House Church Talk - speaking, JL
bwood4d at hotmail.com
Sun May 16 22:27:38 EDT 2004
I'm pretty slow, but just in the last couple of days I have realized that
you were not Glenn Frank! There are also two Dan's on this list (Dan B and
Dan G). Could I suggest that for the sake of clarity and to avoid confusion
that you add your last name or initial to your posts? Thanks!
You wrote:"I've been reflecting upon Phillip's comment concerning sincerity
today, and thought of asking you whether you have ever been a part of a
city-wide church gathering in which the females of your family remained
No brother, as I have mentioned many times here in the past, I doubt if any
of us have ever experienced a city-wide church gathering such as was common
in the first century! Denominationalism, sectarianism and all the
accompanying baggage which most Christians have inheritted from their
backgrounds are the chief hindrances to such gatherings today. I have no
doubt that such conditions were the first ploys of the enemy to mar and
destroy the scriptural functioning of first century churches! See I
Cor.1:10-13 and 11:17-20. However, I pray that I might live to see the day
when whole church gatherings of the saints in my community will be a
You also wrote:"Of course I'm glad to hear of your desire for the sisters to
remain silent in church meetings at all--as so many are strongly resistant
to this simple form of obedience in ANY context".
Glenn, I know that we share many of the same desires to please the Lord and
to be obedient to Him and His Word. Regarding the understanding and practice
of I Cor 14, we are simply not agreedas to the understanding of what
comprises "the whole church come together into one place" (verse 23). But
coming to that understanding will clarify for us whether that "whole church"
is the sum total of saints which regularly meet in one house, or if it is
the sum total of all the saints in a given community.
You continued:"Lord willing, I'll hope to respond at some point to your
various questions and objections which you have left for me, but at first
glance the issue seems to be one of your calling certain times that saints
are together (e.g., Titus 2 feminine discipleship) as being "in church" when
the word of God does not."
Brother, I value and look forward to hearing your understanding of the
issues involved as well as your answers to objections that (to my mind)
hinder me from embracing your point of viewand at this point in time. I
also agree with you that coming to a clear understanding of what comprises a
church, and what constitutes a scriptural church gathering will also affect
how any of us read and understand scripturally recorded historical
gatherings of believers in the first century.
You concluded with:"You seem to be a careful student of the word of God, and
have time to write, and so I might ask you to compose an exhaustive list of
the "in church" passages of the NT. I find very few which are explicitly
indicated as such, and it seems that you would identify these passages much
more loosely. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts, and it might be a
means by which we begin to "say the same thing" in the Lord."
Brother, I thank you for your kindness and for your suggestion by which to
work toward "saying the same thing" in the Lord! I work a full 5 1/2 to 6
day week for a tree cutting business, but the ministry which is my heart's
burden is that of teaching the Word of God. Nothing thrills me more than to
encounter others who love my Lord, who value His Word, are teachable and
delight to put His Word into practice. Three nights ago, after I'd gone to
bed, I had a phone call from a young brother in North Carolina whom I've
never met. He called to ask some questions about some of my convictions of
which he'd heard from a mutual friend. We chatted together for nearly 4
hours. Although that conversation shortened my time of much needed sleep,
nothing gives me greater joy than to have the opportunity to share the
scriptures in answer to other's questions and to encourage others to put the
Word of God into "shoe leather"!
As a first step toward fulfilling your suggested "exhaustive list of in
church passages", I have compiled a list of passages in which the word
"ekklesia" is used in the sense of an actual gathering together of saints.
As the word "ekklesia" suggests, a church is a group of "called out ones".
They have been called out of something and they have been called to someone
or something. So a Christian church is a group of people whom God has
called out from among the nations and placed IN CHRIST to be a people for
His name. (Acts 15:14)
To be "in church" has two meanings:
(1) to be a member or a constituent part of the church, and
(2) to be present with other saints in a church gathering.
I think it is this latter sense that you have in mind. So I have gathered
together below all the scriptural references to the word "church" which have
in view actual gatherings of Christians (i.e. disciples who are "in
I would agree with Sean (based on the very first instructions given in
scripture to guide churches, Matt.18:15-20) that a church gathering may be
comprised of as few as two Christians. However, I think it is obvious that
not every gathering of 2 or more Christians is church gathering! When
Ananias and Sapphira planned together to lie about the sale and proceeds of
their property (Acts 5), this certainly would not be a church gathering!
Nor would the coming together of a Christian man and woman in an adulterous
union be a church gathering! (I Cor 5:1) Nor would one Christian suing
another in a court of law be a church gathering! (I Cor.6:1-6) Nor would
two Christians going into an idol's temple to participate in idol worship be
a church gathering! (I Cor.10:20)
Mat thew 18:20 adds a very distinctive phrase by which, I believe, the Lord
Jesus Himself has defined a church gathering: In Mat thew 18:18-20, the Lord
Jesus declared the following truths:
18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound
in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
19 Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as
touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my
Father which is in heaven.
20 For where two or three are gathered together IN MY NAME, there am I in
the midst of them.
