How Does a Person Use these Studies?
 

These Bible studies are designed with group interaction in mind. Our desire is to help people explore God’s Word by using questions that focus on the text. There are three kinds of questions used in the studies:
 

1. Observation Questions. 
“What does the passage say?”
 

2. Interpretation Questions.
"What did the writer intend for us to understand?"
 

3. Application Questions.
"How should we apply what we've learned to our daily lives?"
 

Some of the studies that you find on this website are just composed of questions (inductive studies), while others are written to also answer some of the questions, i.e. the Book of John and the Book of Luke Bible studies and the topical studies. These studies are written for groups but also for the person who has no group but yet would still like to understand the Gospel of John and Luke by reading the commentary and think about the questions.

Why House Churches or Small Groups?

 

What’s so important about Small Groups to the life of the Church?

The answer is that Small Groups are very biblical: 

 

First of all, Jesus modeled Small Groups. Five chapters in the Book of John (Chapters 13-17) were taught in an upper room where they were eating together around a table. Jesus also modeled groups when He ate with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, visiting with Levi or Matthew at his house, at the home of Zacchaeus, Simon the Leper, as well as Peter’s house. In fact, when Christ sent out the 12 disciples on a practice run, His strategy was for them to look for a home in a town and teach, pray and minister in the home, and not to move around:

Matthew 10:11-14

11Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. 12As you enter the home, give it your greeting. 13If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. 14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.

 

The early church met in large gatherings, the temple courts, but they also met often in house churches or Small Groups:

 

Acts 5:42

Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

 

Acts 8:3

But Saul [later to become the apostle Paul] began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison 

 

Why was Saul, or Paul, going from house to house in search of Christians to drag off to jail? Because that’s where they were meeting—in Small Groups, studying, discussing, worshiping, and praying for one another.

 

Acts 20:20

You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.

 

The early church met in homes and enjoyed close relationships that kept them in the hard times of persecution from the Jewish religious leadership.

 

After Paul the apostle became a Christian, he went from one house church or small group to another as a traveling Bible teacher, coaching and strengthening the small group leaders, teaching and ministering to the people in the small groups or house churches. His task was one of modeling and equipping the church for growth by training the leaders. Let’s look together at where these early meetings were held:

 

Acts 16:15

When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

 

Acts 28:30-31

30For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance! 

 

Paul wrote to the church at Rome sending greetings to those in the house church of Priscilla and Aquila:

 

Romans 16:3-5

3Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. 4They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 5Greet also the church that meets at their house 

 

Paul wrote further about normal Christianity in the early church. Three times he writes that the church met in homes. 

 

1 Corinthians 16:19

The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.

 

Colossians 4:15

Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.

 

Philemon 1:2

…also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home.

 

After looking at these scriptures, we can all see that leading groups in one’s home is very biblical.

 

A Prophetic Word for  the  Church of Today

"A revolution is coming to Christianity that will eclipse the Reformation in the sweeping changes that it brings to the church. When it comes, the present structure and organization of the church will cease to exist, and the way that the world defines Christianity will be radically changed. 

 

What is coming will not be a change of doctrine, but a change in basic church life. The changes that are coming will be so profound that it will be hard to relate the present form of church structure and government to what is coming. The new dynamic of church life will overshadow the Great Awakenings in their social impact, transforming cities and even whole nations. It will bring a sweeping sense of righteousness and justice to the whole earth.

 

The future leaders of the church are now being given a vision of radical New Testament Christianity being restored to the earth. It is time to heed the call and allow the Lord to lead His people to the new wineskins that will hold what is about to break out upon the earth. Whenever there is a choice to make between the new and the old, choose the new. To be a part of what is coming, we must have the faith of Abraham, who was willing to leave the security of the known to seek God in unknown places. The future leaders of the church will be willing to risk all to seek the city that God is building, not man.” [1]

 

How was the Church of the Book of Acts different from today’s Church?

 

They ate together:

 

“They ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46).

 

These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead (Jude 1:12).

 

17In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! 23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. 33So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.And when I come I will give further directions (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

 

What things stand out to you from the text?

 

1)    They ate at their meetings.

2)    They drank wine at church meetings (verse 21). By referencing that I am not saying that our meetings should have wine. 

3)    Some had died (fallen asleep v. 30) because they had not judged themselves.

4)    This looks very different from the communion that is normally celebrated at regular church meetings.

5)    Paul speaks of communion as part of a meal modeled by Jesus at the Last Supper.

 

Eating together was symbolic of being a family. It spoke of oneness. When Jacob wanted to make peace with Laban, his father-in-law, when he was returning to the land of Caanan with Laban’s daughters, so that there was no animosity between them, they ate a meal together (Genesis 31:46 and 54).

 

When the patriarch Isaac was having difficulties with Abimelech, King of the Philistines, they patched up their differences by making a treaty with one another. To seal the deal they ate a meal together (Genesis 26:30). Eating together was symbolic of being together in the community. To sit around the table and eat together was a place where our masks can fall and we can be real with one another.

Christians who meet together in homes usually do so because of a desire to return to basic Church meetings as found in the New Testament. The New Testament shows that the early Christian church exhibited a simplicity of fellowship and interactive practice that is typically not the case in conventional denominations. They believe that Christians walked closely with each other, in close fellowship, sharing their lives in Christ together. This is expressed by 50 examples of the phrase "one another" found in the New Testament. Some Bible passages that indicate the atmosphere of the early church life include:

Lifestyle

"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." (Acts 2:42 NASB)

 

Participatory meetings

"What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification." (1 Cor. 14:26 NASB; see also Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:24-25)

 

Meeting in homes

"Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house." (1 Cor. 16:19 NASB; see also Acts 20:20, Romans 16:5, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 1:2).

 

Networking through 'Extra-local, Itinerant Ministries'

"After some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are." (Acts 15:36 [NASB])

 

Occasional Large Group Meetings

"I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house" (Acts 20:20 [NASB])

 

[1] Rick Joyner, “Revolution,” The Morning Star Prophetic Bulletin, May 2000.