Questions and Answers

Q: The question I have today stems from a conversation that my husband and I had. He brought to my attention that the converted Jews in the new testament worshiped in the temple. At first I argued but then saw in the scriptures that they went to the temple on the Sabbath. How were they able to worship Jesus as Christians in the temple? I read on a website that they worshiped on Saturday in the temple and met on Sunday separately to observe the Lordís supper. I was always taught that after the resurrection worship time changed to Sunday, and the converts met in homes. What are your thoughts on this subject?

Answer: Looking at Scripture, one will find some interesting facts concerning your thoughtful question. Turning first to the Gospels, one finds that Jesus Christ arose from the dead on the first day of the week. It was on that day the resurrected Christ appeared to His disciples who were gathered together. John wrote in John 20:19 and 26, that eight days later the disciples gathered together again and the resurrected Jesus appeared to them.

Fifty days later, the disciples once again came together and experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God. They were empowered to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection to the multitude gathered in Jerusalem observing the feat of Pentecost. God blessed the witness and preaching of His disciples and "about three thousand souls" were saved, baptized, and added to their number (Acts 2:41). Interestingly, the Scripture reveals that these disciples, about 3120, continued to worship together daily in the 'temple' and 'house to house' (Acts 2:46).

The third chapter of Acts provides the account of Peter and John going to the temple to observe the 'hour of prayer'. As they approached the gate called Beautiful, they encountered a lame man begging for money. After God miraculously healed the man, he entered into the temple with Peter and John (Acts 3:8). This resulted in a curious crowd gathering at Solomon's Porch to learn what had caused so much excitement with this man. Peter used this occasion to preach Jesus to the crowd and about five thousand men trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior (Acts 4:4). While he was preaching, the temple police arrested both Peter and John (Acts 4:1-3).

It appears that Solomon's Porch was a common gathering place for the Christians, as it was for Jesus (John 10:23). It was there they would preach the gospel and God would work many miracles through them (Acts 5:12, 14, 25). In fact, an angel of God instructed the apostles to go to the temple and preach the gospel to the people (Acts 5:20-21). The Scriptures reveal again in Acts 5:42, "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ." As the disciples were faithful to share the message of Christ many of the Levitical priests became obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).

Throughout the Book of Acts there are many references of the disciples gathering in both the temple and in houses. However, there is no reference of the new Christians observing the offerings and rituals of Judaism as before. As one reads through the Book of Acts, it will become obvious that as the Christians matured and the church grew, the Church begin to segregate themselves from the Jewish religion, rituals, and sacrifices.

The apostle Paul would enter a new city and go directly to the synagogue and begin to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was repeatedly cast out of the synagogues and then went to some new converts home and held meetings. In Acts 20:7, one finds the church meeting together on the first day of the week, Sunday. Paul encourages the church to bring their offerings to the church on the first day of the week (Acts 16:2).

My personal conclusion is that the first Christians continued to meet in the temple for the purpose of sharing their faith in Jesus Christ. One of the truths a person accepts when trusting Jesus and their Lord and Savior is that He is the final and Supreme sacrifice for sin. Therefore, it is doubtful they continued to worship and offer sacrifices as before. The church began to evolve into the form of worship and segregation as we recognize it now. Acts 2:42-47 provides the essential elements of Christian worship that has been incorporated into the New Testament gatherings. The Nelson Bible Dictionary provides the following comments:

The Jewish Sabbath was quickly replaced by the first day of the week as the time for weekly public worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2); it was called the Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10). This was the occasion for celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, since He arose on the first day of the week (Mark 16:2). At first worship services were conducted in private houses. Possibly for a time the first Christians worshipped in the synagogues as well as private homes. Some scholars believe the Jewish Christians would go to the synagogues on Saturday and to their own meeting on Sunday. Many early Christians of Jewish background continued to follow the law and customs of their people. They observed the Sabbath and the Jewish holy days, such as the great annual festivals. However, the apostle Paul held himself free from any obligation to these and never laid an obligation to observe them on his converts (Col. 2:16).[1]

Hopefully, this has been helpful. These are some thoughts to ponder.

[1] Ronald F. Youngblood, gen. ed. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986,1995) 1321, notes concerning worship.