Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Reformation. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 1. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Ch. 4, “Mission to the Gentiles.” Loc. 644-777
According to Acts 8:1 the Hellenistic Christians were the first to take the Gospel from Jerusalem into the rest of the world. Acts 8-11 tells of Christian influence spreading widely, though still focused on Jewish communities (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 654). It came as a surprise to the Christians when Gentiles also believed (Ibid., Loc. 658). The question which arose at that point was “whether Gentile converts to Christianity had to obey the Law of Israel” (Ibid., Loc. 665). They were accepted based on faith in Jesus without being required to convert to Judaism.
The book of Acts spends numerous chapters detailing Paul’s work among Gentiles (Ibid., Loc. 674). Gonzalez observes that Paul was not necessarily the first messenger of the Gospel in the places he went. Though Paul had an interest in bringing the Gospel to new places, he returned to established churches and wrote a lengthy letter to Rome, where there was a church, wishing to visit there (Ibid., Loc. 680). Gonzalez reminds us that the Gospel spread by means of many Christians from all walks of life, who took the message with them (Ibid., Loc. 696).
As the Church spread, the influx of Gentiles created a need for more and more instruction. This process took place in conjunction with other gatherings (Ibid., Loc. 709), creating a recognizable and distinct worshiping community.
Gonzalez next asks what became of the apostles. There is a layer of legend wrapped around the facts (Ibid., Loc. 714). He traces several apostles, most notably Peter, Paul, and John, in some of the early literature. The difficulty is knowing where history ends and legend begins.