No doubt the bigger churches had Bishops who were instructed by the apostles, and house churches eventually merged with these "mega churches."
Merged? No Church was ever founded except with a bishop. No True Church, that is.
But they were a feature throughout apostolic ministry:
19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 1 Co 16:19
15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. Col 4:15
2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the church in thy house: Phm 2
The fact that the Apostle Paul mentions them, as founded by him, shows them to be in the same relationship that a parish is to her bishop today. Since the Upper Room serving as the Apostles Church, ALL Churches were in a house (when they were not in a catacombs, caves, etc.). They were illegal, remember? (Oops! I forgot, you were not there, so of course you do not remember). And the earliest "Church buildings" were houses converted to that use:
The earliest house Churches had Divine Liturgy. That is what made them a house Church. On the earliest evidence we have:
But I remember them, they were precisely like the apostolic church:
LOL. Rmember? You were neither in an Apostle's Church in person, nor by extension. You have to be there first to remember.
I've been to several House Churches, for instance the House of St. Ananias in Damascus and in the Decapolis, where the Hebrew Christian fled after the martyrdo of St. James the Brother of God, the first patriarch of Jerusalem. The best preserved in original condition is the Dura Europas House Church, which, like all the house Churches, show that it was renovated to accommodate liturgical worship. And yes, it is covered iin icons.
Btw, we still have plenty of house Churches among the Orthodox in this country. I was just at a former one for Transfiguration. Former, because now it has been fully converted into a Church, but you can still see, if you look close, where the walls that used to seperate rooms were removed, etc. My own Church used to be a Lutheran Church, and we had a lot of adaptation to bring it into line with Orthodox worship (like removing the pews).
When the Church was legalized, many large basilicas were erected over them, like at St. Peter's house and the House of the Theotokos in Nazareth, or incorporated into a crypt, like the the House of St. Anania, still on the street called straight (al-Mustaqiim). Others were enlarged like the Cenacle/Upper Room. The Orthodox did not take the house Churches. We had them, and they prospered as the Church did with legality.
While this was somewhat chaotic, and no doubt gave rise to heretical opinions, the founding apostles
hence the link to the episcopacy.
and prophets shepherded them through it.
Because they were under the Apostles, and after them, their successors, the presbyter-bishops. And so they are today.
It is likely the insistence of the early church upon apostolic teaching was born from the chaos of these early home churches.
That insistence is still needed, and that teaching still taught. Hence the episcopate of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church.
Frankly I prefer one of these house churches where doctrinal disputes occur,
than the super religious churches of today that are completely scripted.
You mean, folllow the Rule of Faith? Romans 1:
1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. 5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for the Rule of faith among all nations for His name, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ. 17:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them
. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. 25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began 26 but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations [i.e. the LXX], according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for the Rule of the faith— 27 to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
Chaos can be good.
For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. I Cor. 11:19
33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the Churches of the saints.
(1Co 14:26-33 NKJ)
Hmmm. Didn't you just quote that? Peace, good. Chaos and confusion, bad.
It does appear God like to personally tend to each one individually,
"He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.” Luke 10:16
John....17:20Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
28 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Acts 20.
1 The presbyters who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow presbyter and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as bishops, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. I Peter 5.
12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly. I Thess. 5.
2 And I went up by revelation, and sumbitted to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. Gal. 2.
10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. 11 For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. 12 Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. 13 Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. 14 For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. 15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. 16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. 17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you
. Hebrews 13.
and not have a King rule over them:
6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." So Samuel prayed to the LORD.
7 And the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.
8 "According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day-- with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods-- so they are doing to you also.
(1Sa 8:6-8 NKJ)
We know what came of the voice of the people of Israel calling for a king.