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Upper Room Jerusalem 156

Much Greater Following

Upper Room JerusalemWithin a decade "a great multitude" of Christians at Rome had suffered martyrdom under Nero's persecution, but there is no suggestion in the sources that the victims represented all or even a majority of Christians there. Both in Palestine and beyond, the first generation Christian mission won a much greater following than is usually supposed according to "Pauline Theology - Ministry and Society" by E. Earl Ellis (1926-2010 AD). Acts gives us a picture of early believers regularly gathering in Christian community rooms and upper rooms. Two possibilities present themselves, that the early Christians rented a room that was partly domestic residence or that a Christian benefactor and homeowner set aside a community room, or an entire level of rooms, for that purpose in his or her own house.✞

Second Temple Pharisees

PhariseesThere is evidence from Second Temple Pharisees confirming that second floor halls and dining rooms were used as a place of study and meetings of the "brotherhood." The problem for early Christians of securing a sufficient number of houses for their assemblies may find its solution in contemporary Judaism. Most synagogues in the day were rooms in houses. Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids tell us in "Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Development" that the majority of early believers residing in Jerusalem were Jews, and their number included individuals who had financial means. It is plausible that some of these Jewish Christians had formerly opened their houses or parts of them to the synagogue community. It would have been natural for these patrons, having now become followers of Jesus, to use the same facilities as Christian meeting rooms in the community.✞

"Christian Community Rooms"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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