Discipleship at Its Most Critical Point: The Home
“Paul explicitly describes Jesus’ plan for the church, for how His disciples will make disciples: Start in the home.”
Beyond Jesus, the apostle Paul is arguably the most important figure in history for the establishment of the Church. Another way of saying this would be that Paul may be the most effective disciple who made disciples. His example is critical for us to understand how to be disciples of Jesus. Paul encountered Jesus in dramatic fashion, and from Jesus received his job description (Acts 9:15-16). Later in his life, Paul described the job description Jesus gave him:
“Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” Ephesians 3:8-9 NIV
Paul was to preach the gospel and to explain the “administration” of the gospel. The word “administration” in the original language is oikonomia, which was the term that described management of a household in the ancient world, the oikos. Paul says that Jesus showed him how to properly care for the gathering of the disciples of Jesus, and how to make more disciples. And that strategy was like the management of a household.
Paul unpacks this idea further in his later letters when he describes the church as the “household” (oikos) of God (1 Timothy 3:15). Paul insists that the leaders of the church must be people who know how to manage their own households well (1 Timothy 3:4-5). And so whenever Paul talks about how the church, the gathering of disciples who make disciples, should conduct themselves, where he starts is with a description of the home.
For example, in his letter to the church at Ephesus, in the first three chapters of his letter he explains the gospel; i.e. what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Then, in chapter four he begins to describe the church, the gathering of disciples. And as he gets down to the practical matters of how the church is meant to live, he describes the home in detail: Husbands love your wives. Wives respond respectfully to your husbands. Children honor your parents. And then Paul says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4). Here Paul explicitly describes Jesus’ plan for the church, for how His disciples will make disciples: Start in the home.