From Jesus Christ's Birth through the Edict of Theodosius
In order to prove the deceit of the claims of neopagans, that supposedly Christians prevailed through persecuting gentiles, we will show through numbers the way in which Christians increased and conquered the Roman Empire, despite the constant persecutions that they suffered for three continuous centuries by idolaters.
Source (greek): http://www.oodegr.com/neopaganismos/diogmoi/xr.istor1.htm
Translation: Holy Monastery of Pantokrator
c. 4 BC: Birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
c. 27 AD: Beginning of Jesus Christ's public preaching.
At the time the Roman Empire was as follows: Population: 33,000,000 (50% slaves). The Jews in the empire numbered 2,300,000 (7% of the empire's population), mostly proselytes to Judaism. Palestine's population was 580,000 Jewish and 233,000 gentiles.
c. 30 AD: Crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Christ. His commandment is given: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19) .
There were approximately 4,000 believers in Christ in all of Palestine during the days of Jesus’ appearances after His resurrection.
Pentecost. After the miraculous descent of the Holy Spirit and all that they had witnessed, 3,000 Jewish proselytes from every place of the known world were baptized as Christians, and then departed taking the Christian faith to Jews in all the places from which they had come (Acts 2:41). (Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Libya, Syria, Italy etc.)
c. 34 AD: Martyrdom of the protomartyr Stephen, and persecution of the Christians of Judaea by the Jews. The persecution forces Christians to flee to other areas and to spread the Gospel. First Christians in Ethiopia from the Ethiopian eunuch, and in Samaria from Philip. Conversion of Saul to the Christian faith, who is then named Paul.
c. 35 AD: Multiplication of Christians in Judaea and Samaria (Acts 9:31). First Christians in Armenia.
36 - 40 AD: Entry of gentiles into Christian faith starting with Cornelius. Vast inflow of Roman Italian citizens from Peter in Caesarea (Acts 10:1-48). Christians in Antioch, Greece and Rome.
42 AD: Multitudes believe in Alexandria, Phoenicia and Cyprus (Acts 11:21).
43 AD: The number of Christians in Antioch (with Paul's and Barnabas' help) are 500. They are named Christians for the first time (Acts 11:21).
44 AD: Persecution of Christians in Jerusalem by the Jews, by king Herod Agrippa I. Beheading of James. Imprisonment and escape of Peter.
c. 50 AD: Jews and Christians are exiled from Rome. Paul preaches in Macedonia, Achaea and Asia (Acts 16:6).
52 AD: The Apostle Thomas preaches in India.
57 AD: Rome had approximately 3,000 Christians, 5 congregations. Total population of Rome: 800,000.
c. 60 AD: First Christians in Dalmatia and Illyria (Yugoslavia).
61 AD: Start of the Celtic Church.
63 AD: Mark's Martyrdom in Bokalia, near Alexandria.
64 AD: The great fire of Rome. 1st great persecution of Christians by Nero. Apostles Peter and Paul martyr together with thousands of Christians. The historian Tacitus (born around 56 AD) states that Nero, in order to remove himself from all suspicion, accused the Christians of the fire, who then “were torn by dogs and died” and “were burned by being thrown to the flames to be used as night lighting, when daylight diminished. Nero offered his gardens for this spectacle” (Chronicles, Book XV, para. 44).
66 AD: Anti-Jewish riots and organized massacres of Jews in Egypt. 50,000 were killed in Alexandria and 60,000 elsewhere.
67 AD: Vespasian, together with 60,000 soldiers, suppresses a Jewish riot and reoccupies Galilee.
69 AD: The Jewish diaspora that has heard the Christian Gospel from Christians, are already 4,000,000.
70 AD: Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus together with 4 legions. 600,000 Jews are killed in Judaea, 10,000 Jews are crucified, 90,000 are brought to Rome as slaves. The Christians that were formerly Jewish in Jerusalem were mindful of Christ's prophesy regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and escaped before the destruction, they scattered into other areas spreading the Gospel. End of Jewish Christians. The center of Christianity for the Eastern Empire is now Antioch.
