Robert Banks is a friend who I met online many years ago, well before I wrote Reimagining Church.
A first-rate New Testament scholar, Banks wrote one of the most powerful books making the case that the first-century churches — and first-century church planting — was drastically different than it is today.
His seminal book Paul’s Idea of Community confirmed a great deal of what the Holy Spirit was teaching me and the brothers and sisters in whom I gathering with in an organic way during those days.
Particularly, in how he described the family dynamic of the church as well as the difference between the work and the church.
(The former is apostolic and marked by travel while the latter is local and stationary. This was an observation that Watchman Nee also made in his electrifying book, The Normal Christian Church Life.)
Because Bank’s seminal book had such an impact on me, I quote it a good bit in my radical church restoration series – Pagan Christianity, Reimagining Church, and Finding Organic Church.)
The good news is that Baker has recently published a revised edition of the book.
If you want a scholar’s look at the first-century church, this is the book you want.
The updated version of Paul’s Idea is even stronger than the first edition, published in the late 1970s. It also includes up-to-date scholarship on the topics treated.
In the book, Banks covers subject like:
Church as a family.
The meaning of the word ekklesia – which STILL needs to be recovered.
The contribution of women in the early churches.
Leadership as a function, not a position.
The apostolic ministry and authority.
As a bonus, his fictional account of first-century church life – “Going to Church in the First Century” – is included in the book.
Hands down, this is one of the best books on the primitive church written by a top-drawer scholar.
From the publisher.
This highly readable investigation of the early church explores the revolutionary nature, dynamics, and effects of the earliest Christian communities. It introduces readers to the cultural setting of the house churches of biblical times, examines the apostle Paul’s vision of life in the Christian church, and explores how the New Testament model of community applies to Christian practice today. Updated and revised throughout, this 40th-anniversary edition incorporates recent research, updates the bibliography, and adds a new fictional narrative that depicts the life and times of the early church.