Several factors contributed to the growth of Christianity, which originated in AD 29 in a tiny geographical area and rapidly spread to Asia, Africa and Europe. A perusal of the history of Christianity highlights the fact that God sent His Son when the time was ripe. And, also, we notice that He had been preparing the world for this most significant event all along. The factors that promoted the growth of Christianity can be classified into three: political, cultural and religious.
- Political factors: Jesus was born at a time when a large part of the world was governed by the Romans. Under the single great monarchy there existed peace and a sense of unity among the people. The seas were cleared of pirates and roads were built which connected important cities. All this helped the early Christians to carry the gospel unhindered. Roman citizenship and coins helped the missionaries to move from place to place without much difficulty. Christian Roman soldiers carried the Gospel to places where they were assigned for duty.
- Cultural factors: At that time Greece was the cultural centre of the world. The teachings of the Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc. had many things in common with Christianity. So people were already familiar with concepts like the existence of God, human conscience, immortality of soul, life after death, etc. The Christian missionaries thus found it easier in presenting the Gospel message to the people. Those who were already familiar with Greet philosophy were curious about the new teachings. Greek philosophy could not satisfy the needs of the poor and the illiterate. But the Gospel message offered hope to the common people. And the most important contribution of the cultural world to the spread of Christianity was the Greek language. Just as English is the universal language of today’s world, Greek was the language of the common people. The conquests of Alexander the Great had spread the Greek language throughout a large geographical area. No wonder the books of the New Testament were written in Greek.
- Religious factors: Palestine was under Roman rule since 63 BC. The people Jewish people hated to be ruled by the gentiles. The longing for the Messiah prophesied in their scriptures was stronger than ever before. The widespread dispersion of the Jews helped the early Christians to carry their message easily, first to the synagogues and, later, when the Jews rejected the Gospel, to the gentiles. The gentiles who had come in contact with the Jews were already familiar with the Messianic prophecies, so they could easily grasp the meaning of Christ’s coming and his sacrifice. Also, the other religions of the world could offer people no hope for salvation. The gentiles were attracted to the Gospel message because it offered them what their religion could not supply.
Thus we can see that in many ways God was preparing for the coming of His Son.