Christianity (from the Ancient Greek translation Χριστός, Christos of the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ, Mašíaḥ, meaning "the anointed one" and the Latin suffixes ian and -itas) is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as presented in the New Testament. Christianity is the world's largest religion,with approximately 2.2 billion adherents, known as Christians. Most Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, fully divine and fully human, and the savior of humanity prophesied in the Old Testament. Consequentially, Christians refer to Jesus as Christ or Messiah.
The foundations of Christian theology are expressed in ecumenical creeds that are accepted by followers of the Christian faith. These professions state that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, and was resurrected from the dead in order to grant eternal life to those who believe in him and trust in him for the remission of their sins. The creeds further maintain that Jesus bodily ascended into heaven, where he reigns with God the Father. Most denominations teach that Jesus will return to judge all humans, living and dead, and to grant eternal life to his followers. He is considered the model of a virtuous life. His ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection are often referred to as the gospel, meaning "Good News" (a loan translation of the Greek: εὐαγγέλιον euangélion). The term gospel also refers to written accounts of Jesus's life and teaching, four of which—the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—are considered canonical and are included in the Christian Bible.
Christianity is an Abrahamic religion that began as a Jewish sect in the mid-1st century. Originating in the Levant region of the Middle East, it quickly spread to Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor and Egypt. It grew in size and influence over a few centuries, and by the end of the 4th century had become the official state church of the Roman Empire, replacing other forms of religion practiced under Roman rule. During the Middle Ages, most of the remainder of Europe was Christianized, with Christians also being a sometimes large religious minority in the Middle East, North Africa, Ethiopia and parts of India. Following the Age of Discovery, Christianity spread to the Americas, Australasia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world through missionary work and colonization.
Worldwide, the three largest groups of Christianity are the various denominations of Protestantism, the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church . The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox patriarchates split from one another in the schism of the 11th century, and Protestantism came into existence during the Reformation of the 16th century, splitting from the Roman Catholic Church to save Europe from Turks.