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n) THE

The beginning of the Christian Church is described in the first chapter of Acts: "Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room . . . the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty." To the Romans this at first looked like just another Jewish heresy. As such it did not concern them unduly. Knowing none of these things, they regarded the persecution of Christians by Jews in Judaea as regrettable but normal among Jews: the stoning of a Stephen probably made little impression on the cynical Roman, and the attitude of Gallio at Corinth is typical. However, once the religion began to make headway among the Gentiles, the Roman government had to give it closer attention; and the spread of Christianity among the Gentiles, although at first frowned upon by a Judaizing party within the Church itself, was rapid, thanks largely to the missionary zeal of St. Paul. Paul's Epistle to the Romans implies that within a quarter of a century of Christ's crucifixion there was a fairly large Christian community in Rome itself. After the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 the new religion made even greater headway among the Gentiles, and Jewish Christianity was either absorbed into the Gentile churches or fell away in curious heresies.