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The Evolution Of Christianity During The Roman Empire

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Christianity was born through suffering and then salvation which continues to be the basis of christianity today. There has been a lot that has shaped what christianity has become today. A lot of christianities fate depended on the roman empire. From persecution to the only religion in the empire, if it weren’t for the suffering of christians during the roman empire then we wouldn’t have chritianity as our salvation today.

Christianity was the second universal religion. The christianity religion arose from the life, death and teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus founded christianity as a jew in jerusalem. This being said, the first christans were actually jewish. Jesus’s main goal was focused on helping the poor. Jesus didn’t come from any money or anything so there were no financial help, he worked poor to help the poor. The first christans were very poor city dwelling people, this makes sense since this is the group that Jesus spent most of his time helping out. Although Christianity is one of the most unique religions it is very similar to the buhdist religion.

In order to start my paper i feel like some background is needed before we start, first the story of jesus and then also the comparison of christianity and Buddhism that gives a little more insight into the christian views. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, his mother’s name was Mary and his “fathers” name was Joseph. Joseph was not his biological father, Jesus birth was caused by divine intervention. Jesus was a carpenter like his father figure Joseph. Jesus started helping out the poor which really started his movement. Jesus started helping out the poor jews who lived in jerusalem. Jesus himself wasn’t wealthy so his work with the poor was very popular amongst the unprivileged people in jerusalem. This started to cause a following. During Jesus’s mission to preach the word of God to everyone. Jesus was able to do some pretty amazing things and one of those amazing things was the ability to perform certain miracles. Some of his famous miracles are turning water into wine, raising lazarus from the dead and giving sight to the blind. The jews began calling Jesus the Messiah which was the term reserved for their “chosen one.” The messiah was supposed to be the son of their God. Jesus was sent to earth to sacrifice himself for the sins of humanity. Some people didn’t believe this and were accusing Jesus of blasphemy, this led to Jesus’s crucifixion. Jesus was publicly crucified and died on the cross, after dying Jesus rose from the dead.

Chirstianity is regarded as the 2nd universal religion the first being buddhism. Buddhism and christianity are very similar when you compare the religions side by side. The creator of Buddhism was Prince Siddhartha. We can compare Jesus as a prince as well since his father “God” is considered the king and jesus is his son, making him the prince in a sense. Buddhism is founded on the four noble truths of buddhism. 1) There’s suffering 2) Desire causes suffering 3) in order to eliminate suffering you need to eliminate desire 4) The noble gateway. Although christianity doesn’t have these pillars integrated into the foundation of the faith, we see these pilliar during jesus’s journey. One: Jesus died and suffered on the cross for our sins, that right there getting crucified was one of rome’s harshest punishments. For two and three, Jesus’s desert story does a really good job at expressing this. Jeuss was in the desert and while he was in the desert he was tempted by the devil. The devil tempted him with the desires he was feeling, jesus was close to giving in but was strong enough to overcome his desires eliminating his suffering by eliminating his desires. And lastly the noble gateway I like to compare to Heaven. In Buddhism the noble gateway is the path that leads to the end of suffering. Heaven is basically the same thing for christianity, heaven is ultimately the end goal that ends suffering.

Christianity started to spread pretty quickly, this was due to the help of Jesus’ apostles. Jesus’s apostles were men that he recruited in order to help him spread the faith of God. Chritianity was becoming a very popular religion, but there was one problem, they spoke aramayic. Aramayic was popular amongst the jews and other small civilizations but the apostles knew if they wanted to get christianity in the bigger market then they would need to learn greek. They needed to learn greek because that was the biggest language at the time. They succeeded and learned greek and that was good but christianity wasn’t where they wanted it to be. Their second problem during the spread faze was getting christianity from the jewish market into the gentile market. One of the most appealing things of christianity was the fact that it was super easy to become a christian. In order to become a christian all you had to do was get baptised and go to church to receive communion. Being baptised was a very easy process in order to be baptised all you had to do was be baptised in water by a priest and you were good to go. Communion was also super simple communion was eating a piece of unleavened bread and taking a sip of wine.

As we learned earlier Jesus was born a jew and started his work in jerusalem The first christans were extremely poor city dwelling people who lived in jerusalem. Furthermore the first christans were actually jewish. Jesus and his apostles primarily spoke aramaic which was fine since the people in Jerusalem also spoke aramaic. Jesus and the apostles grew a big following but they weren’t really able to spread it outside of there. Jesus and the apostles learned greek and were able to transform and spread it to greek speaking areas. The first copies of the bible were written in greek. There were many greek speaking jews in jewish synagogues that were interested in christianity already so the transformation into the greek language was big. This inspired a huge influxion of supporters. Christianity in its early stages was spread out all throughout the empire but it wasn’t very big and it was very spotty.

In order for christianity to grow Christianity needed to spread into the world of the gentiles. Gentiles were anyone who wasn’t jewish during this time. Paul of Tarsus was the main contributor in spreading the faith from judaism into the world of the gentiles. Don’t get me wrong though paul originally was on a mission to persecute christians Paul had a revelation from God and was quickly converted to christiantiy. During his revelation is is said that God told paul to go to the gentiles and preach to them. Paul took this as his mission and executed it converted many gentiles to the christian faith

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The Roman empire was separated into two different parts, eastern and western. Each part of the empire was ruled by a different emperor they ruled together. Both the east and west half of the roman empire were not fans of christianity. Due to Rome’s strong hatred for christians the roman empire persecuted christians for their faith. The christans were persecuted simply because their religion was new and threatened the religious beliefs and hierarchy of the roman empire. Emperor Diocletian was the ruler during this time and he was very harsh against christians. In their attempt to discourage christianity by multiple public executions rome did the exact opposite. The persecution of the christans inspired others to look into the faith and support the endeavor. There was a pivotal switch once emperor Constantine became the emperor. The ruler Constantine contrastingly does not persecute the christans. Constantine had a change of heart during the battle of milvian bridge.

