Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology 
If Christianity is the transformation of rebels into worshipers of God, then it is imperative for the Christian to know and understand what constitutes biblical worship. One may always consult Webster's Dictionary for the precise meaning of worship (adore, idolize, esteem worthy, reverence, homage, etc.). Yet truly defining worship proves more difficult because it is both an attitude and an act.
Worship Ancient and Modern . Both the Old and New Testaments admit the possibility of false worship, usually associated with idolatrous cults and gross misconduct ( Deuteronomy 7:3-6 ). For example, the Canaanites practiced ritual prostitution and infant sacrifice under the guise of worship to gods like Molech and Baal ( Leviticus 18:6-30; 20:1-5 ), while Paul found little had changed in the practice of idolatrous worship in Greek Corinth of the first century a.d. ( 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; 10:14-22 ). The psalmist recognized the folly of such false worship, noting that those who make idols will be like them ( Psalm 115:2-8 ). The prophets, too, warned against idolatry, a fatal attraction for the people of God ( Ezekiel 14:3-7 ). Sadly, the biting sarcasm of these divine messengers, who decried images with plastered eyes that had to be nailed to shelves to prevent them from toppling over, fell on deaf earsas deaf as those of the idols they had fashioned ( Isaiah 41:5-7 ). In the end, of course, these "stumbling blocks" of wood, stone, and precious metal overlay could not save Israel ( Isaiah 44:17 ).
The antidote Jesus commended in his discourse with the Samaritan woman remains the best preventive against false worship ( John 4:23-24 ). All true worshipers must worship God in "spirit and in truth." That is, true worship takes place on the inside, in the heart or spirit of the worshiper (cf. Psalm 45:1; 103:1-2 ). Worship pleasing to God must be unfeigned and transparent, offered with a humble and pure heart ( Psalm 24:3-4; Isaiah 66:2 ).
But this is not enough. Worship "in truth" connects the heart or spirit of worship with the truth about God and his work of redemption as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ and the Scriptures. David understood the importance of worshiping in truth and the necessary linkage between "truth" and the Word of God when he wrote, "Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear [i.e., worship] your name" ( Psalm 86:11; cf. Psalm 145:18 ). Here both the Old and New Covenants agree! The true worship of God is essentially internal, a matter of the heart and spirit rooted in the knowledge of and obedience to the revealed Word of God.
The Bible also warns of more insidious forms of false worship, namely, religious syncretism and religious hypocrisy. Religious syncretism is a process of assimilation that incorporates elements of one religion into another. As a result, the basic tenets and character of both religions are fundamentally altered. For the Hebrews during Old Testament times this religious syncretism usually involved the union of Mosiac Yahwism and Canaanite Baalism. The prophet Elijah chided the people for attempting to "waver between two opinions" ( 1 Kings 18:21 ), and the subsequent contest on Mount Carmel between the prophet of God and the prophets of Baal demonstrated the superiority of Yahweh's religion. In the New Testament Jesus took issue with those who mixed faith and materialism when he declared, "you cannot serve both God and Money" ( Matthew 6:24 ); Paul continually battled those who preached a different gospel, one that perverted justification by faith in Christ by blending the teachings of Judaism and Christianity ( Galatians 3:1-14 ).
Hypocrisy is a pseudo-pietism that pays "lip-service" to covenant keeping and social justice ( Jeremiah 12:2 ), and exhibits all the external trappings of true worship of God. However, this worship is "godless, " based as it is on rules formulated by human teachers ( Isaiah 29:13 ). Additionally, this false piety is also lawlessness, in that it multiplies sacrifices while it tramples the poor ( Amos 5:11,21-24 ). The impious and insincere nature of this worship is further characterized by a consistent pattern of infidelity to Yahweh's covenant ( Jeremiah 12:10 ). Much later, Jesus described religious hypocrisy as both "play-acting" ( Matthew 6:2,5,16 ) and godlessness (worshipers who were outwardly pious but inwardly profane, Matthew 23:13-29 ). Nonetheless, their end is the same in either covenant: the pseudo-pious or hypocritical worshiper is rejected and judged severely by almighty God ( Jeremiah 14:11-12; Matthew 23:35 ).
Worship in the Old Testament . The study of the Old Testament worship is important for at least two reasons. First, the Old Testament Scriptures are part of the Christian canon, which means these documents are valuable for the Christian church as divinely inspired revelation of God and authoritative for the life of the churchat least in theological principle, if not in literal teaching. Second, the life of the Israelite nation depicted in the accounts of the Old Testament provides the pattern for public worship found in both Judaism and Christianity.
The God of Israel . The object of veneration in the Old Testament was the God of creation ( Genesis 1:1-2 ), the God of covenant revelation ( Genesis 12:1-3 ), and the God of redemptive Acts in history ( Exodus 20:2-3 ). This God, Yahweh, merited the worship and devotion of the Hebrew people both for who he is and for what he does.
The God of the Old Testament is utterly holy and thus transcendent, inaccessible, mysterious, and inscrutable ( Psalm 99:3-9 ). But if this alone were true about God, why worship such a terrible and awesome deity? Happily, this same God is also the "Holy One among you" ( Hosea 11:9 ), a God who at once dwells "in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit" ( Isaiah 57:15 ). God merits worship because in his imminent presence he is able to answer those who call upon him and forgive their wrongdoings ( Psalm 99:8 ). It was this intimate presence of a holy God that prompted heartfelt praise and worship ( Psalm 99:3 ) and the keen desire for holy living among the people of Israel ( Leviticus 19:2 ).
And yet, this were not enough if God was not sovereign in all of his creation. The sovereignty of God indicates his absolute authority and power over all creation for the purpose of accomplishing his divine will. The God of Israel alone rules forever ( Exodus 15:18 ) and accomplishes his sovereign plan among the nations ( Isaiah 14:24-27 ). Otherwise the Hebrews would have been little better off than the rest of the nations the Rabshakeh of Assyria chided, "Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?" ( Isaiah 36:18 ). All this, the holiness of God, the holy imminence of God, and the sovereignty of God, make him a unique divine being. For the prophet Isaiah, the uniqueness of God constituted a call to worship the Lord as King and Redeemer of Israel (44:6-8; 45:20-23).
Despite the majesty and perfection of God's person and character, Hebrew worship would have been misplaced if this God were impotent to act, to intervene in the experiences of life on behalf of his worshipers. Hence, the activity of God in human history served as both a basis for Hebrew worship and justification of the worship of the particular God, Yahweh. Among all the deeds of God recorded in the Old Testament two are foundational to the idea of Hebrew worship. First is the activity of God in creating new relationships with Israel (and others) by yoking himself through covenant promise ("I will be your God") and covenant stipulation ("you will be my people") to establish a worshiping community in holiness. The second was the event of the Hebrew exodus from Egypt, God's redemption of Israel ( Psalm 77:13,15 ) designed to prompt worship on the part of those who witnessed or later heard about Yahweh's dealings with the Egyptians ( Exodus 18:10-12 ).
Hebrew Anthropology . While Hebrew anthropology affirms the individual is comprised of distinguishable physical and spiritual elements, there is no systematic distinction between the material and the immaterial, the physical and the spiritual in the Old Testament. According to the pattern of ancient Hebrew thought, a human being is an indivisible totality or unity. Thus, it is the whole person, not just the immaterial essence of an individual, which blesses the holy name of the Lord in worship ( Psalm 103:1 ).
This understanding of the synthetic nature and constitution of humanity by the ancient Hebrews is remarkably relevant for contemporary Christianity. The holistic emphasis of Hebrew anthropology affirms persons created in the image of God as indivisible unities, thus serving as a potent antidote for the far-reaching (and lethal) effects of Platonic dualism within Western thought. Acknowledging the interrelatedness of the physical and the spiritual dimensions in human beings also helps prevent establishing false dichotomies between the "sacred" and "secular, " meaning work, play, and worship are all sacred activities under the rule of a sovereign God. Recognition of the integrative unity of humanness permits a "whole person" response to God in worship, instilling the freedom to worship God with intellect, emotions, personality, senses, and body. Finally, Hebrew anthropology fosters the notion of corporate identity or the sense of belonging to the organic unity of humanity. This means the privatized worship of the individual finds its completion in the public worship of the larger worshiping community (cf. Hebrews 10:25 ).
The Practice of Worship . Worship during the patriarchal period was either an expression of praise and thanksgiving prompted by a theophany (the visible or auditory manifestation of God to human beings) or the act of obedience to some divine directive (e.g., Abram "obeying" the command of God to sojourn in Canaan, Genesis 12:4 ). Often this expression of worship took the form of altar building ( Genesis 33:20 ) and sometimes combined prayer ( Genesis 26:25 ) or animal sacrifice ( Genesis 31:54; 46:1 ). Other expressions of patriarchal worship included the erection of stone pillars and the pouring of drink offerings (drink offering, Genesis 28:18,22 ), taking of vows in response to divine revelation ( Genesis 28:20; 31:13 ), ritual purification ( Genesis 35:2 ), the rite of circumcision as a sign of covenant obedience ( Genesis 17:9-14 ), and prayers of praise and thanksgiving ( Genesis 12:8; 13:4 ), petition ( Genesis 24:12; 25:21 ), and intercession ( Genesis 18:22-33; 20:7 ).
The Book of Job confirms much of this assessment of pre-Mosaic religion among the Hebrews. The date of the literature of Job notwithstanding, the cultural and historical background of Job's testing certainly reflect the patriarchal age. Like the Hebrew patriarchs, Job is cast in the role of priest for his clan as head of the family and offers sacrifices on their behalf (1:5). Confession and repentance (42:6), and petition and intercessory prayer (6:8-9; 42:8-9) were routine practices for Job as a blameless and upright man. Even the internal attitude of worship represented by the "fear of God" (2:3) and the lifestyle response of obedience as seen in Job's oath of clearance (chap. 31) parallel the patriarchal worship experience.
The Mosaic period (ca. 1400-1100 b.c.) is widely recognized as the formative era of Israelite history and worship. Hebrew religious consciousness and worship practice was largely shaped by the dramatic events of the exodus from Egypt. Likewise, the covenant ceremony at Mount Sinai was the vehicle by which God established Israel as his "treasured possession" ( Exodus 19:5 ). The divine law attached to the Sinai treaty became the instrument that both molded and preserved Israel's identity as the people of God and chartered Israel as a theocratic kingdom of priests ( Exodus 19:6 ). Whereas the events of the exodus from Egypt bonded Israel together as a worshiping community, the covenant ceremony at Mount Sinai resulted in a "constitution" that created the nation of Israel (cf. Deuteronomy 4:32-40 ).
This covenant legislation enacted at Mount Sinai prohibited the Hebrews from attempting to represent Yahweh's likeness with an image ( Exodus 20:3-4 ). The question of the existence of other gods was not an issue. The Hebrews acknowledged the existence of foreign deities. The sole task of the Hebrews was to worship their God, Yahweh, and serve him alone.
The Old Testament celebrates the Passover and exodus as both the supreme act of divine judgment and divine deliverance in Hebrew history ( Exodus 6:6; 15:13; Deuteronomy 7:8 ). As such it furnished the seedbed for the growth and development of the Israelite theological language of redemption. Specifically, the purpose of the Passover animal sacrifice was didactic in that the enactment of the ritual of atonement was designed to instruct the Israelites in the principles of God's holiness and his unique role as Redeemer, human sinfulness, substitutionary death to cover human transgression, and the need for repentance leading to cleansing and renewed fellowship within the community and with Yahweh. The Passover ceremony and the exodus event exalted the covenant God, Yahweh, who redeemed Israel from the foe ( Psalm 78:12 ). They also stood as a perpetual reminder to the successive generations of Hebrews that redemption leads inevitably to the worship of Yahweh ( Exodus 15:18 ).
The legal code forming the stipulations of the Sinai covenant also formally organized Hebrew worship. Mosaic Law legitimized and standardized the media or form and the institutions of Israelite worship of Yahweh. Worship as recitation for the ancient Hebrews included liturgical responses like "Amen!" ( 1 Chronicles 16:36 ) or "Hallelujah!", singing ( Psalm 92:1 ), prayer ( Psalm 5:3 ), vows and oath taking ( Psalm 66:13-19 ), and the reading and teaching of God's Law ( Deuteronomy 31:9-13 ). Worship as ritual drama for the ancient Hebrews included sacrificial worship ( Leviticus 1-7 ), the Sabbath ( Exodus 20:8-11 ), the seasonal festivals ( Leviticus 23 ), the pilgrimage festivals ( Exodus 23:14-17 ), incense offerings and libations ( Exodus 30:7-9 ), penitential rites ( Leviticus 16:29 ), purification rites ( Leviticus 12:1-8 ), the tithe ( Leviticus 27:30-32 ), and artistic responses (e.g., music 2 Chronicles 5:11-14; dance, Psalm 30:11; and sign and symbol, Exodus 28:6-30 ).
The exodus event and the covenant pact ratified at Mount Sinai also reshaped Hebrew understanding of time and reordered Hebrew life according to a new religious calendar. The Decalogue command to observe one day in seven as holy to the Lord established the connection between the Sabbath and original creation ( Exodus 20:11 ). The "rest" in God's presence on the Sabbath day typified the goal of redemption in Old Testament revelation: rest in Yahweh's presence in the land of covenant promise.
The divinely ordained covenant prescriptions for holiness in Hebrew life extended beyond the Sabbath to the entire calendar. Six annual festivals and holy days were inaugurated as part of Mosaic legislation, including the Passover (and the Feast of Unleavened Bread), the Fest of Firstfruits, the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles ( Leviticus 23 ). These great religious festivals and holy days corresponded to the major seasons of the agricultural cycle of the land of Palestine so that the Israelites might acknowledge Yahweh as their Provider and Sustainer. Three of the festivals required pilgrimages of all Israelite males to appear before the Lord at the central sanctuary (Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles Exodus 23:17 ). This assembling of the Hebrews for worship both reinforced the ideals of covenant community and personal piety, as well as reminded the Israelites that their physical and spiritual well-being was solely dependent upon the covenant love of Yahweh ( Deuteronomy 30:15-20 ).
Much of the worship associated with Solomon's temple was simply the transference of the worship practices associated with the tabernacle rituals established by the Mosaic covenant at Mount Sinai. However, biblical scholars have discerned a temple liturgy in Psalm 95 consisting of the entrance (implying preparation, confession, forgiveness, and cleansing), enthusiastic praise, worship proper (getting low before God), and the response of obedience. In addition, this first temple period witnessed the development of the Psalter as the songbook of Israel's private and public worship. According to later rabbinic tradition the psalms were used daily in the temple service accompanying the morning and evening sacrifices. These "proper" psalms included Psalm 24 (day 1), Psalm 48 (day 2), Psalm 82 (day 3), Psalm 94 (day four), Psalm 81 (day 5), Psalm 93 (day 6), and Psalm 92 for the Sabbath. The Hallelujah Psalms (113-118) were used in conjunction with the New Moon, Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, and Dedication feasts; while Psalm 7 was included in the Purim liturgy, Psalm 47 was part of the New Year's Celebration, and the Songs of Ascents were associated with the three great pilgrimage festivals ( Psalm 120-134 ). The prominent place of music in temple worship accorded the priestly musical guilds status equivalent to the priests responsible for the sacrificial liturgy.
