Factors that assisted the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire

The Gospel in the Roman Empire

Galatians 4:4   ‘But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.’

A number of significant factors helped the incredible spread of the gospel across the Roman world in the first century:

1.    The political unity of the Roman Empire did produce a certain economic and political stability, notwithstanding its many faults. This encouraged trade between large cities and regions
2.    The military and trade routes meant relatively easy access to large numbers of people (both by land and sea)
3.    The universal use of Greek as a result of former conquests aided communication
4.    The cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Empire – mixed cultures – enabled easier cross-cultural evangelism e.g., Jews who were culturally Greek (Barnabus from Cyprus, Paul the Roman citizen) were able to bridge cultures
5.    The very real and lasting impact of the ministry of Christ and the earliest apostles

To cite one illustration of the impact of the many miracles that Jesus and the early Christians performed,  Quadratus, writing very early in the second century, says:

“Our Saviour’s works were always there to see, for they were true – the people who had been cured and those raised from the dead, who had not merely been seen at the moment when they were cured or raised, but were always there to see, not only when the Saviour was among us, but for a long time after His departure; in fact, some of them survived right up to my own time.”  (Eusebius p.155 – Penguin edition)

That’s a tremendous insight. Those healed in the gospel accounts, as well as many others, continued to be witnesses of Christ’s power for many years.  The spread of the gospel through the Empire was assisted by these various factors, but the central message was consistent, and centred on Jesus Christ, His compassion, His power and His Lordship.

Next time we’ll look at the early Christians’ zeal for spreading the message…

Read more here

© 2008 Lex Loizides

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