The Church: The Household of Faith

The New Testament language of the church as the household of faith intersects with the church as a family. But this imagery also comes with its own unique implications. After all, like with any house, there are some distinct house rules. We can glean at least three “rules” from the usages of this metaphor.

Firstly, the house is run by God. God is at the top of the household order. In the Roman Empire, the head of the household—the paterfamilias—was seen as the protector and guardian of the house. They got the last say on issues of family, finances, and house management. Similarly, God is in this role. In the church household there are appointed elders and deacons, but ultimately God is the boss! God is running the show. Paul further qualifies the household of God and calls it “the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The house belongs to God, the source of its truth.

Secondly, membership in the household is marked by faithfulness. Membership in the house is not through family ties, but through faithfulness. In Hebrews 3:6, it reads: “Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Faith and trust give us the chance to join God’s household. Indeed, 1 Peter 4:17 says that the time of judgement will begin with the household of God. Peter says in that same chapter that suffering is like a test of faithfulness for us. Even we preserve and remain a part of God’s house, we will be rewarded.

Thirdly, the household members are good to each other. To Timothy, Paul mentions that he writes so that “you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God” (1 Tim. 3:15). And since we are “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19), a part of this behavioral expectations is being nice to each other! Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” The household is prioritized, even though our goodness should extend to all people. Like the family which affectionately loves each other (Rom. 12:10), members of God’s household constantly seek the interests of others.

Discussion

  • Why is it difficult to submit to God, to make God the boss?
  • In practical terms, what does it look like to trust God?
  • How are we to experience suffering in a God-honoring way?
  • Why are our relationships with fellow believers prioritized for us?
  • How do our lives change if we truly embrace being the household of faith?

Prayer Prompt

Ask that you elevate God the Father as head of your life and church. Pray for strength and faithfulness as you persevere through life’s challenges. Confess times when you have not treated your brothers and sisters in the household of faith properly.

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