Archived Post: One City, One Church and Romans 16 (Version 1)

This Post Has Been Revised

This is an archive of the version 1 of this blog post, which was originally published 12/29/2019. You can find the revised version of this post here.

This version of this post was innaccurate about Cenchrea being within the city of Corinth. Cenchrea being “within” the city of Corinth is inaccurate. Cenchrea was certainly a port of Corinth, and it had its own settlement, a town, but it was not “within” the city of Corinth.

The “Biblical Pattern” of OCOC

Romans 16 delivers some starkly obvious blows to the “one city, one church” doctrine (OCOC), which is taught by the Lord’s Recovery. Although the Bible offers no prescriptive commandment regarding how to name a church, OCOC attempts to reconcile that by declaring certain parts of the Bible as “biblical patterns.” Although what the Recovery considers biblical patterns are only descriptive in nature, the Recovery interprets them as if they’re commandments, as if they’re prescriptive, even though that’s not true.

Conflating description with prescription is one of the main problems with OCOC. It already doesn’t hold up because God doesn’t command through His Word that Christians name churches anything, nor does He declare that Christians who don’t adhere to a certain naming standard are doing something wrong or missing some sort of blessing.

While the Bible’s identifying of churches is descriptive rather than prescriptive, biblical descriptions still matter in their own right but not in the same way.

For the sake of argument, let’s ignore prescriptions versus descriptions and say that all church naming has to follow the biblical pattern of church naming. For the sake of argument, let’s hypothetically say that we can come to the conclusion that church naming is addressed in biblically descriptive patterns Christians must adhere to. Does OCOC hold up? Again, ignoring prescription versus description here is solely for the sake of argument; it does matter. But if it didn’t, Romans 16 all by itself breaks OCOC logic entirely.

16:1 — Cenchrea Was a Port in Corinth

Take a look at the first verse in Romans 16.

16 Now I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea.


Cenchrea was a port/harbor within Corinth. Corinth was a city, called “the church of God that is in Corinth” in 1 Corinthians 1:2. According to the Biblehub Atlas’ Encyclopedia:

CEN’CHREA, was the eastern harbor of Corinth and 5 ms. e. from the city, the remains of which are called Kenkris.


According to Strong’s Definitions:

Κεγχρεαί Kenchreaí, keng-khreh-a’-hee; probably from kegchros (millet); Cenchreæ, a port of Corinth:—Cencrea.


And according to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it was “a port of Corinth.”

Needless to say, this fact all on its own breaks the pattern that OCOC attempts to follow. Based on the OCOC doctrine, the church in Cenchrea was supposedly using an incorrect, divisive name. OCOC doctrine says it should’ve been under the umbrella name of “the church of God that is in Corinth,” as in 1 Corinthians 1:2, not having its own name.

In Romans 16:1, the OCOC pattern doesn’t hold up. With the pattern broken just one time, OCOC is already logically flawed. If there is a biblically descriptive pattern that is a requirement for oneness in Christianity, the OCOC doctrine doesn’t follow that pattern.

16:5 — “The Church in Their House

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,

4who risked their own necks for my life. Not only I, but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.

Also greet the church in their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia.

ROMANS 16:3 – 5 (NET)

OCOC doctrine offers no other naming pattern for identifying and naming a church other than one church and one city (i.e., the church in [city name] city). Based on this doctrine, it should be divisive for Paul to have said, “the church in their house” in Romans 16:5.

But it’s not. Paul was describing a specific church, a church which met in Prisca and Aquila’s house. The Bible describing and identifying a church as “the church in their house” is not a commandment saying that all Christians should name their churches “the church in [someone’s] house.” Not only that, but if there’s a biblical naming standard, OCOC cannot possibly be it because “the church in their house” breaks OCOC’s main rule.

Conclusion: OCOC is Not Possibly Biblical

The “one city, one church” doctrine is based on church identifications and descriptions in the Bible being uniform in pattern. Although this is already a flawed approach to hermeneutics (how to interpret the Bible; Bible interpretation methodology), even the pattern OCOC doctrine attempts to adhere to doesn’t exist in the Bible. OCOC is logical fallacy.