Christianity is considered an influential religion, emanated the life of Jesus Christ here on earth. Christianity has evolved over a long period. In the past, there was a belief in polytheistic where they believe in more than one God. The Jews had firmly believed that one day, God would send someone, a Messiah, to relieve them of the pain, persecution, and suffering. It was around 30AD when people started being keen on one Jewish man’s teachings, Jesus Christ. Well, not much is known about the childhood life of Jesus Christ. As a young adult, he worked as a carpenter until he began his ministry, preaching, teaching, healing the sick, among others. Being the Jews promised Messiah and the son of God, who was accepted by others and rejected by others. Therefore, this study will discuss the origin of Christianity, from the population of Jewish Christians who lived during Jesus’ time and explore the birth of Christianity by examining the traits of the Jewish Jesus movement to see how it developed into a distinctly gentile religion.
First of all, in the New Testament, Jesus only preaches the good news to a Jewish listener. He started his ministry by choosing the 12 disciples whom he later commissioned them to preach to ‘all the nations’ (Matthew 28:19) as a ”post-Resurrection’ idea.’ After the crucifixion, the apostles began to champion a new faith in Jesus, and the ranks of Jesus’ actions (known as ‘the Way’ at the time) swelled to 3,000 Jewish converts. At first, these followers were distinctly Jewish, following Mosaic law, Temple traditions, and dietary customs.
Later came the gentile members of the united Jewish-Greek church in Antioch (Acts 11:19–24; Galatians 2:11–14), as well as the many pagan converts of Paul in Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece. It is with them the Jewish monopoly in the new movement came to an end. Jewish and gentile Christianity was born.”
Furthermore, as gentiles joined the Jesus movement, they focus on Jewish law decreased, and that is where the start of the origin of Christianity as a distinct religion came. Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and the gentile Christian population participated in separate services. The two groups agreed on Jesus’ message and importance, but the different rites and communities led to an increasing division between the groups. Geza Vermes writes that ‘after Hadrian’s suppression of the Second Jewish Revolt, the Jewish Christians quickly became a minority group in the newly established church. At this point, the origin of Christianity as a distinctly non-Jewish religion; late in the second century. In conclusion, the Jewish Christians either rejoined their Jewish peers or become part of the newly gentile Christian church.
Christianity grew exponentially, however, in the 20th century. The events arguably changed or at least compelled a more significant contemplation of these historical relations. The first was the Shoah or the Holocaust. In its aftermath, Christian anti-Semitism has been firmly demonstrated historically. It cannot be ignored or dismissed. As difficult as it is for most sincere Christians to acknowledge, elements of Christianity have generated and spread hatred of Jews. Significant Christian anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism helped cultivate an environment that ultimately led to the deaths of millions of Jews. Many Christians, however, have sought to confront and remedy this truth.
Furthermore, any understanding of Christianity begins with knowledge of Judaism because Jesus was born a Jew. He grew up in a Jewish tradition. Christ was one of the many teachers spreading his many ideas in the Roman province of Judea. He was part of the Messianic culture that helps us understand why he was thought not only as a teacher but something much more.
Many Christians have seen this as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Others have seen it as minimal recompense for past Jewish suffering and injustices. During his ministry, Jesus taught that people needed to believe in God and to apologize for their wrongdoings. He emphasized the need to love humanity. From its very beginning, the Christian message was grafted onto human history. The Good News Christians have proclaimed through the ages is that in Jesus Christ, and for our salvation, God has uniquely entered human history. History is crucial for understanding not only the life of Jesus but also the entire biblical message. A good deal of the Old Testament is historical narrative. The Bible tells the story of God’s revelation in the life and history of the people of God. Without that story, it is impossible to know that revelation.
Secondly, having said this should start by affirming a basic premise. The first followers of Jesus were Jews, and the early stages of what is now referred to as the Christian movement in the first century reflected varieties within the world of the Second Temple. Everyone but the most ardent anti-Semites were willing to accede to the Jewish identity of the earliest Jesus supporters. There are admittedly many connotations that surround this term. Christians have become prisoners of their language, for better or for worse.
