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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.

Early Christianity may be divided into 2 distinct phases: the apostolic period, when the first apostles were alive and led the Church, and the post-apostolic period, when an early episcopal structure developed, and persecution was periodically intense.

The Roman persecution of Christians ended in AD 324 when Constantine the Great decreed tolerance for the religion.

There is no agreement on how Christianity managed to spread so successfully prior to the Edict of Milan and the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire.

In The Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark argues that Christianity triumphed over paganism chiefly because it improved the lives of its adherents in various ways.

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.This eventually led to their expulsion from the synagogues, according to one theory of the Council of Jamnia.Acts records the martyrdom of the Christian leaders, Stephen and James of Zebedee.As Christianity spread, especially in rural areas, the presbyters exercised more responsibilities and took distinctive shape as priests.Lastly, deacons also performed certain duties, such as tending to the poor and sick.These men reportedly knew and studied under the apostles personally and are therefore called Apostolic Fathers.

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