From the letter of Paul to Philemon
The way of the disciple is the way of the church….”and to Archippus and the church in your house…” Philemon 2
The word church, in our New Testaments, comes from a Greek word, ekklesia…meaning called out. In other words, early Christians understood that they were called out by God in Jesus Christ for the special purpose of worshipping Him together and announcing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world.
Note…the Hebrew translation of the Greek ekklesia is “qahal”, which means assembly…assembly of prophets…soldiers…or people of God (Deut. 9:10). And the interesting thing about that is how the early church, being predominately Hebrew in the beginning, would connect “people of God” with “called out ones”…note the continuity of the Old Testament into the New Testament or New Covenant…the Hellenistic Jews, who lived in Roman cities and read Torah in Greek…who believed in and followed Jesus…would embrace and share with confidence the conviction that the people of God have been called out by God to be on mission with God…through grace and faith in Jesus Christ.
Epaphras and his family were used by God to plant the church in Colossae. Later Philemon and his family would leave Ephesus and be used of God to plant another house church there. We could call the churches that met in their homes by names such as “bodies of Christ” (1 Cor. 12), “God’s new creations” (2 Cor. 5:17), “a fellowship of faith” (1 Cor. 1:2), and “households of God” ( 1 Pet. 4:17). These churches were made up of disciples of Jesus and their seeking friends and family. They worshipped the Lord together, they fellowshipped and took meals together, they met the needs of others together, and they proclaimed the gospel message in their teaching and witnessing together.
The way of the disciple is the way of the church. God’s plan for building His Kingdom has always been the way of the church. Therefore, the way of the disciple is always about building up the church…joining the work of the Lord in our local church. It’s about making ourselves available to serve in our church….and being givers and servers and not just spectators and takers.