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Christianity built upon the Jewish belief in one
God and the concept of a Messiah.
 The disciples of Jesus came to believe that he
was the Messiah.
 According to the Gospels, Jesus was executed
but rose from the dead. Christians believe that
this makes freedom from sin and death
possible for everyone.
 Christianity
emerged at a time of
widespread unrest in the Roman
province of Judaea (Palestine).
 Christianity is based on the life and
teachings of Jesus of Nazareth
 Christ comes from the Greek word
“christos” which means “messiah”
or “anointed one”
Roman Judea
Looking for a Messiah
Christianity grew from Judaism and ideas
of Jesus—a Jewish teacher
 Romans conquered Jewish kingdom of
Judah (Judea) in 63 B.C.
 Jewish kings had to be approved by Rome
Many Jews sought freedom from foreign
 Sacred writings promised a Messiah who
would free them
 Some believed the ruler would be descended
from King David
Birth and Early Life
There are few written historical accounts of
Christianity's early history. What we know
comes from the writings of disciples (followers)
 Writings are called Gospels (good news)
Gospels—accounts of Jesus’ life by
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Along with other writings, they make up New
 Gospels
say Jesus was born in
 raised in Nazareth by Mary and by
Joseph, a carpenter
 Christians later celebrated his birth
on Christmas
The Teachings of Jesus
Jesus preached justice, compassion, coming
of God’s kingdom
 delivered teachings in parables—stories with
 asked people to love and pray for enemies; to live
simply, humbly
Some Jewish leaders angered by Jesus’
 were upset that some followers claimed Jesus was
the Messiah
Arrest and Trial
The claim that Jesus was the Messiah was a
threat to Roman rulers
 power, authority of Roman rulers was questioned
 followers called Jesus “king” when he came to
During Passover, Jesus criticized running of
Jerusalem Temple
 Jewish leaders appointed by Rome arrested Jesus
 turned him over to Romans for punishment
The Story of the Resurrection
Jesus was executed by Roman governor Pontius Pilate
 executed by crucifixion—hanging on cross until suffocated
 buried in tomb with stone blocking entrance
Gospels say that the third day after death, followers went
to tomb
 tomb was empty; some followers say Jesus walked, talked with
Account of resurrection proved to followers that Jesus was
 Resurrection—return to life
 Followers believed Jesus gave life to create new world
 in new world sin and death are defeated
Christians believe crucifixion was on Good Friday
 Resurrection was on Easter Sunday
The Resurrection
The apostles belief in the physical
resurrection of Jesus was the foundation
of a church to promote his teachings.
 The message of the apostle Peter’s first
sermon was that Jesus had died and
risen to be with Yahweh and that
baptism marked the adherence of those
who accepted his resurrection.
event made Jesus’
followers believe their
leader was divine?
The Early Christians & The New Faith
Romans followed a number of religions and also
allowed a great deal of freedom to other religions.
 Jews and Christians began to disagree on religious
grounds, and Christianity slowly became a separate
 Jews and early Christians shared the same basic
beliefs, but differed on the idea of the messiah.
 At first, Christians concentrated on trying to convert
other Jews.
 After serious debate, the early Christians decided to
preach Christianity to the Gentiles.
Christianity might have
remained a purely Jewish
sect had it not been for
Saul of Tarsus
St. Paul: Apostle to the
Paul of Tarsus
a Jewish Roman citizen
 converted to Christianity and took the name
 made three long journeys throughout Asia
Minor and along the coast of the Aegean to
spread Christianity and establish Christian
The Works of Paul
Paul's Roman citizenship, the good roads, and
listeners open to new ideas helped Paul
spread Christianity in the Greek-speaking
 Emphasized that Christianity was not just a
sect of Judaism
The Works of Paul
Taught that Jesus, by his death and
resurrection, had fulfilled the prophecy
of Judaism and initiated a new age.
 Taught that Jesus was the son of God,
the giver of a new law, and preached
that Jesus’ teachings were open to all
The Works of Paul
Made a significant break with Judaism
 Seek converts
According to tradition, while in Rome,
Paul preached and taught for two years
before being executed.
Rome's Early Response
At first the Romans paid little attention to
the Christians.
 Some Romans were quite suspicious of
Christians, and Nero blamed them for
starting a major fire that destroyed much
of Rome.
 Although by A.D. 100 there was a law
condemning admitted Christians to
death, it was seldom enforced.
Great persecutions of
Christians began in 3rd century
Christian intolerance of pagan
beliefs bred powerful retaliatory
hatred of Christians
 Accused Christians of
cannibalism, atheism, and of
being haters of mankind
 Charged with being sneaky
and with dishonoring the
 Also blamed with all the evils
that afflicted the state
The Attack on Christianity
In A.D. 250 Emperor Decius ordered the
execution of all Christians who refused to
worship the Roman gods.
 Up until A.D. 311, Christians suffered two more
waves of persecution under two different
 Roman mobs destroyed Christian churches
and sacred books. Christians were fired from
jobs, forced to leave the army, attacked, and
In the end, the persecutions did not
succeed in eliminating Christianity
 Too many Christians protected
each other
 Persecutions also created
martyrs who inspired others
 Came to an end with death of
Galerius and then Constantine
officially protected them
○ Constantine credited with
being the first Christian
 Leading
his army into battle when
he saw a blazing cross in the sky.
 Beneath were the words:
In Hoc Signo Vinces
“In this sign,
 Placed
himself and his army under
the protection of the Christian God
 After his victory, he declared himself
a Christian and supported
Christianity throughout the empire.
 Baptized on his deathbed in A.D.
Constantine and the growth of
issues the Edict of Milan allowing for religious
 made it legal for Christians to worship, gave
money to the church, and became involved
with church decision-making.
 gave Christianity the support of the Roman
authorities, but also combined religion and
Theodosius became emperor
in 379 AD and proclaimed
Christianity to be the official
religion of the state
 Christians immediately
begin to persecute pagans
○ Destroyed temples or
converted them into
 Church firmed up its
organization and settled
disputes with powerful
intellectual strength
How did the Roman Empire help spread
During Pax Romana, missionaries
traveled safely
Roman Roads helped to spread quickly
Constantine converted
Constantine built churches in Rome and
Religious freedom
Christianity becomes official religion of
the Roman Empire
The Spread of Christianity by 600