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Bible Lives  

16. The early church

16-1 A Taste Of The First Century: The Positive : 16-1-1 " With one accord" || 16-1-2 The Early Church Our Example || 16-1-3 Prayer Meetings || 16-1-4 Christ-centredness || 16-1-5 Radical Preaching || 16-1-6 Women In The Early Church || 16-1-7 The Joy Of Faith || 16-2 A Taste Of The First Century: The Negative: 16-2-1 Division In The Church || 16-2-2 Politics In The Church || 16-3 Unity And Division In The First Century : 16-3-1 Unity And Division In The First Century Church || 16-3-2 Oikonomia And Household Fellowships || 16-3-3 Rich And Poor In The First Century || 16-3-4 Unity In The Church || 16-4 The Obstacles : 16-4-1 The Obstacles To The Growth Of Christianity || 16-4-2 The offence of the cross || 16-4-3 The rejection of Caesar || 16-4-4 Women And Slaves In The First Century || 16-4-5 The Roman Empire And Christianity || 16-4-6 The Attraction Of Judaism || 16-4-7 Other First Century Objections To Christianity || 16-5 How They Succeeded: 16-5-1 Why Christianity Spread In The First Century  || 16-5-2 The Example Of The Community || 16-5-3 House Meetings In The First Century || 16-5-4 Witness In The Workplace || 16-5-5 The Witness Of Christian Unity In The First Century || 16-5-6 The Role Of Women   In The First Century || 16-5-7 Style Of PreachingIn The First Century || 16-5-8 Christian Ethics In The First Century || 16-5-9 The Exclusivity Of Christianity || 16-5-10 Early Christian Doctrine || 16-6 Where Things Went Wrong: 16-6-1 Doctrinal Apostacy || 16-6-2 The Rise Of Traditions || 16-6-3 Legalism In The Church || 16-6-4 Social Tensions In The Church || 16-6-5 Wealth In The Church || 16-6-6 Worldliness In The Church || 16-6-7 Lost Emphasis Upon Grace || 16-6-8 Loss Of Faith In The Church || 16-6-9 Poor Church Leadership || 16-6-10 Dogmatism And Legalists

 


16-5-3 House Meetings In The First Century

It would be wrong to get the impression from the early days in Jerusalem that most Christian converts in the first century were won by mass meetings and big evangelists like Peter. There is every reason to think that what happened there was unique. It would have been almost impossible to hold such mass meetings in the Roman empire. And there is no archaeological evidence for the existence of any buildings for Christian meetings until well into the 2nd century. It follows that the massive growth of Christianity in the 1st century was mainly through personal witness and small house groups. The Acts record is very abbreviated. Surely we are to see in groups like that based around Lydia an example of typical first century groups of believers. The impression we get from the record is that this was the usual style of Christian meeting. The Gospel was preached from homes, such as Jasonís in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5), that of Titus Justus and Stephanas in Corinth (18:7; 1 Cor. 1:16; 16:15), Philipís in Caesarea (21:8), Lydiaís and the jailerís in Philippi (16:15,32-34), the home owned by the mother of John Mark in Jerusalem (1:13; 12:12). The spread of the Gospel from homes is therefore a major theme of the record; and the obvious implication is that the audience was the friends and family of the convert, to whom they had personally witnessed. There are many stories recorded of the gradual infiltration of the middle and upper classes of Roman society by Christianity, on account of the lives and words of slaves. This was quite against the norm of society, where the master of the house controlled the religion of the household, including that of the slaves. But such was the insistent power of personal witness that society was turned on its head.

 


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