Christian Meeting Places
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Dura Europas Domus 159

Renovations

Christian Meeting PlacesDuring the second stage of household development (A.D. 150-250), private domestic residences were renovated for the exclusive use as Christian meeting places. In some instances, these renovated homes had been used formerly as meeting places for believers during the earlier period of Household of Faith development. Thus architectural alterations and change of function are the two characteristics of the so-called "domus ecclesiae" according to the "Dictionary of the Later New Testament and Its Development" editors Ralph P. Martin and Peter H. Davids. These can be called in English house churches or households of faith.

Christianized Decorations

Early ChristiansThe earliest Christian meetings took place in homes. Dr Michael Green suggests in "Evangelism in the Early Church" "It is only to be expected, therefore that Christians should have borne witness to their faith through their decoration. The evidence suggests that they did so in a tentative and allusive way." "Their Christianized decorations would mean much to a fellow Christian, but would either seem unremarkable to the non-Christian or might bring about mild comment, which in turn, could give the Christian householder an opportunity to bear witness to his or her faith."

Remodeled Christian Home

Dura Europas Domus EcclesiaCarolyn Osiek and David L. Balch suggest in "Families in the New Testament World - Households and House Churches" that "the private house was being replaced by the remodeled Christian home, the domus ecclesiae," which, while resembling a residence on the outside, was no longer a center of private family life. It is not that house and family were devalued in the process, for they remained the location in which faith was first nurtured and people lived out their Christian lives.✞

Places of Prayer

Domus MosaicsThe scattered evidence suggests that family households became increasingly places of private prayer, reading from the scriptures and other religious books, and places in which the Christian faith found new and more overt means of expression.

"Christian Meeting Places"
by Ron Meacock © 2017

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