Though we do indeed sometimes think of the movement as a ‘religion’, a first-century observer, blundering in to a meeting of Christians, would almost certainly have seen it first and foremost as some kind of educational institution, a kind of philosophical school in which prayer and worship happened to be central but didn’t displace the sense of eager learning. This is the more remarkable in that education in that world was mostly reserved for the rich, for the elite.
N. T. Wright and Michael F. Bird, The New Testament in Its World: An Introduction to the History, Literature, and Theology of the First Christians (London; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic; SPCK, 2019), 849.
Too bad we left that behind. We have given it all over to selling fire insurance.