Religious Church Club
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Religious Church Club
Page 175

Roman Historian Suetonius

Roman Historian Suetonius 69-122 AD.Religious church clubs never suffered a blanket prohibition on their activities in this Early Church period. Even unlicensed religious clubs appear to have been dissolved only when they caused problems for the State. They then usually received only minor penalties. E. Earl Ellis (1926-2010) in "Pauline Theology - Ministry and Society" asserted that the Roman historian Suetonius (c69-c122 AD) wrote that certain religious clubs were exempt from the bans including "those of ancient foundation" or "the old and legitimate ones."

Names

Ancient Paved Stone RoadSimilar terminology was common to both Christian congregations and private religious clubs. The names "assembly" and "synagogue" and the terms "overseer," "elder," "leader" and "patron" were occasionally used to designate a club leader and club officers. It has been suggested that the same terms were borrowed by the church from the clubs themselves.✞

The Way

Ancient Synagogue CapernaumThe church was spoken of by believers in Acts 24.14 as "the Way." This term was also used of some religious clubs, and it was tagged by its detractors as "a sect," and employed for subgroups within a club. Such similarities were not really sufficient to show that the church viewed itself as a club or derived its vocabulary from them, but neither do differences in terminology prove that the church did not so regard itself. It goes beyond the evidence to say either that the church avoided club terminology or that it imitated such terminology.

Constitution

Church CongregationCertain Pauline congregations favored viewing the constitution of their churches along the lines of a religious club. Essentially, there were elements that reflected practices of the synagogue, which had the status of a religious church club and from which the churches were originally drawn. They included particularly a church order like that of a synagogue and an organization of congregations in the homes of members or patrons that corresponded to the usage of some synagogues and other religious clubs.✞

"Religious Church Club"
by Ron Meacock © 2018

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