The Institutions of Worship . The tabernacle was a portable tent-sanctuary ordained by God and constructed by the Israelites under the supervision of Moses. The instructions for the design and fabrication of the structure, as well as the directives for implementing the worship of Yahweh there, were part of the covenant legislation revealed by God to Moses at Mount Sinai ( Exodus 25-40 ). According to Exodus 40:1,16 , the tabernacle was completed in the second year after the exodus from Egypt, a little less than a year after the revelation had been given to Moses at Sinai. The cloud of the glory of the Lord that filled the tent sanctuary then guided the Israelites in the stages of their desert trek to Canaan, the land of covenant promise ( Exodus 40:34-38 ). The three clans of levitical prieststhe Kohathites, Gershonites, and Merariteswere responsible for transporting, dismantling, and erecting this "tent of meeting" ( Numbers 3-4 ).
The tabernacle was a rectangular wooden-frame structure some 10 cubits wide and 30 cubits wide according to the biblical dimensions (about 15' x 45'). The tent itself was divided into two rooms or compartments by a veil. The other room or Holy Place measured 10 cubits by 20 cubits (about 15' x 30') and contained the lampstand, the table of presence, and the altar of incense. The inner room or Most Holy Place was 10 cubits by 10 cubits (about 15' x 15') and housed the sacred ark of the covenant. The tent shrine was centered in a fenced courtyard some 50 cubits wide and 100 cubits long (about 75' x 150'). Entrance to the sanctuary was from the east court; the bronze laver or basin and the altar of burnt offering were set in the courtyard between the court entrance and the tabernacle proper.
The direct purpose of the tabernacle was to showcase the imminence of God, a habitat where God might live among his people ( Exodus 25:8 ). The indirect purpose of the tabernacle was to afford the Israelites the means by which they might honor Yahweh through carefully prescribed worship rituals orchestrated by the newly established levitical priesthood. The very design and construction of the tabernacle, as well as the prescriptions for the worship liturgy performed there, all reinforced key theological emphases of the Mount Sinai theophany (e.g., the tension between divine immanence and transcendence and the principle of mediation to enter the presence of God). Likewise, the artistry and craftsmanship employed in the design and construction of the tabernacle and its furnishings introduced the use of sign and symbol for inspiring worship and conveying theological education to God's people (especially Yahweh's majesty and holiness).
No organized Hebrew priesthood functioned during the pre-Mosaic period of Israelite history. Rather, the patriarch or elder of the Hebrew family or clan officiated as the priest for that group ( Genesis 35:2-5; Job 1:5 ). The sole exception was Abram's encounter with the priest-king of Salem, Melchizedek ( Genesis 14:18-20 ). The New Testament identifies this enigmatic Old Testament figure as the prototype of the later levitical priesthood and ultimately the prototype of the messianic priesthood fulfilled in Jesus Christ ( Hebrews 7:1-27; cf. Psalm 110:4 ).
The Mosaic covenant enacted at Mount Sinai legislated the establishment of a formal Hebrew priesthood to serve God in worship. This priesthood represented the entire Israelite community before the Lord, since they were constituted a kingdom of priests and a holy nation ( Exodus 19:5-6 ). The Hebrew priests were employed in the service of Yahweh full-time and were supported in their ministry by the tithes, offerings, and portions of the sacrificial offerings of the Israelite community ( Leviticus 7:28-36; Deuteronomy 14:22-29 ). The period of service for the priesthood was twenty years, from age thirty to age fifty ( Numbers 4:47 ). It appears the priests were trained for their duties during a five-year apprenticeship, from age twenty-five to age thirty ( Numbers 8:24-26 ). Unlike the other Hebrew tribes, the levitical priesthood received no inheritance of land in Palestine. Instead, the priests and Levites were allotted forty-eight cities in which to live ( Numbers 35:1-5 ). The Aaronic priests and Levites were denied territorial rights since the Lord God and service to Israel in his name was their inheritance ( Numbers 18:20; Deuteronomy 10:9-10 ).
Only males from the tribe of Levi were permitted to hold priestly office ( Numbers 3:1-39 ). Following the prescription of Mosaic Law the Israelite priesthood consisted of two orders or divisions, the priests and the Levites. While the term "Levite" may refer to the entire Hebrew priesthood, technically the priests were descendants of Aaron ( Exodus 29:1-37; Leviticus 8:1-36 ). One from among the Aaronic lineage was chosen and ordained high priest for life ( Leviticus 21:10 ). Specifically, the Levites were non-Aaronic descendants of Levi who functioned in the service of the sanctuary in subordinate roles. Three clans or subdivisions of Levites are recognized in the Old Testament, taking their names from the three sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari ( Numbers 3-4 ).
Duties charged to the Aaronic priesthood basically fell into two categories: superintending sanctuary worship and instructing the people of God in the Law of Moses ( Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; Deuteronomy 33:8-10 ). The high priest supervised sacrificial worship in the sanctuary ( Leviticus 4:3-21 ), officiated over the Day of Atonement ceremony ( Leviticus 16:1-9 ), and handled the Urim and Thummin, peculiar objects carried in a pouch on the breastplate of the priestly vestments and used for determining the will of God in certain instances ( Numbers 27:21; Deuteronomy 33:8 ). The Aaronic priests officiated over sacrificial worship in the sanctuary under the direction of the high priest ( Leviticus 4-5 ), led the congregation of Israel in corporate and festival worship ( Leviticus 23:15-22 ), transported the ark of the covenant ( Deuteronomy 10:8; 31:9 ), served as religious educators ( Deuteronomy 27:14-26 ) and advisers to civic leaders ( Deuteronomy 20:2; Judges 18:18-19 ), and were models of covenant obedience and holiness ( Leviticus 21:1-24 ).
Originally, the non-Aaronic priests or Levites were designated as assistants to the Aaronic priesthood and porters of the tabernacle, God's portable tent-sanctuary. This levitical assistance included doing the service at the tabernacle, having charge of the sanctuary and its furnishings, and attending to the duties of the Israelites ( Numbers 3:5-8 ). Later the levitical duties were reorganized since they were no longer required as porters given the construction of the Jerusalem temple. According to the Chronicler, David was responsible for reassigning the levitical priests to new duties that included assisting the Aaronic priesthood in temple worship, cleaning and maintenance, procuring and storing supplies, and serving as temple musicians ( 1 Chronicles 9:28-32; 23:26-32 ).
Despite the divine prohibition against his actually building a temple for God, David did make arrangements for its construction, including gathering the necessary materials and supplies to ensure his son Solomon's success in erecting a house for the name of Yahweh ( 1 Chronicles 22:2-19 ). Solomon began construction of the elaborate edifice in the fourth year of his reign (ca. 966 b.c.) and it was completed seven years later ( 1 Kings 6:37-38 ). The magnificent structure was patterned after the tabernacle and replaced that tent-sanctuary as the religious center of Israel, with the levitical priesthood continuing to officiate over the sacrificial and festival worship of Yahweh. Solomon's temple witnessed both the blessing of God's divine presence in the form of the cloud of glory ( 1 Kings 8:11 ), and the abasement of divine abandonment as God's glory departed the temple due to Israel's sin of idolatry ( Ezekiel 10:18 ). Not long after Ezekiel's vision, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian hordes plundered the treasures of Solomon's temple and reduced Jerusalem and Yahweh's "house" to ashes and rubble in 587 b.c. ( 2 Kings 25:1-21 ). All that remained of the splendor of Solomon's temple was the memory.
The sanctuary of the Lord as a symbol of God's presence in the midst of his people was retained in the shift from desert tabernacle to urban temple ( 1 Kings 8:57 ). However, new theological emphases surface in Solomon's prayer of dedication, including the temple as the embodiment of the fulfillment of divine promises regarding the Davidic covenant and perpetual dynastic kingship (vv. 14-21), the idea of Yahweh's temple as a house of prayer (vv. 27-54), the temple as both a witness to God's sovereignty over all creation and as a token of Israelite covenant obedience (vv. 41-43,56-61), and the temple as a tangible reminder of God's transcendencea God who does not dwell in a house made by human hands (vv. 27-30).
Unfortunately, by the time of Jeremiah the prophet (ca. 627-580 b.c.), this lofty "temple theology" had been forgotten or so corrupted by religious syncretism with surrounding paganism as to be unrecognizable. The temple was no longer a symbol of God's divine presence and a monument to his sovereignty, but was now equated with God's actual presence and considered the ultimate spiritual reality by the Hebrews. The mere association of Yahweh's temple with Jerusalem insured divine protection, security, and covenant blessing in the minds of the people of God. Jeremiah indignantly condemned this misplaced trust in the temple as a talisman or fetish and predicted its eventual destruction (chaps. 7-10).
A second temple dedicated to the worship of Yahweh was erected in Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile at the prompting of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah ( Ezra 5:1-2; Haggai 2:9 ). The rebuilding project commenced in 520 b.c. and was completed sometime in 516 or 515 b.c. The second temple was but a shadow of its predecessor, to such a degree that those who remembered Solomon's temple lamented the inferiority of the new edifice ( Ezra 3:12-13 ). This temple complex was expanded and refurbished in grandiose style by King Herod the Great (begun in 20 b.c. but not completed until a.d. 64, well after Herod's death). It was in this temple that the infant Jesus was dedicated by Joseph and Mary and recognized as Israel's messiah by Simeon and Anna ( Luke 2:22-38 ). In keeping with the emphasis of Solomon's dedication of the first temple, Jesus cleansed the second temple so it might truly be a house of prayer ( Mark 11:15-19 ). Ironically, Jesus' teaching in the temple during his Passion week (including his forecast of the destruction of the temple) incited his rejection as Israel's messiah and sealed his fate for crucifixion as a religious imposter ( Mark 14:53-65 ) and enemy of the state ( Mark 15:1-15 ). Fulfilling Jesus' prophecy ( Mark 13:1-8 ) to the letter, the second temple was completely destroyed in a.d. 70 by the Roman general Titus during the First Jewish War.
The New Testament records indicate that the sacrificial system associated with temple worship remained at the core of the Jewish religious experience, with throngs of Jews from Palestine and beyond overrunning the city during the great pilgrimage festivals. However, the dispersion of Jews across the Mediterranean world under Greek and Roman rule prompted the rise of a competing religious institution, the synagogue. Increasingly the temple became identified with the Hellenized Jewish aristocracy of Jerusalem, sparking the growth of the synagogue among the grassroots population outside the environs of Jerusalem who were attracted to the emphasis on simple personal piety and the spiritual sacrifices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Theological Implications . The Old Testament anticipates Christian worship in theological principle, in that Hebrew worship: (1) required conscious preparation on the part of the worshiper; (2) encouraged private and family worship as a complement to corporate public worship; (3) demanded the response of the whole person to God as Creator and Redeemer; (4) encouraged congregational worship that was active and participatory; (5) focused on the redemptive Acts of God in human history (i.e., the Passover/exodus event); (6) employed symbolism to enhance worship aesthetically and improve worship didactically; (7) observed a liturgical calendar that heightened the worshiper's anticipation of and participation in ritual reenactment; and (8) assumed that a lifestyle of obedience in service to God completed the integrity of worship.
Worship in the New Testament . The Jewish Roots of Christianity . The Jewish character of early Christianity may be traced to three primary points of origin, including ethnicity, the Old Testament Scriptures, and the institution of the synagogue.
First, and most obvious, early Christianity was essentially Jewish because the early Christians were Jews. Jesus Christ was a Jew from Nazareth in Galilee ( Matthew 1:1 ), the twelve apostles and the pillars of Christ's church were all Jewish ( Mark 3:13-19 ), the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was largely a Jewish event ( Acts 1:15; 2:1-5 ), and the initial missionary thrust of the church focused on the Jew first ( Acts 6:7; 13:5 ).
Second, the continuity between early Christianity and Judaism may be linked to the Holy Scriptures of Judaismthe Old Testament. The Old Testament was the Bible for the early church. Jesus Christ, by word and deed, demonstrated himself as the fulfillment of the old covenant promises concerning the Messiah made to God's people Israel. Hence, the Old Testament was the source book for early New Testament preaching and the apologetic of early Christianity was essentially one of evincing Jesus as the Christ by appeal to this fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The Jewish-Christian authors of the New Testament appealed to the Hebrew Old Testament for instruction, exhortation ( Romans 15:4-6; 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 ), and illustrative examples of faith in God ( Hebrews 11 ). In addition, they understood the church of Jesus Christ to be the new Israel ( Romans 4:16-24; 9:11-27; Galatians 3:19-29 ). Thus, while the Holy Bible contains two covenants, the Old and the New, it is a continuous and single record of divine redemption in human history.
Finally, the antecedents of the form and practice of worship of early Christian worship may be found in the liturgy of the Jewish temple and synagogue.
The Apostolic Church . The Book of Acts indicates that the first church gathered daily for worship in the Jerusalem temple and in the homes of believers, devoting themselves to instruction in the apostles' doctrine, fellowship, prayer, and the Eucharist or Lord's Table (2:42-47). Given their Jewish heritage and the example of Jesus, who worshiped in the synagogues and temple ( Luke 4:16; John 10:22-23 ), it is only natural that the apostolic church retained temple worship and Sabbath keeping along with the development of Christian worship patterns for Sunday, the day of Christ's resurrection ( Luke 24:1 ).
By the time Paul had evangelized Asia Minor and Greece, the church (now decidedly Gentile in composition) met for corporate worship (the breaking of bread or Lord's Table) on the first day of the week or Sunday ( Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2 ). In addition to the weekly observance of the Lord's Table, the New Testament records indicate worship in the apostolic church also included the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs ( Colossians 3:16 ), prayer ( 1 Timothy 2:1-2 ), almsgiving ( 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 ), the reading and teaching of the Old Testament and apostolic doctrine ( 1 Timothy 4:11-13 ), and the manifestation of a variety of spiritual gifts ( 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 ). In fact, when Paul instructed the church at Corinth on the subject of spiritual gifts and orderly worship he specifically mentioned the hymn, a lesson from Scripture, a word of revelation, and a tongue and its interpretation as a few of the elements comprising Christian worship ( 1 Corinthians 14:26 ).
Of course, the transition from Judaism to Christianity posed real problems for many Jewish believers in Christ, as did the inclusion of Gentiles in the predominantly Jewish early church ( Acts 15:1-29; Galatians 1:11-14 ). The tensions between form and freedom in worship were also pressing, evidenced by Paul's treatise on spiritual gifts and lay participation in the worship service ( 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 ). The letters of Paul establish helpful guidelines for resolving these problems associated with the practice of Christian worship; primary among them are the principle of edification or common good of the congregation gathered for worship ( 1 Corinthians 12:7; Ephesians 4:12-13 ), the principle of order and peace governing the form of worship ( 1 Corinthians 14:33,40 ), and the principle of a clear conscience and individual accountability before the Lord in certain matters related to personal freedoms and preferences in worship ( Romans 14:1-12 ).
