Early Christian Worship

Early Christian Worship

Early Christian Worship

Early Christian Worship

Excerpt

Our sources for the investigation of the early Christian service of worship do not yield a perfectly clear picture of the outward development of the gatherings for worship; they do disclose, however, a fairly clear tendency in worship. Our concern in the following pages will be to show what this tendency is.

The passages which serve as our main sources are these; the description of the life of the community in the Book of Acts (2.42 and 46; 5.42), and the statements of Paul in 1 Corinthians (especially chap. 14; also chap. 11.20 ff) and to these we must add all the greetings formulae and doxologies of the New Testament Epistles. A further important mine of information is the Book of the Revelation of St. John, for it is not without significance that the Seer mentions that he saw his visions on a 'Lord's Day' (1.10), at a time, therefore, when the Christian community was gathered together. Thus he sees the whole drama of the last days in the context of the early Christian service of worship which, so to speak, has its counterpart and at the same time its fulfilment in the coming aeon, so that all that takes place in the gatherings of the early Christian community, seen from this side, appears as an anticipation of that which in the last day takes place from God's side. Hence the whole Book of Revelation from the greeting of grace and peace in chapter 1.4 to the closing prayer: Come Lord Jesus, in chapter 22.20, and the benediction in the last verse, is full of allusions to the liturgical usages of the early community. We shall further seek to establish in the next chapter that in a special way the Gospel of John is outstandingly valuable as a . . .

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