Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Relation Between the Growth of Christianity and the Roman Empire

The popular religion, known as Christianity, began its main growth during the Roman Empire. Christianity was one of the many different religions competing for the attention of people of the Roman Empire during the first three centuries CE.The growth that took place during this time was extraordinary.

One of the reasons for this growth, of the Christian religion was due to the popularity of different facets of the religion. These included its universal acceptance of all people regardless of their pasts, the strong sense of community within its congregations, its duty to care for the weak, sick and needy. The Roman people greatly liked these ideas. Combined with the great demographic shifts that were occurring in the Roman Empire, Christianity went through a time of great development and expansion. With the Roman Empire new there were many immigrants that wanted to have acceptance into the Roman society, to find a sense of belonging. Since Christianity accepted all, these immigrant would be given acceptance into a close-knit community.

Another way in which Christianity was spread throughout the Roman Empire was while the empire was newly established the Romans were tolerant of different religious customs. This gave Christians the opportunity to teach and spread their message to the Roman people. One man who spread the Christian religion throughout Rome was St. Paul who founded Christian churches in Asia Minor and Greece. Eventually, he took his teachings to Rome itself. In Rome there was a road system throughout all of the empire. St. Paul walked on these very roads to spread the message of Christ. By just the fourth century Christianity was known at the state religion within the Roman Empire.

Another man who taught the Christian message in Rome was Peter. The Apostle Peter is known to have established his headquarters in the city, following his thirty-year ministry in the East. The Apostle Peter was martyred in Rome.

Within the Roman Empire there were many ways to get from one part of the region to the other. This helped Christianity to have the ability to spread. Roads led from Rome to every part of its dominion. Travel was made, if not easy, at least not impossible. This ease of communication made it possible for disciples to spread the Christian message all over the ancient world. Another example of a human who used this is St. Paul; as mentioned previously. If the Roman Empire had not existed, missionaries would have found it extremely difficult to cross the borders of very different and often warring nations without finding themselves accused and punished as an enemy, before they had a chance to spread the good news.
Another reason in which the Christian message was spread throughout Rome, was that it was a very grand empire with many types of people with in it. Also the cruelty of the Roman empires grew the faith of those already converted and converted yet more. And lastly, the oppressed nature of the subjects of the Roman Empire made the message of Christ welcome to these lower classes. The message was for the rich and the poor. (Ackroyed 127)
The first converts were usually the poor and slaves for they had a great deal to gain from the Christians. If they were caught, they faced death for failing to worship the emperor. It was not uncommon for emperors to turn Rome's people against the Christian religion when Rome was faced with difficulties. (Bass 41)

This is how Christianity was spread throughout Rome. The Roman Empire helped the growth of the Christian religion greatly.
Ackroyd, Pete. Ancient Rome. DK Publishing, Inc., New York, 2005.
Bass, Newton T. Timelines of History: Volume II. Grolier, Scholastic Library Publishing, Connecticut, 2005.