Acts 15:21 (NKJV) For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
With all that is being said and questioned of today’s Church and its Forms, I thought I would post a little bit of Church History that has to do with the structure and form of the very early church. Church structure has a well established History that extends well beyond the time of the Lord’s disciples. In the end, however, I am fully convinced that it is not so much that we need newer and more progressive church forms but rather new hearts in relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ, each other and the world in which we live.
The early Christian Church structure in all probability came from the Synagogue System that was vibrantly in place at the time of Christ Jesus. While there seems to only be vague and uncertain evidence of the synagogue before the exile period of Israel, there is evidence that the synagogue system most likely began during the exile period. It was very likely under Ezra that this system of worship was developed, even while the nation was in exile. So this puts the synagogue system beginning before Israel’s returning to the promise land or possibly very shortly thereafter.
Either way it began in a simple way, with a simple structure and grew from there. We find possible evidence of what the synagogue worship structure may have been like, in the gathering of the people of God in the 8th chapter of Nehemiah. It is here that we see a gathering of all who could understand, men, women, and even children. We see public prayer, thanksgiving, and the reading and explaining of the scriptures, by a variety of leaders led by Ezra, so that all who heard could come to understand what was written. There was also corporate responses to what was said; especially the responsive, “Amen, Amen followed by a lifting up of the hands, a bowing down of their heads and worshiping the Lord God Almighty. It is thought that this was clearly an early form of synagogue worship. Later in history we see this very similar form take its rightful place in the synagogue system at large.