The diversity of the early Jesus movement is partly attested to by Acts 15, which notes the existence of Pharisees among the followers of Jesus. He should be somewhat surprising since the Pharisees often appear as the opponents of Jesus in the Gospels. The makeup of the early followers of Jesus is much more complicated than most people assume.
Despite these Jewish origins, later Christianity was increasingly dominated by non-Jews, although the time frame for this may not be as early as is often assumed. The massive communities of Gentile supporters of Jesus, once envisioned, may have, in actuality, been quite small. Paul’s many epistles to these communities have possibly inflated their numbers and their significance from our vantage point. Whatever the case, the number of Jews who followed Jesus steadily declined over subsequent centuries, though some continued in their observance of Judaism in various forms. The reason for this is manifold. The destruction of the Temple during the Jewish rebellion against Rome was probably a contributory factor for the decline. There were likely other reasons. The delayed deliverance and declining fortunes of the Jewish people proved a challenge most Jews could not wrestle with. The idea of a Messiah in waiting was problematic for many.
Looking ahead, by the third and fourth centuries of the Common Era, there were growing pressures toward doctrinal uniformity within greater Christianity that eventually served to exclude various non-conformist groups, including Jews who supported Jesus’ messianic claims. While Jews had started the movement, they indeed were outnumbered by Gentiles by the third and fourth centuries. Jerusalem had been the center of this messianic movement, but with the Temple destroyed and Jewish life there limited, it was a losing proposition.
The majority of the people often thought of Emperor Constantine as the primary source of the increasing Christian differentiation from Judaism. On another front, the gradual rise of rabbinic leadership also served to exclude many Jews who supported Jesus’ messianic claims from the fold of emerging Post-Temple Judaism. Now the rabbinic movement was much slower in its ascendancy than is often assumed. The rabbis had limited power and the notion that they could banish and eliminate interaction by Jesus, believing Jews were probably minimal in most quarters.
The path to this exclusion was a long one, the boundaries between Jews and Christians are no longer assumed to have been as defined as previously thought, however. Any notion that the lines were drawn between those on either side of the religious dividing line is not accurate. However, the additional restrictions they faced further weakened the long-term viability of Jews embracing Jesus’ claims.
Until recently, many theologians and historians have presumed that the parting of ways between formative Judaism and the nascent Christian movement occurred very early. They point to the conflict preserved in the Gospels and Acts as proof that Jewishness and Jesus were perceived as incompatible. Consequently, both entities, i.e., the supporters of Jesus and the opponents or non-supporters of Jesus on the other, are often portrayed as sharply distinct groups with clear boundaries as soon as the late first or early second centuries. It has led to the predominant view that characterizes the Jewish movement that focused on Jesus’ messianic claims as nothing more than an anomaly. These Jewish supporters of Jesus were merely hanging on to the remnants of a dead religious tradition.
The disagreement between the Jewish followers of Jesus and the rest of the Jewish community was also portrayed as a conflict between a Christian community and a Jewish one. The scholar G.N. Stanton sums up the normative view by stating that the Jewish community of Matthew that recognized Jesus’ messianic claims had parted company with Judaism. That assumption is problematic since it assumes there was one Judaism. According to Stanton, almost every aspect of the Gospel of Matthew reflects the rivalry between church and synagogue. For Stanton, Matthew’s community can be seen as a defense of Christianity against Judaism. Stanton’s perceptions deal principally with the Matthean community, but this model has been used to argue the circumstances of Jewish groups that accepted Jesus as their Messiah.
The number of Jews who supported Jesus’ messianic claims grew significantly. Luke introduces Ananias and Sapphira as an example of the social makeup of the new community. The couple sold a piece of property and purported to lay the full amount before the apostles. Why they withheld part of the proceeds is unclear, but it appears that they might have sought to achieve some status among Jews who supported Jesus’ messianic claims without divesting themselves of the entire amount.
