Christianity spread rapidly from A. D. 30 until the fourth century, when it was legalized. The sudden and rapid rise of Christianity during this time period is one of the most amazing events in all of human history. In less than two centuries after the death of Christ, Tertullian could already say, “We are but of yesterday, and yet we have filled every place among you—cities, islands, fortresses, towns, market places, the very camps, tribes, companies palace, senate, and forum. We have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods.”1A decade earlier, Clement of Alexandria had written, “The whole world, along with Athens and Greece, has already become the domain of the Word.”2
To be sure, other religions have sometimes spread rapidly—such as Islam in the seventh and eighth centuries. However, Islam spread quickly through use of the sword. Most of its converts did not convert willingly. In contrast, before the year 325, the rise of Christianity was entirely without the use of the sword. No one was forced to convert to Christianity during this time period. In fact, the Roman Empire used every means available to it to prevent Christianity from spreading. Yet, Christianity spread so fast that it eventually conquered the Roman Empire itself—without the use of the sword.
Reasons for the Rise of Christianity
Secular historians conjecture various reasons for Christianity’s rapid rise. However, the believer realizes the reason for the swift spread of Christianity was that God’s Spirit was behind it. As Jesus said, “On this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). Because Christianity is the truth and its spread was often backed by supernatural power, neither Judaism nor pagan religions could successfully stop it.
Although secular historians are not normally going to acknowledge the primary reason for Christianity’s rapid rise, there are several reasons that even they acknowledge. Three of these causes...
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