Christians can explain the rapid spread of Christianity with theological reasons. Related but distinct from that are the historical reasons why Christianity was able to be successful.
I see five reasons that helped Christianity to ultimately take over the Roman Empire.
- Jewish Diaspora – During the Second Temple period, Jews were dispersed throughout the Mediterranean world. This meant that not only were there Jewish synagogues, there were also Gentiles who were somewhat aware of the Jewish God and Scriptures.
- Greek Language – Alexander the Great spread Hellenism (Greek culture) across his empire, ultimately leading to the widespread use of the Greek language. This allowed both the Old Testament (Septuagint) and New Testament to be read by as many people as possible.
- Greek Philosophy – Greek religion was very anthropomorphic, not just in how the gods looked but how they acted. Philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, helped develop the concept of God into something more praiseworthy. That doesn’t mean that the God of the philosophers was exactly like the God of the Bible, but it was far closer than the traditional Greek pantheon.
- Roman Roads – We take for granted how easy it is travel from one place to another. It was not always so in the ancient world. The well made Roman roads made the journeys of Christian missionaries much easier.
- Pax Romana – The Roman peace was a harsh peace. Peoples that would have liked to fight each other were forced to be peaceful or face the punishment of the Romans. This, along with the roads, helped the spread of Christianity because travelling was the safest it had ever been.