The Two by Twos is not a newly coined nickname for this Church. This descriptive term is often shortened to 2x2s and has become a very commonly used nickname for this church which claims it does not assume an official name. It was coined by outsiders using one of the Church’s notable practices; that of its preachers traveling in unmarried, itinerant pairs, two and two as Jesus sent His disciples. The term two and two made it into two gospels:
Mark 6:7 – And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two;
Luke 10:1 – After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two
While there are many other nicknames applied to the Church, the two by twos is the most commonly used by outsiders in North America. Wikipedia contains a page about this church titled Two by Twos. Wiki requires that their articles be titled with the name most often used in third-party references, and the name Two by Twos meets their requirement.
Some church members consider the term condescending, derisive or derogatory. Others favor it due to its ease and convenience–with no intention to be offensive. Two by Two (abbreviated 2×2) works well for identification purposes, uses few words, and can be shortened to three keystrokes: 2×2, which will arrest the attention of most anyone who has ever been associated with that particular Church.
The Encyclopedia of American Religions states: The group of Christians called ‘Two-by-Twos’ in this text are also referred to as ‘Cooneyites,’ ‘Go Preachers,’ and ‘Tramp Preachers,’ but they claim no name but Christian. All of these names have been placed upon this somewhat anonymous group by outsiders. The author goes on to state: The distinctive feature of the movement has been sending forth, two by two, unmarried teams of preachers who, “as they go, preach” (Matt. 10:7) (Dr. J. Gordon Melton (2003), The Two-by-Twos, Encyclopedia of American Religions, Gale Research, Inc., p. 611).
To date, the earliest the term Two by Two found in printed material is in a book printed in 1925 titled Through Western Canada in a Caravan. Subsequent books used the term in 1938, 1941, 1952, 1952 and 1955 and The Apostles’ Doctrine & Fellowship in 2003. An encyclopedia about various Christian Fellowships used the term in: Profiles in Belief – The Religious Bodies of the US and Canada in 1979 by Arthur C. Piepkorn.
The first book written exclusively about the Two by Twos was printed in 1968, a booklet titled They Go About Two by Two. It was followed by The Secret Sect in 1982. The Church Without a Name, 1990 was the first book in which the author referred to the church as Two by Twos throughout the entire book.
Since then, a number of other books using the term “Two by Two” have been published. Has the Truth Set You Free, published in 1991; three books published by Research & Information Services from 1993 to 1996; The Church with No Name, published in 1996; and In Vain They Do Worship, published in 2000. The latest book using the term Two by Two in its title was published in Ireland in 2012: Two by Two” The Shape of a Shapeless Movement. In 2015, Cult to Christ: The Church With No Name and the Legacy of the Living Witness Doctrine by Elizabeth Coleman was published.
Newspaper articles used the term in articles published in 1983, 1992, 1994, 2000 and 2001. The term was applied as recently as November 4, 2010 in a printed announcement placed by Tommie Gamble, Overseer of Ireland, in the Church Notice section of the Tyrone County Constitution (a Northern Ireland weekly newspaper) regarding Gospel Meetings held by The Present Day 2 by 2 Apostles T. Gamble and H. McKnight.