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Today there is much talk about the family and the need to saco our families and family relationships on biblical principles. If we pay attention to the books of Luke and Acts we see that the home plays a central role in the ministry of the first Christians.
According to Luke, Jesus not only practiced in word and deed the mission to the home, but he also taught it to his 72 disciples sent to evangelize homes by saying: "bless the house, drink and eat whatever they serve you" ( Luke 10). Jesus tells his messengers to enter the houses, bring salvation to these, and stay there to develop a fellowship around the table. In Acts we find a parallel with Luke when we find Cornelius (10: 1-11: 18), Lydia (16: 11-15), the Roman jailer (16: 25-34), and Crispus (18: 1-11). ) who are four converts, heads of families, and are converted with their whole house as an example of church planting. This missionary strategy helped in the growth of the early church, and presents conversion and discipleship occurring in homes.
In Acts, the Roman soldier Cornelius was the first God-fearing and Gentile convert. Lydia, a rich Roman merchant and gentle woman, becomes the second God fearing and the first converted into European land. The Roman jailer becomes the first pagan convert in Acts and the first pagan with whom Paul and Silas eat. Finally Crispo becomes, who was the president of the synagogue in Corinth -. This shows us examples of how the house or home replaces the synagogue as a place of worship for the first Christians, and in this way the Mediterranean hospitality opens its cultural door for salvation. The literary model of converting homes becomes a vehicle for Luke's theological vision of universal salvation. Thus, the object of conversion is not the individual but the entire home-house.
This shows a development of a strategic church-home network throughout the Roman Empire. Another interesting observation is the inclusiveness of the gospel that not only brings fellowship around a table to fearful and God-fearing, but also to heathens. Through a ritual of initiation (baptism) salvation entered everyone in the home, demonstrating in Luke-Acts that the stories of conversion seem to be about beginnings, not simply instantaneous conversions.
In Acts (10:48; 16: 15a; 18: 8), baptism marks the acceptance of salvation in the home. The conversion in Luke-Acts becomes a way to sacramentalize the atmosphere for every family and community where conversion seems not to be a matter of individualistic concern, but a communal experience. The conversion takes place first by sharing and dialoguing, and then by participating and belonging. This is illustrated in Luke's principle of salvation: salvation of the Jew and Gentile through a fellowship around the table.
In this way for Luke, the house or home becomes an intimate space for hospitality and dialogue of faith. Luke takes this missiological strategy from Jesus himself. Thus, Jesus appears as the exemplary missionary for the home. And in the privacy of the private home, the home becomes a place to heal, teach, and eat, as well as a place for conflict and division. He sends his messengers to homes (Luke 9: 1-6; 10: 1-16), thus anticipating the role that the home would have for the first Christian communities in the book of Acts. In certain passages Luke even shows a special interest in the home as that symbolic sphere of salvation and healing, place of restoration (15: 6, 8, 25) justification (18: 9-14), and holism (8:39). However, the family often appears in Luke as an obstacle to evangelization (9: 59-62; 14: 20,26; 18: 28-29) instead of an object of evangelization as in the Acts. Indeed, this tension presents the gospel with a mixed reception in the home, perhaps similar to that of the synagogue (Luke 4: 16-30, Acts 13: 44s52, 14: 1-2, 17: 4-5, 19: 9 ; 28:24).
As we can see, Luke does not focus on isolated conversion stories, but instead presents conversion as a salvation that reaches a communal context of hospitality and companionship. So when we speak of an evangelistic and discipling strategy of the New Testament, let's read the biblical text well. We must recognize that it is time to strengthen families, not only with talks, conferences, and retreats, but also by giving them back the responsibility of studying the Scriptures, fellowship, hospitality, evangelism, and discipleship.
Author: Osías Segura
Associate Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary
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