Paul was a tentmaker. But what did his job actually involve? And how did the occupations and status of the first followers of Jesus affect the way in which they did ‘church’? WARNING: video contains scenes of a DIY nature.
The second in a series of four videos to accompany the book Kingdom of Fools. See more at the Kingdom of Fools Vimeo Channel.
This video looks at the working, living and worshipping conditions of the early church.
Nowadays when we think of church, we think of big buildings with pointy towers attached. But for the early church there were no dedicated church buildings. The earliest ‘church’ comes from the town of Dura-Europos and dates from 235 AD. And that was still really a house-church .
In Corinth, the first meeting place of Christians was probably in the workshop of Priscilla and Aquila, who had moved there from Rome and who were in Corinth when Paul arrived sometime in 50/51 AD.
Paul went to the synagogue to debate with the Jews, but the Christians must have had their own meeting elsewhere. We know that when Paul was ‘evicted’ from the synagogue, he moved to the house of Titius Justus. But before then the likeliest place, the first place, is the workshop of Priscilla and Aquila.
This was typical of the first churches. Christians met in homes, warehouses, shops, rented rooms. And this lasted for a long time. When Justin Martyr was interrogated in 165 AD he said that his group met in a room above the bath of Myrtinus.
A couple of churches in Rome also provide evidence. The church of San Clemente dates from 1108 AD, but below it there is a fifth century church. And then below that there is a Roman alley and two buildings, one was a warehouse, the other was a mithraeum – a meeting place for the followers of Mithras. The church may have started in the warehouse, or in the house which replaced it.
Below the church of Santa Prisca in Rome they found another mithraeum which was a room in a house. But they also found that another part of the house – an extension – was an early Christian house church. Presumably the Christians rented this room out. But they were close to their neighbours and in an ordinary building.
You can read more about how they worshipped and where the Christians lived in the book.