Ecclesiology

The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 2)

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

Chapter Two

The Prima Facie Case

Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889), an expert in rabbinic and other early Jewish literature, asserted that, “The outward form of the Church was in great measure derived from the synagogue.”1 Nineteenth century Baptist historian David Benedict similarly affirmed, after studying the matter in detail, “I have settled down in the belief, that the ecclesiastical polity of the Jewish synagogues was very closely copied by the apostles and primitive Christians, in the organization of their assemblies.”2 Additional authors could be quoted in support of this thesis.3 The question that must be asked is, is this conclusion a valid one? Is it in truth supported by the facts of the case? Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 2)

The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 1)

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

Chapter One

Introduction

The purpose of this study is to compare the practical functioning of the ancient Jewish synagogue and the New Testament church,1 to determine if and to what degree the structure and workings of the church are patterned after the synagogue. While the origin and historical development of the synagogue in the period before the coming of Christ is a subject of considerable interest, as is its development in the post-New Testament era, these are outside the parameters of this present study.

The chief source of information for both synagogue and church practices will be the New Testament Scriptures, supplemented by post-New Testament literature. For the synagogue, this will be primarily the Mishnah (ca. AD 200) and the Babylonian Talmud (completed ca. AD 500), while for the church, the writings of the early church fathers will be the most accessible and valuable source. Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 1)

What's So Important About the Local Church? (Part 2)

From Voice, May/June 2014. Used by permission. Read Part 1.

Biblically independent churches strive to be loyal to Christ and His Word rather than to any organization. However, the First Century apostles of Christ also encouraged cooperative interdependence between local churches.

  • Greetings were extended throughout all the New Testament between independent churches, indicating a relationship with other churches in other regions (example in Romans 16:23).
  • Paul instructed the church at Rome to assist Phoebe in her visit from Corinth (Romans 16:1-2).
  • Paul instructed the churches of Galatia, Macedonia, and Achaia to collect offerings for the poor believers in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 9:1-2; Romans 15:25).
  • Barnabas was sent by the Jews of the church of Jerusalem to be an encouragement to the Gentiles of the church at Antioch (Acts 11:22-24).
  • The Gentiles in Antioch sent an offering to help the Jewish believers in Jerusalem during a famine (Acts 11:28-30).
  • An inter-church conference was held in Jerusalem in order to clarify doctrinal teaching regarding what is to be the true understanding of salvation (Acts 15:1-21).
  • After the inter-church conference in Jerusalem, Paul and others were sent to inform the new churches in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of the resultant teaching (Acts 15:22-23).
Read more about What's So Important About the Local Church? (Part 2)

What's So Important About the Local Church? (Part 1)

From Voice, May/June 2014. Used by permission.

Let’s face it: American pastors are constantly being asked questions about whether the local church is important and why church attendance is necessary. There are those who advocate that the modern American church is broken: why not fix it with a Starbucks-style makeover?

Some people are saying “the typical Sunday morning service of half lecture and half sing-along isn’t a useful way for me to connect with God. What if, instead of the church being like a theater, a police station, or a seminary, it was more like a coffeehouse?”1

Those are definitely questions that need to be answered, especially when asked sincerely. But those are really questions about form and methodology when there’s an even more basic question that needs to be asked first: what’s so important about the local church? Can we ditch it altogether? With technology offering Bible teaching through the Internet on your laptop or iPad or iPhone, what’s wrong with virtual, web-based Christian communities? Can your iPad serve as your pastor and your friends serve as the source of your fellowship and accountability?

What’s so important about the local church? Read more about What's So Important About the Local Church? (Part 1)

Pages