Basic to the formation, identity, and worship of the apostolic church were the ritual symbols of baptism and the breaking of bread or Lord's Table. The ceremony of baptism symbolized the cleansing from sin effected by Christ's redemption and served as the rite of initiation into the church as the body of Christ ( Romans 6:1-4 ). As such, Christian baptism holds great significance for worship because it places the believer formally in a worshiping communitythe church of Jesus Christ; and it signifies newness of life in Christ and the things of the Holy Spirit who activates Christian worship ( Romans 8:5-6; 1 Corinthians 12:11 ). Much like the Passover meal of the Old Covenant symbolized Israel's redemption in the exodus event, so the Eucharist or Lord's Table depicts Christian redemption because "Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed" ( 1 Corinthians 5:7 ). As a living symbol of the Christ-event, the Lord's Table comprises the central element of Christian worship because it represents the fulfillment of Old Testament promises ( Luke 2:28-32 ). As an act of remembrance, it recalls the redemptive work of Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ); it symbolizes Christian unity and fellowship ( 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 ); and it constitutes the church's eschatological hope in the return of Christ and the consummation of his kingdom ( Matthew 22:16-18; Acts 1:11; 1 Corinthians 11:26 ). This sense of bonding or unity in covenant community was rehearsed in the apostolic church by means of the fellowship meal or agape feast that accompanied the observance of the Lord's Table ( 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 ).
Worship in the apostolic church is not without implications for worship and worship renewal in the contemporary Christian church. For instance, if worship recapitulates the Christ-event, then significant attention must be given to the eucharistic aspect of worship and to the value of sign and symbol in instruction and worship ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ). Likewise, if worship actualizes the church, then the corporate worship experience must balance form and freedom in the structure of worship and provide time for Holy Spirit-prompted lay participation and opportunity for the worship response of meaningful service ( 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 ). Finally, if worship anticipates the kingdom, then worship has a prophetic function in that it testifies of Christ's triumph over sin and death and engenders hope for the realization of the heavenly worship at the heart of John's apocalyptic visionthe Lamb of God enthroned in the New Jerusalem ( Revelation 21:1-5 ).
The Synagogue and Early Christian Worship . The origins of the Jewish institution known as the synagogue are obscure. It is likely the synagogue evolved from some kind of informal gathering or association of Hebrews during the Babylonian exile. Development continued and perhaps was even spurred by the Torah-based reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah during the mid-fifth century b.c. The oldest testimony of a diaspora synagogue is an inscription dated to the reign of Ptolemy III Euergetes (247-221 b.c.), found at Schedia in Egypt.
Wherever Jews settled in the diaspora, a synagogue was established. In fact, according to the Jewish historian Josephus, it was difficult to find a place without a synagogue ( Ant 14.115). More than 150 known ruins of ancient synagogues dot the Mediterranean world from Galilee and Syria, to Asia Minor and Greece, to Italy, Gaul, Spain, North Africa, and Egypt.
The New Testament cites the synagogue as a place of prayer, reading and teaching and preaching of the Old Testament Scriptures, almsgiving, exhortation, and fellowship. New Testament era synagogues were local Jewish congregations scattered throughout Palestine and beyond, and apparently under the jurisdiction of Jerusalem as the religious power center of Judaism ( Acts 9:1-2 ). The synagogue was also the site for judgment and punishment in matters of Jewish law ( Mark 13:9; Acts 22:19 ). Jesus taught, healed, and preached in the synagogues of Palestine, often attacking the abuses associated with the institutionnot the institution itself ( Mark 1:21; 3:1; Luke 4:16-24 ).
The Book of Acts indicates the synagogue later became the primary target of early Christian missionary outreach. It seems Jewish Christians constituted themselves within local synagogue congregations for the first several decades of church history, until the Jew-Gentile issue split the two groups ( Acts 18:26; 19:8; 22:19; cf. Acts 15:1-35 ). During New Testament times the synagogue stood alongside the temple as an equivalent religious institution in Judaism. After the destruction of the second temple by the Romans in a.d. 70, the synagogue was considered a full substitute for the temple as the religious institution of Judaism.
Influence on Early Christian Worship . First-century Jewish Christianity rooted in the synagogue tradition had a considerable impact on the development of the early Christian church, specifically in the areas of church architecture, organization, and liturgy.
The influence of synagogue architecture and furnishings on the early Christian church may be seen in the use of the bema or raised platform, including an altar or table (replacing the ark of the Torah in the synagogue) and a pulpit or podium (much like the synagogue lectern used for the Scripture readings and sermon). In addition, seating the worship participants on the platform and arranging the congregation in rows of benches facing the platform are Christian adaptations of synagogue design and practice.
Similarities may also be identified in the functions of the ancient synagogue officers and the officers of the early Christian church. For example, the Christian office of bishop or overseer combined some of the duties of the head of the synagogue (who presided over the worship service), the minister (who often functioned as the synagogue tutor), and the interpreter (who both translated and explained the Scripture lessons and sermon). The concept of spiritual patriarchs or elders in the synagogue congregation carried over into the early church as well. The first deacons of the Christian church were charged with the same commission of the almoners of the ancient Jewish synagogue, gathering and distributing charitable gifts to the needy in the congregation (cf. Acts 6:1-7 ).
By way of general principle, the influence of the Jewish synagogue on the worship of the early church may be seen in the church's commitment to prayer and instruction in the Scriptures (by means of reading and exposition, cf. Acts 2:42 ). This development was only natural, given the fact that the early church was essentially Jewish. In addition, the prominent place given to the reading, chanting, and singing of the psalms in early Christian liturgy was borrowed directly from synagogue practice. Thus, much like the Jewish synagogue, the worship of the early Christian church was founded upon praise, prayer, and the exposition of the Scriptures.
Of course, Christian worship continued to develop in distinct worshiping communities through the centuries of church history. Quite naturally the form and practice of Christian liturgy changed over time. Christian worship gradually drifted away from its close ties to Jewish worship, especially as the church became an increasingly "Gentile enterprise." The official schism between the two groups (Judaism and Christianity) occurred in the second century a.d. The intention here is simply to recognize the importance of synagogue worship for the form of worship in the early church and to garner an appreciation for the Jewish roots of the Christian tradition.
Theological Implications . By way of theological principle, the Jewish roots of early Christianity grounded the church of Jesus Christ solidly in the belief of the divine and supernatural origins of the Scriptures, and ordained an apostolic authority in the divine authority of the Old Testament.
By way of worship in the early church, the Jewish Christianity of the first century a.d. facilitated the shift from the theocentric worship characteristic of Judaism to the Christocentric (and even Trinitarian) worship that is the hallmark of Christianity. Second, the church inherited the concept of the centrality of the Scriptures in worship (reading and exposition) from the Jewish synagogue. Third, and significantly given the explosion of spiritual gifts in some segments of the Christian church today, like the Jewish synagogue the early church was primarily a lay institution encouraging extensive lay participation in worship.
However, this shift from Judaism to Jewish Christianity was not without difficulty. Two key issues dominated theological discussion in the early decades of Christianity. In modern terms, the first issue was really one of ethnic and cultural diversity, as the early church debated the implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ for Jew and Gentile ( Acts 15:1-35 ). The compromise solution achieved at the Jerusalem Council later proved ineffective, and to this day the church continues to debate the relationship of "law" and "grace" in the life of the Christian. The second concerned the relationship of Jesus Christ to the primary institutions of Judaism, the priesthood, the temple, and sacrificial worship. Here the author of the Book of Hebrews, by means of typological interpretation, demonstrated Jesus Christ as the greater high priest (chaps. 5,7), the more perfect temple (chap. 9), and the ultimate sacrifice for sin (chap. 10) to the Jewish Christian recipients of the letter.
Unfortunately, many Jews were unable to accept the harsh teaching that Jesus necessarily abolished the first order (the Old Covenant and its form and practice of worship) to establish a new order of form and practice in worship ( Hebrews 10:9 )the worship of continual praise and the worship of doing good ( Hebrews 13:15-16 ). Likewise, the ever-expanding Gentile church failed to appreciate and nurture the Jewish roots of Christianity and proclaimed itself the "new Israel, " further compounding the division between Jew and Gentile. Today in many quarters of the Christian church there is renewed effort to implement Paul's missionary vision"first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" ( Romans 1:16 ).
Andrew E. Hill
Bibliography . ABD 6:973-79; M. J. Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting ; W. Dyrness, Themes in Old Testament Theology ; M. Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane ; C. D. Erickson, Participating in Worship: History, Theory, and Practice ; A. J. Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man ; A. E. Hill, Enter His Courts with Praise! ; C. Jones, G. Wainwright, and E. Yarnold, The Study of Liturgy ; R. P. Martin, Worship in the Early Church ; A. Millgram, Jewish Worship ; W. O. E. Oesterley, The Jewish Background of Christian Liturgy ; D. Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship ; R. N. Schaper, In His Presence ; M. H. Shepherd, The Psalms for Christian Worship: A Practical Guide ; A. W. Tozer, The Best of A. W. Tozer ; R. deVaux, Ancient Israel: Religious Institutions ; R. E. Webber, Worship Old and New ; idem, Worship is a Verb ; W. H. Willimon, Word, Water, Wine and Bread ; J. F. White, Introduction to Christian Worship .
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
The Scriptural obligation of public worship is partly founded upon example, and partly upon precept; so that no person who admits that authority, can question this great duty without manifest and criminal inconsistency. The institution of public worship under the law, and the practice of synagogue worship among the Jews, from at least the time of Ezra, cannot be questioned; both of which were sanctioned by the practice of our Lord and his Apostles. The preceptive authority for our regular attendance upon public worship, is either inferential or direct. The command to publish the Gospel includes the obligation of assembling to hear it; the name by which a Christian society is designated in Scripture is a church; which signifies an assembly for the transaction of business; and, in the case of a Christian assembly, that business must necessarily be spiritual, and include the sacred exercises of prayer, praise, and hearing the Scriptures. But we have more direct precepts, although the practice was obviously continued from Judaism, and was therefore consuetudinary.
Some of the epistles of St. Paul are commanded to be read in the churches. The singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs is enjoined as an act of solemn worship to the Lord; and St. Paul cautions the Hebrews that they "forsake not the assembling of themselves together." The practice of the primitive age is also manifest from the epistles of St. Paul. The Lord's Supper was celebrated by the body of believers collectively: and this Apostle prescribes to the Corinthians regulations for the exercises of prayer and prophesyings, "when they came together in the church,"—the assembly. The statedness and order of these holy offices in the primitive church, appear also from the apostolical epistle of St. Clement: "We ought also, looking into the depths of the divine knowledge, to do all things in order, whatsoever the Lord hath commanded to be done. We ought to make our oblations, and perform our holy offices, at their appointed seasons, for these he hath commanded to be done, not irregularly or by chance, but at determinate times and hours; as he hath likewise ordained by his supreme will, where, and by what persons, they shall be performed; that so all things being done according to his pleasure, may be acceptable in his sight." This passage is remarkable for urging a divine authority for the public services of the church, by which St. Clement, no doubt, means the authority of the inspired directions of the Apostles. The ends of the institution of public worship are of such obvious importance, that it must ever be considered as one of the most condescending and gracious dispensations of God to man. By this his church confesses his name before the world; by this the public teaching of his word is associated with acts calculated to affect the mind with that solemnity which is the best preparation for hearing it to edification. It is thus that the ignorant and the vicious are collected together, and instructed and warned; the invitations of mercy are published to the guilty, and the sorrowful and afflicted are comforted. In these assemblies God, by his Holy Spirit, diffuses his vital and sanctifying influence, and takes the devout into a fellowship with himself, from which they derive strength to do and to suffer his will in the various scenes of life, while he there affords them a foretaste of the deep and hallowed pleasures which are reserved for them at his right hand for evermore. Prayers and intercessions are offered for national and public interests; and while the benefit of these exercises descends upon a country, all are kept sensible of the dependence of every public and personal interest upon God. Praise calls forth the grateful emotions, and gives cheerfulness to piety; and that instruction in righteousness which is so perpetually repeated, diffuses the principles of morality and religion throughout society; enlightens and gives activity to conscience; raises the standard of morals; attaches shame to vice, and praise to virtue; and thus exerts a powerfully purifying influence upon mankind. Laws thus receive a force, which, in other circumstances, they could not acquire, even were they enacted in as great perfection; and the administration of justice is aided by the strongest possible obligation and sanction being given to legal oaths. The domestic relations are rendered more strong and interesting by the very habit of the attendance of families upon the sacred services of the sanctuary of the Lord; and the rich and the poor meeting together, and standing on the same common ground as sinners before God, equally dependent upon him, and equally suing for his mercy, has a powerful, though often an insensible, influence in humbling the pride which is nourished by superior rank, and in raising the lower classes above abjectness of spirit, without injuring their humility. Piety, benevolence, and patriotism are equally dependent for their purity and vigour upon the regular and devout worship of God in the simplicity of the Christian dispensation.
The following is an abridgment of Dr. Neander's account of the mode of conducting public worship among the primitive Christians, which, though questionable on some points, is upon the whole just and interesting:— Since the religion of the New Testament did not admit of any peculiar outward priesthood, similar to that of the Old, the same outward kind of worship, dependent on certain places, times, and outward actions and demeanours, would also have no place in its composition. The kingdom of God, the temple of the Lord, were to be present, not in this or that place, but in every place where Christ himself is active in the Spirit, and where through him the worship of God in spirit and in truth is established. Every Christian in particular, and every church in general, were to represent a spiritual temple of the Lord; the true worship of God was to be only in the inward heart, and the whole life proceeding from such inward disposition, sanctified by faith, was to be a continued spiritual service; this is the great fundamental idea of the Gospel, which prevails throughout the New Testament, by which the whole outward appearance of religion was to assume a different form, and all that once was carnal was to be converted into spiritual, and ennobled. This notion came forward most strongly in the original inward life of the first Christians, particularly when contrasted with Judaism, and still more so when contrasted with Heathenism; a contrast which taught the Christians to avoid all pomp that caught the eye, and all multiplication of means of devotion addressed to the senses, while it made them hold fast the simple, spiritual character of the Christian worship of God. It was this which always struck the Heathen so much in the Christian worship; namely, that nothing was found among them of the outward pomp of all other religions; no temples, no altars, no images. This reproach was made to the Christians by Celsus, and answered thus by Origen: "In the highest sense the temple and image of God are in the human nature of Christ; and hence, also, in all the faithful, who are animated by the Spirit of Christ,—living images! with which no statue of Jove by Phidias is fit to be compared." Christianity impelled men frequently to seek for the stillness of the inward sanctuary, and here to pour forth their heart to God, who dwells in such temples; but then the flames of love were also lighted in their hearts, which sought communion in order to strengthen each other mutually, and to unite themselves into one holy flame which pointed toward heaven. The communion of prayer and devotion was thought a source of sanctification, inasmuch as men knew that the Lord was present by his Spirit among those who were gathered together in his name; but then they were far from ascribing any peculiar sacredness and sanctity to the place of assembly. Such an idea would appear to partake of Heathenism; and men were at first in less danger of being seduced into such an idea, because the first general places of assembly of the Christians were only common rooms in private houses, just according as it happened that any member of the church had sufficient accommodation for the purpose. Thus Gaius of Corinth, Romans 16, is called the host of the church, because the church was in the habit of assembling in a room of his house. Origen says, "The place where believers come together to pray has something agreeable and useful about it;" but then he only says this in respect to that spiritual communion. Man, we must avow, is very easily led to fall away from the worship of God in spirit and in truth, and to connect the religion of the Spirit with outward and earthly things; as the Apostle says, "Having begun in the Spirit, to wish to end in the flesh."
