Christianity is the system of beliefs and practices based on the Old and New Testament of the Bible focusing upon the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of the one true God, Yahweh, and recognized as God-incarnate . According to the Bible, Christ came to Earth to establish the New Covenant, an agreement to die as the ultimate sacrifice for sin in the place of those who had no hope apart from that sacrifice.
After His ministry, death, resurrection and just before his ascension, Jesus commanded His followers to spread His message of forgiveness and salvation to all the world, and gave them the authority to baptize in His name. The great spiritual movement that followed this would for a time be called "the Way." Finally, the followers of Jesus would be called Christians.
Christianity teaches that God has saved believers by way of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Though there are differing views of the relationship between faith and works, Christianity is generally perceived as a religion that seeks peace and goodwill in the world.
Christianity has its roots deep in the history of the world. Taking its name from the Greek word "Christos," which means "the Anointed One," the religion began in a embryonic form upon the mention of the "seed of the woman" which would crush the Adversary (Heb: Satan). This would be one chosen by God to bring a reconciliation between mankind and God. In the process of time, God chose first Noah, then Abraham, to raise up a people from whom that Messiah (Hebrew for "Anointed One") would come.
That people would be organized together under Moses and the Law in a system of practices and ceremony involving daily, periodic and annual sacrifices of animals and produce. To administer this system, men were anointed as priests. As the Israelite tribes grew, the priesthood proved inadequate, making the anointing of prophets necessary. Finally, a king was anointed to rule the united tribes. Each of these anointed classes facilitated the worship and following of the one true God and the practice of Yahwism.
After the tribes split in the days of Rehoboam, the northern tribes strayed from worshipping God correctly, leaving true Yahwism in the southern kingdom of Judah. Under the Davidic dynasty the religion of Judaism arose. It was out of this dynasty that the Messiah would come. This system survived being taken into Babylonian captivity, from which it returned some seventy years later.
Some 500 years later, there arose in occupied Judea the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. His cousin, a prophet named John, had anointed Him with water, in a ritual known a baptism, near where the Jordan River emptied into the Dead Sea. Through miracles and teaching, this Rabbi showed himself to have a special anointing by God. Many times he proved that he was the Messiah. Though slow to catch on, his disciples began to accept him as the long-expected Messiah.
In one dramatic week in AD 33, Jesus fulfilled the whole system of Judaism just as the prophets had written. In his death, resurrection and ascension to Heaven, most if not all of the sacrifices and festivals were fulfilled. His followers, starting with Simon Peter ten days after Jesus's return to Heaven, preaching the Gospel -- the message of Redemption from sin and hope of reconciliation with God. As more and more believers gathered to worship Jesus, the assemblies spread to other provinces throughout the Roman Empire, with a large gathering in the Syrian city of Antioch, where they were first called Christians ("Christ followers").
It was that assembly that appointed the Apostle Paul to be a missionary. Formerly a Pharisee and persecutor of believers, Paul had been especially called by Jesus to spread the Gospel. Over the course of 25 years or so, Paul's teachings, based on the Old Testament and established Judaism, formed the basis of what came to be known as Christianity. For a long time considered a sect of Judaism by the Roman authorities, Christians distinguished themselves as different in many ways in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70.