Friday, November 25, 2011

On the Significance of the Hall of Tyrannus

Acts 19:8-10, "And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks."

This passage records Paul on his third missionary journey in the city of Ephesus. We read that Paul reasoned daily with Ephesian disciples in the hall of Tyrannus. I suppose there could be several significant things about this, but one stands out to me: the Christians met in the hall of Tyrannus. This shows them not meeting in homes.

Of course, it is quite possible, in keeping with the general practice of the day, that some or all Christians in Ephesus normally met in homes. However, in these verses we clearly see that the believers met in a hall that was not a house. This was not a one time occasion either. Rather, they gathered "daily" for "two years." This suggests that they met in the hall of Tyrannus hundreds of times. That's significant. Additionally, these meetings had an impact on the wider region; Luke informs us that, "all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks."

I've read what I might call "house church-only" advocates try to explain away the gatherings in the hall of Tyrannus. However, none of their reasons seem compelling to me. Most attempted to make the case that these were teaching/lecture style meetings that were different from participatory-type gatherings. In my opinion, much has to be read into the biblical passage in order to reach this conclusion.

The reality is that the apostle Paul himself met with other Christ-followers on a daily basis in hall that was not a house.

Why is this significant? It shows us that churches can gather in places other than homes. They have at least some measure of freedom to do so. They are not sinning when they gather in places other than houses.

As one who generally meets in homes, there is a tendency to want to be right. I admit, however, that I have been somewhat too dogmatic about insisting that followers of Jesus gather only in homes. I've tried to explain away the hall of Tyrannus. I can do it no longer.

The difficulty, I suppose, is in figuring out what places beyond homes are acceptable to God. Where does God desire that his followers meet? In one sense, the answer is anywhere and everywhere. However, what does this mean specifically? I think we all agree that a few believers meeting at Starbucks is acceptable. We would all probably (at least readers of this blog) say that God is not pleased by the construction of multi-million dollar church buildings. But what about in between? That's the difficult part. We must look for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide in these important decisions.

12 comments:

Arthur Sido said...

It is less where you meet than it is how you meet. Of course some settings are more conducive to meetings like those we see in the Bible than others.

Eric said...

Arthur,

I think we all agree that mutual edification is why we gather. They key is making that happen. Houses are great for this, but they're not the only place it can occur. We must be sure that wherever we meet helps bring this about. The difficult part is when some meeting places start to get too big, too structured, etc.

Marshall said...

concurring with Arthur, it is about how.
These arguments Paul had with people at the school of Tyrannus remind today of debates that often occur on a college campus. Paul took a change in venue after being hassled at the local Jewish synagogue. His argumentation continued for 2 years so that both Jews and Greeks in the province of Asia would hear the word of the Lord. (Have you heard this guy?)
Acts 19:9 shows contrast to known function & actions of ekklesia (church). Paul at Tyrannus became an evangelistic forum, which may be how someone could confuse it with a pulpit church.

Eric said...

Marshall,

Thanks for the comment. Do you think the meetings at the hall of Tyrannus were different from church meetings that may have occurred in homes? Or were they similar?

David Rogers said...

Eric,

Since none of were there, it is impossible to know exactly what happened. But on a surface reading, I get the idea that what is described in Acts 19:8-10 is a different style of meeting than what is described in 1 Cor. 14:26. It seems that in Acts 19:8-10, the focus is more on Paul and his teaching, and in 1 Cor. 14:26 on the "one another" interchange. That doesn't mean there was not also interchange in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. The word διαλεγόμενος used to describe the communication taking place leaves open that possibility.

I think it is likely there were different types of meetings in different settings with different purposes, which, as a whole, contributed to the overall life of the church, and the mutual edification of its members.

Eric said...

David,

I agree completely. There certainly was an evangelistic nature to what Paul was doing. The daily reasoning for two years is the reason mentioned for all Asia hearing the word.

jonlightyear2000 said...

Someone should have will probably already have said this but it appears that Paul was holding evangelistic meetings in the lecture hall speaking to the general public rather than general church meetings. (FYI - My church meets at a Hall in a building we own). Jonathan

Eric said...

Hi Jon,

Thanks for commenting.

Why do you say, "...it appears that Paul was holding evangelistic meetings in the lecture hall speaking to the general public rather than general church meetings."?

Verse 9 says that Paul took the disciples with him. They may have needed teaching, but not evangelism. Are you pointing more to the outcome we see in verse 10?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Brent said...

As long as the structure and organization fit what God appointed for us, and it is used properly to edify the brethren the place of assembly is not important really. I have met in $7 million dollar buildings, and in a field. Either one works, and it is totally up to the local group. God gave us this freedom.

Tim A said...

Brent, You play fast and loose, completely relativistic on “what God has appointed for us”. No, believers gathering is not “totally up to the local group”. Do you have a scripture for this? God has given us specific instructions. The “habit of meeting” you are “not to forsake” in Hebrews 10:24,25 is designed for “provoking one another on to love and good works” and “encouraging one another”. That is the exact opposite of one way communication like American hired preachers do when they dominate the expression of truth. Perhaps you are unaware that NT giving always goes beyond the givers. $7 mil. for buildings is pooling for the givers comfort zone and functions God never asked for. Does “preach the word…” really does mean lecture the word? I can’t figure how that matches up when there are at least 5 different words translated preach.

tim timothy said...

If I may, there is a subtle difference between teaching and preaching the former mainly feeds and strengthens whereas the latter is mainly proclamation of a good news message towards the unchurched.

Xavier Johnson said...

Paul entered the synagogue, and Paul entered Tyrannus's school. We know the synagogue was not a place for Jesus' ekklesia (translated as "church"). But, did the school qualify as a place for Jesus' ekklesia? If Paul's actions in the school significantly differed from his actions in the synagogue, then we can hold the position that there is a possibility that the school functioned as a place for Jesus' ekklesia.

However, the text does not convey the message that Paul's actions in the school differed significantly from his actions in the synagogue. The text implies his actions were similar, if not the same. Let's review:

. . . he [Paul] entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, REASONING and persuading them about the kingdom of God

and

. . . . he [Paul] withdrew from them [those in the synagogue] and took the disciples with him, REASONING daily in the hall of Tyrannus

In both locations, Paul was reasoning. But, did Paul speak boldly and persuasively about the kingdom of God while in the school as he did in the synagogue? The text leaves that possibility open. So, since the text conveys the message that Paul's actions were similar, if not the same, in both a non-ekklesia and in a school, the text does not provide us with a convincing and compelling argument that the school became an ekklesia of Jesus.

So, the significance of Tyrannus' school is that it demonstrates a method employed to inform non-Christians of God's kingdom. To call it an ekklesia of Jesus is to make a claim that goes beyond the message conveyed by the text.