Watchfulness on this point was constantly needed, lest the Jewish or the Heathen notions should here intrude themselves on those of the Gospel, which was likely enough to happen as soon as the Old and the New Testament notions of the priesthood had been confused. Even in the time of Clemens of Alexandria he found himself obliged to combat the notion, which allowed the essentials of a Christian life to be of one kind in, and of another out of, the church. "The disciples of Christ," he says, "must form the whole course of their life and conduct on the model which they assume in the churches, for the sake of propriety; they must be such, and not merely seem so; as mild, as pious, and as charitable. But now, I know not how it is, they change their habits and their manners with the change of place, as the polypus, they say, changes its colour, and becomes like the rock on which it hangs. They lay aside the spiritual habit which they had assumed in the church, as soon as they have left the church, and assimilate themselves to the multitude among whom they live. I should rather say, that they convict themselves of hypocrisy, and show what they really are in their inward nature, by laying aside the mask of piety which they had assumed; and while they honour the word of God, they leave it behind them in the place where they heard it."
The Christian places of assembly were, at first, in the rooms of private houses; it may perhaps be the case, that in large towns, where the number of Christians was soon considerable, and no member of the church had any room in his house sufficient to contain all his brethren, or in places where men did not fear any prejudicial consequences from large assemblies, the church divided itself into different sections, according to the habitations of its members, of which each section held its assemblies in one particular chamber of the house of some wealthy member of the church; or, perhaps, while it was usual to unite on Sundays in one general assembly, yet each individual part of the church met together daily in the rooms which lay the most convenient to it. Perhaps the passages in St. Paul's epistles, which speak of churches in the houses of particular persons, are thus to be understood. The answer of Justin Martyr to the question of the prefect, "Where do you assemble?" exactly corresponds to the genuine Christian spirit on this point. This answer was, "Where each one can and will. You believe, no doubt, that we all meet together in one place; but it is not so, for the God of the Christians is not shut up in a room, but, being invisible, he fills both heaven and earth, and is honoured every where by the faithful." Justin adds, that when he came to Rome, he was accustomed to dwell in one particular spot, and that those Christians who were instructed by him, and wished to hear his discourses, assembled at his house. He had not visited any other congregations of the church. The arrangements which the peculiarities of the Christian worship required, were gradually made in these places of assembly, such as an elevated seat for the purpose of reading the Scriptures and preaching, a table for the distribution of the sacrament, to which as early as the time of Tertullian the name of altar, ara or altare, was given, and perhaps not without some mixture of the unevangelical Old Testament notion of a sacrifice; or at least this idea might easily attach itself to this name. When the churches increased, and their circumstances improved, there were, during the course of the third century, already separate church buildings for the Christians, as the name θρησκευσιμοι τοποι , [religious places,] of the Christians occurs in the edict of Gallienus. In the time of the external prosperity of the church, during the reign of Diocletian, many handsome churches arose in the great towns. The use of images was originally quite foreign to the Christian worship and churches, and it remained so during this whole period. The intermixture of art and religion, and the use of images for the latter, appeared to the first Christians a Heathenish practice. As in Heathenism the divine becomes desecrated and tarnished by intermixture with the natural; and as men have often paid homage to the beauties of nature, with injury to the cause of holiness, the first warmth of Christian zeal, which opposed the idolatry of nature, so common to Heathenism, and sought to maintain the divine in all its purity and elevation, was inclined rather to set holiness in the strongest contrast with what is beautiful by nature, than to endeavour to grace it by lending it a beautiful form. Men were more inclined in general to carry into extremes the idea of the appearance of the Divinity in the form of a servant, which suited the oppressed condition of the church in these centuries, than to throw it into the back ground, and overwhelm it under the predominance of their aesthetic dispositions, and their love of art. This is peculiarly shown by the general belief of the early church, that Christ had clothed his inward divine glory in a mean outward form, which was in direct contradiction to it; a conclusion which was drawn from interpreting the prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah 53:2 , too literally. Thus, Clemens of Alexandria warns the Christians, from the example of Christ, not to attribute too much value to outward beauty: "The Lord himself was mean in outward form; and who is better than the Lord? But he revealed himself not in the beauty of the body, perceptible to our senses, but in the true beauty of the soul as well as of the body; the beauty of the soul consisting in benevolence, and that of the body in immortality!"
Fathers of entirely opposite habits of mind, the adherents of two different systems of conceiving divine things, were nevertheless united on this point by their common opposition to the mixture of the natural and the divine in Heathenism, and by the endeavour to maintain the devotion to God, in spirit and in truth, pure and undefiled. Clemens of Alexandria is as little favourable as Tertullian to the use of images. Heathens, who, like Alexander Severus, saw something divine in Christ's personal form, and sects which mixed Heathenism and Christianity together, were the first who made use of images of Christ; as, for instance, the Gnostic sect of the followers of Carpocratian, who put his image beside those of Plato and Aristotle. The use of religious images among the Christians did not proceed from their ecclesiastical but from their domestic life. In the intercourse of daily life, the Christians saw themselves every where surrounded by objects of Heathen mythology, or by such as shocked their moral and Christian feelings. Similar objects adorned the walls of chambers, the drinking vessels, and the signet rings, (on which the Heathen had constantly idolatrous images,) to which, whenever they pleased, they could address their devotions; and the Christians naturally felt themselves obliged to replace these objects, which wounded their moral and religious feelings, with others more suited to those feelings. Therefore, they gladly put the likeness of a shepherd carrying a lamb upon his shoulders, on their cups, as a symbol of the Redeemer, who saves the sinners that return to him, according to the parable in the Gospel. And Clemens of Alexandria says, in reference to the signet rings of the Christians, "Let our signet rings consist of a dove," the emblem of the Holy Ghost, "or a fish, or a ship sailing toward heaven," the emblem of the Christian church, or of individual Christian souls, "or a lyre," the emblem of Christian joy, "or an anchor," the emblem of Christian hope; "and he who is a fisherman, let him remember the Apostle, and the children who were dragged out from the water; for those men ought not to engrave idolatrous forms, to whom the use of them is forbidden; those can engrave no sword and no bow, who seek for peace; the friends of temperance cannot engrave drinking cups." And yet, perhaps, religious images made their way from domestic life into the churches as early as the end of the third century, and the walls of the churches were painted in the same way. The council of Elvira set itself against this innovation as an abuse, for it made the following order: "Objects of reverence and worship shall not be painted on the walls." It is probable that the visible representation of the cross found its way very early into domestic and ecclesiastical life. This token was remarkably common among them; it was used to consecrate their rising and their going to bed, their going out and their coming in, and all the actions of daily life; it was the sign which Christians made involuntarily whenever any thing of a fearful nature surprised them. This was a mode of expressing, by means perceptible to the senses, the purely Christian idea, that all the actions of Christians, as well as the whole course of their life, must be sanctified by faith in the crucified Jesus, and by dependence upon him; and that this faith is the most powerful means of conquering all evil, and preserving oneself against it. But here also, again, men were too apt to confuse the idea and the token which represented it; and they attributed the effects of faith in the crucified Redeemer to the outward sign, to which they ascribed a supernatural, sanctifying, and preservative power; an error of which we find traces as early as the third century.
We now pass from the consideration of the places of public worship, to that of the seasons of worship, and the festivals of the early Christians. It is here shown again, that the Gospel, as it remodelled the former conceptions of the priesthood, of worship in general, and of holy places, also entirely changed the then views of sacred seasons. And here again, also, the character of the theocracy of the New Testament revealed itself, a theocracy spiritualized, ennobled, and freed from its outward garb of sense, and from the limits which bounded its generalization. The Jewish laws relating to their festivals were not merely abrogated by the Gospel, in such a manner as to transfer these festivals to different seasons; but they were entirely abolished, as far as fixing religious worship to particular times is concerned. St. Paul expressly declares all sanctifying of certain seasons, as far as men deduced this from the divine command, to be Jewish and unevangelical, and to be like returning to the slavery of the law, and to captivity to outward precepts. Such was the opinion of the early church. At first the churches assembled every day; as, for instance, the first church of Jerusalem, which assembled daily for prayer in common, and for the public consideration of the divine word, for the common celebration of the Lord's Supper and the agapae, as well as to maintain the connection between the common head of the spiritual body of the church and themselves, and between one another as members of this body. Traces of this are also found in later times in the daily assembling of the churches for the purpose of hearing the Scriptures read, and of celebrating the communion. Although, in order to meet the wants of human nature generally, consisting as it does of sense as well as soul, and those of a large body of Christians in particular, who were only in a state of education, and were to be brought up to the ripeness of Christian manhood, men soon selected definite times [beside the authorized Christian Sabbath, the first day of the week] for religious admonitions, and to consecrate them to a fuller occupation with religious things, as well as to public devotion, with the intention, that the influence of these definite times should animate and sanctify the rest of their lives, and that Christians who withdrew themselves from the distractions of business on these days, and collected their hearts before God in the stillness of solitude, as well as in public devotion, might make these seasons of service to the other parts of their life; yet this was in itself, and of itself, nothing unevangelical. It was only a dropping down from the purely spiritual point of view, on which even the Christian, as he still carries about two natures in himself, cannot always maintain himself, to the carnal; a dropping down which became constantly more necessary, the more the fire of the first animation and the warmth of the first love of the Christians died away. It was no more unevangelic than the gradual limitation of the exercise of many rights, belonging to the common priesthood of all Christians, to a certain class in the church, which circumstances rendered necessary. But just as the unevangelic made its appearance, men supposed certain days distinguished from others, and hallowed by divine right, when they introduced a distinction between holy and common days into the life of the Christian, and in this distinction forgot his calling to sanctify all days alike. When the Montanists wished to introduce and make imperative new fasts, which were fixed to certain days, the Epistle to the Galatians was very properly brought to oppose them; but Tertullian, who stood on the boundary between the original pure evangelic times and those when the intermixture of Jewish and Christian notions first took place, confuses here the views of the two religions, because he makes the evangelical to consist, not in a wholly different method of considering festivals altogether, but in the celebration of different particular festivals; and he makes the Judaizing, which the Apostle condemns, to consist only in the observation of the Jewish instead of the peculiarly Christian festivals. The weekly and the yearly festivals originally arose from the self-same fundamental idea, which was the centre point of the whole Christian life; the idea of imitating Christ, the crucified and the risen; to follow him in his death, by appropriating to ourselves, in penitence and faith, the effects of his death, by dying to ourselves and to the world; to follow him in his resurrection, by rising again with him, by faith in him and by his power, to a new and holy life, devoted to God, which, beginning here below in the seed, is matured in heaven. Hence the festival of joy was the festival of the resurrection; and the preparation for it, the remembrance of the sufferings of Christ, with mortification and crucifixion of the flesh, was the day of fasting and penitence. Thus in the week the Sunday was the joyful festival; and the preparation for it was a day of penitence and prayer, consecrated to remembrance of the sufferings of Christ and the preparations for them, and this was celebrated on the Friday; and thus also the yearly festivals were to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and the operations of the Redeemer after he had risen again; the preparation for this day was in commemoration of the sufferings and fastings of our Saviour. Allusion is made to Sunday under the character of a festival, as a symbol of a new life, consecrated to the Lord in opposition to the old Sabbath, in the epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians: "If they who were brought up under the Old Testament have attained to a new hope, and no longer keep [Jewish] Sabbaths holy, but have consecrated their life to the day of the Lord, on which also our life rose up in him, how shall we be able to live without him?" Sunday was distinguished as a day of joy by the circumstances, that men did not fast upon it, and that they prayed standing up and not kneeling, as Christ had raised up fallen man to heaven again through his resurrection. And farther: two other days in the week, Friday and Wednesday, particularly the former, were consecrated to the remembrance of the sufferings of Christ, and of the circumstances preparatory to them; congregations were held on them, and a fast till three o'clock in the afternoon, but nothing was positively appointed concerning them; in respect to joining in these solemnities every one consulted his own convenience or inclination. Such fasts, joined with prayer, were considered as the watches of the milites Christi [soldiers of Christ] on their post by the Christians, who compared their calling to a warfare, the militia Christi, and they were stationes, and the days on which they took place were called dies stationum, [day of their stations.] The churches, which were a graft of a Christian on a Jewish spirit, although they received the Sunday, retained also that of the Sabbath; and from them the custom spread abroad in the oriental church of distinguishing this day, as well as the Sunday, by not fasting and by praying in an erect posture; in the western churches, particularly the Roman, where opposition to Judaism was the prevailing tendency, this very opposition produced the custom of celebrating the Saturday in particular as a fast day. This difference in customs would of course be striking, where members of the oriental church spent their Sabbath day in the western church. It was only too soon that men lost sight of the principle of the apostolic church, which retained the unity of faith and spirit in the bond of love, but allowed all kinds of difference in external things; and then they began to require uniformity in these things. The first yearly festivals of the Christians proceeded from similar views; and at first the contrast which had in early times the most powerful influence on the developement as well of the churchly life, as of the doctrines of Christianity, is peculiarly prominent; I mean the contrast between the Jewish churches and those of the Gentile converts. The former retained all the Jewish festivals as well as the whole ceremonial law; although by degrees they introduced into them a Christian meaning which spontaneously offered itself. On the contrary, there was probably no yearly festival at all, from the beginning, among the Heathen converts; for no trace of any thing of the sort is found in the whole of the New Testament. The passover of the Old Testament was easily ennobled and converted to a passover which suited the New Testament, by merely substituting the idea of deliverance from spiritual bondage, that is, from the slavery of sin, for that of deliverance from earthly bondage. The paschal lamb was a type of Christ, by whom that deliverance was wrought. These representations went on the supposition, that Christ had partaken his last meal with his disciples, as a proper passover, at the very time that the Jews were celebrating theirs. This passover was, therefore, always celebrated on the night between the fourteenth and fifteenth of the Jewish month Nisan, as a remembrance at the same time of the last supper of Christ. This was the fundamental notion of the whole Jewish Christian passover, on which all the rest was built. The day following this passover was consecrated to the remembrance of the sufferings of Christ, and the third day from it to the remembrance of his resurrection. On the contrary, in the greater number of Heathen churches, as soon as men began to celebrate yearly festivals, (a time which cannot be determined very precisely,) they followed the method observed in the weekly festivals. They appointed one Sunday in the year for the festival of the resurrection, and one Friday as a day of penitence and fasting preparatory to this Sunday, in remembrance of the sufferings of Christ; and they gradually lengthened this time of penitence and fasting, as a preparation for that high and joyful festival. In these churches they were more inclined to take up a kind of antithetical turn against the Jewish festivals, than to graft Christian ones upon them. It was far from their notions to think of observing a yearly passover with the Jews. The following was the view which they took of the matter: "Every typical feast has lost its true meaning by the realization of that which is typified; in the sacrifice of Christ, the Lord's Supper, as the new covenant, has taken the place of that of the old covenant." This difference of outward customs between the Jewish Christian churches and the churches allied to them on the one hand, and the Heathen Christian churches founded by St. Paul on the other, existed at first without its being supposed that external things of this nature were of importance enough to lead to a controversy. A fast formed the introduction to the passover; and this was the only fast formally established by the church. The necessity of this fast was deduced from Matthew 9:15; but it was by a carnal interpretation of the passage, and an application of it quite contrary to its real sense. For it does not relate to the time of Christ's suffering, but to the time when he should be with his disciples no more. As long as they enjoyed his society they were to give themselves up to joy, and to be disturbed in it by no forced asceticism. But a time of sorrow was to follow this time of joy, although only for a season, after which a time of higher and imperishable joy, in invisible communion with him, was to follow, John 16:22 . The duration of this fast, however, was not determined; the imitation of the temptation of our Lord for forty days introduced the custom of fasting forty hours in some places, which afterward was extended to forty days; and thus the fast of forty days, the quadrigesimal fast, arose. The festival of pentecost, Whitsuntide, was closely connected with that of the resurrection; and this was dedicated to commemorating the first visible effects of the operations of the glorified Christ upon human nature, now also ennobled by him, the lively proofs of his resurrection and reception into glory; and therefore Origen joins the festivals of the resurrection and of pentecost together as one whole. The means of transition from an Old Testament festival to one befitting the New Testament, were here near at hand. The first fruits of harvest in the kingdom of nature; the first fruits of harvest in the kingdom of grace; the law of the letter from Mount Sinai—the law of the spirit from the heavenly Jerusalem. This festival originally embraced the whole season of fifty days from Easter, and was celebrated like a Sunday, that is to say, no fasts were kept during the whole of it, and men prayed standing, and not kneeling; and perhaps also in some places assemblies of the church were held, and the communion was celebrated every day. Afterward, two peculiar points of time, the ascension of Christ, and the effusion of the Holy Spirit, were selected from this whole interval. These were the only festivals generally celebrated at that time, as the passage cited from Origen proves. The fundamental notion of the whole Christian life, which referred every thing to the suffering, the resurrection, and the glorification of Christ, as well as the adherence, or, on the other hand, the opposition, to the Jewish celebration of festivals, were the cause that these were the only general festivals. The notion of a birth-day festival was far from the ideas of the Christians of this period in general; they looked upon the second birth as the true birth of men. The case must have been somewhat different with the birth of the Redeemer; human nature was to be sanctified by him from its first developement; but then this last notion could not at first come so prominently forward among the early Christians, because so many of them were first converted to Christianity when well advanced in years, after some decisive excitement of their life; but then it may have entered generally into domestic life, though at first gradually. Nevertheless, we find in this period apparently one trace of Christmas as a festival. Its history is intimately connected with the history of a kindred festival; the festival of the manifestation of Jesus in his character of Messiah, his consecration to the office of Messiah by the baptism of John, and the beginning of his public ministry as the Messiah, which was afterward called Epiphany, the ευπτη των επιφανιων , or της επιφανειας του Χριστου , [the festival of Epiphany, or of the appearance of Christ.] We find in later times that these festivals extended themselves in opposite directions, that of Christmas spreading from west to east, and the other from east to west. Clemens of Alexandria merely relates, that the Gnostic sect of the Basilidians celebrated the festival of the Epiphany at Alexandria in his time. We can hardly suppose that this sect invented the festival, although they may have had some dogmatical reason for celebrating it; for it is highly improbable that the catholic church should have afterward received a festival from the Gnostics; and these Gnostics most probably received it from the Jewish Christian churches in Palestine or Syria. For this time of our Saviour's life would appear the most important to the notions of the Jewish Christians; and the Gnostics would afterward explain it according to their own ideas.