Within 30 years (only one generation) after Christ, the percentage of the world which has been Christianized is about 0.1%. 15% of the world has heard the Gospel, and the Scriptures have been translated into 5 languages.
71 AD: The Colosseum is built in Rome. A large number of Christians are thrown to beasts or martyr in other ways.
c. 80 AD: The missionary center of the Christian faith translocates to Ephesus because on account of John the Apostle. The first Christians reach France via Italy, and Christianity spreads for the first time to Tunisia.
81 AD: The 2nd Roman imperial mass persecution by Domitian (81-86 AD).
As an excuse he used “the two-drachma tax,” which Christians were not paying since they were no longer Jewish, and initiated a cruel persecution against Christians. At that time the first bishop of Athens, Dionysius the Areopagite, became a martyr through fire, as well as Timothy the bishop of Ephesus, a student of Paul the Apostle. Pouplios would follow.
It was a short but very violent persecution. He put into effect the system of betrayal, of accusation and confiscation of property. Christians were persecuted because they refused to take part in worshiping the emperor. Approximately 40,000 Christians were murdered throughout Rome and the whole of Italy, among whom was Flavius Clemens, the emperor's cousin, while his wife, Flavia Domitila, was exiled. John the Apostle was also exiled to Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse. (Haley encyclopedia p. 959,1053,1059).
c. 90 AD: First Christians in (what is today) Western Germany.
98 AD: The 3rd Roman imperial mass persecution by Trajan (98-117 AD).
The Christians were accused because they did not worship the emperor and did not sacrifice to the Roman gods. It lasted all through the emperor's reign. An apocalyptic correspondence between the emperor and Plinius regarding the persecution has been preserved. In it Plinius seems disappointed because the Christians in his region are so many, that pagan temples are deserted, and only after the persecutions sacrifices began again.
Under those persecutions the following became martyrs: Simeon, Jesus Christ's brother and bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified in 107 AD, as well as Ignatius, the second bishop of Antioch, who was taken to Rome, and thrown to beasts. In Philippi, Parmenas and Zosimus became martyrs along with others, and in 109-110 AD Astios, Bishop of Dyrrhachium.
100 AD: 2 generations (60 years) after Christ, the world is 0.6% Christian. 28% has heard the Gospel, and the Scriptures have been translated into 6 languages. Christianity is mainly urban. It is spread from town to town by way of city roads.
First Christians in Monaco, in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), in Saudi Arabia, in Romania (then the Roman province of Dacia), and first Christians (Latin speaking) in Algeria (then the Roman province of Mauritania).
115 AD: Martyrdom of Saint Ignatius Bishop of Antioch.
117 AD: Persecution by Hadrian (117-138 A.D.)
He persecuted Christians, though moderately. Telephoros, patron of the Church of Rome, became a martyr along with many others. In the days of this emperor, Christianity grew very strong, winning over faithful even from the higher social levels. During Hadrian's reign, the first plea by Quadratus and Aristides is put together (125-126 AD). The Christian community in Athens almost fell apart due to persecutions, but this was prevented through Quadratus' speeches and encouragement.
132 AD: Second Jewish revolt under Bar Kokhba. Second destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Almost all of Palestine's population died or escaped.
136 AD: Hadrian refounds Jerusalem. In the place of Jerusalem's temple he erects the Temple of Zeus.
138 AD: Persecution by Antonius Pius (138-161 AD).
This emperor, even though he did not persecute Christians in particular, was obsessed with law enforcement, many of which were impossible for Christians to comply with, and so during his reign many Christians indirectly became martyrs, among them was Polycarp, whose detailed martyrdom has been saved in the homonymous book: (Martyrdom of Polycarp). Persecutions then stop in Larissa, Thessaloniki and Athens.
c. 150 AD: First Christians in Anchialos and Delvetos along the Black Sea. First Roman Christians in Portugal.
156 AD: Death of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, by impalement.
161 AD: The 4th Roman imperial mass persecution during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD).
These were the cruelest persecutions since the time of Nero. Just like Hadrian, he also considered it a political necessity to support the empire's official religion. He relentlessly beheaded and threw to beasts many thousands of Christians, among whom was the famous first Christian writer Justin the Martyr. His atrocities were particularly witnessed in South Galatia. He subjected his victims to incredible torture. A Christian slave, Vlantina, while being tortured from the morning till late at night, did nothing else but say: “I am Christian. None of us has done anything wrong.” During those years, St. Paraskevi was tortured and beheaded. Marcus Aurelius visits Greece and there are victims from the persecutions. The persecutions are continued by his son Commodus.
174 AD: First Christians in Austria.
180 AD: Christians are now situated in all the provinces of the Roman Empire and Mesopotamia. Pantaenus forms a school for educating missionaries in Alexandria, Egypt. Nine years later, there is mention of Christians in India owing to that missionary school.
190 AD: Extensive conversions to Christianity in North Africa, in large numbers.
193 AD: The 5th Roman imperial mass persecution during the reign of Septimius Severus (193-211 AD).
During Severus' reign, a law was renewed (202 AD) which prohibited proselytes.
This persecution proved very harsh, but not general. Egypt, Galatia and North Africa suffered the most. In Alexandria they burned in fire, crucified or beheaded numerous martyrs on a daily basis, among whom were Leonides (Origen's father), Irenaeus Bishop of Lugdunum (today Lyon of France) and Saint Perpetua in Carthage, an aristocrat with her faithful servant Felicity, who were torn up by beasts. The persecution lasted from 202 to 211.
197 AD: Tertullian writes: “The blood of the martyrs has been spilt” and “Indeed there is no nation that is not Christian.”
200 AD: The world 6 generations (160 years) after Christ: The world is 3.4% Christian. 32% have heard the Gospel. Scriptures have been translated into 7 languages.
Persecutions in Egypt, with thousands of Christian martyrs.
First Christians in Switzerland (then called the Roman province of Raetia). First Christians in Sahara and Belgium.
Edessa (today Urfa) becomes the first city–state to appoint Christianity as their official national religion.
c. 205 AD: Alexandria's Clement writes: “The whole world, including Athens and Greece (has) already been designated under the supremacy of the Word.”
c. 210 AD: First Christians in Qatar (Then a Persian province of Bet Katraye). (Primary evidence from 224 AD).
225 AD: Over 20 Assyrian Church bishoprics in the areas of Tigris and Euphrates, in the Caspian sea and Bahrain.
235 AD: The 6th Roman imperial mass persecution under Maximinus (235-238 AD).
In those persecutions, particularly Christian leaders were pursued and killed. Origen escaped having been hid.
c. 240 AD: Gregory the Wonderworker becomes bishop of Pontus, an area with a pagan majority. He initiates a mass movement towards Christianity. By the time of his death in 270 AD, 95% turned to Christ.
249 AD: The 7th Roman imperial mass persecution under the military leader Decius. Systematic national attempts to destroy Christianity (249-251 AD).
He decided to terminate Christianity. He believed Christians were the cause for the fall of the Roman Empire. During that time, they mainly arrested and tortured the clergy and bishops. The persecution extended all over the empire and was utterly violent. Entire Christian crowds were murdered using the most cruel torture in Rome, North Africa, Egypt and Asia Minor. Cyprian writes that “the whole world has been deserted.” The persecution lasted for the entirety of his reign. Among the Athenians, Heraclius, Paulinus and Benedimus are killed. In Corinth, Cyprian Paul also receives a martyr’s death.
During the persecution, countless women were put to death, as was Saint Harissa. In Athens Bishop Leonidas that was hung after being tortured. They later built him a royal “Martyrdom” in Ilissos, discovered during excavations. The same thing occurred in Crete (Kyrill, 84 years old, and Theodoulos, Saturninos, Euporos, Gelasios, Eunikios, Agathopus, Zotikos, Kleomenis, Vasilidis and Euarestos) in Chios (Saint Isidoros), in Corinth (13 martyrs) and in Thessaloniki (Elkionis, commemorated on May 28).
250 AD: More than 100 bishoprics exist in Southern Italy. First Christians in the province of then Pannonia (Hungary) and Luxembourg. A Church is founded in Kherson (Sevastopol), Crimea and Ukraine. First Christians with a bishopric in Bahrain.
251 AD: The city of Rome: 30,000 Christians among 1,000,000 idolaters (3% of its population) – 46 presbyters, 7 deacons, 42 sextons, 52 exorcists, 1,500 widows and needy people. Christians withstand and continue to grow.
252 AD: Catastrophic plague epidemic assails the people of the Mediterranean and kills 25% of the Roman Empire's total population in 20 years, while 50% of Alexandria's people die. In Carthage, Bishop Cyprian organizes medical help.
253 AD: The 8th Roman imperial mass persecution under Valerian (253-260 AD).
Second persecution since Decius' last one. It lasted from 257-259 AD. He killed countless people, among whom was Cyprian, Carthage's bishop.
260 AD: The Christians of the Roman Empire rise to 40% and are growing rapidly.
270 AD: The first Basilicas are built (square Christian churches).
The 9h Roman imperial mass persecution under Aurelian (270-275 AD).
287 AD: Mass acceptance of the Christian faith in Armenia at the time of Gregory the Illuminator. Christianity is declared the nation's official religion.
295 AD: David Varsa hears the Gospel in India.
300 AD: The world 9 generations after Christ: The world is 4.4% Christian and 35% have heard the Gospel. The Scriptures have been translated into 10 languages. The areas of the Roman Empire with the strongest Christian growth are: Syria, Asia Minor, Egypt, N. Africa, Rome and Lyon, with the largest numbers in the East. There is no region that has not heard of Christ. In Italy, bishoprics sum up to more than 200.
Missionary activity materializes in Georgia. First Christians in Afghanistan (then Khorasan).
303 AD: 10th and last Roman imperial mass persecution under Diocletian, spurred by Caesar Galerius. The destruction of all Church buildings and Scriptures was ordered. Approximately 500,000 Christians were executed in 9 years during systematic massacres (284-305 AD).
The worst of all persecutions, the harshest and most destructive and universal throughout the whole empire. For 9 years, the emperor's subjects persecuted Christians in forests and caves to burn them or throw them to the beasts, and to subject them to every possible torment that idolater savage could think of. In Asia Minor, it is calculated that 15,000 Christians were put to death, in Egypt 140,000 lost their lives. But Christians withstood again. Diocletian and also Galerius himself, came to the conclusion that they were unable to consume Christianity, and so in 311 AD, he himself proclaimed secularism.
Under Diocletian's reign St. Demetrius is killed, in Palestine St. George, in Egypt St. Catherine. Under Galerius an extensive massacre was committed in Corinth, where the following names have been evidenced: Myron, Victorinos, Victor, Nikiforos, Caludianos, Sarapion, Papias, Kodratos, Corinthii. And around Corinth: Cyprian, Dionysos, Anektos, Paul, Kriskis, Leonidas, Irene, Adrianos. In Nikea, the following become martyrs from Thessaloniki: Agapi, Hionia and Irene. In Thessaloniki: Matrona, Alexandre, Anysia, deacon Agathopus, reader Theodoulos, Floredios, Taurion. In Corfu, the following martyrs were burned alive: Zenon, Efsevios, Neon and Vitalios.
c. 310 AD: Galatia is still 70% idolaters.
