House Group Groups
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Domestic Buildings 152

Greco-Roman Cults

Two Very Early Church HousesEarliest Christianity was born and developed in ordinary domestic buildings. Homes were the first sites for house church groups. Mark 2.1-2 tells us that, even during the life of Jesus, the house seems to have been a favorite site for teaching. It reads, "A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them." After Jesus death, beyond the households that welcomed his for meals and residence, the first groups of his followers began meeting in private houses. Carolyn Osiek and David L. Balch in "Families in the New Testament World, Households and House Churches" tell us that, "Many Jewish communities and private Greco-Roman cults, that is having both Greek and/or Roman characteristics, began in a particular place as small gatherings in private houses, and it was the same with the first circles of Jesus' followers."

Very Early Days

Edessa in TurkeyGiven what we know about the structure of domestic buildings, how are we to envision the physical arrangements in which these church groups met? In the earliest years, perhaps for the first century and a half, there were probably no structural adaptations for Christian worship, but rather, the use by the group of the space available. The size of the meeting space in the largest house available must have determined the congregational size limit of a worship group. When the group became too large, a second was found and added in another location.✞

"House Church Groups"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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