Paul does not spend time in this letter explaining how worship should be arranged, but he does this in other letters. For example, in his letters to the believers at Corinth he deals with problems they were having in their communal worship. It is something to watch out for as you are reading the Bible, to see how congregations (ecclesiae or “ecclesias”) were organised in the First Century and to note that there are a lot of differences from the organisational structure that exists in some churches today.
The early church had overseers, elders and deacons, but those terms described a simple arrangement in which some members of the congregation were appointed to look after arrangements, to care for the sick and needy and to make sure that matters were organised properly. The entire congregation had similar responsibilities, for all the members were to love and care for one another. The notion of paid clergy with different layers of responsibility and importance is not a New Testament idea at all. It is another of those things that got incorporated from the way other non-Christian religions had organised their affairs, and it can have more to do with business planning and career development than with the House of God. The Lord Jesus was very strongly opposed to such matters, as he once demonstrated in spectacular fashion when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple at Jerusalem (Matthew 21:12,13).
We have a priest in heaven – the Lord Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of the Father and who is our go-between. We have no need of earthly priests. For if they were to be appointed they would distance the believer from his or her direct contact with God through Christ. The writer to the Hebrews, who wrote to people who were used to such an arrangement, explained carefully why priests are no longer appropriate. The Lord Jesus Christ, he explains, is now the only priest we need.
In First Century times there were people who had Holy Spirit gifts and they were able to speak as prophets, including in foreign languages, or interpreting such languages. Those gifts have now passed, having served their purpose, but even in those times it was possible for a congregation to become disorganised or over-excited, so Paul wrote about such matters at length to the Corinthians. We should not seek to be over-emotional or to get over-excited in our worship, but should use the time to sing hymns, to read from God’s Word, to pray together and to listen to an exposition of God’s Word. There is so much to learn and so much encouragement that we can give one another that we will greatly benefit from such times and are encouraged to meet together regularly. This is what the writer to the Hebrews said:
“Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us holdfast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:21-25).
- People are turning their back on Christianity
- The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands
- The holy spirit will bring back to your minds all the things told
- Written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope
- When a person looks for or has the need to Choose the Right Church
- Exhortation -Exhortatie of uiteenzetting
- Duty of encouragement
- Encouraging one another
- Compassion and Discipline
- Be an Encourager
- United people under Christ
- A participation in the body of Christ
- Meeting – Vergadering
- Congregate, to gather, to meet
- Congregation – Congregatie
- Integrity of the fellowship
- Different assessment criteria and a new language to be found for communicating the faith
- Keeping an ecclesia in modern times
- Small churches of the few Christadelphians