Evangelism in the Early Church: Christian History Timeline — The Growth of Early Christianity

The Explosive Decades 

c. 30 Death and resurrection of Jesus; coming of the Holy Spirit

c. 40–65 Missions of Paul and associates, especially to Gentiles

c. 40 The word Christians first used to describe believers in Antioch

c. 50–95 Books of New Testament written

70 Separation of Christianity from Judaism widens after capture of Jerusalem

c. 100–150 Writings of apostolic fathers show a concern with unity and good order of churches

c. 112 Pliny, governor of Bithynia, consults Emperor Trajan on how to deal with those accused as Christians

140 Justin founds school of Christian philosophy at Rome

165 Justin’s martyrdom

c. 170 Celsus writes True Word, the first book opposing Christianity

180–200 Irenaeus of Lyons preaches to Celts in Gaul, refuting gnosticism

180 Clement heads school of “true gnosticism” in Alexandria

197 Tertullian begins writing apologetics in Carthage, Afica

c. 200 First mention of Christians in Britain

203 Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas in Carthage

212 Origen begins traveling, commending Christianity to high ranking officials throughout the empire

c. 215 Hippolytus of Rome compiles the Apostolic Tradition, describing how converts are to be discipled

231 Origen founds school at Caesarea (Palestine)

c. 240 Gregory “the Wonder Worker” appointed bishop of Pontus (in north Asia Minor)

248 Cyprian appointed bishop of Carthage, the largest church in Africa, only two years after his conversion Origen defends Christianity in Against Celsus

250 Emperor Decius begins the first, though short—lived, general persecution of Christians

c. 260–305 Porphyry, a Neoplatonist philosopher, writes multivolume Against the Christians

270 Monasticism begins to spread in Egypt and Syria, promoting Christianity in rural areas

303 Diocletian implements Great Persecution

312 Conversion of Constantine

313 Edict of Milan provides official toleration for Christians

c. 314 Gregory the Illuminator founds Armenian church

c. 315 Eusebius, the first church historian and later eulogist of Constantine, appointed bishop of Caesarea

325 Council of Nicaea

c. 330 Nino converts Georgian royal family

c. 340 Roman legislation begins to favor Christianity and penalize paganism

c. 350 Frumentius converts the royalty of Axum, Ethiopia

362 Marius Victorinus, one of Rome’s most famous rhetors, converts, causing much public excitement

c. 371 Martin, evangelist to the pagans of central Gaul, is elected bishop of Tours

c. 380 Ulphilas, Arian missionary bishop among Goths and translator of Gothic Bible, dies

380 Emperor Theodosius makes orthodox Christianity the official religion of the empire

By David F. Wright

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #57 in 1998]

David F. Wright is also the author of The Bible in Scottish Life and Literature, and one of the editors of The Atlas of the Bible and Christianity.
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