Monday, June 20, 2011

Did Jesus and the Apostles Go to the Synagogues to Worship?

Already I am wearied by this post, as this topic demands a definition of worship. Unfortunately that is a huge subject that will drag this into a quagmire. So, rather than say what worship is, I will just comment that it isn't a group getting together to debate theology, something more is needed.

So, with that in mind, let's see if Jesus and His Apostles went to the Jewish synagogues on Sabbath for worship, or for a more informal place of teaching and debating.

But to note: I cannot find a single command in the Bible that God's people worship on Sabbath in a synagogue. In fact, God clearly placed His throne in Jerusalem on the mercy seat of the ark in the Holy of Holies and commanded no other place for Israel's holy assemblies. He commanded Jewish men to attend these mandatory holy assemblies only three times a year.

Jesus went to the synagogues on Sabbath to teach and to heal. It seems Israel was there to listen to Torah readings and to discuss what was read. But I find no biblical evidence that they were worshipping. Some texts:

Matthew 12:9


Matthew 13:54, "Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed..." (Mark 1:21; 6: 2, John 6: 59. )

Luke 4:16-29 NIV
He went to Nazareth [on Sabbath]... into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor" ... "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." ...All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.
They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.

Now if they had been in a worship service, would they have stopped to throw someone off a cliff? I would think they would hold Jesus until after the service. So, evidently this was a more informal gathering than a worship service.

Jesus also healed in the synagogue. (Mark 3:1, Luke 13:14)


The Apostles went to the synagogues in order to preach and persuade.
(Acts 13: 15, 42; 14:1, 17:1, 2; 17: 10, 17, 18:4, 7, 18: 19, 26)

Acts 19:8, Paul entered, "the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. "

From every instance I can find sola scriptura (or from the Bible alone) I cannot find anywhere that Jesus or His disciples worshipped in the Jewish synagogues on sabbath. They were there, it seems, to read Torah and discuss it. It was a center of learning.

It seems the Temple was Israel's official place of mandatory corporate worship. Anyone out there have biblical evidence I have not yet seen on this?

2 comments:

Björn Göransson said...

Hi, how about the last verse of John

Teresa Beem said...

John 21:25
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

What is your point?