Christianity originated in the country of Palestine, located at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The religion quickly grew, expanding into Africa, Asia Minor and Europe. It is believed that the Christians spread the religion as far west as Spain by the second century.
At its inception, Christianity was especially popular with the poorer classes. Early Christianity was an off-shoot of the Jewish faith. The new religion addressed some of the issues that had arisen in the Jewish faith, such as restrictive laws, corrupt leaders and formal rituals. Christianity removed these issues and focused on the belief of a coming messiah, Jesus Christ, who believers credited as the Son of God who was sent from heaven to cleanse man of sin. The new religion instituted a moral code based on humility, kindness toward others, charity and love. Followers were encouraged to abandon worldly concerns, focusing instead on preparing for an afterlife where the faithful would be rewarded with immortality in a secondary plane called Heaven, and non-believers would be abandoned by God to an eternal Hell. Early Christians were often converts from Judaism, having been born Jewish and later choosing to be Christians. As Christianity gained followers it fell under scrutiny from rulers, government leaders and leaders of other religions in the areas it expanded to.