Jesus, Peter and Paul: How Christianity Went From Persecuted to Influential – 10/27/2022

Regardless of whether or not we have a religious belief or the religion we practice, knowing the origin of christianity It is very important, because this doctrine has influenced the history of mankind for 2,000 years. The medieval origins of today’s European nations are essentially Christian.

Historically, the facts that founded Christianity occurred during the Roman Empire, in the last centuries of the Ancient Age, which extended from approximately 3,500 BC to 476 AD.

Christianity arose from the doctrine of men who followed Jesus Christ.

Jesus was a Jew who was born and died in what is now Jordan and Israel, in the Middle East, territory under Roman rule in the 1st century.

Since most of the western world to this day follows the Christian calendar, year 1 of our era is precisely marked by the approximate date on which Jesus was born.

The emphasis given to this historical character, born in Bethlehem (a city located in the Kingdom of Judea), is due to the fact that he is considered by his followers as the son of God.

Peter, Paul and the Bible

Some Jews believed that Jesus was the messiah, that is, the one sent by God to redeem humanity, of which their sacred texts spoke. Others don’t. So the Jewish authorities began to persecute him.

According to the records left by his disciples – which later formed the basis for the second part of the holy book of Christians, the Bible – Jesus was killed on the cross by his persecutors and would have been resurrected, demonstrating his divine power.

This belief in the messiah was therefore nurtured beyond the death of Jesus and became a religion.

Christ’s followers, his apostles (disciples), such as Peter and Paul, in the 50’s AD spread the teachings and stories about Jesus in Rome and Europe.

They wrote texts about the new religion, which would become part of the New Testament, the second part of the Bible. The first part, or Old Testament, is the same holy book of the Jews, the Torah.

The facts reported there were written throughout the history of the Jewish people (Hebrew), in more than 4,000 years. These books were based on myths and legends about the origin of the world and events experienced by these people.

What differentiates Jews from Christians is that the former did not believe that Jesus was the son of God and the latter, being Jews in origin, abandoned their religion and began to expand their faith in Christ to other peoples, founding a new church for that. , called Christian.

The Rise of the Church

The descendants of the apostles, who began to spread Christianity throughout the world, were called the patriarchs. Thus, the communities constituted by the apostles were perpetuated even after their death, making Christianity stronger as a church.

“Church” comes from the Greek word “ecclesia”, which means assembly, thus representing the gathering of men who share the same ideas and practices.

Persecuted by the Romans for centuries, Christians suffered a series of tortures. They were accused of burning Rome at the time of Emperor Nero (54 to 68).

In general, it was common to burn Christians alive or have them devoured by wild beasts, in plain sight, in the arenas of Roman circuses. This repression was intended to prevent Christianity from continuing to expand throughout the Empire.

The ideas of the first Christians frightened Rome because they did not agree with the worship of the emperor as a living god and preached equality between men.

Thus, over the centuries, this popular religion gained more and more adherents. The Romans, then, found it more convenient to approach her than to continue to pursue her.

Official religion of Rome

Thus, in 313, Emperor Constantine himself converted to Christianity and allowed the cult of that religion throughout the Empire.

Eighty years later, history has completely reversed itself. In 391, Christianity not only became the official religion of Rome, but all other pagan religions were persecuted.

From the moment the Empire decided to make the Christian religion official for the Romans and all the peoples they dominated in the 4th century, the Christian Church began to gain strength as a powerful institution.

The patriarchs or bishops of Christianity were scattered throughout the Roman Empire in various cities: Alexandria, Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, and Rome.

As ordered by the emperor in 455, the patriarch of Rome became, from then on, the highest authority of the Church, under the name of pope.

Catholic, Apostolic and Roman

After this process, the Catholic Church was consolidating the name that summarizes its objectives: Roman Catholic Church.

Thus, it was defined that this institution represents an assembly (church), follower of the apostles of Christ (apostolic), based in Rome (Roman), which should spread the faith to the entire universe (catholic means universal).

Still in 325, Emperor Constantine had promoted a meeting in Nicea with ecclesiastical authorities to define the main beliefs and norms that should guide the conduct of Christians. This agreement was called the Council of Nicea and was a landmark in the constitution of the Catholic religion.

However, the definitive consolidation of the power of this Church would take place in the following centuries, from the Middle Ages, which begins in the 5th century.

The Carolingian Empire (8th to 9th centuries) and feudalism (mainly 8th to 11th centuries) would provide economic space and political power for the Catholic Church to become the main medieval institution.

*Fernanda Machado is a historian.

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