any other Apostle. It appears his ministry in India began in the north, in Taxila; proceeded to southern India (Chera); to the southwestern coast (Malabar); and the southeast coast where he was martyred in 72 AD with a spear in Mylapore. He was revered in India by Muslims and Hindus as well. His bones are in a reliquary at Edessa, Turkey.
Matthew (Levi) was a tax collector who wrote the first (and most popular) Gospel in the New Testament in about 48 AD, probably in Antioch.
Matthew was an eyewitness to the Life of Jesus and was known as a fine teacher.
His goal was to convince the Jews that Jesus was their long awaited Messiah.
He was the missionary to the Hebrews; and traveled into the mission field to Syria, Persia and Ethiopia—where it is believed he died.
Where Did Christianity Originate
Bartholomew (Nathaniel bar-Tholami) was a missionary in Ethiopia, Armenia, Mesopotamia (Iraq) and India.
He is best known for his work in the Konkan Coast of western India, which includes Mumbai (Bombay).
He was flayed (skinned alive) and then crucified in Armenia.
Parts of his body are in Germany and England.
Jude Thaddeus preached the Good News to Judea; Samaria; Syria; Libya; Armenia; and (what are now) Iraq and Jordan; before being martyred with an axe in Beirut, Lebanon, in 65 AD.
Simon the Zealot was martyred with St. Jude by being sawed in half. He was a missionary in Egypt, Persia and Armenia. There are legends that have him evangelizing in Ethiopia, Britain, and what is the modern nation of Georgia.
Philip preached in Greece, Syria, Ukraine, and Anatolia—where he was crucified in about 80 AD. He served the Apostles early on as interpreter to Greek-speakers.
James Alphaeus (James the Less) was crucified in Egypt for preaching the Gospel. He might have been the brother of Matthew.
Matthias was the replacement for Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for money and promptly committed suicide. Matthias evangelized in Judea, Ethiopia and what is now Georgia—where he died. His bones are in Trier, Germany.
History of Christianity
Besides the 12 Apostles, there were many others who played key roles in Origin of Christianity. Stephen was the first deacon (servant) of the church and the first martyr (witness). He was illegally stoned to death by the Sanhedrin (Jewish Judges) in 35 AD because of his famous testimony explaining that they had rejected and murdered Jesus, their Messiah. This was a key moment in the History of Christianity.
His murder was approved by Saul of Tarsus—the man later known as Saint Paul. Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit and his face shown like an angel. He forgave his killers as he lay dying in the street. Today, there are churches, schools, monasteries, and hospitals named after him around the globe.
Beginning of Christianity
James the Just was the stepbrother of Jesus, and the first bishop of Jerusalem, which was the center of the church until the city was destroyed in 70 AD. He was a vegetarian, never drank alcohol, did not cut his hair, and was known to pray so often that his knees developed calluses, leading to his nickname "Camel Knees." He lived as a Messianic Jew and wrote a manual for Jewish Christian conduct known as the Epistle of James in 42 AD. James was murdered—he was recruiting Jews for Jesus—by being hurled from a parapet in 62 AD. He forgave his murderers while barely still alive, and then was bashed in the head with a club.
In the destruction of Jerusalem one million Jews were killed by the Romans and 97,000 hauled away as captives. The Jewish Temple, which had stood for 545 years, was completely demolished to the point that it had not one stone left on another—as prophesied by Jesus. All of the books in the New Testament had been written by this time except Revelation. And they were written to be read aloud.
Gospel of Mark
Mark (John Mark) wrote the 2nd Gospel in 46 AD, as it was dictated to him by St. Peter—a gripping story of the divine, miraculous Jesus from his chief disciple.
Mark was a young man from Libya, and a cousin of Barnabas, when the Apostles began to meet in his mother's home in Jerusalem. He went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. When they decided to go to Galatia, Mark quit the mission.
He quit because he was afraid of the Galatians who lived in the hinterlands of Anatolia. They were a fierce people who were of a race known as Celts, Gaels, Picts, Britons, Gauls, Belgae, and Galicians in other parts of Europe.
Barnabas later wanted to bring Mark along on another mission but Paul refused and they went their separate ways, with Barnabas taking Mark with him to Cyprus to evangelize his home island.
Mark went to Rome as St. Peter's interpreter, before settling in Alexandria where he became the first bishop (45-62) of the (Egyptian) Coptic Church. He was martyred in 68, dragged through the streets behind a horse.
Gospel of Luke
Luke was from Antioch (Syria) and the only Gentile writer of the Bible. He was an educated, cosmopolitan physician with a thorough knowledge of the law. Luke was a gifted writer, who wrote in a concise, elegant, picturesque style. He wrote the Gospel of Luke in 55 AD based on interviews with eyewitnesses—probably including Mary the Mother of Jesus. He has been described as the most widely read and most accurate historian of his era. Many things he wrote were disputed by secular historians only to be proved correct by subsequent archaeological discoveries. Nothing he wrote has been disproved.
Luke authored the Acts of the Apostles, which is about the history of the church from 30 AD to about 65 AD, after traveling with Paul on his mission trips. He was shipwrecked with Paul at Malta and was the only Brother with him when he was arrested in Rome. He died in Greece in 84 AD (Anno Domini—the year Jesus was born, which is how we mark the years on our calendars today).
