[House Church Talk] Pattern or simply an adaptation?

Glenn Frank glennfrank at earthlink.net
Tue Jan 27 00:49:12 EST 2004

Hi David,

I was looking last night for info about church buildings prior to
Constantine too. I found references to buildings made specifically for use
as places of Christian worship prior to Constantine. So, although it seems
that meeting in small groups in homes was defiantly the norm for early
Christians, it was not the only way. My guess is that they might have begun
to build 'public church buildings' when there was less persecution. But I
don't know if these buildings would have been anything like the Roman
Catholic models we think of.

On this page:

And this page:

You can find info about the Roman Emperor Severus Alexander who was recorded
as having settled a dispute between shop owners and a Christian church who
wanted to build a building on a certain property in Rome. It also says that
Severus Alexander was actually tolerant of Christianity and even wanted to
build a 'Christian temple', but did not, on advice from pagan priests who
feared loosing their followers if the Emperor put his stamp of approval on
the religion.

I get the impression that the primary reason for meeting in homes in the
early years of the church was because it was one way to stay hidden and
underground during persecution, and also met the need of the close personal
ministry talked about in the NT.

Now... Not to say that building big facilities then is justified as a good

But IF one did not make a gathering in such a building into a ritual or a
forum for an orator to drone on with a mass of uninvolved spectators, then
where does it say an authentic church gathering for worship and ministry
could not be held in a larger building and designated a 'church building'
rather than just in a 'private house'?

Glenn Frank

On 1/26/04 12:10 PM, "David Miller" <David at innglory.org> wrote:

> Cliff wrote:
>> Rick, Your historical fact about the church not meeting
>> in buildings until 340 are you sure?
> Hi Cliff. This is common misinformation spread among home church
> enthusiasts, but it really is an erroneous assertion based upon the fact
> that Constantine began building churches at an enormous rate that was
> unprecedented before that time.  However, the basic assumption is
> faulty.  An increase in church building activities and making church
> buildings more elaborate does not mean that such never existed at all
> before that time.
> The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Volume 14, page 307,
> Canon 24 "Excursus on the Minor Orders of the Early Church," speaks
> about special church buildings existing as early as the second century.
> It speaks of minister assistants who were forerunners of the special
> door keepers being necessary and even being considered "holy" along with
> the church buildings since about 225 A.D.
> In the Scriptures, we see that the earliest believers continued within
> the existing religious institutional system of the Jews, meeting in the
> Temple and also in the synagogues as well as from house to house.  Acts
> 19:8-10 gives a succinct picture of how believers began separating from
> the Jewish system under Paul's direction.  Notice how here in Ephesus,
> Paul and other believers met for three months in the synagogue, then
> Paul divided the believers from there and they met in the school of
> Tyrannus for the next two years.
> "And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three
> months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of
> God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of
> that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the
> disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this
> continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in
> Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." (Acts
> 19:8-10 KJV)
> Peace be with you.
> David Miller, Beverly Hills, Florida.

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