Thoughts on the Growth of Christianity
guest post by John Guidone
When the apostles in the 1st century church were brought before the Sanhedrin council, charged with preaching the resurrection of Jesus, a zealous Pharisee Gamaliel counseled moderation and calmness. By referencing well-known past events regarding other messianic movements, he advised them to refrain from persecuting or killing the apostles. He stated that “if their work or counsel was of man, it would come to nothing; but if it was of God, they could not destroy it, and therefore ought to be on their guard lest they should be “found fighting against God” (Acts5:34-39).
Marcus Aurelius continued the persecution of Christians as Emperor of Rome in the 2nd century and was a stoic philosopher. Ironically, he was Emperor during the execution of Justin Martyr, an apologist. Aurelius’s is credited with this famous quote: “If God exists, there is no need to be devout because if he is a just and merciful God, he should welcome you in his presence by following your own personal definition of good virtues”.
Aurelius is deciding what a just God should be concerned or unconcerned about. As the ruler of Rome, that puts his statement in its proper context and makes the growth of Christianity even more remarkable.
Moving forward from there, history has proven that all attempts have failed to destroy Christianity and the Apostles’ work back in the first century as eyewitnesses and teaching of first principles was and continues to be of God.
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