Paul the Apostle
Barnabas was a large, imposing man who was to become Paul's mentor and travel extensively with him. He was widely respected and active in churches in Antioch, Damascus and Jerusalem. Barnabas was influential in the acceptance of Paul by the nascent church despite Paul having been their chief persecutor not long before—and greatly feared by Christians everywhere.
Barnabas may have written the book of Hebrews. Another possible author is Apollos, who was a great preacher in Corinth, though from Alexandria. Barnabas was brutally martyred in 61 AD in Cyprus, where he is recognized as the founder of the church there.
Titus was a gentile convert of Paul who then hosted Christian meetings at his home. Titus helped Paul plant churches in Asia Minor, Macedonia and Dalmatia (Croatia) before being assigned to Crete, where he became the first Christian bishop. He was the recipient of Paul's pastoral letter Titus. He died in 107 at 95 years old.
Silas joined Paul, as his protégé, on his missionary journeys after Paul and Barnabas parted ways. He was a Roman citizen from Jerusalem. Silas and Paul were illegally beaten with rods while naked, and they were in jail together for performing an exorcism in Philippi, where they were miraculously freed—and converted their jailer on the way out.
Paul and Silas were soon joined by the young Timothy, to whom Paul would later address his two pastoral letters. Timothy was from Lystra (Zostera). Paul ordained him the bishop of Ephesus in 65. He was stoned to death in 80 by pagans for preaching the gospel.
St Paul the Apostle
Lastly, we turn to the Apostle Paul. Paul (Saul) was a rabbi, Pharisee, and rising star in the Jewish community who hated Christians and vowed to exterminate them. He would accomplish this by hauling whole families away at night for beatings, stoning, arrests, and executions—a campaign of terror. Paul also had a thorough knowledge of the Torah and had been an outstanding student under the renowned Jewish teacher Gamaliel.
While on his way to Damascus to eliminate Christianity there, he became the last person to see the risen Jesus. Jesus appeared to him in a vision and changed Paul and human history forever. His heart was wholly transformed.
Paul went to live in Damascus—the oldest inhabited community on Earth—and preached there three years. Then Barnabas introduced him to Peter and James in Jerusalem and they gave him their blessing to be a missionary for the church. Paul went first to Anatolia and Syria for eight years. He was a brave, energetic, hearty man to say the least. He was also gregarious, engaging and charismatic with a keen intellect. His message was one of Grace and Mercy; of Faith, Hope and Love. And thousands believed him to speak the Truth.
Paul's next expedition was to Cyprus in 47 where he converted the governor after walking 160 miles across the island. Then it was on to Asia Minor where he won many converts, established churches—and caused riots. After he was stoned to the point of death in Lystra, he retraced his entire route—right back through places he had been chased out of! He even returned to Lystra, before heading on to Macedonia—after walking 500 more miles.
Paul traveled to Philippi (named for Alexander the Great's father) for about a year and preached about Jesus as the Christ (anointed one or Messiah); His resurrection from the dead; and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. There he healed the sick and performed exorcisms. Paul moved on to Thessalonica (named for Alexander's half-sister) where he worked 12 hours a day as a tent maker so the church would not have to support him.
Paul then set his sights on Athens, where he gave his famous speech about the "Unknown God" to the Areopagus on Mars Hill. He converted Dionysus, who became the first bishop of Athens.
Paul next went to Corinth—Sin City of the world. To get there was a dangerous 50 mile walk alone on a road infested by bandits, that was very narrow and on a high cliff. Surprisingly to him, he had great success in Corinth. He stayed 18 months and started the church there. He then decided to go back to Jerusalem.
Paul left Jerusalem to return to Antioch and then went to stay in Ephesus for a few years. Following this, it was back to Corinth and Macedonia before traveling to Jerusalem for the last time. Since the majority of these journeys were on foot, one would imagine Paul was in terrific physical condition.
It did not go so well in Jerusalem. He was seized by Jews who tried to kill him for preaching about Jesus Christ at the Jewish Temple, but was saved by Roman army officers—who promptly arrested him. The Jews plotted to kill him while in transport with the Romans to Caesarea to stand trial, but his nephew tipped him off and they escaped the trap. He spent two years under house arrest before appealing to Caesar as a Roman citizen—and his wish was fulfilled that he would be shipped to Rome to stand trial there. During this journey he was shipwrecked on Malta and bitten by a deadly viper—but miraculously lived.
Paul was beheaded by Nero in 67, but not before writing 1/4 of the New Testament. Five times he had been arrested, imprisoned, and given 39 lashes. Today, there is a church named St. Paul's in virtually every city in the Western World.
When Did Christianity Start?
By the year 100 there were Christians in all provinces of the Roman Empire, living in astonishing unity though thousands of miles apart. Everywhere, they practiced baptism, shared Communion and celebrated Easter.
"That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so loft an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospel. After two centuries of Higher Criticism the outlines of the life, character, and teaching of Christ, remain reasonably clear, and constitute the most fascinating feature of the history of Western man." Will Durant, American Historian