The character of a spiritual worship of God distinguished the Christian worship from that of other religions, which consisted in symbolical pageantry and lifeless ceremonies. As a general elevation of spirit and sanctification of heart was the object of every thing in this religion, instruction and edification, through a common study of the divine word, and through prayer in common, were the leading features in the Christian worship. And in this respect it might in its form adhere to the arrangements made about the congregations in the Jewish synagogues, in which also the element of a spiritual religious worship was the prevailing ingredient. As the reading of portions of the Old Testament had formed the ground work of religious instruction in the Jewish synagogues, this custom also passed into the Christian congregations. First the Old Testament, and especially the prophetic parts of it, were read as things that pointed to the Messiah; then followed the Gospels, and after that the epistles of the Apostles. The reading of the Scriptures was of still greater consequence then, because it was desirable that every Christian should be acquainted with them; and yet, by reason of the rarity and clearness of manuscripts, and the poverty of a great proportion of the Christians, or perhaps also because all were not able to read, the Bible itself could not be put into the hands of all. Frequent hearing was therefore with many to supply the place of their own reading. The Scriptures were therefore read in the language which all could understand, and that was, in most parts of the Roman empire, the Greek or the Latin. In very early times different translations of the Bible into Latin were in existence; as every one who knew a little of Greek, found it needful to have his own Bible in his own mother tongue. In places where the Greek or the Latin language was understood only by a part of the church, that is to say, by the educated classes, while the rest understood only their native language, as was the case in many Egyptian and Syrian towns, church interpreters were appointed, as in the Jewish synagogues, and they immediately translated what had been read into the language of the country, so that it might be intelligible to all. After the reading of the Scripture there followed, as there had previously in the Jewish synagogues, short, and at first very simple, addresses in familiar language, the momentary effusions of the heart, which contained an explanation and application of what had just been read. Justin Martyr expresses himself thus on the subject: "After the reading of the Scriptures, the president instructs the people in a discourse, and incites them to the imitation of these good examples." Among the Greeks, where the taste was more rhetorical, the sermon from the very earliest times was of a more lengthened kind, and formed a very important part of the service. Singing also passed from the Jewish service into that of the Christian church. St. Paul exhorts the early churches to sing spiritual songs. What was used for this purpose were partly the Psalms of the Old Testament, and partly songs composed with this very object, especially songs of praise and thanks to God and Christ; and these, we know, Pliny found to be customary among the Christians. In the controversies with the Unitarians, about the end of the second century, and the beginning of the third, the hymns, in which from early times Christ had been honoured as a God, were appealed to. The power of church singing over the heart was soon recognized; and hence those who wished to propagate any peculiar opinions, like Bardasanes, or Paul of Samosata, endeavoured to spread them by means of hymns. In compliance with the infirmities of human nature, composed as it is of sense and spirit, the divine Founder of the church, beside his word, ordained two outward signs, as symbols of the invisible communion which existed between him, the Head of the spiritual body, and the faithful, its members; and also of the connection of these members, as with him, so also with one another. These were visible means to represent the invisible, heavenly benefits to be bestowed on the members of this body through him; and while man received in faith the sign presented to his senses, the enjoyment of that heavenly communion and those heavenly advantages was to gladden his inward heart. As nothing in all Christianity and in the whole Christian life stands isolated, but all forms one whole, proceeding from one centre, therefore, also, that which this outward sign represented must be something which should continue through the whole of the inward Christian life, something which, spreading itself forth from this one moment over the whole Christian life, should be capable of being especially excited again and promoted in return, by the influence of isolated moments. Thus, baptism was to be the sign of a first entrance into communion with the Redeemer, and with the church, the first appropriation of those advantages which Christ has bestowed on man, namely, of the forgiveness of sins and the inward union of life, which proceeds from it, as well as of the participation in a sanctifying divine Spirit of life. And the Lord's Supper was to be the sign of a constant continuance in this communion, in the appropriation and enjoyment of these advantages: and thus were represented the essentials of the whole inward Christian life, in its earliest rise and its continued progress. The whole peculiar spirit of Christianity was particularly stamped in the mode in which these external things were administered; and the mode of their administration in return exerted a powerful influence on the whole nature of the Christian worship. The connection of the moments, represented by these signs, with the whole Christian life, the connection of inward and divine things with the outward act was present to the lively Christian feelings of the first Christians.
Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
It has been well said that ‘for St. Paul and the member of the early Christian brotherhood the whole of life was a continuous worship, and the one great feature of that worship was prayer.’* If we use the word ‘prayer’ in the widest sense, as including praise as well as petition and intercession, the words agree with the opinion of Döllinger: ‘When the attention of a thinking heathen was directed to the new religion which was spreading in the Roman Empire, the thing to strike him as extraordinary would be that a religion of prayer was superseding the religion of ceremonies and invocations of gods; that it encouraged all, even the humblest and the most uneducated, to pray, or, in other words, to meditate and exercise the mind in self-scrutiny and contemplation of God.’† In that age many men who showed respect for the externals of worship doubted their efficacy and the very existence of the gods. The calm confidence of Christian believers in their faith, unseared by the superstitions which had brought them to scepticism, could not fail to impress thoughtful men. Inquiry revealed to them forms of worship in the Christian Church austere in their simplicity, but hallowed alike by their association with the sacred traditions of Jewish worship and by the vivid consciousness of the presence of God to whom they could draw near as their Father through Jesus Christ, their Saviour, in the power of His Holy Spirit poured out upon all flesh.
1. History of Christian worship.-The worship of the Apostolic Church followed the precedents both of the Temple and of the Synagogue. At first the Apostles were diligent in their attendance at the Temple ( Acts 2:46), and the keen desire of St. Paul to keep the Feast at Jerusalem ( Acts 20:6) shows that the services of Christian assemblies were as yet regarded as supplementary to the central worship at the shrine of Jewish devotion. From the Temple came eventually the gradual evolution of the liturgy which summed up in a central service the profound thought of the Epistle to the Hebrews on the sacrifice of Christ as fulfilling all the types of Jewish sacrifice. The visions of the Apocalypse fill in the picture of Christian worship in the Eucharist as the representation on earth of the worship of heaven.
‘These thoughts, though found in these books themselves, did not find expression till a later age.’* ‘Clement of Rome has the idea of Christ as “the high-priest of our offerings,” but the ideas of the heavenly Priesthood of our Lord, and the “Lamb standing as slain” of the Apocalypse, found only very isolated expression in liturgical prayers before the 4th century. Irenaeus has the “heavenly altar” (iv. 18, 6) and Origen dwells on the High Priesthood of Christ (de Oratione, 10), but the Eucharist of pre-Nicene times moved rather in a simpler circle of ideas. It is in Cyril of Jerusalem, Chrysostom, and (in the West) Ambrose that we find these ideas developed. The earlier ideas seem derived not from the Temple and its associations but from the primitive idea of the “thankoffering” (e.g. εὐχαριστήσας of the Institution and the εὐχαριστία of Ignatius, Clement, and the Didache), together with the thought of the One Body of St. Paul; cf. again the Didache prayers. The “thankoffering” idea was expanded into the glorious eucharistic prayer found in its largest and fullest range in the liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions. The idea of the One Body explains the emphasis and concentration of thought in the pre-Nicene prayers on “communion,” as opposed to worship of the Lamb standing as slain, which is the feature of the Greek liturgy from the time of Cyril of Jerusalem. And this “hieratic” clement in Christian liturgy is much more marked in Greek-speaking lands than in the West.’
This somewhat lengthy quotation seems necessary to show how the ideas in the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse were eventually expanded. The immediate purpose of the Epistle to the Hebrews was on another line. When the blow fell and the Temple at Jerusalem was destroyed, the mind of the Jewish Christian Church was prepared for the catastrophe. In the meantime, development had taken place in the worship both of Jewish and of Gentile Christians in the house-churches to which their assemblies were of necessity confined.
We can distinguish two lines of development: (i.) meetings for edification; (ii.) for the Supper of the Lord, the breaking of bread, in which, at first, the Eucharist was combined with the Agape or ‘Love Feast’ ( Judges 1:12; cf. also 2 Peter 2:13). But, as Srawley points out, ‘the use of the term Agape, and the distinction between the Agape and the Eucharist, as applied to the conditions described in Acts and 1 Corinthians, are possibly anachronisms. As yet there was no sharp distinction between the two parts of the meal, such as took place when the specially eucharistic features assumed a more developed liturgical form.’*
Lindsay has described in a graphic way the meeting for edification in one of the Gentile churches founded by St. Paul.
‘The brethren fill the body of the hall, the women sitting together, in all probability on the one side, and the men on the other; behind them are the inquirers; and behind them, clustering round the door, unbelievers, whom curiosity or some other motive has attracted, and who are welcomed to this meeting “for the Word.”
‘The service, and probably each part of the service, began with the benediction: “Grace be to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” which was followed by an invocation of Jesus and the confession that He is Lord. One of the brethren began to pray; then another and another; one began the Lord’s Prayer, and all joined; each prayer was followed by a hearty and fervent “Amen.” Then a hymn was sung; then another and another, for several of the brethren have composed or selected hymns at home which they wish to be sung by the congregation.…
‘After the hymns came reading from the Old Testament Scriptures,† and readings or recitations concerning the life and death, the sayings and deeds of Jesus. Then came the “instruction”-sober words for edification, based on what had been read, and coming either from the gift, of “wisdom,” or from that intuitive power of seeing into the heart of spiritual things which the apostle calls “knowledge.” Then came the moment of greatest expectancy. It was the time for the prophets, men who believed themselves and were believed by their brethren to be specially taught by the Holy Spirit, to take part. They started forward, the gifted men, so eager to impart what had been given them, that sometimes two or more rose at once and spoke together;‡ and sometimes when one was speaking the message came to another, and he leapt to his feet,§ increasing the emotion and taking from the edification. When the prophets were silent, first one, then another, and sometimes two at once, began strange ejaculatory prayers, in sentences so rugged and disjointed that the audience for the most part could not understand, and had to wait till some of their number, who could follow the strange utterances, were ready to translate them into intelligible language.║ Then followed the benediction; “The Grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all”; the “kiss of peace”; and the congregation dispersed. Sometimes during the meeting, at some part of the services, but oftenest when the prophets were speaking, there was a stir at the back of the room, and a heathen, who had been listening in careless curiosity or in barely concealed scorn, suddenly felt the sinful secrets of his own heart revealed to him, and pushing forward fell down at the feet of the speaker and made his confession, while the assembly raised the doxology: “Blessed be God, the Father of the Lord Jesus, for evermore. Amen.” ’¶
The elements of such worship-prayer and praise and instruction-combined to make what Duchesne in a happy phrase calls ‘a Liturgy of the Holy Ghost after the Liturgy of Christ, a true liturgy with a Real Presence and communion.’** In one form or another they passed into the later offices, beginning with vigil services, then morning services, which combined to make what was known in later days as the Divine Office. These had their roots in the Synagogue services, but were distinguished by the new fervour which the gift of the Holy Spirit stamped upon them, so that while the keynote of the Synagogue service was instruction the new keynote was praise.
We may trace the same trend of thought in the Epistle to the Ephesians, regarded as a circular letter eminently calculated to raise the whole tone of worship. It is written from a point of view at which the Apostle feels free to pass away from the warnings needed by local churches and to rise into a higher region of emotion and thanksgiving.††
2. The Eucharist.-In 1 Corinthians 11:20-34 the Eucharist seems to have followed the Agape. St. Paul writes of it as a well-known service ( 1 Corinthians 10:16). Putting together the scattered hints in the Epistles along with the references in Clement of Rome and Justin Martyr, we may suppose that it followed a service such as that described above and that it always included the following elements: a prayer of thanksgiving ( Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24; 1 Corinthians 14:16, 1 Timothy 2:1); the blessing of the bread and wine, with the recital of the words of Institution ( 1 Corinthians 10:16, Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23);* prayers, remembering Christ’s death ( Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Corinthians 11:25-26); the people eat and drink the consecrated bread and wine ( Matthew 26:26-27, Mark 14:22-23, 1 Corinthians 11:28-29). The evidence of the Didache is still in dispute. Some suppose that it contains prayers for the Agape rather than the Eucharist. In either case they are of interest and may be quoted here.
