The Upper Room - 'the little church of God'
In the year 394 Epiphanius of Salamis wrote that when the Emperor Hadrian visited Jerusalem in the year 130 he found the city in ruins
'except for a few houses, and the little church of
God on the spot where the disciples went to the
upper room on their return from
the Mount of Olives.'
Some historians believe that the Tomb of David, in Jerusalem, is the site of the original house church known as the 'Cenacle' or 'the little church of God'.
'...they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts.'
Acts 2 : 46
The earliest church in Jerusalem was made up of small groups of Jesus' followers meeting together in homes. One group met in John Mark's mother's house. She probably lived in the Upper City in a home with servants and a room large enough to accommodate a community of disciples. This was the church Jesus appointed Peter the fisherman to lead. It may also have been the site of the Upper Room where Jesus and his closest disciples shared their Last Supper together.
The house churches would meet together to remember Jesus and the things he taught, the people he met and all that happened to him. As well as worship and prayer they looked after the poor and vulnerable.
The Jesus Movement spread far beyond Jerusalem until, in the year 112, the Roman Governor Pliny wrote a letter to the Emperor Trajan stating that
'The contagion of this superstition is not confined to the cities
only, but has spread through the villages and rural districts'
It spread from heart to heart and from house to house. There were no purpose built churches - they met together in Jesus' name in each other's homes.