Lesson Two Summary

Jesus was born into a Jewish family in Roman-occupied Judea, part of the Roman Empire around 4 BCE and immersed in the traditions, scriptures, and cultural norms of Judaism. The primary sources for our knowledge of Jesus are the four Biblical Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – and certain ancient historians. Written after his death around 30 CE, the Gospels offer differing perspectives on Jesus. Some emphasize his miracles (John), others his role as a teacher (Matthew). All four Gospels testify to his Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection.

As a young man, Jesus traveled throughout Galilee and Judea proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God while performing healings, exorcisms, and nature miracles. According to the Gospels, he was the promised Messiah, the divine Son of God. He gathered twelve close followers – the Apostles, who became central figures in spreading his message and establishing early Christian communities. Their experiences, recorded in the New Testament’s Acts of the Apostles, highlight the challenges and triumphs of early Christian mission.

Despite initial opposition and persecution, Christianity experienced significant growth in the ancient world. Factors such as the Roman Empire’s infrastructure, the appeal of Christian beliefs, and the missionary efforts of early Christians contributed to this expansion. By the end of the 1st century, Christianity had established communities throughout the Mediterranean world, laying the foundation for its enduring influence.

Lacking organization necessary for orthodoxy, writings about Jesus flourished after his Resurrection about his life, his message, and his relationship with Almighty God. Discoveries of ancient religious documents in the last two centuries illustrate the diversity of Christian beliefs in the early years.