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Christianity: Origin & Teachings

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  • 0:04 Origin of Christianity
  • 0:45 Life and Death of Jesus
  • 2:55 The Expansion of the Church
  • 4:09 Key Beliefs of Christianity
  • 5:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

Learn about the origins of Christianity and how the death of Jesus launched an entire religion. Discover the key teachings of Christianity. See how much you've picked up by taking a quiz.

Origin of Christianity

Christianity began as an offshoot of the Jewish faith during the first century CE. It began because of one of the most influential figures in human history: Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of Christianity. From the teachings of Jesus and the acts of his followers after his death, the Christian faith spread across the world. Today it is the largest religion in the world and has widely influenced law, personal morality, and philosophies.

Jesus was the source of Christianity, but Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, well known for his oral teachings. He lived his early life in Nazareth, Galilee, and headed a religious movement during his adult life.

Life and Death of Jesus

Jesus preached messages that had several key themes. One was an emphasis on love and kind treatment of all humans, regardless of their nationality, beliefs, or even moral behavior. Jesus also encouraged forgiveness, honesty, respect, generosity, and humility. Many of these teachings were presented orally, by telling stories that we now call parables.

He is known for performing many miracles, most commonly healings, which cemented his godly authority in the eyes of his followers. Jesus also presented new interpretations of Jewish scriptures, challenging the status quo and belief systems of the time. But the events that define Christianity are more about his death than his life. His life was full of teachings that Christians have taken on board, but what makes the faith truly separate from Judaism are Christian beliefs about the events surrounding Jesus' death.

Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah, or a savior and leader prophesied by Jewish scripture. This is reflected by his acts matching prophecies from the Jewish scriptures (known by Christians as the Old Testament), and him being a descendant of King David. After visiting Jerusalem, opposition to his teachings began to rise. He accused Jewish elders of being hypocrites and made prophecies of future destruction. These things did not make him popular with the authorities, and he was taken into custody. He was accused of claiming to be the Messiah and the King of the Jews, which was seen as a threat to the authorities. Angry crowds and Jewish elders pushed the authorities to crucify him. Crucifixion is an ancient death sentence that is carried out by nailing to a wooden surface, in this case as many of us know it was upon a cross, which later became a symbol of Christianity.

The Bible states and many of its adherents believe that after his death on the cross, he was resurrected. His body was found missing in the tomb where it was laid, and he appeared to many people, both followers of his and people who did not believe (many of these skeptics became Christians thereafter). He is mentioned in the Bible as appearing 12 times to different groups, ranging from one person to 500 people, including both believers and skeptics.

The Expansion of the Church

The early church began with small groups of followers meeting in homes. The news of Jesus was spread by word of mouth. The message was strengthened by the acts of these early believers - people who gave up worldly possessions, shared them with those in need, and cared for the sick. This spreading of the story and meaning behind Jesus' death brought Christianity to many Roman cities. Because of clashes with the Jewish and Roman authorities, many early church leaders were killed for their beliefs.

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