Ten Reasons for the Rapid Spread of Christianity, Part 1: Social Factors

roadJesus Christ lived the most consequential life in human history. As Christian theologian Michael Green notes, “His coming split history into two: everything is dated before or after this man.”1 But the religion that bears his name started small and slow in the backwater of the Roman Empire. What factors contributed to its subsequent rapid spread?

In this series we’ll briefly look at 10 reasons for Christianity’s rapid spread during its first few centuries. As a Christian, I believe that God’s historical providence directed the events that led to Christianity’s development. Nevertheless, understanding the social, cultural, and religious factors that influenced the spread of the faith doesn’t make the ultimate cause of the movement any less supernatural in nature. A natural implication of God’s historical providence is that he specifically prepared the world for the coming of Jesus Christ and that this divine arrangement led to Christianity’s subsequent growth and success.

A third of the way through the first century AD, the early Jesus movement consisted initially of the Nazarene teacher and his small band of disciples. By the end of the first century the Christian movement had spread through so much of the Roman Empire that government officials were commenting on the new religion.2 By the end of the fourth century, Christianity had been recognized as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Today, Christianity is the largest religion in the world with approximately one third of the people on the planet subscribing to the faith (at least 2 billion people).3

In part one of this series, we’ll examine three social factors that significantly helped the spread of Christianity.4

  1. The Peace of Rome

The powerful Roman army’s ability to keep peace within the empire meant that the message of Christianity could be spread far and wide without the physical danger and information blackout that so often accompanies war. Imagine the difficulties that would arise in attempting to communicate a new faith in such contemporary war-torn countries as Afghanistan or Syria. Early Christians therefore took advantage of Rome’s famous pax Romana to spread their faith about the coming of the Messiah Jesus.

  1. Easy Travel

Rome’s advancements in technology allowed them to build a reliable system of roads throughout the Empire. Christian missionaries like the Apostle Paul were able to utilize these roads in spreading the gospel message and founding new churches throughout the Roman world. These Roman roads made travel easy and that accessibility allowed new ideas to spread quickly throughout the Mediterranean world.

  1. Common Language

The Mediterranean world had two basic languages: Latin in the west and Greek in the east. But the language of trade or commerce was Koine Greek (or common Greek). This was the same language that was used to write the New Testament. Thus, in a sense, the language of the New Testament was functioning like the universal language of the Mediterranean world. Consider how advantageous it was to be able to communicate the gospel message without a language barrier. Virtually the entire Mediterranean world was able to converse in the very language of the Christian Scriptures.

Clearly the stability of the Mediterranean world in general and the Roman Empire in particular helped the Christian message to spread far, wide and rapidly. As we continue this series, we will look at other historical factors that were key to Christianity’s rise to the most populous religion of the world.


For more information on the spread of Christianity, please see my book 7 Truths That Changed the World, or check out How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt and The Rise of Christianity by Rodney Stark.


1. Michael Green, Who Is This Jesus? (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1992), 7.
2. Three Roman authors mention Jesus Christ and Christians: Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger. See Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000).
3. “Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population,” Pew Research Center, published December 19, 2011, http://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/.
4. Lawrence Cunningham and John Reich, Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities, vol. 1 (Fort Worth, TX: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1992), 179–80.

  One thought on “Ten Reasons for the Rapid Spread of Christianity, Part 1: Social Factors

  1. faustino duku
    April 9, 2018 at 5:26 am

    thank you for allowing me to learn from your resourses

    • April 9, 2018 at 10:14 am

      You are welcome, Faustino.

      I’m glad you found the article helpful.

      Best regards.

      Ken Samples

    • ssemugooma
      January 24, 2022 at 5:11 am

      thanks for availing this knowledge for us to learn more .

      • January 24, 2022 at 8:56 am

        You’re welcome, ssemugooma.

        In my book Christianity Cross-Examined I have a list of 12.

        Ken Samples

  2. June 15, 2018 at 4:45 am

    Along with the use of a common language, don’t forget it was the first century Romans who had developed the codex, a book made up of a number of sheets of paper, vellum, or papyrus, stacked and bound by fixing one edge. Prior to this, written records were kept on scrolls. The codex led to books, mass distribution of them – and civilization’s most distributed one – The Bible. ”

    Excerpt From: Mike Stair. “On Earth As It Is In Heaven.”

    • June 15, 2018 at 7:51 am

      Glad you like my article series.

      Ken Samples

  3. aurolina
    August 28, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    en Reasons for the Rapid Spread of Christianity, Part 2:

  4. aurolina
    August 28, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    would like to have Part 2

  5. mugisa joseph
    March 7, 2019 at 10:34 am

    if you gave us all the 10

    • March 20, 2019 at 1:02 pm

      The rest of the 10 are in parts 2 and 3.

      Ken Samples

        June 22, 2021 at 12:16 pm

        God can rescue people from enemies

      • June 22, 2021 at 2:29 pm

        Yes, God can rescue people from their enemies.

        We see it in the lives Joseph in the Old Testament and Paul in the New Testament.

        Ken Samples

  6. Dylan
    September 15, 2020 at 9:17 am

    ummmmmm am i allowed to ask why there is only 3?

    • September 15, 2020 at 5:17 pm


      Yes, You’re allowed to ask.

      This article is part 1. The link to part 2 is below. After that link to part 3.

      If you read my book I provide two more (total of 12).

      Ken Samples

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: