Phenomenal Growth of Christianity
Dr. John K. Mathew
The New Testament church was born on the day of Pentecost. The word ‘church’ is translated from the Greek word "Ekklesia". This Greek word comes from two smaller words.’The first is "ek' which means ‘out from among’. The second is ‘Klesia’ which means ‘to call’. The etymological meaning of the two words is "to call out from among". The church represents those whom God has called out from among the world. Christianity experienced phenomenal growth following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It started with the 120 Jewish believers gathered in Jerusalem. In the words of Luke, "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seem to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit enabled them" (Acts 2:1-4). A bit later, after Peter's powerful sermon,3000 people became believers on the same day. The number soon grew to 5000.
Interestingly enough, this remarkable growth took place in the midst of severe persecution. But the threat of the authorities made little impression on the church. The church kept right on its brotherly spirit and kept right on growing by leaps and bounds. Mutitudes, both men and women, were added to the church. Then they multiplied exceedingly. According to Ron Rhodes, 'Christianity spread like wildfire, despite persecution by Roman authorities, Jewish authorities and others'. After the healing of the lame man, Peter and John had been warned to speak no more in the name of Jesus. But they kept right on proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. God continued to do mighty miracles and believers continued to grow increasingly, causing Christians and Christianity to spread across nations from the first century to the present, Stephen's speech to the Sanhedrin refers to the Israelites’ exile in Egypt. In his discourse he says that ''The time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had greatly increased. It happened amidst severe persecution.
Yet again, it is time for us to multiply - as Christians face persecution all over the world and we fast approach the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ that He will come back!