The main religion of the roman empire was paganism. The romans believed in multiple gods which represented different things throughout the empire. For example the God neptune was incharge of the seas so if a roman wanted safe travels on a sea journey they would need to pray to neptune for safe travels. Romes king god was jupiter he was known as the sun god and was regarded as the most powerful god in rome. There were multiple temples that were built throughout the empire dedicated to all of the different Gods. although the Romans were pagan they tolerated the jews because the jewish religion was very old so they had a respect for it. That was not the case for christianity. Christianity was considered the new edgy religion that was starting to form from some rebellious jews.

Diocletian was the emperor of rome around the time 300 CE. when He became emperor the roman empire was suffering both financially and militarily and the empire was being constantly attacked. The emperor diocletian was harsh and autocratic a scary force to have as leader. There had been persecutions earlier in the era to try and stop the growth of christianity but nothing compared to diocletian’s persecutions. During his time christianity was deemed illegal Diocletian enforced laws against the legal rights of Christian. He demanded that the christians submit to the roman empire by incorporating some of their traditional religious practices into their ceremonies. Diocletian wanted the christians to sacrifice to the pagan roman Gods but they didn’t so they were killed.

The Romans had many different forms of persecution, Some of the worst forms of persecution were being ripped apart by dogs, crucifixion and straight up burning them alive. One thing that the Romans did not realize during their persecutions was the creation of martyrs. The christians were so devoted to their faith that they knowingly died for their faith. Outsiders were so amazed of how devoted christians were to their faith that it influenced more people rather than discourage them. There have been multiple persecutions against the christians during the roman empire, one specific example comes from the time that the christians were trialed before Pliny the elder. He had never punished christians before so he didn’t know what to do to people who admitted to being christian. In this group that Plinky was trialing there were romans and non romans. When pliny asked the group if they were christian there were three different answers. The first group basically said “No we are not christian and have never been christian,” the people were released without any punishment all the had to do was sacrifice to the roman gods and curse jesus christ. The second group pretty much said, “we were christians but we are no longer christians anymore.” This Group was set free as well as long as they sacrificed to the gods and cursed jesus christ. The third group was the fully fledged christian group, this was the group that openly admitted to be christian regardless of their fate to come. THe christians who were roman were sent back to rome to be punished and the christians who were not roman were executed on the spot. Although the roman christians were probably killed once they got back to rome, I find it particularly interesting that even though they were christian, plinky decided not to kill them on the spot and rather see what the roman government would do, there’s a sense of compassion for his fellow Romans

Constantine was the emperor right after the tyrant diocletian, if it weren’t for the emperor constantine christianity would have probably never developed into universal religion that it is today. Constantine’s father was a highly ranked officer in the roman empire. When Constatine was growing up he was much like his father, he proved to be very strong soldier flying through the ranks and eventually being his father’s right hand man. Constantine’s father died around the year 306 there were civil war that emerged within rome and constantine was victorious uniting both easstern and western rome. Once Constantine was given the title of emperor he made very big changes dealing with the financial social and military structure of rome in order to strengthen the empire. Constantine experienced a life changing event during the roman civil war. Constantine was battling against maxentius. The battle took place at milvian bridge on october 28, 312. During this battle constantine was losing and there really was no chance for him to win anymore, but then he was hit with a vision. The vision is said to be the christian God talking to him. God tells constantine to paint a cross on all of his mens shields and he should be okay. Constantine did as he was told because he had nothing to lose, if he did this he might have a chance at survival and if it didn’t work he was gonna die either way so who cares. He did this and told his men to do the same, by doing this the miraculously won the war. This may be the most pivotal point in chsirtian history, constantine had won this battle with some divine intervention.

After this battle constantine created the edict of milan. The edict of milan decriminalized christianity. The edict of milan made christianity legal, which led to christianity slowly becoming the dominant religion throughout the roman empire. Making christianity legal in the roman empire meant that there would be no more persecution of christians. With no more christian persecution people were able to come out of the dark and start openly practicing christianity. Constantine started to support christianity financially which was something that had never been done before. Christianity had never had a lot of money to do anything. Constantine started to build churches for th christians so that they could have a place to come together and freely practice christianity. Through all of Constantine’s christian work constantine himself was not baptised a christian until he was on his deathbed. Following the reign of constantine a new emperor arised, his name was theodosius. Theodosius had a very similar story to constantine. He quickly learned the ways of battle and served under his father just like constantine. When he first started as emperor he was struck by a serious illness, he turned to christianty for help, he was baptised. Theodsious made christianity the national religion for the roman em;ire and worked side by side with the church.

Christianity has one of the most intense journeys that has been seen in the ancient world. It was constantly being tested by the roman empire but through suffering through the tough times christianity was able to overcome the harsh challenges it faced and then strive. If it weren’t for constantine and the battle of milvian then Jesus and his apostles work would have never been able to spread the way that it did. If constantine had been more like diocletian then who knows christianity may have actually been squashed and extinct. Christianity was born through the suffering of the poor and then the persecution of christians and was saved by the salvation of constantine and theodosius, and Jesus and the apostles.

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The Evolution Of Christianity During The Roman Empire. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from
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