Who was the first man to teach and explain Christianity?

If I was seeking an understanding of Christianity, who would I turn to first of all? The simple answer to that would be to list the basic doctrines of Christianity and see who was the first person to teach and explain them. So, who would that be?

Was it Jesus? But how could it be, when no Christians existed while he was alive? He wasn’t explaining the doctrines of Christianity to Christians anyway, he was fulfilling his role of Messiah to the Jews, which included teaching and obeying all that they had never managed to obey from the Old Testament. But is that the role of a Christian, to obey every command given to Israel? If so, then Christians had better be keeping the Sabbath on Saturday, which most Christians don’t.

Was it Peter, then? To multiple millions of Christians the answer to that is Yes, because in Matthew 16:18 Jesus told Peter, “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” So, surely Peter was the first to teach and explain the doctrines of Christianity – and wasn’t it Peter who did the first teaching sermon in Acts 2, resulting in thousands of people being baptized (verse 41)?

But was Peter talking to Christians? No, verse 36: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: that God has made this Jesus, whom you (Jews) crucified, both Lord and Christ.” That was Peter’s message: It was confirming Jesus as the Messiah to his fellow Jews, not laying out the doctrines of Christianity to Christians.

So if it wasn’t Jesus and it wasn’t Peter who laid out the doctrines of Christianity, who was it instead? It was the person to whom Jesus said in Acts 26:16-18, “I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

It was Paul whom Jesus revealed Christianity to, and through Paul’s teaching that many would become “sanctified,” or set apart, as Christians (those with faith in Jesus). Paul himself then backed that up in Galatians 1:12, when he wrote, “I did not receive it (the gospel I preached, verse 11) from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” Paul, therefore, was the first man to teach and explain Christianity.


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