The historical figure of Jesus, E P Sanders, pub Penguin (1995)

Historical Forms of Christianity - Vexen

A historical commentary on the Gospel of Mark

While scholars have a variety of opinions, this page itself will simply mention the following beliefs held by true Christians in the second century, with links to highly documented articles on each subject (which are primarily based on the Bible and early historical writings).

The Social and Historical Impact of Christianity

Jesus is believed by Christians to be the Christ - the Son of God. This article explains what we know about him from history and the Gospels, presents an audio journey through Jesus's life, and explores his legacy in religion, art and cinema.

Based on the life, death, and coming to life again of this man Jesus--also called the Christ--there has developed the world's largest religion, Christianity. It claims more than one billion members in all parts of the world. In the late 20th century, it is divided into hundreds of groups, or denominations, the largest of which are the Roman Catholic church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, and innumerable Protestant churches.


And yet most Christian churches continue to teach and believe the doctrine that God is a coequal, coeternal, one-substance,mysterious three in one triune godhead, and that Jesus Christ is God, and that the trinity is "the cornerstone ofChristianity".

The top 25 events in the History of Christianity are presented, ..

With all the differences in beliefs in the many denominations of Christianity, it is impossible to set out one list of teachings that apply to all Christians everywhere. The reason for this is fairly simple. Jesus, along with his life and work, are for Christians objects of faith; and the objects of faith are thought of by different people in different ways and differently in various periods of history. No one has ever succeeded in distilling an "essence of Christianity." But the early followers of Jesus came the closest in their assertion that "Jesus is lord." By this they seemed to mean that he was more than a man. He was also, in some incomprehensible way, God. And by his ministry, death, and resurrection he had accomplished a universal salvation available to all who believe in him.


Jesus named the Apostles, often called the Twelve (John 6:67), to be with him and carry on his ministry: Simon Peter and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Nathaniel Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, Jude Thaddeus, Simon the Zealot; and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him (Mark 3:14-19). Following the Resurrection, Matthias was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot.

Prior to his Ascension, Jesus commissioned his disciples to be his to the ends of the earth, as noted in the of the Apostles 1:8. The Holy Spirit descended at Pentecost on about 120 Apostles, the mother of Jesus, and disciples in the Upper Room (Acts 1:15, 2:1-4). This strengthened the Apostles to spread the word of Christ Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles describes the infancy period of the Church, a time following the Pentecost when Christianity spread like wildfire. The Apostles all gathered in Jerusalem (Acts 15) to discuss whether Gentiles who had been converted to Christianity had to observe all the ceremonial precepts of the Mosaic Law. This gathering of the Apostles became known as the Council of Jerusalem, and set the pattern of future Councils to resolve issues that arose within the Church.

To the question of Jesus, "Who do you say that I am?" it was the fisherman that answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:15-16). Whereupon Jesus responded, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:18-19).

The of Paul occurred on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). Saul persecuted the Church and consented to the death of the first martyr Stephen. He had men and women who lived the Way thrown into prison. But while going to Damascus, Saul was struck from his horse by a great light and a voice asked "Why do you persecute me?" Saul asked who spoke. Christ identified himself with his Church: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." Saul experienced the grace of conversion, and Paul, as Apostle to the Gentiles, became just as passionate spreading Christianity as he was in persecuting Christians before his conversion.

Saints Peter and Paul were both martyred in Rome during the persecution of Christians by Nero, Emperor of the Roman Empire. St. Peter was crucified upside down and St. Paul was beheaded, both probably in 64-68 AD. In fact, all of the Apostles were martyred for having preached the Gospel, except for St. John the Evangelist.

Heeding the message of Jesus Christ to (Matthew 28:19-20), the Apostles traveled to all parts of the known world to spread Christianity. Andrew, Peter's brother, was the first to be called to follow Jesus, and is called by the Byzantine Church the , meaning the first called. Andrew evangelized Byzantium, appointed Stachys (Romans 16:9) the first Bishop there, and was crucified in Patras, Greece. James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John, is believed to have preached in Spain; he is the only Apostle to have his martyrdom recorded in the Bible (Acts 12:2). John, the son of Zebedee and the brother of James, was the "one Jesus loved." He is called the Theologian for his mystical writings - the Gospel of John and three Letters. Christ on the Cross entrusted his mother Mary to John (19:26-27), who took her with him to Ephesus; he was later exiled to the island of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation in his elderly years. The other James, son of Alphaeus, is sometimes called James the Less, to distinguish him from James the Son of Zebedee. He played an important role as head of the Church of Jerusalem, and writer of the Letter of James in the Bible. According to the historian Flavius Josephus, he was stoned to death in 62 AD. Tradition has it that Matthew preached among the Hebrews and wrote his Gospel in Hebrew or Aramaic. Philip preached the Gospel in Phrygia, Asia Minor and was martyred in Hierapolis. Nathaniel, Son of Talmay, or in Aramaic Nathaniel Bartholomew, and Jude Thaddeus, the author of the Letter of Jude, brought the faith to Armenia. Thomas Didymus, or Thomas the Twin, is known as Doubting Thomas, for questioning the Lord's Resurrection. But when he put his hand in the Lord's side, he reacted with a beautiful profession of faith: "My Lord and My God" (John 20:28). Thomas traveled through Chaldea all the way to India! Little is known about Simon the Zealot or Matthias.1, 3, 5, 7, 12-14