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The Catholic Church was at first viewed as a sect of the Jewish religion since most of her members were Jews. They were called "Nazareans." Then Helenists (Greeks) began to enter the Church.

With the preaching of Stephen, the ire of the Jewish people turned on the nascent religion, forcing the first Christians to flee from Jerusalem to Samaria and Antioch. It was at this time that Saul, later on to be St. Paul, became the fiercest persecutor of Christ's disciples. But, struck down on the road to Damascus, Saul became the foremost proponent of the Gospel.

A vision confirmed to Peter that the Gospel was not only for the Jews but for all. Then he saw Cornelius, who was not a Jew, receive the Holy Spirit.

It was in Antioch, where many of the Helenists had taken refuge, that the disciples were called "Christians." From Antioch, the evangelization of the Roman Empire began.

Understandably, the Jewish Christians were slow in abandoning their Jewish practices, like circumcision and dietary prohibitions. They even imposed these practices on the Gentile Christians. To settle this once and for all, the apostles met in Jerusalem and decreed that Jewish practices were not to be imposed on Gentile Christians, though Jewish Christians were to continue some of these Old Testament practices since they did not go against the new commands of the New Testament, like abstaining from eating blood of animals.

Origen states that this is the way the Gospel spread: Mark is said to have gone to Egypt where he founded the Church of Alexandria. Thomas preached to the Parthians, Matthew to Ethiopia, Bartholomew went to upper India. Andrew to Scythia and John to Asia. Peter preached in Pontus, Galatia, Bythinia, Cappadocia and Asia.

Eusebius of Caesarea  "Ecclesiastical History"








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