How important are words? Without the proper use of words we would never be able to communicate with each other. Worse yet we would never get to know our Lord Jesus who is The Word. Words have no inherent meanings but the meanings that we attach to them. Not understanding this fact is normally the genesis for arguments, misunderstandings or simply talking pass each other. To avoid this situation it would be wise for those involved in a discussion to at least define the major terms so that their discourses could be both understood and be fruitful at the same time.

The most obvious example are colloquialisms which seem to require redefinitions with each passing generation: rad; bomb; gay; etc.

Then there is a discipline (hermeneutics) entirely dedicated to explaining dated biblical terms and ideas as modern concepts without damaging the original thought.

The most obvious is the understanding of who Jesus is by understanding who John declares to be The Word.

There is a term that is becoming more and more in vogue and yet the understanding of the word seems to be all over the board depending on what a person may want it to mean even if it does not line up with its historical usage and understanding. The word is OIKOS. The most common definition seems to be “one’s sphere of influence”. This is true but we are robbed with such a limited understanding because there is a much richer concept being conveyed via this term.

Understanding the terminology of oikos is critical if the ultimate objective is to become a mature son of God which then would have a natural progression of becoming families, then clans, into tribes and then the nation of God. (For further understanding of this progression read Sam Soleyn’s book, “My Father, My Father”).

The following is the understanding of oikos from the days of ancient Greece which could be found at

Oikos: a household based in land (“where one dwells,” cf. economy, ecology), whether of a noble or a common landowner. The oikos includes not only the resident “family” in our sense of the term but also all those who live in the house or its dependencies and contribute to its wealth and survival: this may include slaves, “illegitimate” children (often offspring of the master and slave women), resident in-laws and “adopted” persons who serve as retainers or “squires.”Those who do not belong to a household may be difficult to place: they could be valuable craftsmen who do not themselves own land but serve those who do; or they could be vagabonds or exiles, threatening instability. The master of the oikos distributes tasks and goods among its members and forms alliances with the masters of other oikoi (plural). Thereby his house grows in wealth, strength and status measured against other oikoi. There is no strictly defined procedure for the succession of masters of oikoi, nor for the determination of which oikos in a community is the preeminent, the “kingly,” one.

Definitely a clearer and a more detailed picture than “sphere of influence”. It refers to the “family” as the basic identifiable unit. It also points to the fact that not everyone is to be included or considered part of the family. There is a hint of leadership whose primary focus is the house’s (family members) welfare. The succession of the leader (master of the oikos) does not follow the accepted form of this world.

In modern sociology, (as described in, the explanation of oikos adds a personal and daily aspect and understanding to the term.

The term oikos is contemporarily used to describe social groups. Several dozen to several hundred people may be known, but the quality time spent with others is extremely limited: only those to whom quality (face-to-face) time is devoted can be said to be a part of an oikos. Each individual has a primary group that includes relatives and friends who relate to the individual through work, recreation, hobbies, or our neighbors. The modern oikos, however, includes people that share some sort of social interaction, be it through conversation or simple relation, for at least a total of one hour per week.

The modern definition emphasizes the value of smaller groups over large groups for quality face to face time.  Even though there are natural (i.e. biological familial groupings) oikoi, the one that is being described results from a common link or interest (Jesus) which meet for a specific time and on a weekly basis.

The term “church” has a plethora of definitions and expressions and I would submit that it would be easier to change terms rather than to try and change the long entrenched plethora of definitions. The term Ekklesia just doesn’t flow well in a cultural sense. But everybody either understands or desires to be a member of a healthy family.

Even if your oikos is identified with the word “church”, though I personally prefer that the word family be used e.g. church family of the Bay area; of Montville, of Queens, of Bowie, of Cotonou, of Gjakova, or the Bay Area Household; the Montville Household; etc., the important thing is to function as a modern day spiritual family or oikos.

2 Questions:

Who is in your household?

How is your Oikos functioning?

Copyright 2007 © Corban Group Corporation


2 Responses to “THE OIKOS”

  1. Sheeba Varghese Says:

    I believe as we have moved out to the Bay Area, we have been taking the time to gather with the oikos Father has assembled us with here. It takes time for growth and relationship to develop. So we have been intentional on keeping the gathering to a small group. We have seen the value to this and the oikos continues to grow in love and care for each other. There is a certain level of intentionality that is needed on all parts within for the oikos to grow, mature, and develop as a strong household. We have begun this conversation by asking what that might look like for us. Each oikos will have its own “personality”-that is what I believe. The common element for all oiki will be their passion and love for Father God and their desire to mature.

  2. pastor skender Says:

    I like the term and also I like the way how you have put this message together. B.M praying and believing Father God, to keep the family growth strong and healthy, and in same time to open doors and provide ways, to reach out, to raise out, families that will love the Father God, and become real, sincere and honest son’s and daughters, brothers and fathers, mothers and sisters in household and family

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