Christian Assembly Halls
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Christian Assembly Halls
Page 169

Gaius Meeting Place

Basilica slidePre-Constantinian basilica style structures were used as church buildings, but Christian assembly halls were not distinguishable as such. It was a common Roman type of assembly hall used for administration or market places. The only recognizable indications of their use for Christian assembly were the choir screens and side rooms that could have been reserved for the catechumens. Assemblies of the whole church could meet from time to time and on important occasions in a place large enough to accommodate them. Perhaps assembly halls were very large domus or rented halls. In Corinth, Gaius seems to have had a large enough house to meet and also to house Paul. The separation of the Eucharist from the agape meal and the growing numbers of believers necessitated the removal of worship from the venue of the private dwelling, and thus from the family setting.✞

Public Assembly Halls

From then on, Christian worship was conducted in public Christian assembly halls and no longer took place in a family and home environment. The growing authority of the bishop concentrated more and more power in the hands, not of local leaders, but of a centralized authority which was responsible for larger and larger groups of believers. Although the "domus ecclesiae" continued to be used well into the fourth century, early in that same century Christians also began to use public buildings as places of assembly. This change coincided with the end of the periodic persecutions such as the Emperor Diocletian's (244-311 AD) in 303-5 AD and the recognition of Christianity by Constantine (274-337 AD) culminating in religious freedom in the Edict of Milan in 313 AD.

"Christian Assembly Halls"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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