What factors allowed Christianity to spread within the Roman Empire?

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Three characteristics of the Roman Empire are typically credited with aiding the advancement of Christianity. First, the Pax Romana , or Roman peace, created a relatively stable political climate that allowed for travel in the years immediately before the birth of Christ until about 200 AD. Since the territory of...

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Three characteristics of the Roman Empire are typically credited with aiding the advancement of Christianity. First, the Pax Romana, or Roman peace, created a relatively stable political climate that allowed for travel in the years immediately before the birth of Christ until about 200 AD. Since the territory of the Mediterranean Sea was not ravaged by wars, everyday Christians, as well as missionaries, could travel throughout the kingdom freely, bearing the good news of Christ. The Romans had a hands-off policy toward local religions in their provinces and allowed local governance as long as citizens paid taxes and allowed military occupation. More than once, early Christian leaders were protected from harm by Roman laws and rulers.

Second, Roman roads made travel much easier than it had ever been. Although the roads were built to allow Roman armies quick access to the regions under their control, they were also used for commerce and personal travel. Previously, sections of the Mediterranean region would become impassable in the rainy season. Roman-engineered roads were of such high quality that many are still used today. This network of highways allowed missionaries to easily make their way around the Roman Empire.

Finally, a common language greatly enhanced the spread of Christianity. Koine Greek had become the commonly spoken language in the region of the Mediterranean. This enabled missionaries like Paul to go to far-off lands and still be understood. The Bible refers to Jesus coming "in the fullness of time." Indeed, the convergence of several characteristics within the Roman Empire—including Roman laws, Roman roads, and a common language—created an environment especially conducive to sharing the gospel widely and rapidly.

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Interestingly, it was the overwhelming power and efficiency of the Roman Empire itself that made it easy for Christianity to spread so rapidly. The armies of Rome had forcefully imposed an era of peace within the Roman Empire known as the Pax Romana. Without the physical dangers and distractions of war, early Christians were able to disseminate their ideas much more easily.

To complement the reduced risk brought about by lack of war, the Roman Empire made travel even easier by the network of roads that it constructed throughout the Mediterranean area. Travelers such as the Apostle Paul and other Christian missionaries were able to make use of these roads as they journeyed from place to place spreading their message.

Another significant factor that contributed to Christianity's rapid spread was the common language of Greek that was used throughout the Roman Empire for trade and commerce. As a result, there was no need for early Christians to learn to speak and write new languages as they spread Christianity from one area to another. The New Testament was written in Greek, and this made it instantly accessible to literate people throughout the Roman Empire.

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Several factors allowed Christianity to spread within the Roman Empire.

The main cause of its spread was that it was an evangelical religion, sending missionaries across the Roman Empire. The decision, made first by Peter and then expanded upon by Paul, to preach to gentiles as well as Jews and not to require gentile converts to follow Jewish law increased its appeal.

The Pax Romana, as well as extensive road and shipping network of the Roman Empire, facilitated the physical circulation of missionaries and letters, and thus was another enabling condition for the spread of Christianity.

Finally, polytheism was a system in which new gods were normally introduced freely and their worship allowed. Where Christianity, as Judaism before it, ran into trouble was not in worshipping a new God, but in insisting that this was the only God and refusing to worship the state gods and deified emperor, an act that was viewed as a form of treason, until Constantine who legalized Christianity.

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One important reason for the spread of Christianity was the evangelical missions of Paul of Tarsus.  Paul, originally called Saul, was perhaps the one person most responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.  Paul was not one of the original 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, whose life and teachings are the basis of the Christian religion.  Paul originally persecuted the followers of the teachings of Jesus until he had a conversion experience after which he became a strong follower of Christ and began his evangelical missions.  Paul, a Greek speaking Jew from Asia Minor, went on three missions covering 10,000 miles over the course of thirty years.  He traveled through Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece, and Rome, establishing Christian communities in each area. Paul made the decision to spread the Christian faith to non-Jews, which helped establish the Christian religion throughout the Roman Empire.   The Roman system of roads allowed the Christian message to travel quickly from one place to another.  The fact that Paul spoke Greek and was a Roman citizen also helped Paul in his travels to spread the Christian religion.

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