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Theology > Church > History of the Church > Rapid Growth

The growth of the Church is related to two factors: one, the sovereign work of the Lord (Acts 2:47; Matt. 16:18; I Cor. 3:9); and two, the work for the Lord by believers (Matt. 28:18-20); thus, in the advancement of the Church there is the work of God and the work of man. God has ordained that growth will be His doing but His doing through the doing of the believers.

In terms of numerical growth, the growth was significant and occurred rapidly. The initial number, depending on when you begin, would be either 2 (Adam and Eve), 1 (call of Abraham), 12 (the Apostles chosen by the Lord) or 120 (the number in the Upper Room following the Lord’s Ascension). Then the following information is provided in the book of Acts to show the speedy growth, at least in the book of Acts:

3,000 were added to the Church in one day, the day of Pentecost (2:41);

“And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved (2:47);

5,000 is the number of the men in Jerusalem (4:4; “many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand”);

“the number of disciples multiplied greatly, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (6:7);

“Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified . . . and they were multiplied” (9:31);

“And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (11:21; the reference is to the growth in Antioch, Phoenicia, and Cyprus; see: 19-21);

“And a great many people were added to the Lord” (11:24);

“the word of God grew and multiplied” (12:24);

“Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region” (13:48-49);

“So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily” (16:5);

“And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas” (17:4);

“So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed” (19:20).

Expressing opposition to the Gospel, the Jews in Thessalonica said: “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6)—a statement that reveals the growth of the Faith, with the word of the Gospel and converts to the Gospel spreading so quickly from Jerusalem to Thessalonica in Macedonia.

Beyond the book of Acts, the Christian Faith experienced growth and persecution. With the Edict of Milan it was designated a legal religion by Emperor Constantine in AD 313, and during the reign of Theodosius the Great Christianity, through the Edict of Thessalonica, became the official religion of the Roman Empire in AD 380.

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