Christianity, chapter X : Paul, non-Jewish Christianity, modern times.
The thing about the Jews during this time was that they were a fairly small group of people in the context of the massive Roman Empire, which covered pretty much all the lands next to the Mediterranean Sea.
The number of Jews who followed Jesus during his lifetime was even smaller. So when Jesus died, there was no social media or Twitter or hashtags or fax machines to let people know around the world. It was a small event and people learned of it via word of mouth. In the bigger context of geopolitics of the region and time, it wasn’t a huge event and it didn’t make a big splash.
This made the enemies of Jesus happy. Their goal had been to eradicate the sect he started. They figured that once they destroyed the leader, the rest would fall apart.
Didn’t quite go that way.
After Jesus’ death, the small group of folks calling themselves Christians were essentially treated as a Jewish sect by the Romans. A small, pesky, annoying subset of Jews. They gathered secretly to worship and carry on the work of their deceased leader, Jesus the Christ.
Jesus the Christ = Jesus the Anointed One
Rabbi Gamaliel was the grandson of Rabbi Hellel the Old, a man whose teachings Jesus had admired. He helped the early Christians out by speaking out in support:
“...let them alone.
If their work and teachings be of me it will come to nought.
But if it comes from God, as they claim, you cannot overthrow it.”
In small groups, they met together. They ate together. They took care of the sick and afflicted. They stayed away from the rich, powerful, and wealthy. If one had property, they shared it.
They gathered in secret and grew, but their numbers stayed small.
It all changed with Paul of Tarsus.
Paul took Christianity everywhere in the known world. He was the catalyst and driving force behind spreading it to non-Jews. Many of the poor and downtrodden took solace in the hopeful message of life after death and of a god who loved them. The Romans weren’t happy about this growing rejection of their polytheism. But Paul didn’t let their unhappiness deter him and kept growing followers, building churches, and spreading Christianity across the entire empire and known world.
Stories were told, stories grew, stories spread, especially amongst the poor and powerless.
His feeding five thousand people with five loaves.
His healing powers.
His walking on the sea.
His love for lepers and the castouts of society.
His rising after the Crucifixion to go to heaven, and someday return.
The Second Coming.
Many people excitedly joined; wanting to be part of this new sect in which Jesus was the Messiah and in which he would be returning. For them. Soon.
These stories traveled. Traveled fast and far.
After four centuries of persecution and and marginal survival, Christianity eventually became the official Roman state religion in 395 AD. At this point, it’s fair to make the statement that there is truly no one else in history whose death changed the world to the degree Jesus’s did.
33 Jesus’s death and resurrection
303 The Great Persecution under co-emperors Diocletian and Galerius
313 Constantine lifts the ban on Christianity
380 Christianity, specifically Catholicism, is adopted as the official religion of Rome
476 The Roman Empire collapses. Differences emerge between Eastern and Western Christians.
638 Jerusalem falls to Islam
1054 The Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox split into two groups.
1095 - 1230 The Crusades. A series of “holy wars” in which Christians battle to reclaim Jerusalem from Muslims.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Forgive others who have wronged you.
Love your enemies.
Ask God for forgiveness of your sins.
Jesus is the Messiah and was given the authority to forgive others.
Repentance of sins is essential.
Don’t be hypocritical.
Don’t judge others.
The Kingdom of God is near. It’s not the rich and powerful—but the weak and poor—who will inherit this kingdom.
More than two billion people call themselves Christian today, making it the most widely-practiced religion in the world. Although there are many differences, all its incarnations of beliefs center around Jesus Christ and his birth, teachings, trial, death, and resurrection.
Modern Christianity can be divided into three main branches:
Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox
The thing they all agree on is a belief in the divinity of Jesus and his resurrection and, the following of his life and teachings as the core foundation of faith.
*STILL WRITING CONCLUSION AND FINAL SUMMARY
This is an introduction to a ten-unit survey of Christianity - its history, peoples, beliefs and impact on the world today.
Education for most ages and for all curious people.
Written by Joseph Ivan Long with curiosity, humbleness, and a big grin.