The phrase by which the Lord Jesus has defined a church gathering is the
following: "where two or three are gathered together IN MY NAME."
In legal matters, to do something "in the name of" another is to have "power
of attorney". The dictionary defines "power of attorney" in this way: "a
written statement legally authorizing a person to act for another."
Such a written statement by which Christ gave to his disciples "power of
attorney" to act for Him is found in Mat thew 28:18-20:
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me
in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Therefore, I believe that we have scriptural ground to say that a church
gathering is A GATHERING OF TWO OR MORE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST WHO, AS THEY
GATHER, ARE BEING OBEDIENT TO ONE OR MORE OF CHRIST'S COMMANDS. The
simplest terms in which I can express this is as follows: "a plurality of
saints obeying Christ together."
The minimum number of Christians gathered to comprise a church is just two!
No church officers or leaders are required by scripture to be present to
comprise a church gathering.
No sacred building is required to be the venue of a church gathering.
Meeting on a special day of the week is not required by scripture as a
pre-requisite to having a church gathering.
A formulated "church charter", a legally recognized church organization, a
bank account, the regularity or frequency of gatherings, nor a host of
other features normally associated with a "local church", are ever
associated with God's ekklesias in scripture.
Now included in the following list of scriptures are various kinds of church
gatherings: (1)The gathering of the church which is Christ's Body or the
general assembly and church of the firstborn, (2) Gatherings of the church
of God or the whole church in a city, and (3) gatherings of churches in
Can I ask you brother, in these or any other scriptures, are you aware of
any other defining characteristics of church gatherings than those which I
have noted above? If you are aware of any other necessary features, I
would deeply appreciate it if you would bring such to my attention.
Certainly there are features of gatherings of the church which is Christ's
Body, gatherings of the whole church in a city and gatherings of churches in
houses which distinguish them from each othe. But I'm asking for features,
the lack of which would mean the gathering was NOT a church gathering at
Your brother in Christ,
Here is the list with the actual word "church" in the text. My next step
will be to compile a list of actual historical events in which believers
gathered to obey the Lord, but in which the word "ekklesia" is not found.
I'd ask you to evaluate that list to see if you would disqualify any of
those from being classified as "church gatherings".
Mat thew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church
<1577>: but if he neglect to hear the church <1577>, let him be unto thee
as an heathen man and a publican. (the following verses show that such a
church could be composed of as few as two people.)
Acts 11:22 Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church
<1577> which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should
go as far as Antioch. (This city church numbered in the thousands.)
Acts 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it
came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church
<1577> , and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians
first in Antioch. (We don't know how many composed this church at the
commencement of the hear or at it's close, but it WAS a church at the very
Acts 14:23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church <1577>,
and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they
believed. (the churches in the context were the city churches of Derbe,
Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. Elders were to be appointed in every city.
Acts 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church <1577>
together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had
opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. (The city church at Antioch.)
Acts 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the
church <1577>, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things
that God had done with them. (The city church in Jerusalem.)
Acts 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church
<1577>, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and
Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the
brethren: (The whole church at Jerusalem.)
Romans 16:5 Likewise greet the church <1577> that is in their house. Salute
my wellbeloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia unto Christ.
(The church in the house of Priscilla and Aquila.)
1 Corinthians 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church
<1577>, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
(The church of God in Corinth comprised of those who were sanctified in
Christ Jesus as well as similar churches in every place 1:2 and 11:22;
they were come together into one place , not many 11:20; this coming
together was not to eat the Lord's supper 11:20; eating the Lord's supper is
to be done in homes 11:22,34.)
1 Corinthians 14:19 Yet in the church <1577> I had rather speak five words
with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten
thousand words in an unknown tongue. (The church addressed in this epistle
is the city church at Corinth and similar churches in other places. Nothing
in the context indicates that any other church is being referred to.)
1 Corinthians 14:23 If therefore the whole church <1577> be come together
into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are
unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? (as above.)
1 Corinthians 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in
the church <1577>; and let him speak to himself, and to God. (as above)
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace,
as in all churches <1577> of the saints. (The Body, the city church and the
house church are all composed of saints.)
1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches <1577>: for
it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under
obedience, as also saith the law. (this regulation as well as all the rest
in the passage are addressed to whole churches in cities come together into
1 Corinthians 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their
husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church <1577>.
1 Corinthians 16:19 The churches <1577> of Asia salute you. Aquila and
Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church <1577> that is in
their house. ( A house church.)
Colossians 4:16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be
read also in the church <1577> of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read
the epistle from Laodicea. (A city wide church.)
2 Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches
<1577> of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and
tribulations that ye endure: (The term "church of God" is always used of a
city church as there are never "churches of God" plural in one city.)
Hebrews 2:12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst
of the church <1577> will I sing praise unto thee. (the only other reference
to "church" in Hebrews is "the general assembly and church of the firstborn"
3 John 1:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth,
prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither
doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and
casteth them out of the church <1577>. (The only church out of which one
could possibly cast another believer would be the church which gathered in
his own home.)
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