The Church in Their House

By Royce Frederick

Imagine a “church building” inside a large house! Several Bible verses mention the church in someone’s house. But the word “church” refers to the group of Christians, not a physical building:

In Ephesus, about A. D. 59: “...Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house(1 Cor. 16:19).

In Rome, about A. D. 60: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus...Likewise greet the church that is in their house…” (Rom. 16:3, 5). Two other greetings in Rom. 16, to brethren in Rome, suggest that the church was meeting in their houses also, in other parts of the large city of Rome: “Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them” (Rom. 16:14); “Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them” (Rom. 16:15).

In the area of Corinth, about A. D. 60: “Gaius, my host and the host of the whole church, greets you…” (Rom. 16:23).In the area of Laodicea, about A. D. 64: “Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house(Col. 4:15).

In Colossae, about A. D. 64: “...To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house(Philemon 1-2).

Outstanding among these are Aquila and Priscilla. They first met Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:1-3). Later, they went with Paul to Ephesus, where they stayed, while Paul went on to Jerusalem (18:18-19). After Paul returned to Ephesus, we find the church meeting in their house at Ephesus (1 Cor. 16:19). Still later, Paul returns to Corinth and sends greetings to this Christian couple, who are now in Rome. Again, the church is meeting in their house (Rom. 16:3-5).

Priscilla and Aquila did not leave the church behind! “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). These two Christians were the church wherever they went. They taught others (Acts 18:24-26), and the church assembled for worship in their house.

A “church building” can be a helpful tool for a large group to learn and worship together. But the church multiplied rapidly in the first three centuries without church buildings! When persecution came, they scattered and established more churches! (See Acts 8:1-4.)

Even today, thousands of churches of Christ throughout the world meet in houses of Christians — five or six Christians here, thirty there, etc. And their numbers keep climbing! Like the first century Christians, they partake of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of each week, sing praises to God without musical instruments, give on the first day of the week, pray together, and listen to a message from God’s word (Acts 20:7; Col. 3:16; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 14:15-16).

With the help of God and His written word, you can establish the church of Christ wherever you are. When sinners obey the gospel of Christ, wear the name of Christ — “Christian” (Acts 11:26; 1 Pet. 4:16) — and practice the doctrine of Christ, they are the church of Christ (see Rom. 16:16). He promised, “...I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18)!