The Jewish followers of Jesus found their message accepted by many Diaspora-born Jews. The Hellenistic Jews encountered in the seventh chapter of the book of Acts were the by-product of not only linguistic, but cultural and philosophical influences that stemmed from both Roman and Greek society. The appointment of seven deacons to serve in what appears to have been a purely logistical role may shed light on a more significant revelation of the new messianic community. Stephen, one of the seven chosen to serve on behalf of the Greek Jewish community, became actively involved in the open debate in synagogues with non-followers of Jesus. It is the first time a dispute in a synagogue environment s recorded.
Furthermore, the very heart of the conflict between the Hellenistic Jews and the Hebraic Jews was over the issue of commercial distribution. Many poor joined the Jews who believed in Jesus. Indeed, in the second century, different Jesus oriented Judaism were often labeled under one term of Ebionism. The word Ebion reflects the Hebrew word meaning poor. The proclamation of Jesus as the real king of Israel only furthered the political aspirations of freedom and independence held by countless others.
Where the message of Christianity, as related by his followers, and perhaps even in the texts themselves also fail to convey at times his message of redemption, must consider the possibility that his real perspectives were effectively shattered. They were perhaps hidden by the shards of misperception, human weakness, and the simple reality that people can, on the one hand, believe in God’s grace and mercy and still do terrible things. Humanity is, unfortunately, not either-or. The human experience is wrought with failure even as it has achieved great things. Can the message of Jesus have been too powerful to withstand its transmission within earthly vessels? Was its message or at least parts of it altered by the shards of human failures and the frailty of humans as representatives of God’s word?
If Jews cannot agree with Christians, that Jesus was or is the Messiah or Christians cannot accept that Christian faith has failed by its anti-Semitism, then what can be agreed upon. Perhaps, the one thing both groups can agree to is the idea that Jesus called Israel to repent. Whether or not Israel is represented by Jews alone or by a composite body of Jews or non-Jews, repentance applies to all. The presence of God among those who call upon the name of the LORD should be something all agree upon.
Christianity has become the biggest of the world’s religions and, geographically, with more than two billion followers. Christianity centers in Christ Jesus. Christianity is not a religion nor a denomination. It is a personal, intimate relationship with the person Christ Jesus. By becoming a member of a faith, go through the motions, participate in all activities doesn’t prove the stature of a person to be a follower of Christ. Our commitment to Christ should be paramount over all things.
The largest groups are the Roman Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and the Protestant churches. The Oriental Orthodox churches constitute one of the oldest branches of the tradition but had been out of contact with Western Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy from the middle of the 5th century until the late 20th century because of a dispute over Christology. Significant movements within the broader Christian world and sometimes transcending denominational boundaries are Pentecostalism, Charismatic Christianity, Evangelicalism, and fundamentalism. Also, there are numerous independent churches throughout the world. For example, Anglicanism; Baptist; Calvinism; Congregationalism; Evangelical church; Lutheranism; Oriental Orthodoxy; Presbyterian; Reformed and Presbyterian churches are termed as an independent.
This study first considers the nature and evolution of the Christian religion, its ideas, the growth, and its institutions. This is to examine the theoretical manifestations of Christianity. Today Christianity has evolved into the biggest religion ever with a massive following of over two billion audiences. It is good to appreciate that Christianity originated from the times of Jesus Christ. Jesus started his ministry by choosing the 12 disciples that he worked together with, whom he later commissioned them. The Jewish monopoly in the new movement came to an end, and the Jewish and gentile Christianity was born. On the other hand, the primary source of the increasing Christian differentiation from Judaism. When the gentiles joined the Jesus movement, and their main concentration was to see Jewish law decreased, and that gave birth to the origin of Christianity as a distinct religion. Finally, the role of Christianity in the world, the relationships with its divisions and denominations, its missionary outreach to other peoples, and its relations with other world religions are discussed. In conclusion, Christianity is not a religion nor a faith. It is a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. By believing in him and his teaching that is sufficient to make one a Christian.