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The purpose of this timeline is to give a detailed account of Christianity from the beginning of the current era (AD) to the present. Question marks ('?') on dates indicate approximate dates.
The year one is the first year in the Christian calendar (there is no year zero), which is the calendar presently used (in unison with the Gregorian calendar) almost everywhere in the world. Traditionally, this was held to be the year Jesus was born; however, most modern scholars argue for an earlier or later date, the most agreed upon being between 6 BC and 4 BC.
Jesus begins his ministry after his baptism by John and during the rule of Pilate, preaching: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" ( Matthew 4:12–17 ). While the historicity of the gospel accounts is questioned to some extent by some critical scholars and non-Christians, the traditional view states the following chronology for his ministry: Temptation, Sermon on the Mount, Appointment of the Twelve, alleged Miracles, Temple Money Changers, Last Supper, Arrest, Trial, Passion, Crucifixion on Nisan 14th (John 19:14 , Mark 14:2 , Gospel of Peter) or Nisan 15th (Synoptic Gospels), entombment by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, professed Resurrection by God and claimed Resurrection appearances of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and other women (Mark 16:9 , John 20:10–18 ), Simon Peter (Luke 24:34 ), and others, ( 1Cor.15:3–9 ), Great Commission, Ascension, Second Coming Prophecy to fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy such as the Resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, and establishment of the Kingdom of God and the Messianic Age.
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Shortly after the death and resurrection of Jesus (Nisan 14 or 15), the Jerusalem church is founded as the first Christian church with about 120 Jews and Jewish Proselytes (Acts 1:15), followed by Pentecost (Sivan 6), the Ananias and Sapphira incident, Pharisee Gamaliel's defense of the Apostles (5:34-39), the stoning of Saint Stephen (see also Persecution of Christians) and the subsequent dispersion of the Apostles (7:54-8:8, also Mark 16:20) which leads to the baptism of Simon Magus in Samaria (8:9-24), and also an Ethiopian eunuch (8:26-40). Paul's "Road to Damascus" conversion to "Apostle to the Gentiles" is first recorded in 9:13-16, cf. Gal 1:11-24. Peter baptizes the Roman Centurion Cornelius, who is traditionally considered the first Gentile convert to Christianity (10). The Antioch church is founded, it was there that the term Christian was first used (11:26).
Constantine called the First Council of Nicaea in 325 to unify Christology, also called the first great Christian council by Jerome, the first ecumenical, decreed the Original Nicene Creed, but rejected by Nontrinitarians such as Arius, Theonas, Secundus of Ptolemais, Eusebius of Nicomedia, and Theognis of Nicaea who were excommunicated, also addressed Easter controversy and passed 20 Canon laws such as Canon VII which granted special recognition to Jerusalem.
The word Catholic comes from the Greek phrase καθόλου (katholou), meaning "on the whole", "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words κατά meaning "about" and ὅλος meaning "whole". The first use of "Catholic" was by the church father Saint Ignatius of Antioch in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans. In the context of Christian ecclesiology, it has a rich history and several usages.
An episcopal polity is a hierarchical form of church governance in which the chief local authorities are called bishops. It is the structure used by many of the major Christian Churches and denominations, such as the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Church of the East, Anglican, and Lutheran churches or denominations, and other churches founded independently from these lineages.
The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, Christendom, and the Church with its various denominations, from the 1st century to the present.
The Christian Church is a term for a unique collective encompassing Christians across the world, defined differently by various Christian denominations. In Protestantism, the Church is a body composed of all believers, with "body" and "believer" defined in various ways. For most denominations which pre-date the Protestant Reformation, "the Church" is connected to a particular human institution associated with that denomination, such as the Roman Catholic Church or the Eastern Orthodox Church; this distinguishes the one true church from groups considered schismatic or heretical. Anglican branch theory holds that Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and Anglicanism are branches of the Christian Church. The souls of dead Christians as members of the Church is part of the mainly Protestant idea of the church invisible, and the mainly Catholic idea of the Churches Militant, Penitent, and Triumphant. Ecclesiology is the subdiscipline within Christian theology which studies the nature of the Christian Church.
