Was Synagogue Worship Prescribed in Scripture?

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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
It is an actually interesting idea that the community of God's called out ones is the basis for "gathering" or "synagoging" together to pray, sing, hear the Scriptures read, and have them commented. I would contest that the sunagogue was a reflection of the temple, and not aside or instead of the temple, since all the elements of temple worship are CRITICAL to our worship today - i.e. a high priest, atonement, sacrifice, sacramentaology, etc. The Temple's destruction was not a removal of the temple, but a transferrence of the realities completed in Jesus Christ that still continue for God's elect people, if I might say - the "synagoging ones", or those who "synagogue together, as the Aposlte James states.

:think: Interesting...

I don't know if any of you bothered to read this lengthy thread that occurred a while back: http://www.puritanboard.com/f67/synagogue-worship-musical-instruments-regulative-principle-13358/

It is clear to me that God's people were commanded to assemble together to worship one day in seven. The principle is not only in the Law but I would argue this is a Creation Ordinance with the Sabbath.

On my very basic defense of the RPW: Why the Regulative Principle of Worship? | SoliDeoGloria.com

In a nutshell, fallen man needs Divine Institution because his heart is deceitfully wicked.

This is why discussions of the RPW are inevitable and I commend bradofshaw for noting this fact.

What you note, Matthew, seems to me to be indispensible that the idea of assembling is clearly commanded and understood. What I think we need to recognize, additionally, is the idea of the targum. That is to say that not all traditions were necessarily simply the traditions of men simply because men were those who put the traditions in place. We even note Biblical authors using this mode of teaching and expansion upon the Scriptures. In one sense, even the Septuagint (which Christ quotes from) is an interpretation (or targum) of the original language.

It is fascinating, for instance, to see tremendous Biblical insights by some Rabbis centuries before Christ who taught that when Messiah came that temple sacrifices would cease.

This is a round-about way of saying that I think Synagogue is a Biblical concept but that the elements of it were recognized by God's people and, more specifically, the elders in the OT assembly. As I think of my Old Covenant forbears as essentially worshipping the same substance as I, I also must conclude that God providentially guided Rabbis and elders in the formation of elements and forms in synagogue worship.

That said, however, I'm not sure we're going to be able to "proof-text" all the decisions as to circumstances but you can certainly find warrant for the elements therein.
 

bradofshaw

Puritan Board Freshman
I was actually trying to figure out how I would explain to somebody why our worship service appears the way it does, and how the Bible addresses that. That has obvious implications for the RPW, but I was hoping to not get ahead of myself by jumping into that. The thread title did sort of bait in that direction though...:um:

Since it is well accepted that the NT church worship is patterned after the synagogue, the obvious question is, "What is the synagogue patterned after?" I hear a lot about the details of the OT sacrificial system demonstrating the strictness with which God regulates His worship. Yet the question of how the synagogue was regulated is not so clear to me. I think Matthew addressed this, but what role does temple worship play in what has become our new testament worship? It makes sense, to say that the worship in the synagogues was patterned after elements set forth in temple worship. As well, it sounds like God's people have more or less intuitively met together to worship on the Sabbath, without a specific command to do so. I can also see how we can pull together elements of what was done in the synagogues from the NT references to it.

My follow up post was overlooked in the shuffle:

Thanks for everyone's replies. I haven't had time to read through all of the sources, just the replies and Andrew's link.

But is the consensus that we don't have a description of the origins of synagogue worship in Scripture itself? Also, it seems like what we know about synagogue worship mainly comes from non-scriptural Jewish writings and those of the early church fathers. Am I wrong in making this assumption?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
No you are not wrong in making that assumption. I would say we have a "description" of the origins of Synagogue worship in the ordinance of the Sabbath but that's merely its institution. How it was arranged is not spoken of.

An interesting note would be that, even if Scripture is silent on what occurred, I'm convinced that God's people were worshipping Him every Sabbath even before the Law prescribed Tabernacle worship. Even with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the Law did not come until 400+ years after the Gospel was proclaimed to them. They still had the Law written on their hearts and worshipped their God according to the light given them.

Yet, the Law was added for transgression to prepare men for their Savior. Even as the Law more fully revealed God's Law on the other commandments they already innately knew, can't we conclude that He also revealed more of Himself in worship? I imagine that perhaps some pagan elements or misunderstanding might have entered into worship during those preceding centuries and the Law of God helped to clean up their understanding of Synagogue worship.
 

Amazing Grace

Puritan Board Junior
I was actually trying to figure out how I would explain to somebody why our worship service appears the way it does, and how the Bible addresses that. That has obvious implications for the RPW, but I was hoping to not get ahead of myself by jumping into that. The thread title did sort of bait in that direction though...:um:

Since it is well accepted that the NT church worship is patterned after the synagogue, the obvious question is, "What is the synagogue patterned after?" I hear a lot about the details of the OT sacrificial system demonstrating the strictness with which God regulates His worship. Yet the question of how the synagogue was regulated is not so clear to me. I think Matthew addressed this, but what role does temple worship play in what has become our new testament worship? It makes sense, to say that the worship in the synagogues was patterned after elements set forth in temple worship. As well, it sounds like God's people have more or less intuitively met together to worship on the Sabbath, without a specific command to do so. I can also see how we can pull together elements of what was done in the synagogues from the NT references to it.

My follow up post was overlooked in the shuffle:

Thanks for everyone's replies. I haven't had time to read through all of the sources, just the replies and Andrew's link.

But is the consensus that we don't have a description of the origins of synagogue worship in Scripture itself? Also, it seems like what we know about synagogue worship mainly comes from non-scriptural Jewish writings and those of the early church fathers. Am I wrong in making this assumption?



Brad, scripture makes a distinction of worship and assembling together, both in the synogogue and the NT assembly. I have to find this article from William Law who states with assurance that the way we worship, ie once a week for an hour or so, is not the same as assembling together and what went on in that reagrds in the synogogue or NT assembly.

44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved

WHat we consider worship on Sunday is not what was predominant back then. Hence we have very few additions...
 
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