Hi Mr. Hamilton, greetings.
Please, I need your views on this idea that is being taught by a very influential brother in Ghana. According to the brother, all the churches in one country were under just one eldership. His argument is that the churches in the apostolic age were persecuted churches, which met in homes. So when Jesus wrote to, for example, the church in Ephesus, he wrote to just one eldership which oversaw all the house churches in the city and it was all these house churches combined that our Lord called “the church of Ephesus” (Revelation 2:1) and not just one local church like is always taught.
I have never heard this argument before. I would be very glad if you could give me your view on this issue.
The most notable problem with the argument is that it is lacking evidence. He claims that there were multiple house churches in each town, but he provides no evidence that such existed; yet, his entire argument revolves around this unproven assertion.
Yes, there was persecution, but that does not lead to the conclusion that all the brethren met in small groups in individual homes. Instead, we find that in his instructions to Corinth, Paul said: "the whole church comes together in one place" (I Corinthians 14:23, NKJV). We have no reason to suppose that if this was to be done in Corinth, then it was also done in other places that the church met.
But this brother made an illogical jump. He is not claiming an eldership in each city but across an entire country! This also is provably false. Paul and Barnabas traveled through Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch appointing elders in every church (Acts 14:21-23). Even though the first three towns listed are all in the region of Lycaonia and all four are in the province of Galatia and a part of the Roman Empire, there were elders appointed in every church and there were churches in each town mentioned. The country at this time was the Roman Empire and there wasn't a single eldership over the entire country. There wasn't a single eldership over entire provinces or regions. The elderships existed per church.
What you have is a power-hungry man trying to control God's people.
Thank you very much, sir.
God bless you.