Christian Population 66 AD?

 In the Catholic Answers Magazine 30th Anniversary Issue,

the article from His Excellency Bishop Caggiano’s article: Confronting the Crisis: What the Fathers Teach Us, there is a mention of a “general consensus” that there were 2,500 Christians alive [in the World] at the time of the death of the Apostle Saint Paul - 66 or 67 AD. That number seems quite small to me, I guess I would think it small even if it said 2,500 in Rome. I emailed the magazine to ask if that was a typo - missing one or two decimal points.
Does anyone know a source that might estimate how many Christians there were after some 30 plus years of evangelization since the 3,000 were added in Acts 3:41?
I do understand the point the article was making: that from a very small number of Christians at the time of the martyrdoms of the Holy Apostles Sts. Peter and Paul, our population grew to 23 million Christians by the Fourth Century. That growth would be equally impressive, during the years of persecution, if it were 250,000 to 23 million.


if I remember correctly there were about 40 churches already established in the Roman Empire by the end of the 1st century. And the volcano-driven destruction of Pompeii in 79 AD shows there were already Christians living there. St Paul had completed his trips described in Acts, St James the Greater had already been to Spain and back, St Peter already had been established in Rome, St Matthew had already been to Ethiopia, St Philip and St Mark to Egypt by 67 AD, not to mention the Christians who fled from Jerusalem to Pella. So I agree, seems that there should have been more than 2500.

Probably the best book for the numbers and growth of the early church

I agree that, at first sight, 2,500 looks an impossibly small number. However, it is fully consistent with what Rodney Stark says in the first few pages of his book, that @Pattylt linked to. The table on p. 7 gives 1,400 Christians worldwide in AD 40, with a growth rate of 40 percent per decade. Assuming an absolutely constant growth rate, that works out at just under 2,400 in 66, rising to 2,480 in 67.

Stark’s book was published in 1996. It looks as though that’s the source where Bishop Caggiano found his statistics.


Very very small indeed.

And now? Nonetheless?

We have Billions of Christians. .

The population of Muslims in 66/67 CE was 0. Now there are billions.

The argument from numbers applies to more then just Christianity. Was Roman paganism correct in 66 CE? There were more pagans then than Christians that year, after all.

Mere numbers do not make a good argument for the correctness of a religion.


And Muslims also revere JESUS and Mary His Virgin Mother.

I haven’t argued what you say I’m arguing. . :slightly_smiling_face:

The martyr St Maurice led a Roman legion of Catholics in the late 3rd century. So it must have grown fast to actually supply a legion of young faithful men only coming from a single region in Thebes.

According to Rodney Stark’s calculations based on his postulated growth rate of 40 percent per decade, in the second half of the third century the worldwide population of Christians rose from 1.2 million to 6.3 million. If you click on @Pattylt’s link and then on “Look inside”, the table is on p. 7.


What is known is that Christianity spread like Explosive WildFire…

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