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Did Early Christians Preach Door-to-Door?



The Claim

The Problem: An Identity Crisis

How the Witnesses have justified door-to-door evangelism

Watchtower admissions in the 1970s

What about Acts 5:42?

Acts 2:46 -- Why is the Watchtower not consistent?

Does Acts 20 indicate Paul went door-to-door?

The Evidence of Paul's Epistles



Acts 2:46--Why is the Wathctower not consistent?

A.T. Robertson, as mentioned previously, concedes that kat’ oikon may be rendered “from house to house”. But in rendering the phrase “at home”, Robertson refers us to Acts 2:46, where precisely the same Greek expression occurs. Of 2:46, And they [all that believed, v.44], continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Robertson writes:

Does it refer also to the possible agapai or to the Lord’s supper afterwards as they had common meals “from house to house” (kat’ oikon)? We know there were local churches in the homes where they had “worship rooms,” the church in the house. [Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol.3, p.39)

Robertson, inadvertently, has given us insight as to why the Watchtower, despite its claim of consistent translation, has been forced to render 2:46 in private homes. In the Watchtower reference Bible (1984, p.1315] the rendering “from house to house” is consigned to the footnote, but exactly the reverse occurs in 5:42, where the Watchtower quotes Lutheran scholar Richard Lenski as follows:

Never for a moment did the apostles cease their blessed work. ‘Every day’ they continued, and this openly ‘in the Temple’ where the Sanhedrin and the Temple police could see and hear them, and, of course, also [kat’ oikon], which is distributive, ‘from house to house,’ and not merely adverbial, ‘at home.’ [The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles, 1961]

What the Watchtower thought to prove by this quote is not clear -- unless their writer hoped the Witness readers would assume that Lenski’s allusion to ‘distributive’ had some reference to what Jehovah’s Witnesses do door-to-door! That Lenski meant no such thing is apparent from his note on Acts 2:46:

Luke sketches the daily life of the first congregation. The three [kata] phrases are distributive: “day by day,” “house by house” ... The believers both visited the Temple and broke bread house by house at home ... “Breaking bread” also refers to all the meals and not merely to such as might precede the Sacrament as an agape. “House by house” is like “day by day.” It does not mean merely “at home” but in each home. [pp.120-21, emphasis added.]

Why did the Watchtower NOT quote Lenski on 2:46? Would it not be at least fair to both Lenski himself and to the reader, who might assume Lenski’s position was the same as the Watchtower’s, to mention that he renders the phrase in question, breaking bread house by house? In other words, Lenski sees 2:46 and 5:42 as basically saying the same thing about the worship habits of the early disciples. Is the Watchtower’s selective quotation of Lenski in the spirit of impartial, objective research?
We have already noticed that the scholars of Christendom -- Lutheran Lenski, Baptist Robertson, Anglican Rackham, Brethren Bruce, Methodist Marshall etc -- have consistently interpreted 2:46 and 5:42. Let us see whether their interpretation will hold up as we examine the other principal Watchtower prooftext for door-to-door evangelism, Paul’s memorable summation of his own 3-year ministry in Ephesus in Acts chapter 20.

Were the Apostles Really 'Jehovah's Witnesses'?

As outlandish as that question may seem, Jehovah's Witnesses take pride in the claim that they -- and they only – are imitators of the method of evangelism practised by the early church. But did 1st century believers -- even the apostles -- go door-to-door, or does the book of Acts present a different picture of preaching work of the early church?