During his whole mortal life on earth, including the two or three years of His active ministry, Christ lived as a devout Jew, Himself observing, and insisting on His followers observing, the injunctions of the Law ( Matthew 23:3 ).
The sum of His teaching, as of that of His precursor, was the approach of the "Kingdom of God", meaning not only the rule of righteousness in the individual heart ("the kingdom of God is within you" — Luke ), but also the Church (as is plain from many of the parables ) which He was about to institute.
All peoples alike retained some more or less vague recollection of a Paradise lost, a remote Golden Age, but only the spirit of Israel kept alive the definite hope of a world-wide empire of justice, wherein the Fall of Man should be repaired.
The fact that, eventually, the Jews misinterpreted their oracles, and identified the Messianic Kingdom with a mere temporal sovereignty of Israel, cannot invalidate the testimony of the Scriptures, as interpreted both by Christ's own life and the teaching of His Apostles, to the gradual evolution of that conception of which Christianity is the full and perfect expression.
The third antecedent condition to the birth of Christianity, as we learn from the sacred records , was a special participation of the Holy Spirit given to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost.
But a much more marked predisposition to Christianity may be noticed in certain prominent features of the Roman religion after the downfall of the republic. In their stead Greek philosophy occupied the minds of the cultured, whilst the populace were attracted by a variety of strange cults imported from Egypt and the East.They combined to destroy the notion of a nation cultus, and to separate the service of the Deity from the service of the State.Finally, as a contributory cause to the diffusion of Christianity, we must not fail to mention the widespread Pax Romana, resulting from the union of the civilized races under one strong central government.Yet, though He often foreshadowed a time when the Law as such would cease to bind, and though He Himself in proof of His Messiahship occasionally set aside its provisions ("For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath ", Matthew 12:8 ), yet, as, in spite of His miracles, He did not win recognition of that Messiahship, still less of His Divinity, from the Jews at large.He confined His explicit teaching about the Church to His immediate followers, and left it to them, when the time came, openly to pronounce the abrogation of the Law.Mistaken national pride, accentuated by their galling subject to Rome led them to read a material significance into the predictions of the triumph of the Messias, and hence to love their privilege of being God's chosen people. Paul's metaphor ( Romans ) was then grafted upon the stock of the patriarchs in place of those rejected branches, and entered upon their spiritual inheritance.