The Church in the House
1 Corinthians 16:19
The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.…

This expression is used concerning Aquila and Priscilla, who had been the apostle's friends at Corinth (Acts 18:1-3). A similar reference is found in Romans 16:3-5; 2 Timothy 4:19. At the time of St. Paul's writing this Epistle, Aquila and Priscilla were with the apostle at Ephesus, and it is probable that they opened their house or lodging as a place of worship for the Christian foreigners or strangers who happened to be visiting Ephesus. Some, however, think that St. Paul uses the term "Church" as equivalent to that of "family," or household, probably including servants, children, and workpeople connected with their business. The word "Church" appears to have been used with some variety of meaning, the associations of the term only gradually becoming settled into those with which we are familiar. The first suggestion of the word is a gathering or assembly. But this implied some purpose or design for which people met together. It might be a family object, or a political, or a social, or a religious object. Any assembly called for a purpose could be properly spoken of as a "Church." We know that it was applied to the political meetings of the Greeks; and it may also nave been user for me synagogue meetings of the Jews, for these must be the "Church" to which our Lord referred, when he required his disciples to tell their disputes, or injuries from their fellows, to the "Church." We need to be on our guard against forcing words to bear their modern ecclesiastical meanings when we find them employed in the New Testament. The simple historical fact is that persons lent their rooms or their houses for the Christian congregations to worship in, and so the term "Church" is first used for the Christian friends who met for worship in any place. It subsequently became used for

(1) the building in which the friends met; and

(2) for the entire body of persons who thought alike and worshipped alike.

The "Church" became the "body of Christ." In the treatment of this subject we only give suggestive lines along which thought and illustration may run, because the associations of different Christian bodies with the term "Church" now differ so greatly that detailed treatment would involve the introduction of disputable points.

I. THE SIMPLEST CONCEPTION OF A CHURCH. It is a meeting or assembly. As such it can only be applied to an organized body or to a material building by a figurative use of the term. No ideas of size, quantity, or number seem necessary to its realization. Two or three agreeing to meet for worship or work may properly be called a Church.

II. ITS CLOSE ASSOCIATION WITH A HOME. The "Church in the house" is here spoken of. It is interesting to note the historical fact that the Christian assemblies first sanctified homes. They did not need at first to find any architectural expression, or to fix architectural associations, or to use architectural aids. Home life found a sufficient sphere.

III. ITS FUNDAMENTAL FEATURES. Really only this - family religion extended to embrace the family friends. However the growth of the Church may have overshaded its first idea, we must admit that it began with family worship, and developed on the lines of household religious requirements, not presuming at first to affect either the synagogue or the temple demands. This family origin of the Christian Church needs to be more fully studied.


(1) increase of numbers;

(2) growth of wealth, bringing with it artistic sentiment and desires;

(3) securing of freedom from persecution, and admission of citizen rights and liberties;

(4) rise of a distinction between priesthood and laity, and the consequent development of a ritual in which the distinct priesthood could be employed. Impress in what sense the older idea of a "Church in the house" can even now be maintained. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

WEB: The assemblies of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you much in the Lord, together with the assembly that is in their house.

The Church in the House
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