Posted by: SandreS | November 21, 2009

God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 19

Why “The Church In The House”: Religion

Why is the home emphasized in connection with the ecclesia in Paul’s epistles? We will consider a few reasons.

Some would suggest to us that this domestic nature of God’s ecclesia was just because it was so “primitive.” The idea being suggested is that Paul did not have the concept or means to institutionalize the church, conveying that somehow over the span of “church” history this problem has been corrected.

However, the domestic emphasis of the church is due to the very nature of the Body of Christ. Paul could have easily done otherwise; he could have employed an institutional pattern for us to follow. However, Paul went firmly against the grain of religious tradition – even of his own Jewish one.

The two firmly entrenched religions of Paul’s day both met in special “sacred” buildings dedicated specifically for that purpose.

One of these was the only religion ever ordained by God; we speak of Israel. They had the temple (and the synagogues). Some of the Jews who believed and followed Paul undoubtedly truly “missed” this aspect of their past religious culture and lifestyle. How easy it would have been for Paul to have substituted a “church house” and a “worship service” for Israel’s religious temple worship – it would have been such a “natural” transition – but he did not. He did not give his Jewish followers a substitute for their possible religious “withdrawals.” He simply brought them home.

Then there were the various branches of the heathen Babylonian religious system which filled the Roman world. They all had “sacred sanctuaries” for the sole purpose of conducting their religious activities. Paul could have made his former idol worshiping followers feel somewhat “at home” by mimicking these meetings, but Paul disregarded these practices altogether. Neither did Paul give his Gentile followers a replacement for their potential religious “withdrawals” either. He simply brought them home, too.

Paul’s very manner of life with the saints stood as a testimony that the Body of Christ was not a part of Judaism or the multifaceted Babylonian religious system. In fact, the Body of Christ was not religious at all!!

“The church in your house” supported this gloriously liberating truth.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 2000, 2009

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