The history of Christianity really goes back before the birth of Jesus into the Old Testament and ancient Jewish prophecies.
Christians believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, a leader and savior whose coming was predicted by Jewish scriptures (the Christian Old Testament) centuries before His birth. “Christ” is the Greek word for Messiah, which is why Jesus is also called Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus or simply Christ. This is where the term “Christian” came from, to identify a person who followed Jesus.
Christianity began as an offshoot of Judaism for those Jewish believers who accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah and their Savior. God’s promise of the Messiah was always meant to be a blessing for the entire world and not just the Jewish people. In the same promise God made to Abraham, the father of the Jews, about creating a Jewish nation through him, God also states that the Jewish lineage would bring a blessing to the whole world. Christians believe that Jesus is that blessing that was promised to Abraham and everyone else. Jesus commanded that the good news of His sacrificial death, resurrection and redemption should be shared with the whole world. The early Christian church leaders soon realized that Christianity was not just for Jews and began spreading the word to Gentiles (non-Jews) as well.
The Gospel Spreads Throughout the World
Because Jesus and His disciples lived in the Roman province of Palestine, the environment was just right to take advantage of the well-connected Roman communications networks and enabled Christianity to spread quickly throughout the Roman Empire and eventually to the rest of Europe, and finally throughout the entire globe.
Over the last 2,000 years, the message of Christianity has been spread through three major branches of the Christian Church. The Roman Catholic branch of Christianity is the successor of the church established in Rome and shares a history going back to the early church with the Eastern Orthodox branch. In 1054, the Eastern Orthodox Church separated itself from the Roman Catholic Church. Orthodox churches are largely national, each associated with a particular country. Orthodoxy is common in Russia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, the Ukraine, and Armenia. The Protestant branch split from the Roman Catholic Church during the Reformation, a sixteenth and seventeenth century series of church reforms in doctrine and practice. Protestantism eventually developed into many denominations with slight subtleties of doctrine, theology, or religious practice. However, despite differences in practice and style, all Christian churches agree that the essential Christian doctrine is a life-changing and death-defying faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
We see Christian church history not as the history of various and specific institutions, but as a history of the message of the gospel (which means good news), that Christ commissioned his disciples to spread throughout the world. It is that connection to the original message of Jesus, which has been spread through various Christian groups throughout history, that we identify with.