‘Every Sunday of the Lord, having assembled together, break bread and give thanks, having confessed your sins, that your sacrifice be pure’ (xiv. 1).
‘Concerning the Thanksgiving, give thanks thus. First, for the cup: We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the holy vine of thy servant David, which thou hast shown us through thy servant Jesus. Glory to thee for ever. But for the broken (bread): We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou hast shown us through thy servant Jesus. Glory to thee for ever. As this broken bread was scattered over the mountains, and has been gathered together and made one, so may thy Church be gathered from the ends of the earth into thy kingdom; for thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever. But none is to eat or drink of your Thanksgiving except those who are baptized into the name of the Lord; for because of this the Lord said: Do not give the holy thing to dogs’ (ix.).
‘After ye are filled give thanks thus: We give thanks to thee, holy Father, for thy holy name which thou hast made to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which thou hast shown us through thy servant Jesus. Glory to thee for ever. Thou, Almighty Lord, hast created all things for thy name’s sake and thou hast given food and drink to men for enjoyment that they might give thanks to thee. Above all we thank thee because thou art mighty.… Glory to thee for ever. Remember, O Lord, thy Church to free her from all evil and make her perfect in thy love; gather her from the four winds and make her holy in thy kingdom which thou hast prepared for her; for thine is the power and the glory for ever. Let grace come and let this world perish. Hosanna to the God of David. If any one be holy let him draw nigh; if any one be not, let him repent. Maran atha. Amen. But let the prophets give thanks as much as they will’ (x.).
If the early date is allowed, we find here anticipation of the great thanksgiving of the later liturgies, mention of God’s work in creation and in redemption, a thanksgiving after Communion and prayer for the Church with the germ of the act of praise which grew into the Gloria in excelsis.
The Epistle of Clement of Rome has references to the order observed for the worship of God, e.g. ch. 40:
‘Now the offerings and ministrations He commanded to be performed with care, and not to be done rashly or in disorder, but at fixed times and seasons.’
It contains also quotations from a wonderful prayer of intercession and thanksgiving (qq.v. ), and a close parallel to the later Sanctus.
Ch. 34: ‘For the Scripture saith; Ten thousands of ten thousands stood by Him, and thousands of thousands ministered unto Him: and they cried aloud, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Sabaoth; all creation is full of His glory. Yea, and let us ourselves then, being gathered together in concord with intentness of heart, cry unto Him as from one mouth earnestly that we may he made partakers of His great and glorious promises.’
The Epistles of Ignatius contain many liturgical phrases but no further hints as to the form of worship beyond the maxim, ‘Do nothing without the bishop and the presbyters’ and such general exhortation as the following:
ad Magn. 7: ‘And attempt not to think anything right for yourselves apart from others: but let there be one prayer in common, one supplication, one mind, one hope, in love and in joy unblameable, which is Jesus Christ, than whom there is nothing better. Hasten to come together all of you, as to one temple, even God; as to one altar; even to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from One Father, and is with One and departed unto One.’
Pliny’s letter to the Emperor Trajan, important as it is from other points of view, does not fill in any details for us in the scheme of worship. Pliny asserts that the Christiana were ‘accustomed on a certain day to meet together before daybreak and to sing a hymn alternately to Christ as a god’ (Ep. xcvi. 7). He continues that, having bound themselves by an oath to commit no crime, they dispersed but met again to eat food-a hint of the separation of the Agape from the Eucharist.
The testimony of Justin Martyr in his First Apology is much more definite, and must be quoted in full:
Ch. 65: ‘But we [Christians], after that we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented [to our teaching], lead him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the illuminated [i.e. baptised] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. Bread and a cup of wine mingled with water are then brought to the president of the brethren: and he, taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the Universe, through the Name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayer and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying, “Amen.” … And when the president has given thanks and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give each of those present the bread and wine mixed with water, over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and they carry away a portion to those who are not present.’
66: ‘And this food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but he who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ hath enjoined. For we do not receive these [elements] as common bread and common drink, but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the word of God, bad both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of the word which comes from Him, and from which our blood and flesh are nourished by transmutation, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.’
Justin goes on to quote the words of Institution from the Gospels, and in ch. 67, repeating his account of the Eucharist, emphasizes the fact that it is celebrated on Sunday, and adds that the Gospels are read ‘or the writings of the Prophets, as long as time permits.’
‘And the well-to-do and the willing give what each person thinks fit, and the collection is deposited with the president, who succours orphans and widows, and those who are in want through sickness or any other cause, and those who are in prison, and the strangers sojourning among us, and, in a word, he takes care of all who are in any need.’
3. Principles.-From these scattered hints, from which we may endeavour to reconstitute the form of worship in the Apostolic Church, we must now turn to the principles. In the evolution of the primitive liturgy we can discern a close adherence to the apostolic combination of prayer and praise with instruction and intercession leading up to the gift of sacramental grace. At the same time we note the constant loyalty to the principle on which Hooker lays such stress-that sacraments are ‘not physical but moral instruments of salvation, duties of service and worship, which unless we perform as the Author of grace requireth, they are unprofitable.’*
This finds emphasis in the constant teaching of the need of purification for participation in holy rites. This is expressed in Hebrews 10:22 : ‘Let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body washed with pure water.’ In other words, devotion must be sincere and not formal, faith must be enlightened and firmly held. The writer goes on to refer to the confession made at baptism (v. 23); ‘Let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not.’ Other references could be multiplied, but it may suffice to quote 1 Peter 1:16-17, where the exhortation to holiness of life accompanies reference to ‘calling on the Father,’ The thought is summarized in the ancient proclamation by the bishop to the people, ‘Holy things to holy persons.’
Again we find that the primary characteristic of apostolic worship was to offer to the Lord the honour due unto His name in holy worship ( Psalms 29:2). The desire of the Psalmist was fulfilled. The Church met to give as well as to receive.
This thought leads straight up into the high region of speculation entered by Freeman when he traces back the ultimate principle of the Eucharist and of the Divine Office to the fundamental doctrines of the Incarnation and the Perpetual Priesthood of Christ. The Incarnation is linked up with the foundation truth of sacrifice. ‘Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.’* All Christian worship is enriched by that thought. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Under the conditions of human sinfulness the incarnate life of Christ was necessarily consecrated by suffering, which found its culmination in the Cross of Calvary, His Passion being the perfecting of His Priesthood. So it is the privilege of the Church in the Eucharist to show the Lord’s death till He come, to offer in this memorial sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving ‘the one true pure immortal sacrifice.’
The Divine Office of a later age, which traces its roots to the simple congregational meetings for edification, allied, as we have seen, to the Synagogue services, is based on the thought of the Perpetual Priesthood of Christ. Constant reference to the mediation of Christ in the familiar ending of prayers ‘through Jesus Christ our Lord’ kept this ever in mind.
Literature.-L. Duchesne, Christian Worship2, Eng. tr. , London, 1904; A. Edersheim, The Temple: its Ministry and Services, do., 1874; A. Fortescue. The Mass, do., 1912; P. Freeman, The Principles of Divine Service, Oxford. 1863; T. M. Lindsay, The Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries, London, 1902; J. H. Srawley, The Early History of the Liturgy, Cambridge, 1913; F. E. Warren, Liturgy and Ritual the Ante-Nicene Church, London, 1897.
A. E. Burn.
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 
Both the Hebrew (Old Testament) and the Greek (New Testament) words usually translated ‘worship’ indicate a kind of humble submission; for example, the submission of a servant to a master. The inferior kneels or bows down, showing an attitude of deep respect for the superior ( Genesis 18:2; Genesis 33:3; Genesis 42:6; Genesis 49:8; 2 Samuel 24:20; Matthew 8:2; Matthew 9:18; Matthew 18:26).
This is the underlying idea in the human being’s worship of God. People humble themselves before their Creator as those who serve, honour, fear and adore him. They worship as those who appreciate God’s infinite worth ( Genesis 24:26-27; Exodus 4:31; Exodus 12:27; Psalms 95:6; Matthew 2:2; Matthew 28:9; Revelation 4:10; Revelation 5:14; Revelation 11:16). Yet worship is not something grim, dull or cheerless. It is something joyful, for it is the enjoyment of God himself ( Psalms 89:15-16; Psalms 98:4-6; Luke 1:46-47; 1 Peter 1:8).
Forms of worship
Worship is both an attitude in which people live and a spiritual exercise that they carry out ( Exodus 33:10; Romans 12:1). It is an activity not only of the spirit, but also of the mind ( 1 Corinthians 14:15). It is something that is done individually and collectively ( Genesis 22:5; Genesis 24:52; 1 Chronicles 29:20; Acts 20:7 1 Corinthians 14:26). ‘Worship’ is a term so broad in meaning that it may be used in some places to denote the highest exercises of the soul, in others to denote the formal exercises of insincere religion ( 1 Samuel 15:30; 2 Samuel 12:20; Jeremiah 7:2-3).
In Old Testament times the Israelites expressed their worship in ceremonial forms such as sacrifices and festivals ( 1 Samuel 1:3; Psalms 132:7). But true worship always required right behaviour, humility of spirit and confession of known sin. The rituals themselves were of no use if people did not worship God in their hearts and lives ( Psalms 15:1; Psalms 50:7-15; Isaiah 29:13; Micah 6:6-8). Organized forms of worship were established firstly for the tabernacle (see Feasts ; Sacrifice ; Tabernacle ), then for the temple (see Music ; Singing ; Temple ), and later for the synagogue (see Synagogue ).
The early Christians continued to attend the temple for prayer and worship ( Acts 2:46; Acts 3:1), but before long they made a clear break with Judaism and gradually developed their own form of public worship. It consisted mainly of praying, singing, reading the Scriptures, teaching Christian truth and celebrating the Lord’s Supper ( Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 14:15-16; 1 Timothy 4:13; see Church; Gifts Of The Spirit )
Because the Christians’ worship was collective, the participants had to maintain a degree of order in the procedures they followed. The worship of the church was a united act, not a disjointed collection of individual expressions of devotion ( 1 Corinthians 12:25; 1 Corinthians 14:16-17; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 Corinthians 14:40). As in Old Testament times, the spiritual condition of the worshippers was more important than their formal expressions of worship ( Mark 7:6-7; John 4:23-24; Philippians 3:3).
Worship, besides being ‘in the spirit’, must be ‘in truth’ ( John 4:24). People must worship out of an understanding of the truth of God, and that truth has been revealed through the Scriptures ( John 16:14). If a clearer understanding of the Scriptures leads to a more worthy worship, the Bible should have a place in worship, whether individual or collective. As God reveals more of his person and work through the Scriptures, believers will be filled with love and awe, and will respond with humble yet adoring worship ( Revelation 1:12-17).
In true worship there is therefore a two-way movement. There is a movement from God to the worshippers and from the worshippers to God; in other words, communion ( 1 John 1:1-3). This is well expressed in the Lord’s Supper ( 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26; see Communion; Fellowship; Lord’S Supper )
True and false worship
Any giving of honour to God is, in a sense, worship ( Psalms 22:27-29; Acts 8:27; Acts 16:14), but the higher forms of worship arise out of an exercise of the soul that words cannot express. The greater the appreciation that believers have of God’s holy character and gracious works, the more they adore him and praise him. They worship him as their Creator and their Redeemer. They bring him homage, adoration and praise because of who he is and what he has done ( Psalms 103:1-5; Psalms 104:1-4; Psalms 104:31-35; Revelation 4:8-11; Revelation 5:9-14). God’s deeds, whether in creation, history or redemption, are a cause for unceasing worship and praise from men and women everywhere ( Psalms 33:1-19; Psalms 99:1-5; Romans 11:33-36; Ephesians 3:14-21; Judges 1:24-25).
God alone is to be worshipped ( Acts 10:25-26; Acts 14:11-15; Revelation 22:8-9). Those who worship any other god, person or thing are guilty of idolatry ( Exodus 20:4-5; Exodus 32:8; Deuteronomy 4:19; Deuteronomy 8:19; Romans 1:25; see Idolatry ). Just as the worship of God means submission to his sovereign rule, so the worship of idols means submission to the evil power of false gods ( Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 11:16; Deuteronomy 29:26; Joshua 24:15; Matthew 4:10; 1 Corinthians 10:20; Hebrews 1:6-7). If any challenge God by claiming divine worship for themselves, they are guilty of blasphemy ( Matthew 4:9-10; Mark 2:7; Mark 14:61-64; Revelation 13:4-8; Revelation 19:20; see Blasphemy ).
There is a sense in which all creation worships God ( Psalms 96:1; Psalms 97:1; Psalms 148:3-4). In particular, the spirit beings who live in God’s heavenly presence worship him unceasingly, as if that were the purpose for which they were created ( Psalms 148:1-2; Isaiah 6:2-3; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 4:8-11).
The people of God’s earth also worship him. In the case of those who have responded to the grace of God and accepted the gift of his Son, their worship is enriched by their unspeakable gratitude ( 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 9:15). They worship Jesus Christ, and they worship the Father through Christ, whose Spirit now indwells them ( John 16:13-14; Ephesians 2:18; Colossians 1:15-23; Judges 1:24-25). Yet their worship at present is very far short of perfection. Only in the age to come, when they see and know God clearly, will they worship as they ought ( 1 Corinthians 13:12; Revelation 22:3-4).
Holman Bible Dictionary 
Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it! How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven ( Genesis 28:16-17 NRSV).
Before the dream, the place had only been a stopping place reached by sunset ( Genesis 18:11 ), but when he awoke it had become a holy place. The holy presence of God had penetrated into ordinary (profane) space in a way which had aroused acute awareness on the part of a human being. The sacred (holy) and profane are united in an experience of worship.
The consciousness of holy presence brings forth a response from those who perceived it. The response is worship and may take many forms. The response may be private and intensely personal, in the form of prayers, confessions, silence, and meditative experiences of various sorts. Jesus, leaving the disciples behind in a place called Gethsemane, went a ways from them to fall on the ground and pray alone to the Father ( Mark 14:32-35 ). According to Matthew 26:39 (NRSV), he “threw himself on the ground and prayed”; according to Luke 22:41 , he “knelt down, and prayed” (NRSV). Each of these is a physical posture considered appropriate for worship in prayer.
Jacob's response was to take the stone he had used for a pillow and to set it up as a pillar, declaring that the stone pillar would be a house of God, apparently meaning that a temple/sanctuary would be built there. This would be a place where communication could occur between the divine-heavenly realm and the human-earthly realm. The messengers of God would be continually going up and down bearing the petitions of worshipers and the responses of God. Thus Jacob proposed that his personal experience of the presence of God be made available to others.
Worship in the Bible moves back and forth between personal experience and corporate experience. Personal worship may occur in very private circumstances or may be related to public worship. This is illustrated by the shifting back and forth from plural speakers to a singular speaker in the Psalms (for instance, Psalm 44:1 ). Personal worship and corporate worship are mutually interactive. Corporate worship is empowered by personal experience, but personal experience needs affirmation and interpretation in corporate worship. Thus, early Christians were warned not to neglect meeting together in worship, “as is the habit of some,” in order to encourage one another in the faith and in the spiritual life ( Hebrews 10:25 NRSV). Assembling together in worship is an affirmation of what the worshipers believe and an opportunity for mutual response to the gracious actions of God.
