In this article the context of the first century Mediterranean social world will be discussed in order to explore the nature of the prevailing hierarchical system. This society was agrarian and patriarchal. Patriarchy presupposes a hierarchical societal structure. During the period of the early church a cultural shift from a simple to an advanced agrarian society, had already taken place. This influenced the nature of the hierarchical system. The article argues that the context of an advanced agrarian society should be taken into account when the ethic of the earliest Jesus movements is explained. This context is described from an ethnographical perspective. The article concludes with a reflection on Gerd Theissen's concept of "love-patriarchalism' in the context of the shift from a simple to an advanced agrarian society.