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For most of the first century, private dwellings shaped the Christians’ community life. Evidence to this phenomenon is found in the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul. According to Acts 2:41, the Early Church numbered more than three thousand members after Pentecost. When the synagogues became off limits to them, meeting in private homes became a practical necessity for worship, fellowship, service, and mission (Acts 2:46; 5:42). In four of Paul’s epistles, he explicitly references private homes as the gathering places for early Christians (1 Cor 16:19; Rom 16:3-5; Col 4:15; Phil 2). The epistles are better understood from the perspective that they were addressed to Christians in a network of house churches. This article examines the contextual, theological, and missional dimensions of first-century house churches to draw implications for contemporary church life and mission.





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