My name is Joe Hellerman. My full-time gig is Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. Although my primary teaching assignments relate to NT Greek Exegesis, I am a social historian by training (PhD, History of Christianity, UCLA). I live in the house I grew up in—in Hermosa Beach, CA—with my wife Joann. We have two grown daughters. When I’m not teaching or preaching, I can be found fishing in the ocean, playing jazz-rock piano, or wine-tasting in Temecula with my lovely wife.

My books include:

  • The Ancient Church as Family (Fortress, 2001) 
  • Reconstructing Honor in Roman Philippi (Cambridge University Press, 2005)
  • Jesus and the People of God: Reconfiguring Ethnic Identity (Sheffield Phoenix, 2007)
  • When the Church Was a Family (B & H Publishing, 2009).

My heart is in the local church, and I have been a pastor for most of the last 30 years—presently co-pastor of Oceanside Christian Fellowship, El Segundo, CA. The last book on the above list is a user-friendly version of my scholarship on the social organization of the early Christian church. It champions a markedly relational/organic (as opposed to institutional/organizational) approach to church life.:


What Others Are Saying About When the Church Was a Family

“Community is a word that can mean so many different things to different people. Family is a beautiful metaphor for the church, yet it is often not experienced by the church. In When the Church was a Family Joe raises a hopeful look at how the church today can glean what biblical community was from the early church and translate that to what community would look like today.” — Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus but not the Church.

When the Church was a Family addresses the prevailing heresy of hyper-individualism that eats at the heart of Christian churches in the Western world. Dr. Joe Hellerman provides an in-depth analysis of the significance of the church as extended family in the New Testament and the ancient world. The images of the church as the Family of God and the Body of Christ both emphasize the interconnectedness of Christians within the local church. His call to the 21st century church is both urgent and prophetic.” — Eddie Gibbs, Senior Professor of Church Growth, Fuller Theological Seminary; author, (with Ryan Bolger) of Emerging Churches: Creating Community in Postmodern Cultures.

“I do not know of a single resource on the New Testament and the contemporary importance of community and family that is so well resourced and easy to read as Hellerman’s When the Church was a Family.  But this book is not simply a detailed factual and biblical analysis of Western individualism and biblical community.  Its pages brim with deeply moving, hope-filled points and insightful practical application.  This book should be required reading in seminary classes on the nature of the church and by pastoral staffs who wish to develop community among their people.”  JP Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, and author of Kingdom Triangle.

“While Christians often lament the pervasive individualism that is all around us, they generally fail to see how deeply this has affected the church itself. In this popular reworking of his scholarly The Ancient Church as Family, Joe Hellerman provides a comprehensive account of Jesus’ and the early church’s practice of community, together with its challenging implications for both traditional and innovative forms of church life today.” Robert Banks, Adjunct Professor of Ancient History, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, and author of Paul’s Idea of Community.


4 Comments on “About”

  1. Paul Isensee Says:

    Hi Joe,

    I saw your book, “When the Church Was a Family”, listed in CT as one of the top five books on community and wanted to send a big “bravo!” Also took a trip to your blog–you are a busy “dude”! Wonderful to see the same energy and creativity that I observed 30 years ago. I thank the Lord for the privilege of knowing you then, and now.



  2. Chris Kopp Says:

    Thanks so much for publishing When the Church Was a Family. I am the pastor of Church WithOutWalls in Lafayette LA, and am planning on taking my elders and ministry team leaders through it this summer. Do you have any discussion guides or any resources that I could use in conjunction with having them read a chapter a week for discussion.
    This book has given some Biblical clarity for me on personal convictions that I’ve had for years now, but was unable to fully articulate. Thanks for your work.
    Chris Kopp

  3. Loved When the Church Was a Family, and The Ancient Church as Family. I have been seeking to build a vision of intentional covenantal Christian community for the past 30 years, with some success. Your books were a great encouragement, and focus. If you are ever in the Denver area, please let me know. I would like to share what we have learned, as well as ask your reflections. I would value them GREATLY. With respect, and great thanks, Rev. Jordan Bajis

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