How and when did Christianity Start?
In order to call ourselves “Christian” – and to be more knowledgeable practitioners of the faith of Christianity – it is necessary to understand where our religion came from and when it had its physical and spiritual beginnings. We look around our world and realize, on one level, that the actual Christianity that exists today is the most numerically dominant religion in the world. Statistically, up to a third of all people on Earth consider themselves to be Christian. This can rightfully be a point of humble pride, knowing that the simple message given to us by Jesus Christ has so powerfully impacted literally billions of people over the centuries since it first was preached here on Earth.
Christianity began with Jesus Christ himself. The root word of our faith comes from our Redeemer, the Son of God, whose life and death and resurrection saved us from sin and guaranteed our salvation at the end times. The word “Christ” comes from the Greek word Christos. By itself, Christos is the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew word masiah (“Messiah”) which mean means “anointed one.” Without the coming of the Son of God (Jesus) into our midst, there would have been no religion which eventually came to be called “Christianity.”
Christianity’s early beginnings take up most of the New Testament of the Bible. While Jesus walked among us in physical form, he laid the foundations for the universal Christian church in all that he said and did. He taught his disciples – most of who would later go on to be his first apostles (missionaries) – using words, deeds and the examples demonstrated by his passion on the cross and subsequent return from the dead. Because of these things, we are able to understand how all of us can expect eternal life if we accept his message (and him) and live our lives as he did.
The death and resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone and true beginning of the Christian faith. In what Christians consider the most important event in human history, the death and eventual return of Jesus from the dead three days after his physical death on the cross, is the actual real beginning of the faith we know today as “Christianity.” Foretold by Christ himself, we know his death saved us from sin and made our eternal life possible through the miracle of salvation he purchased for us when he shed his blood on the cross.
Jesus established the universal Christian church. In the Gospel according to Matthew, we are able to read the mission Jesus gave to his disciples to become his apostles, or “missionaries.” In his charge to Simon, whose name Jesus changed to Peter (“Petros,” in Greek, or “Rock”), Jesus said: “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18, New International Version). This was how Jesus informed his followers of their mission to come, which would begin after his death, resurrection and ascension to Heaven.
The first church in universal Christianity was formed in Jerusalem. In the book of Acts (some refer to the full title as “Acts of the Apostles”), after Jesus had ascended to Heaven, the first gathering of believers in the miracle of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus took place in Jerusalem. Acts 1:15-16 (NIV) describes how Peter (who once was Simon) stood up before around 120 Jews and converts to Judaism and began to preach the good news of Jesus and his message of personal salvation: “In those days, Peter stood up among the believers…” It is from this humble beginning that we see the start of the first physical Christian church. And it is also from this beginning that we are able to draw our strength as followers of the universal church known as “Christianity.” Praise The Lord Most High!
Love to All
Rev. Carol Ann