Posted by: SandreS | November 23, 2009

God’s Outsiders: The Called-Out Ones (A Biblical Look at God’s Ecclesia), Part 21

Why “The Church In The House”: Relationship

Paul’s pattern and emphasis of “the church in your house” also stood in harmony with his teaching concerning our true relationship to each other.

Our relationship within the Body of Christ is likened unto that of a family. In the book of I Thessalonians Paul describes his relationship with the saints as that of a gentle mother (2:7-8), a concerned father (2:11), and a loving brother (2:1, 9, 14, 17).

To Paul, the saints were not “social acquaintances.” They were not “parishioners.” Paul did not view his relationship with them as a religious one. He had a special and tender relationship with them (c.f. Acts 20:36-38; Ephesians 4:32; Titus 3:2; II Corinthians 2:4; 10:1; Galatians 5:22).He regarded them as members of his family!

Paul calls us:

    … the house of God (I Timothy 3:15).
    … the household of faith (Galatians 6:10).
    … the household of God (Ephesians 2:19).

Paul spoke of individual saints, at times as:

    … his mother, and mine (Romans 16:13).
    My little children (Galatians 4:19).
    With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother (Colossians 4:9).
    … Phoebe our sister (Romans 16:1).
    Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith … (I Timothy 1:2).

These are all family terms. Indeed, family terms are Paul’s greatest form of speaking of our relationship to one another. This subject does not get the attention that it should, probably because of its very familiarity (brother and brothers [or, brethren] are used over 130 times by Paul in his epistles).

To Paul, “brother” was not a formal description or title; it was an attitude of relationship, of personal commitment to genuine family ties (I Corinthians 8:11, 13).

Paul not only taught this, he lived it by example, and one of the ways in which he manifested this great truth was through “the church in your house.” After all, where is the natural place for families to be and gather?

The Pauline pattern of “the church in your house” is at the root of the phrase, “given to hospitality” (Romans 12:13; I Timothy 3:2; c.f. Titus 1:8).

The expression of family life is centered in the home. It is the primary place where family life is conducted. Is it not, then, the natural place for the expression of the Body of Christ?

Now granted, on occasion there are family reunions where we get the extended family together at some rented location. These can be wonderful times of family fellowship, but this is the exception, not the rule of family life and activity!

So it is with the church, which is His Body. There were times when “the whole church is come together into one place” (I Corinthians 14:23). These were to be wonderful functions of family reunion (with special instructions from Paul on how to behave orderly), but they were not to take precedence over the primary expression of “the church in your house.”

Paul’s manner of life with the saints stood as a testimony that the Body of Christ as a family – “the church in your house” – is in clear support of this truth.

Thank the Lord for “the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Corinthians 11:3).

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

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