Worship in the Bible appears in varied forms and types. Times and places are among the major factors. Worship, especially of the corporate type, normally takes place according to some sort of schedule and/or calendar. There are times and seasons for worship, even though in the Bible God is present with His people at anytime. Sharpened awareness of the divine presence may result from intensive exercises of worship during special times and at special places. These occasions and places are also the contexts for religious education and the development and enjoyment of fellowship among the worshipers. Thus in ancient Israel there was the divine comand that “Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God,” and “Three times in the year you shall hold a festival for me” ( Exodus 23:17 ,Exodus 23:17, 23:14 NRSV). See Day Of Atonement; Festivals; Sabbath .
The Psalms with expressions of lament, confession, thanksgiving, praise, teaching, and celebration show the breadth of Old Testament worship. See Music; Psalms.
The followers of Jesus, who became known as Christians, received a rich heritage of worship from Judaism, but the new dynamics of their experience with Christ brought about major changes. The festivals of Passover and Pentecost were retained but in different forms. The Lord's Supper, the crucifixion, and the resurrection of Jesus are all closely related to the Passover celebration ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Matthew 26:17 ,Matthew 26:17, 26:26-28 and parallels). The Christian Easter is a form of the Passover. According to Acts 2:1-42 , Pentecost was the occasion of a great filling and empowering of the disciples of Jesus by the Holy Spirit (interpreted as a fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32 ). Scattered references in the New Testament ( 1 Corinthians 16:8; Acts 20:16 ) indicate that the early Christians converted Pentecost into a Christian observance. It has continued to be observed as a part of the Christian calendar by many churches (seventh Sunday after Easter). Tabernacles/Booths has not been continued in Christian worship except in the related forms of thanksgiving observances and harvest festivals. The Day of Atonement is used theologically to interpret Christ's sacrifice in Hebrews 8-9 , but does not seem to have been a regular part of Christian worship, except in the form of penitential periods like Lent. For Christians the whole complex of Temple activities, priesthood, sacrifice, and sin-cleansing rituals either became obsolete or were reinterpreted in major ways (for instance, the church itself becomes the temple ( 1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 2:21-22; 1 Peter 2:9 ). See Church Year .
Sabbath has been a major problem for Christian worship. The early Christians are said to have met on the first day of the week ( Acts 20:7; compare 1 Corinthians 16:2; John 20:19 ,John 20:19, 20:26 )—though attending the Temple together on a daily basis ( Acts 2:46 ). The early Christian meetings seem to have been joyful occasions for teaching, prophesying, singing, praying, reading apostolic letters, and the “breaking of bread” in the Lord's Supper ( Acts 2:42 ,Acts 2:42, 2:46; 1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 5:19-20; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ). The explanation of the emergence of the Christian Sunday from these beginnings is plagued by a lack of precise information and by doctrinal disputes. It seems clear that the first day-of-the-week meetings of the early Christians were not sabbaths. The first-day celebration became “the Lord's day” ( Revelation 1:10 ) with emphasis on the resurrection. In time, the Christian Sunday became the Christian sabbath for most Christians; though non-Sunday, sabbatarian groups have been very persistent in Christian history. It seems logical for Christians to observe both sabbath and Sunday, but in most cases this has been judged both impractical and unnecessary. The extent to which Sunday should be considered as sabbath is debated by Christians both in theory and in practice. One polar position is represented by a long tradition of puritanical sabbath observance on Sunday, with no works and a minimum of other activities apart from worship. The other pole gathers around it the conviction that sabbath was annulled by the work and teaching of Jesus (compare Galatians 4:10-11; Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16-17 ) and that Christians are free from any sabbath observance on Sunday. Most Christians maintain a middle position of sabbath/Sunday observance, taking Sunday as a messianic continuation of the Jewish sabbath and believing that the loss of the sabbath theology of the Old Testament would be serious and unnecessary. The sabbath theology includes the archetypal testimonies of God's saving action in creation from chaos and in Exodus from slavery. Such fundamental aspects are essential for a life of faith and merge without conflict with the celebration of the resurrection and the lordship of Christ.
The discussion above indicates that worship in the biblical context in multifaceted and complex. Some elements seem to be of vital importance. Time and places have been referred to already. The New Testament and much Christian experience move away from rigid adherence to calendars and places, but they are still important in Christian practice. The awareness of divine presence, however symbolized and realized, is absolutely essential for worship. Like Jacob, every true worshiper becomes aware that “The Lord is in this place!” As in the case of Jacob, the sense of presence may come in private and personal experience. However, the most basic pattern is found in the promise of Jesus, according to Matthew 18:20 (NRSV): “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” The heart of Christian worship is the power of Christ's presence in a gathered community of disciples (see John 14:12-14; Acts 2:43-47; Acts 4:9-12 ,Acts 4:9-12, 4:32-37; 1 Corinthians 5:3-4; Revelation 2:1 ). According to the New Testament, the presence of Christ is especially manifest in the breaking of the bread at the Lord's Supper (compare Luke 24:28-32 ,Luke 24:28-32, 24:35 ). However, the Presence is not limited to the Supper and may occur wherever and whenever “two or three are gathered” in the name of Jesus Christ.
Marvin E. Tate
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
The worship of God has been described as 'the honour and adoration which are rendered to Him by reason of what He is in Himself, and what He is to those who render it.' It is pre-supposed that the worshipper has some relation with God, and that the order of service or worship is prescribed. The Israelites had been redeemed out of Egypt by God, and thus as a ransomed people could draw near to His appointed place to worship according to His order. The Psalmist could say, "O come let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation . . . . for the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods . . . . O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand." Psalm 95:1-7 .
The worshippers could not enter God's sanctuary in O.T. times: their place of approach was its outer courts; and even the priests, except once a year, went no further than the holy place. All this is now changed: redemption has been wrought, the veil has been rent from top to bottom, God has come out, and worshippers, as priests, have boldness for entrance to the holiest. God has been revealed in the counsels of His love as Father, and the Holy Spirit has been given. The language of the Psalms therefore is hardly fitting for Christian worship, because of the nearness into which the believer is brought. In the millennium the people will not have access in the same sense: the true figure for the Christian attitude is that of the priest, not that of the people.
They that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth, and the Father seeketh such to worship Him. John 4:24 . They delight in what He is: they "joy in God," and they love Him. To worship 'in spirit' is to worship according to the true nature of God, and in the power of that communion which the Holy Spirit gives. It thus stands in contrast to worship consisting in forms and ceremonies, and to the religiousness of which the flesh is capable. To worship 'in truth' is to worship God according to the revelation which He has been pleased to give of Himself. It would not therefore now be worshipping God 'in truth' to worship Him simply as 'a great God,' 'our Maker,' and 'a great King above all gods,' as in Psalm 95; for He has been pleased to reveal Himself in another light, even as 'Father' to those who are His. They enter into His presence in the spirit of sonship, and in the sense of the love which has given them a place before Him in Christ, as sons according to His good pleasure: the sense of this love, and of the good pleasure of God in having us before Him in Christ, is the spring of worship. The Father and the Son are known, the Father's will is that the Son should be honoured as revealing the fountain of love, and the Son leading the hearts of the many sons into the Father's love. Worship is thus distinguished from ascriptions of praise and thanksgiving: it is the homage of love. Romans 8:15 .
King James Dictionary 
WORSHIP, n. See Worth.
1. Excellence of character dignity worth worthiness.
--Elfin born of noble state, and muckle worship in his native land.
In this sense, the word is nearly or quite obsolete but hence,
2. A title of honor, used in addresses to certain magistrates and other of respectable character.
My father desires your worships company.
3. A term of ironical respect. 4. Chiefly and eminently, the act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being or the reverence and homage paid to him in religious exercises, consisting in adoration, confession, prayer, thanksgiving and the like.
The worship of God is an eminent part of religion.
Prayer is a chief part of religious worship.
5. The homage paid to idols or false gods by pagans as the worship or Isis. 6. Honor respect deference.
Then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. Luke 14 .
7. Idolatry of lovers obsequious or submissive respect.
1. To adore to pay divine honors to to reverence with supreme respect and veneration.
Thou shalt worship no other God. Exodus 34 .
2. To respect to honor to treat with reverence.
Nor worshipd with a waxen epitaph.
3. To honor with extravagant love and extreme submission as a lover.
With bended knees I daily worship her.
1. To perform acts of adoration. 2. To perform religious service.
Our fathers worshiped in this mountain. John 4 .
Webster's Dictionary 
(1): ( v. t.) To honor with extravagant love and extreme submission, as a lover; to adore; to idolize.
(2): ( a.) Hence, a title of honor, used in addresses to certain magistrates and others of rank or station.
(3): ( v. t.) To pay divine honors to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration; to perform religious exercises in honor of; to adore; to venerate.
(4): ( v. t.) To respect; to honor; to treat with civil reverence.
(5): ( a.) An object of worship.
(6): ( a.) Excellence of character; dignity; worth; worthiness.
(7): ( a.) Honor; respect; civil deference.
(8): ( a.) Obsequious or submissive respect; extravagant admiration; adoration.
(9): ( a.) The act of paying divine honors to the Supreme Being; religious reverence and homage; adoration, or acts of reverence, paid to God, or a being viewed as God.
(10): ( v. i.) To perform acts of homage or adoration; esp., to perform religious service.
Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words 
Shâchâh ( שָׁחָה , Strong'S #7812), “to worship, prostrate oneself, bow down.” This word is found in modern Hebrew in the sense of “to bow or stoop,” but not in the general sense of “to worship.” The fact that it is found more than 170 times in the Hebrew Bible shows something of its cultural significance. It is found for the first time in Gen. 18:2, where Abraham “bowed himself toward the ground” before the 3 messengers who announced that Sarah would have a son.
The act of bowing down in homage is generally done before a superior or a ruler. Thus, David “bowed” himself before Saul (1 Sam. 24:8). Sometimes it is a social or economic superior to whom one bows, as when Ruth “bowed” to the ground before Boaz (Ruth 2:10). In a dream, Joseph saw the sheaves of his brothers “bowing down” before his sheaf (Gen. 37:5, 9-10). Shâchâh is used as the common term for coming before God in worship, as in 1 Sam. 15:25 and Jer. 7:2. Sometimes it is in conjunction with another Hebrew verb for bowing down physically, followed by “worship,” as in Exod. 34:8: “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.” Other gods and idols are also the object of such worship by one’s prostrating oneself before them (Isa. 2:20; 44:15, 17).
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
WORSHIP . See Adoration, Praise, Prayer, Preaching, Synagogue, Temple. In Luke 14:10 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘worship’ means reverence (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘glory’) from man to man.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Exodus 34:14 Isaiah 2:8 Acts 10:25,26 Revelation 22:8,9
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
wûr´ship (Anglo-Saxon: weorthscipe , wyrthscype , "honor," from weorth , wurth , "worthy," "honorable," and scipe , "ship"):
2. Old Testament Worship
3. New Testament Worship
4. Public Christian Worship
Honor, reverence, homage, in thought, feeling, or act, paid to men, angels, or other "spiritual" beings, and figuratively to other entities, ideas, powers or qualities, but specifically and supremely to Deity.
The principal Old Testament word is שׁחה , shāḥāh , "depress," "bow down," "prostrate" (Hithpael), as in Exodus 4:31 , "bowed their heads and worshipped"; so in 94 other places. The context determines more or less clearly whether the physical act or the volitional and emotional idea is intended. The word is applied to acts of reverence to human superiors as well as supernatural. the Revised Version (British and American) renders it according to its physical aspect, as indicated by the context, "bowed himself down" (the King James Version "worshipped," Genesis 24:52; compare Genesis 23:7; Genesis 27:29 , etc.).
Other words are: סגד , ṣāghadh , "prostrate," occurring in Isaiah 44:15 , Isaiah 44:17 , Isaiah 44:19; Isaiah 46:6 , but rendered (English Versions of the Bible) "fall down." In Daniel 2:46; Daniel 3:5 , Daniel 3:6 , Daniel 3:7 , Daniel 3:10 , Daniel 3:15 , Daniel 3:18 , Daniel 3:28 , it (Aramaic סגד , ṣeghidh ) is "worship" (English Versions of the Bible), 7 times associated with "falling down" and 5 times with "serve." עבד , ‛ābhadh , "work," "labor," "serve," is rendered "worship" by English Versions of the Bible in 2 Kings 10:19 , 2 Kings 10:21 ff: "the worshippers (servants) of Baal." In Isaiah 19:21 the Revised Version (British and American) has "worship with sacrifice and oblation" (the King James Version "do sacrifice"). Isaiah 19:23 the King James Version has "served," the Revised Version (British and American) "worship." עצב , ‛ācabh , "carve," "fabricate," "fashion," is once given "worship," i.e. "make (an object of) worship" ( Jeremiah 44:19 , the American Revised Version margin "portray").
The Old Testament idea is therefore the reverential attitude of mind or body or both, combined with the more generic notions of religions adoration, obedience, service.
The principal New Testament word (59 times) is προσκυνέω , proskunéō , "kiss (the hand or the ground) toward," hence, often in the oriental fashion bowing prostrate upon the ground; accordingly, Septuagint uses it for the Hithpael of shāḥāh ( hishtaḥăwāh ), "prostrate oneself." It is to render homage to men, angels, demons, the Devil, the "beast," idols, or to God. It is rendered 16 times to Jesus as a beneficent superior; at least 24 times to God or to Jesus as God. The root idea of bodily prostration is much less prominent than in the Old Testament. It is always translated "worship."
Next in frequency is σέβομαι , sébomai , "venerate," and its various cognates, σεβάζομαι , sebázomai , εὐσεβέω , eusebéō , θεοσεβής , theosebḗs , σέβασμα , sébasma . Its root is σέβας , sébas , "fear," but this primitive meaning is completely merged into "reverence," "hold in awe": "In vain do they worship me" ( Matthew 15:9 , etc.). λατρεύω , latreúō , is "serve" (religiously), or "worship publicly," "perform sacred services," "offer gifts," "worship God in the observance of the rites instituted for His worship." It is translated "worship" in Acts 7:42; Acts 24:14 the King James Version, but "serve," American Standard Revised Version: "serve the host of heaven," "serve I the God of our fathers"; but both the King James Version and the American Standard Revised Version render Philippians 3:3 , "worship by the Spirit of God," and Hebrews 10:2 , "the worshippers," the context in the first two being general, in the second two specific. In 2 Timothy 1:3 and many other cases both the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) give "serve," the meaning not being confined to worship; but compare Luke 2:37 Revised Version: "worshipping (the King James Version "served") with fastings and supplications." Romans 1:25 gives both sebazomai and latreuō in their specific meanings: "worshipped (venerated) and served (religiously,) the creature." δόξα , dóxa , "glory" ( Luke 14:10 , King James Version: "Thou shalt have worship," is a survival of an old English use, rightly discarded in the Revised Version (British and American)). θρησκεία , thrēskeı́a ( Colossians 2:18 ), "a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels" (the American Revised Version margin "an act of reverence"), has the root idea of trembling or fear. θεραπεύω , therapeúō , "serve," "heal," "tend" ( Acts 17:25 , King James Version: "neither is worshipped by men's hands"), is "served" in the Revised Version (British and American), perhaps properly, but its close connection with "temples made with hands" makes this questionable. νεωκόρος , neōkóros , "temple-sweepers," "temple-keeper" ( Acts 19:35 ), has its true meaning in the Revised Version (British and American), but "worshipper" is needed to complete the idea, in our modern idiom.