A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, leadership and doctrine. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, ecclesiology, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.
Papal primacy, also known as the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, is a Christian ecclesiological doctrine concerning the respect and authority that is due to the Pope from other bishops and their episcopal sees.
The primacy of Peter, also known as Petrine primacy, is the position of preeminence that is attributed to Saint Peter among the Twelve Apostles.
Catholicity is a concept pertaining to beliefs and practices widely accepted across numerous Christian denominations, most notably those that describe themselves as Catholic in accordance with the Four Marks of the Church, as expressed in the Nicene Creed of the First Council of Constantinople in 381: "[I believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."
Christianity has been, historically a Middle Eastern religion with its origin in Judaism. Eastern Christianity refers collectively to the Christian traditions and churches which developed in the Middle East, Egypt, Asia Minor, the Far East, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Northeastern Africa and southern India over several centuries of religious antiquity. It is contrasted with Western Christianity which developed in Western Europe. As a historical definition the term relates to the earliest Christian communities and their long standing traditions that still exist.
The Four Marks of the Church, also known as the Attributes of the Church, is a term describing four distinctive adjectives—"one, holy, catholic and apostolic"—of traditional Christian ecclesiology as expressed in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed completed at the First Council of Constantinople in AD 381: "[We believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." This ecumenical creed is today recited in the liturgy of the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Church of the East, the Moravian Church, the Lutheran Churches, the Methodist Churches, the Presbyterian Churches, the Anglican Communion and by members of many Reformed churches.
In the history of Christianity, the first seven ecumenical councils include the following: the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, the Third Council of Constantinople from 680–681 and finally, the Second Council of Nicaea in 787.
In Christian eschatology, the Antichrist, or anti-Christ, is someone recognized as fulfilling the biblical prophecies about one who will oppose Christ and substitute himself in Christ's place before the Second Coming. The term is found five times in the New Testament, solely in the First and Second Epistle of John. The Antichrist is announced as the one "who denies the Father and the Son."
Christianity in the 3rd century was largely the time of the Ante-Nicene Fathers who wrote after the Apostolic Fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries but before the First Council of Nicaea in 325.
Christianity in the 4th century was dominated in its early stage by Constantine the Great and the First Council of Nicaea of 325, which was the beginning of the period of the First seven Ecumenical Councils (325–787), and in its late stage by the Edict of Thessalonica of 380, which made Nicene Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire.
In the 5th century in Christianity, there were many developments which led to further fracturing of the State church of the Roman Empire. Emperor Theodosius II called two synods in Ephesus, one in 431 and one in 449, that addressed the teachings of Patriarch of Constantinople Nestorius and similar teachings. Nestorius had taught that Christ's divine and human nature were distinct persons, and hence Mary was the mother of Christ but not the mother of God. The Council rejected Nestorius' view causing many churches, centered on the School of Edessa, to a Nestorian break with the imperial church. Persecuted within the Roman Empire, many Nestorians fled to Persia and joined the Sassanid Church thereby making it a center of Nestorianism. By the end of the 5th century, the global Christian population was estimated at 10-11 million. In 451 the Council of Chalcedon was held to clarify the issue further. The council ultimately stated that Christ's divine and human nature were separate but both part of a single entity, a viewpoint rejected by many churches who called themselves miaphysites. The resulting schism created a communion of churches, including the Armenian, Syrian, and Egyptian churches, that is today known as Oriental Orthodoxy. In spite of these schisms, however, the imperial church still came to represent the majority of Christians within the Roman Empire.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Christianity:
Christianity in late antiquity traces Christianity during the Christian Roman Empire – the period from the rise of Christianity under Emperor Constantine, until the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The end-date of this period varies because the transition to the sub-Roman period occurred gradually and at different times in different areas. One may generally date late ancient Christianity as lasting to the late 6th century and the re-conquests under Justinian of the Byzantine Empire, though a more traditional end-date is 476, the year in which Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus, traditionally considered the last western emperor.
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