In the Fullness of Time
How the Spread of Christianity was facilitated by the Romans, the Jews, and the Greeks
Sundays, July 10-24, 2016
9:45 a.m. in CLB 243
Led by Bill Austin
From the first century, Christians have claimed that the world was uniquely prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ and the birth of Christianity. Perhaps it was the phenomenal spread of the new faith that sparked these claims. Indeed, it is estimated that by 312 A.D., one in ten people in the Roman world called themselves Christians.
What kind of world would allow for such a rapid spread of this new faith? What was the historical context for the advent of Christianity? There are at least three sources of influence that came together in the Roman Empire that seem to have encouraged its early success: the political influence of the Romans, the cultural and intellectual influence of the Greeks, and the religious influence of the Jews.
This series examines the prominent factors in some detail, and, as a result, may shed new light on the full and true impact the Roman Empire has on Christianity as we know it today. It is offered in three installments:
1) ROMAN Influence - Political: Unity & Diversity; Pax Romana; Roman roads, Roman Army; Conquest
2) GREEK Influence - Intellectual & Cultural: Language and Philosophy
3) JEWISH Influence - Religious: Monotheism; Messianic Hope; Ethical System; Jewish Scriptures; Synagogue Worship
Of course, the new religion was not universally accepted at any time, and it was not until the reign of Constantine that it enjoyed full legal protection. Under his rule, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. His tangible support came in the form of the construction of a number of Christian churches and the stoppage of funds from making their way to ancient Roman temples, many of which were destroyed directly or indirectly by the emperor.
It could be said that this juxtaposition of many different forces was seen as being "In the Fullness of Time: Christianity in the Roman Empire." This phrase takes its roots from Galatians 4:4
"When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son." (KJV)