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Individuals versus households

Although Jesus sometimes dealt with individuals, in the book of Acts, there are only two examples of individuals becoming disciples. In Acts 8, Philip leads the Ethiopian eunuch to the Lord, and in Acts 9, Saul is converted on the road to Damascus through Jesus' supernatural intervention. Other than that, all the examples given show either households or groups of people becoming believers/disciples. For example, Cornelius and his household became believers; in the city of Philippi, both Lydia and her household and the Philippine jailer and his household found the Lord.

many other cultures, the group is more important than the individual. It is
only here in the West that we have such an emphasis on the individual. This
would certainly have been so in New Testament times. The word oikos usually
translated household, implied much more than the nuclear family. It would have
included the household servants and their families as well as the extended

is the modern day equivalent of
 oikos? I think it is the individual plus
their sphere of influence — their friends and families, the people they work
with, the ones they interact with on a daily basis.

 Rod and line

In our Christianized church culture, we are very satisfied when a single person commits to Jesus. Our expectation usually ends there. We do not anticipate groups of people finding Christ.  We are content to fish with a rod and line rather than expecting an abundant catch.

There are a number of strategic reasons why this happens which we will examine in future posts.

4 replies on “Individuals versus households”

Well said. I think we have come expect single line fishing for individuals via mass media and rapid communication rather than the power of God’s truth through spheres of influence in changed lives. To me its an issue of household leadership (men and women). As for me and my house we will serve the Lord!

Your mention of mass media has sparked a train of thought. Would Jesus have used the mass media available to us today? Although I’m sure that many people do become Christians through TV, radio etc. my impression is that the majority of Christian programming here in the West is more likely to serve as an inoculation against the real thing. In other nations, it is a different story. But I agree with you about the media being used as single line fishing.
I think that social media may be more relevant way of reaching out. I would love to know if others have ideas on this topic.
I may do a whole post on this subject!

We were talking about this today. To my knowledge there are no occasions mentioned in Scripture where Jesus discipled someone privately though there are some where He evangelized individually(Nicodemus and the Samaratin woman).
Don’t know that we can draw too much from that but it could bear implicatons for our practices after conversion.

Interesting thought! And it certainly does make us think again about the context of discipleship. Makes Neil Cole’s LTGs more important. I wonder where the conversation between Jesus and Martha about the resurrection fits in.

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