Paul wrote that Aquila and Priscilla, Nymphus, and Philemon had church - Bible Questions and Answers - Prayer Tents

Question

26. Paul wrote that Aquila and Priscilla, Nymphus, and Philemon had church meetings in their homes. It appears obvious that the early Christians met in homes of faithful followers. When and why did that change? What verses suggest that church buildings are appropriate, especially when Acts 7:48-49 specifically says that “the most Holy dwelleth not in buildings made with hands,” followed by the question in verse 49, of “what building would you build me?” Thank you.
Asked by: Male, North America, Over 60 on July 5, 2021 10:56:24 am

Answer


Great question!

I am glad you welcome the Bible to show you the truth instead of relying on what we see today.

A church was never meant to be a sizeable gathering that is formalized. It was meant to center around loving one another through deep relationships.

Acts 2:42-47 show the picture of what the first churches looked like. The church was a gathering of few people (small enough to gather at an ordinary home). The small groups gathered together at the temple (verse 46), but the small groups formed the church. Why is that important? The church was centered around relationships--or walking together in faith over time. That is the teaching throughout the New Testament, to love others as I (Jesus) have shown you and to let others know that you are my (Jesus') disciples because of your love.

Now, what happened to that kind of church?

At around 325 AD, the Romans decided to adopt Christianity as the nation's religion. A Christian nation meant that people who lived in Rome would be generally considered Christians. The people would go through specific rites preordained by the government (culture), and they would believe that they are Christians because they do those specific rites, such as attending mass every Sunday. (Consider how it is similar to America today, a nation where 80% of its population claims to be Christians).

The church began to form organizational structures to ensure the teaching is the same throughout the nation. That is the beginning of the Catholic (universal) church. Since then, people were expected to gather in masses, and the priests began to have power over many things, including forgiving sins and interpreting the Scriptures. People who did not follow their ways could be penalized by law.

Today, this practice evolved across generations, and meeting in homes has become a secondary practice (if that). Churches no longer have deep relationships with one another but attend a "worship service" each week to feel that they have done their deed to be a "Christian." Love is not what the Church of Jesus Christ is known by, but rather a judgmental people who refuse to care for the people outside their four walls. I suggest we go back to house churches as it was in the times of Jesus' disciples!

To encourage the development of house churches, I wrote my doctorate dissertation and produced some of its findings in a book. If you can pick it up, I go into more details about the historical changes and suggestions for small group-based churches. The book is titled "Our Highest Calling" (ISBN: 978-1953167071, ourhighestcalling.com).

Please write back if you wish to dialogue more about this topic.

Blessings!



Answered by Dr. Sang Sur





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Prayer Tents is a Christian mission organization that serves Christians around the world and their local bodies to make disciples ("evangelize") more effectively in their communities. Prayer Tents provides resources to enable Christians to form discipleship-focused small groups and make their gatherings known so that other "interested" people may participate and experience Christ in their midst. Our Vision is to make disciples in all nations through the local churches so that anyone seeking God can come to know Him through relationships with other Christians near them.

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