313 AD: Constantine the Great issues an Edict of Tolerance, that legalizes Christianity throughout the whole empire.
319 AD: Pagan sacrifices are prohibited throughout the Roman Empire.
330 AD: The world 10 generations after Christ: 12% of the total population is Christian and 36% of the world has heard the Gospel. The Scriptures have been translated into 10 languages. Translocation of the empire's capital to Constantinople.
339 AD: Heavy persecution of Christians in Persia up until 379 AD.
Continuous and intense persecutions under the Sasanian leaders until 640 AD, when it was conquered by Islam.
c. 340 AD: Bishoprics in Egypt number 100.
345 AD: Persecution in Eastern Syria.
c. 350 AD: With the disintegration of the Kingdom of Meroe over the next 100 years, the three succeeding nations are officially declared Christian. The first Christians (monks from Crete) settle in Ireland.
361 AD: Julian the Apostate attempts to revive the pagan religion for the last time in the Roman Empire.
378 AD: Hieronymos writes: “From India to Britain, all nations echo Christ's death and resurrection (Isaiam Cliv, Epistol. XIII Ad Paulinum). From the data he possessed, he estimated that 1,900,000 have become martyrs since 30 AD.
380 AD: City of Antioch: With a population of 500,000, 50% are Christian and are rapidly increasing. The Eastern emperor, Theodosius, recognizes Christianity as the nation's official religion and orders all of Rome's nationals to become Christian.
395 AD: The Roman Empire is permanently split. The western part is ruled by Rome (plundered in 410, 455 and 476) while the eastern part from Constantinople.
400 AD: The world 12 generations after Christ: 17.1% of the population is Christian, and 39% have heard the Gospel. The Scriptures have been translated into 11 languages.
It is well known that a few million Christians were buried in catacombs in close proximity to Rome for 3 centuries before this date. The Christian graves that Rome's catacombs hide are estimated to range from 2 to 7 million, and more than 4,000 inscriptions have been found that date back to the period of Tiberius up to that of Constantine (Haley Dictionary, p. 1061).
8,000 Greek Christians were buried in Milos' catacombs during the first three centuries A.D. This is proof that Christianity was widespread and accepted, as was the imperial acceptance and support of the new religion. Milos' population, during the first 100 years after Christ numbered around 20,000 souls (Romans, Greeks, Jews and slaves).
First Christians in the Roman province of Mauritania.
409 AD: Arian Visigoths invade the Iberian peninsula.
410 AD: Fall of Rome to Alaric and Visigoths.
438 AD: Theodosian Code which codifies Roman Legislation. Using intimidation, it prohibits (not practically) pagan religion.
In the above chronological events, it is obvious that Christians – through three centuries of persecutions – managed to increase in number and conquer the Roman Empire. When Theodosius started forbidding the national religion FOR POLITICAL REASONS, but also to preserve ancient works of art from fanatical pseudo-Christians, already Christians were the majority. Already, by 260 AD Christians constituted 40% of the Roman Empire, and only in the uneducated rural areas did inhabitants remain pagan, attached to idolatry. Certainly, Theodosius facilitated Christians by imposing in absolute terms his edicts, but he only accelerated what was going to occur either way. The empire's inhabitants, by their own will, and despite three centuries of suffering constant persecutions by idolater emperors, but also from pan-national actions, accepted the Gospel of salvation by Jesus Christ, and conquered the empire.
Any effort to prove Christian prevalence came through the so-called persecution of idolaters is a historically false and poor excuse. It is like the thief shouting in order to frighten the master of the house.
The data for this chronological catalog were taken for the most part from the second part of the Global Christian Encyclopedia, published by the Brotherhood of Orthodox Foreign Missions (Thessaloniki, 1990). The following encyclopedias were also used: Contemporary School Encyclopedia, Publication Piperi Sotiria, p.188. Encyclopedia Giovani, Volume 7, p.155.