Colossian House Churches
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Communities Evangelized

House Churches of PaulPaul's letters to the Colossian house churches and to Philemon refer to several house churches in the cities of Colossae, Hierapolis and Laodicea, which were communities evangelized by Epaphras. Although Epaphras "worked hard" in Hierapolis according to Colossians 4.13, there is no evidence that Epaphras was successful in establishing a church there at this time. Saint Paul writes, "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis."

Nympha's Household

With respect to Laodicea, Saint Paul refers to a group in Colossians 4.15 "of brothers and sisters, and to Nympha and the church in her house." Carolyn Osiek and David L. Balch in "Families in the New Testament World - Households and House Churches" assert that the natural reading of the text implies that two separate groups were meeting, one of them led by Nympha, the likely patron and leader.✞

Colossae Households

A church in Philemon's house is mentioned explicitly in Philemon 2, "To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier — and to the church that meets in your home." The existence of a second house church is based on the assumption in Colossians 1.2 that all the "saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae" required additional homes for fellowship and worship. Arthur G. Patzia in "The Emergence of the Church - Context, Growth, Leadership and Worship" asserts that other house churches may be implied in situations where hospitality to itinerant teachers and evangelists is encouraged. In this situation, the leaders of a house may have decided who should and should not be taken in.✞

"Colossian House Churches"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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