Corinthian House Churches
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Corinthian House Churches
Page 96

Saint Paul's Writings

Corinth RuinsWhen the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1.2 to the Corinthian house churches, the contemporary reader has no way of knowing whether he was addressing the sum total of believers in a number of house churches in the city, or not. He wrote, "To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ — their Lord and ours." The custom in these churches was to copy important letters from church leaders and pass them on to other churches in the area. It is quite possible that all the household churches were made aware of Saint Paul's epistle to one. Upon closer examination, however, we also discovered the possibility of at least seven assemblies of Corinthian Christians mentioned in Saint Paul's letters though there could have been even more that we are not aware of.

Aquila and Priscilla

Aquila and PriscillaFirst, there was the home of Aquila and Priscilla. Saint Paul called "Priscilla" by the shorter "Prisca," a common Latin name, but Saint Luke prefered the more formal Priscilla. They were wealthy Jewish converts to Christianity who settled in Corinth according to Acts 18.2 "There he (Paul) met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them." Emperor Claudius (BC 10-54 AD) around 49-50 AD had expelled a large number of Jews from Rome. Saint Paul began his stay in Corinth by living with Aquila and Priscilla, where they carried out their trade like Saint Paul of tent making. Most likely this was a type of street level storefront home that doubled as a work/retail outlet and domestic residence common in those times.

Significant Places Worship

Saint PaulDuring Saint Paul's eighteen-month stay in Corinth according to Acts 18.11, he devoted himself to "teaching them the word of God." The house churches in Corinth must have been significant places for proclaiming the gospel, teaching and gathering believers for worship. At the end of that time, Aquila and Priscilla moved on to Ephesus with Paul according to Acts 18.18-19 where we read, "Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila and started a house church there. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.". Arthur G. Patzia in "The Emergence of the Church - Context, Growth, Leadership and Worship" underlined Paul's greeting in Romans 16.3-5, "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia." "Priscilla and Aquila" and "the church in their house" implied that they returned to Rome, probably after the Emperor Claudius lifted his edict banning the Jews.

"Corinthian House Churches"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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