The New Testament House Church and Its Worship

At the local level, the New Testament church was a house church; Christians met for worship in small groups in the homes of those members who might be wealthier or have larger houses. In a larger city, the church might meet in a number of house churches. In the New Testament, the word church may refer to the universal church, the church in a particular city, or the individual house church, which was part of the larger congregation.

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Covenant Worship in the New Testament

In the New Testament, the concept of covenant is often subsumed under other metaphors that describe the relationship between the Lord and his people. The most important of these is the “kingdom of God,” which was the primary theme of Jesus’ teaching and preaching. The new Israel is also called God’s temple (Eph. 2:21; 1 Cor. 3:16–17), Christ’s body (Rom. 12:4; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12–27; Eph. 2:16; 4:15–16), and the city of God (Matt. 5:14; Rev. 21–22). The numerous references to God as Father, to believers as brothers, and to the church as a household portray the church in terms of a family. There are, however, many references to the covenant itself. The brief covenant formulary of the Old Testament—I will be their God and they shall be my people—is applied to the church by several New Testament writers (Heb. 11:16; 1 Pet. 2:10; Rev. 21:3).

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