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The New Testament writers also use the terms overseer and elders interchangeably and as synonyms.Post-apostolic bishops of importance include Polycarp of Smyrna, Clement of Rome, and Ignatius of Antioch.While the historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles is disputed by critics, the Acts of the Apostles is the major primary source of information for this period.Acts gives a history of the Church from this commission in 1:3–11 to the spread of the religion among the Gentiles and the eastern Mediterranean by Paul and others.However, the Great Commission is specifically directed at "all nations", and an early difficulty arose concerning the matter of Gentile (non-Jewish) converts as to whether they had to "become Jewish" (usually referring to circumcision and adherence to dietary law), as part of becoming Christian.Circumcision in particular was considered repulsive by Greeks and Hellenists seemed to indicate that circumcision and food laws did not apply to Gentiles, and this was agreed to at the apostolic Council of Jerusalem. The doctrines of the apostles brought the Early Church into conflict with some Jewish religious authorities.Another factor was the way in which Christianity combined its promise of a general resurrection of the dead with the traditional Greek belief that true immortality depended on the survival of the body, with Christianity adding practical explanations of how this was going to actually happen at the end of the world.Edward Gibbon in his The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire discusses the topic in considerable detail in his famous Chapter Fifteen, summarizing the historical causes of the early success of Christianity as follows: "(1) The inflexible, and, if we may use the expression, the intolerant zeal of the Christians, derived, it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit which, instead of inviting, had deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses.
During its early history, Christianity grew from a 1st-century Jewish following to a religion that existed across the entire Greco-Roman world and beyond.
Thus, Christianity acquired an identity distinct from Rabbinic Judaism, but this distinction was not recognised all at once by the Roman Empire, see Split of early Christianity and Judaism for details.
The name "Christian" (Greek The sources for the beliefs of the apostolic community include the Gospels and New Testament epistles.
The first Christians were essentially all ethnically Jewish or Jewish proselytes.
In other words, Jesus preached to the Jewish people and called from them his first disciples, see for example Matthew 10.
The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, Christendom, and the Church with its various denominations, from the 1st century to the present.