Christianity in the 1st century

Jesus Washing Peter's Feet, painting by Ford Madox Brown (1821–1893)

Christianity in the 1st century covers the formative history of Christianity, from the start of the ministry of Jesus (c. 27–29 AD) to the death of the last of the Twelve Apostles (c. 100). According to Christian tradition, the period from Jesus's death, resurrection, and the Great Commission is distinguished as the Apostolic Age.

Early Christianity developed out of the eschatological ministry of Jesus. Subsequent to Jesus' death, his earliest followers formed an apocalyptic Jewish sect during the late Second Temple period of the 1st century. They expected the second coming of Jesus and the start of God's Kingdom.

Paul the Apostle, a pious Jew who had persecuted the early Christians, converted c. 33–36[1][2][3] and started to proselytize among the Gentiles. According to Paul, Gentile converts could be allowed exemption from most Jewish commandments, arguing that all are justified by faith in Jesus. This was part of a gradual split of early Christianity and Judaism, as Christianity became a distinct religion including predominantly Gentile adherence.

Jerusalem had an early Christian community, which was led by James the Just, Peter, and John.[4] Antioch was where the followers were first called Christians. Peter was later martyred in the see of Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire. The apostles went on to spread the message of the Gospel around the classical world and founded apostolic sees around the early centers of Christianity. The last apostle to die was John in c. 100.

Etymology

Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as 'The Way' (Jewish Christians referred to themselves as 'The Way' (Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord."[5][6][note 1] Other Jews also called them "the Nazarenes."[5] According to Acts 11:26, the term "Christian" (Greek: Χριστιανός) was first used in reference to Jesus's disciples in the city of Antioch, meaning "followers of Christ," by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch.[12] The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" (Greek: Χριστιανισμός) was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD.[13]