I read the statement three times: “Read the New Testament, and you will see that every city had one church with many house churches, with one apostle who planted churches leading.”
So, I thought, “I have read the New Covenant agreement in the Bible for more than fifty years, and I’ve never read this.”
There is a preponderance of summarized and simplified mythology about “the Early Church” and its “fathers” used to justify all kinds of conflicting conclusions. This body of work, based upon the ideas summarized in this statement, has been both odd and misleading as a foundation for what is coming in the New Era Reformation.
1. We want to be radical. “Radical” means to restore the original design and definition of ekklesia.
2. We want to be a Remnant. Remnant refers to the renewal and revival of original power and purpose.
3. Through the Remnant, the “whole” where the Remnant rises will experience radicalization. The Remnant will experience Awakening and Reformation. The Remnant will receive and release the kingdom culture, and the existing culture will experience Awakening and Reformation through its spiritual influence.
So, we need to get this right – this “Early Church was like this” thing needs to be accurate.
Our only source of “origination” is the Bible. Ignore the other sources as a means of providing insight into what ekklesia looks like in the New Era. If God wanted these sources to testify of who He is and how He does stuff, he would have included them in the Bible. Reading them will confuse the context and exaggerated small things leading to false conclusions about the Early Church about which the Bible never hints. The Bible is not exhaustive, so we need to find the presuppositions of God’s thinking in His conclusions.
“House Church” Not in the Bible
The Bible does not say that the early church had one city church but that the Ecclesiae were identified by regions or by a city-state or a “polis” that represents an entire region of various conglomerated enterprises and people groups. This polis had city gates, walls with gates in them, and a governing system. We do err to continue to say that “city church” defines original ekklesia when we refer to “city church” in modern context instead of Biblical context.
We cannot use the Bible context for ekklesia and the modern context for Oikos and polis.
The Bible does not say that each city church was composed of house churches.
I know we combine several mentions of ekklesia with Oikos add the “house to house” wording of Acts with some other references to come up with a “model.” I know that. But, we do so by ignoring kingdom culture and kingdom ekklesia.
We end up with this vision of modern three or four bedroom domiciles with parked cars and children in a bedroom watching videos while adults do God stuff in the front rooms. That is not what the Bible says or infers in the original text without translation assumptions from people who have no “original ekklesia context” in mind.
The Oikos could be a building, but that is not the right way to look at the discussion. The Oikos could be clarified by adding the words “meets here,” but they are not in the text. We should conclude that the modern real estate ownership model is not described in the Bible. We should not conclude that the ekklesia in modern regional function would not own or rent buildings for the assembled kingdom ekklesia.
We should also remember that the ekklesia can be regional but “underground” without making “underground” the norm for all ekklesiae.
An Oikos is a lineage of extended family, employees, servants, and non-family members working in and on an inherited estate often involving hundreds of individuals who all come into the kingdom as an Oikos with individual salvation experiences. You could have a member of the Oikos who is not a member of the kingdom who could not or should not participate in the actual ekklesia functions.
You do not see a domicile with fifteen people meeting on Thursday called ekklesia. You should assume such meetings occurred, but they are kingdom meetings, not a kingdom ekklesia in assembly. We never see a “two or three” as anything other than a kingdom culture judicial process of two or three witnesses healing a relational breach.
No Lonely Apostle
One apostle in every city? Not really. Once we get past origination, do we see a model like this? Or, do we see many apostles working in council in nations, regions within countries, leading the blueprint construction of many kingdom leadership assignments?
In the beginning, apostles did things together. Apostles went in teams. Apostles traveled about visiting kingdom citizens operating in kingdom ekklesiae. Apostles were securing the apostolic order by teaching and training the apostolic Didache.
Apostles did not cease function when Holy Spirit completed the New Covenant part. (forget that silly notion since it has not one burp’s worth of evidence in the Bible or anywhere else to support it.) But, we have evidence contrary to the Bible anticipation that many apostles were available to work in council, by individual assignment and metron (a measurement of assignment and authority). Some worked at the national and international levels. Some worked at the regional levels and were more “in residence” in a regional metron.
So, we do not have an original version of ekklesia designed and defined by Jesus by “city church meeting in houses with one apostle who planted churches leading.” We do not have any Bible evidence of this, so why do we say it?
Church-growthism designs and defines “church” in this way, and the originating restoration of the apostolic fitted the restoration to this model. We are not escaping this system to reset the kingdom, kingdom culture, and kingdom ekklesia to the Bible as the design and definition of Jesus, the King of the kingdom.
We could and should refer to modern church-growthism as “Neo.” It has moved into the very opposite of Donald McGaran’s viewpoints on reaching cultures that lead off the trail of original ekklesia.
If you say that Jesus is the only one who can do this, and He will do this upon His return, you have a massive problem in reconciling this with the Bible. Will there be an ekklesia upon His return? Yes. The very teaching that assumes there is no kingdom now also assumes there will be no ekklesia then. Assumptions that ekklesia should not reach ultimate until He returns while believing there will be no ekklesia after He returns are patently illogical.
So that is beside the point.
The point of the ekklesia now is that it will judge the Earth when Jesus returns. The King of kings has kings. The Judge of all the Earth has judges. The High Priest of our confession has priests. They will all function with Him.