Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Nature of the Ekklesia

I have spent my time this week writing that the first-century church (ekklesia) should be viewed as a voluntary association. In particular, it is a messianic association. I believe the church/voluntary association linkage is critical to understanding correctly the instructions and descriptions contained in the Epistles to the churches. Once the connection is made, things get much clearer. I also believe this will become the scholarly consensus among NT scholars within the next decade.


Brad J. Sloan said...

Dr. Streett,
That sounds very interesting, but how does the idea of a voluntary association or messianic association differ from current understandings of church today? Could you elaborate on what voluntary associations were without disclosing to much of your new book? Thanks for pointing these things out for us and I can't wait to read the book.

Already/Not Yet said...

Voluntary associations or societies were plentiful in the Roman Empire. There were many different kinds, including guilds, funeral societies, ethnic associations, philosophical, religious, etc. They all had one thing in common: They were eating clubs that met regularly for meals and after dinner activities. Each meeting lasted 3-4 hours and were dedicated to Caesar and the gods. The church followed this pattern, but its activities were Christ-related and therefore were anti-imperial in nature and subversive as far as Rome was concerned.