Saturday, March 17, 2012 6:52 AM

Brothers and Sisters in a Big House

Saturday, March 17, 2012 6:52 AM
Saturday, March 17, 2012 6:52 AM

The early church was thought of as a household is shown by use of kinship terms for believers—who are to treat each other as actual brothers and sisters (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:1; 9:5), by the fact that Christians met in houses, and by the fact that they lived by Christian adaptations of household codes or imperatives, adopted for the family of faith (cf. Col. 3:18–4:1).[1]

Can modern “megachurches” maintain the family character that is both characteristic and expected in the early church? Can one relate as family to people one does not even know? The Pauline data raises these questions for modern Christians.[2]

1 Corinthians is partly an attempt by Paul to help the Corinthians see themselves as part of a larger entity—the people of God meeting in many different places. It was not enough in Paul’s mind to give lip service to the reality of the worldwide ekklesia (Church). One must have koinonia (fellowship). There must be something to share and some means of sharing. At the local level Paul speaks of this entailing actual meeting together and sharing of the Lord’s Supper in the context of a meal and worship. Beyond the local level, Paul envisions koinonia involving monetary support of needy congregations elsewhere. In either case, much more than mere rhetoric about “one church … universal” is meant.[3]

Until the modern ekklesia truly understands that the ekklesia is not buildings, structures, or even organizations (though we must have all of these), but the people of God in every place, and acts on this understanding, our witness will continue to be muted at best. [4]


[1] Witherington III, B. (1995). Conflict and Community in Corinth : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (92). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[2] Witherington III, B. (1995). Conflict and Community in Corinth : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Witherington III, B. (1995). Conflict and Community in Corinth : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians (93). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[4] Witherington III, B. (1995). Conflict and Community in Corinth : A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

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