In the Apocrypha the usage is the same as in the New Testament, the verbs used being, in the order of their frequency, proskuneō , sebomai , thrēskeuō , and latreuō .
The New Testament idea of worship is a combination of the reverential attitude of mind and body, the general ceremonial and religious service of God, the feeling of awe, veneration, adoration; with the outward and ceremonial aspects approaching, but not reaching, the vanishing point. The total idea of worship, however, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, must be built up, not from the words specifically so translated, but also, and chiefly, from the whole body of description of worshipful feeling and action, whether of individuals singly and privately, or of larger bodies engaged in the public services of sanctuary, tabernacle, temple, synagogue, upper room or meeting-place.
Space permits no discussion of the universality of worship in some form, ranging from superstitious fear or fetishism to the highest spiritual exercise of which man is capable; nor of the primary motive of worship, whether from a desire to placate, ingratiate, or propitiate some higher power, or to commune and share with him or it, or express instinctive or purposed devotion to him. On the face of the Bible narratives, the instinct of communion, praise, adoring gratitude would seem to be the earliest moving force (compare Genesis 4:3 , Genesis 4:4 , Cain, Abel; Romans 1:18-25 , the primitive knowledge of God as perverted to creature-worship; Genesis 8:20 , Noah's altar; and Genesis 12:7 , Abram's altar). That propitiation was an early element is indicated probably by Abel's offering from the flock, certainly by the whole system of sacrifice. Whatever its origin, worship as developed in the Old Testament is the expression of the religious instinct in penitence, prostration, adoration, and the uplift of holy joy before the Creator.
2. Old Testament Worship:
In detail, Old Testament worship was individual and private, though not necessarily secret, as with Eliezer ( Genesis 24:26 f), the expression of personal gratitude for the success of a mission, or with Moses ( Exodus 34:8 ), seeking God's favor in intercessory prayer; it was sometimes, again, though private, in closest association with others, perhaps with a family significance ( Genesis 8:20 , Noah; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 22:5 , Abraham: "I and the lad will go yonder; and ... worship"); it was in company with the "great congregation," perhaps partly an individual matter, but gaining blessing and force from the presence of others ( Psalm 42:4 : "I went with the throng ... keeping holyday"); and it was, as the national spirit developed, the expression of the national devotion ( 1 Chronicles 29:20 : "And all the assembly ... worshipped Yahweh, and the king"). In this public national worship the truly devout Jew took his greatest delight, for in it were inextricably interwoven together, his patriotism, his sense of brotherhood, his feeling of solidarity, his personal pride and his personal piety.
The general public worship, especially as developed in the Temple services, consisted of: (1) Sacrificial acts, either on extraordinary occasions, as at the dedication of the Temple, etc., when the blood of the offerings flowed in lavish profusion ( 2 Chronicles 7:5 ), or in the regular morning and evening sacrifices, or on the great annual days, like the Day of Atonement. (2) Ceremonial acts and posture of reverence or of adoration, or symbolizing the seeking and receiving of the divine favor, as when the high priest returned from presenting incense offering in the holy place, and the people received his benediction with bowed heads, reverently standing ( 2 Chronicles 7:6 ), or the worshippers prostrated themselves as the priests sounded the silver trumpets at the conclusion of each section of the Levites' chant. (3) Praise by the official ministrants of the people or both together, the second probably to a very limited extent. This service of praise was either instrumental, silver "trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music," or it might be in vocal song, the chant of the Levites (very likely the congregation took part in some of the antiphonal psalms); or it might be both vocal and instrumental, as in the magnificent dedicatory service of Solomon ( 2 Chronicles 5:13 ), when "the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking Yahweh." Or it might be simply spoken: "And all the people said, Amen, and praised Yahweh" ( 1 Chronicles 16:36 ). How fully and splendidly this musical element of worship was developed among the Hebrews the Book of Ps gives witness, as well as the many notices in Chronicles (1 Ch 15; 16; 25; 2 Chronicles 5:1-14; 29; 30, etc.). It is a pity that our actual knowledge of Hebrew music should be so limited. (4) Public prayer, such as is described in Dt 26, at the dedication of the Temple (2 Ch 6, etc.), or like Psalm 60:1-12; Psalm 79:1-13; 80. Shorter forms, half praise, half prayer, formed a part of the service in Christ's time. (5) The annual feasts, with their characteristic ceremonies. See Passover; Tabernacle; etc. Places of worship are discussed under Altar; High Place; Sanctuary; Tabernacle; Temple , etc.
3. New Testament Worship:
In the New Testament we find three sorts of public worship, the temple-worship upon Old Testament lines, the synagogue-worship, and the worship which grew up in the Christian church out of the characteristic life of the new faith. The synagogue-worship, developed by and after the exile, largely substituted the book for the symbol, and thought for the sensuous or object appeal; it was also essentially popular, homelike, familiar, escaping from the exclusiveness of the priestly service. It had four principal parts: (1) the recitation of the shema‛ , composed of Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21 , and Numbers 15:37-41 , and beginning, "Hear ( shema‛ ), O I srael: Yahweh our God is one Yahweh"; (2) prayers, possibly following some set form, perhaps repeating some psalm; (3) the reading by male individuals of extracts from the Law and the Prophets selected by the "ruler of the synagogue," in later years following the fixed order of a lectionary, as may have been the case when Jesus "found the place"; (4) the targum or condensed explanation in the vernacular of the Scriptures read.
It is questioned whether singing formed a part of the service, but, considering the place of music in Jewish religious life, and its subsequent large place in Christian worship, it is hard to think of it as absent from the synagogue.
4. Public Christian Worship:
Public Christian worship necessarily developed along the lines of the synagogue and not the temple, since the whole sacrificial and ceremonial system terminated for Christianity with the life and death of Jesus. The perception of this, however, was gradual, as was the break of Jewish Christians with both synagogue and temple. Jesus Himself held the temple in high honor, loved to frequent it as His Father's house, reverently observed the feasts, and exhibited the characteristic attitude of the devout but un-Pharisaic Israelite toward the temple and its worship. Yet by speaking of Himself as "greater than the temple" ( Matthew 12:6 ) and by quoting, Hosea 6:6 , "I desire goodness and not sacrifice," He indicated the relative subordinateness of the temple and its whole system of worship, and in His utterance to the woman of Samaria He intimated the abolition both of the whole idea of the central sanctuary and of the entire ceremonial worship: "Neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father"; "They that worship him must worship in spirit and truth" ( John 4:21 , John 4:24 ). His chief interest in the temple seems to have been as a "house of prayer" and an opportunity to reach and touch the people. We cannot help feeling that with all His love for the holy precincts, He must have turned with relief from the stately, formal, distant ceremonial of the temple, partly relieved though it was by the genuine religious passion of many worshippers, to the freer, more vital, closer heart-worship of the synagogue, loaded though that also was with form, tradition, ritual and error. Here He was a regular and reverent attendant and participant ( Mark 1:21 , Mark 1:39; Mark 3:1; Mark 6:2; Luke 6:6 ). Jesus did not Himself prescribe public worship for His disciples, no doubt assuming that instinct and practice, and His own spirit and example, would bring it about spontaneously, but He did seek to guard their worship from the merely outward and spectacular, and laid great emphasis on privacy and real "innerness" in it (Mt 6:1-18, etc.). Synagogue-worship was probably not abandoned with Pentecost, but private brotherhood meetings, like that in the upper chamber, and from house to house, were added. The young church could hardly have "grown in favor with the people," if it had completely withdrawn from the popular worship, either in temple or synagogue, although no attendance on the latter is ever mentioned. Possibly the Christians drew themselves together in a synagogue of their own, as did the different nationalities. The reference in James: "if there come unto your synagogue" ( James 2:2 ), while not conclusive, since "synagogue" may have gained a Christian significance by this time, nevertheless, joined with the traditions concerning James's ascetic zeal and popular repute, argues against such a complete separation early. Necessarily with the development into clearness of the Christian ideas, and with the heightening persecution, together with the hard industrial struggle of life, the observance of the Jewish Sabbath in temple or synagogue, and of the Christian's Lord's Day, grew incompatible. Yet the full development of this must have been rather late in Paul's life. Compare his missionary tactics of beginning his work at the synagogue, and his custom of observing as far as possible the Jewish feasts ( Acts 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8 ). Our notions of the worship of the early church must be constructed out of the scattered notices descriptive of different stages in the history, and different churches present different phases of development. The time was clearly the Lord's Day, both by the Jewish churches ( John 20:19 , John 20:26 ) and by the Greek ( Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2 ) The daily meeting of Acts 2:46 was probably not continued, no mention occurring later.
There are no references to yearly Christian festivals, though the wide observance in the sub-apostolic period of the Jewish Passover, with references to the death and resurrection of Jesus, and of Pentecost to commemorate the gift of the Holy Spirit, argues for their early use. The place was of course at first in private houses, and the earliest form of Christian church architecture developed from this model rather than the later one of the basilica. 1 Corinthians gives rather full data for the worship in this free and enthusiastic church. It appears that there were two meetings, a public and a private. The public worship was open, informal and missionary, as well as edificatory. The unconverted, inquirers and others, were expected to be present, and were frequently converted in the meeting ( 1 Corinthians 14:24 ). It resembled much more closely, an evangelical "prayer and conference meeting" of today than our own formal church services. There is no mention of official ministrants, though the meeting seems to have been under some loose guidance. Any male member was free to take part as the Spirit might prompt, especially in the line of his particular "spiritual gift" from God, although one individual might have several, as Paul himself. Largely developed on synagogue lines, but with a freedom and spirit the latter must have greatly lacked, it was composed of: (1) Prayer by several, each followed by the congregational "Amen." (2) Praise, consisting of hymns composed by one or another of the brethren, or coming down from the earlier days of Christian, perhaps Jewish, history, like the Benedictus , the Magnificat , the Nunc dimittis , etc. Portions of these newer hymns seem to be imbedded here and there in the New Testament, as at Revelation 5:9-13 : "Worthy art thou," etc. (compare Revelation 15:3; Revelation 11:17 , etc.); also: "He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory" ( 1 Timothy 3:16 ). Praise also might take the form of individual testimony, not in metrical form ( 1 Corinthians 14:16 ). (3) Reading of the Scripture must have followed, according to the synagogue model. Paul presupposes an acquaintance with the Old Testament Scriptures and the facts of Jesus' life, death, resurrection. Instructions to read certain epistles in the churches indicate the same. (4) Instruction, as in 1 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Corinthians 6:5 , teaching for edification. (These passages, however, may not have this specific reference.) (5) Prophesying, when men, believed by themselves and by the church to be specially taught by the Holy Spirit, gave utterance to His message. At Corinth these crowded on one another, so that Paul had to command them to speak one at a time. (6) Following this, as some believe, came the "speaking with tongues," perhaps fervent and ejaculatory prayers "so rugged and disjointed that the audience for the most part could not understand" until someone interpreted. The speaking with tongues, however, comprised praise as well as prayer ( 1 Corinthians 14:16 ), and the whole subject is enshrouded in mystery. See Tongues , Gift Of . (7) The meeting closed with the benediction and with the "kiss of peace."
The "private service" may have followed the other, but seems more likely to have been in the evening, the other in the morning. The disciples met in one place and ate together a meal of their own providing, the agápē , or love feast, symbolizing their union and fellowship, preceded or followed by prayers ( Didache x), and perhaps interspersed by hymns. Then the "Lord's Supper" itself followed, according to the directions of the apostle ( 1 Corinthians 11:23-28 ).
How far "Christian worship" was "Christian" in the sense of being directly addressed to Christ, is not easily answered. We must not read into their mental content the fully developed Christology of later centuries, but it is hard to believe that those who had before them Thomas' adoring exclamation, "My Lord and my God!" the saying of the first martyr, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," the dictum of the great apostle, "Who, existing in the form of God," the utterances of He, "And let all the angels of God worship him," "Thy throne, O G od, is forever and forever," and, later, the prologue of Jn, and the ascriptions of praise in the Apocalypse, could have failed to bow down in spirit before Jesus Christ, to make known their requests through Him, and to lift up their adoration in song to Him, as according to Pliny's witness, 112 AD, "they sing a hymn to Christ as God." The absolutely interchangeable way in which Paul, for instance, applies "Lord" in one breath to the Father, to the Old Testament Yahweh, and to Jesus Christ ( Romans 10:11 , Romans 10:13; Romans 14:4 , Romans 14:6 , Romans 14:8 , Romans 14:11 , Romans 14:12 , etc.) clearly indicates that while God the Father was, as He must be, the ultimate and principal object of worship, the heart and thought of God's New Testament people also rested with adoring love on Him who is "worthy ... to receive the power and riches and wisdom, and might, and glory, and honor and blessing." The angel of the Apocalypse would not permit the adoration of the seer ( Revelation 22:9 ), but Jesus accepts the homage of Thomas, and in the Fourth Gospel declares it the duty of all to "honor the Son, even as they honor the Father" ( John 5:23 ).
The classical passages for Christian worship are John 4:23 , John 4:24 , culminating in (margin): "God is spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth," and Philippians 3:3 , "who worship by the Spirit of God." These define its inner essence, and bar out all ceremonial or deputed worship whatever, except as the former is, what the latter can never be, the genuine and vital expression of inner love and devotion. Anything that really stimulates and expresses the worshipful spirit is so far forth a legitimate aid to worship, but never a substitute for it, and is harmful if it displaces it. Much, perhaps most, stately public worship is as significant to God and man as the clack of a Thibetan prayer-mill. The texts cited also make of worship something far deeper than the human emotion or surrender of will; it is the response of God's Spirit in us to that Spirit in Him, whereby we answer "Abba, Father," deep calling unto deep. Its object is not ingratiation, which is unnecessary, nor propitiation, which has been made "once for all," nor in any way "serving" the God who 'needeth not to be worshipped with men's hands' ( Acts 17:25 ), but it is the loving attempt to pay our unpayable debt of love, the expression of devoted hearts, "render(ing) as bullocks the offering of our lips" ( Hosea 14:2 ). For detail it is not a physical act or material offering, but an attitude of mind: "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit"; "sacrifices of praise, with which God is well pleased"; not the service of form in an outward sanctuary, the presentation of slain animals, but the service of love in a life: "Present your bodies a living sacrifice"; not material sacrifices, but spiritual: your rational "service"; not the service about an altar of stone or wood, but about the sanctuary of human life and need; for this is true religion ("service," "worship," thrēskeı́a ), "to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction"; not the splendor of shining robes or the sounding music of trumpets or organs, but the worshipping glory of holy lives; in real fact, "hallowing Thy name," "and keeping oneself unspotted from the world." The public worship of God in the presence of His people is a necessity of the Christian life, but in spiritual Christianity the ceremonial and outward approaches, if it does not quite reach, the vanishing point.
Bdb ; Thayer's New Testament Lexicon under the word; arts; on "Praise," "Worship," "Temple," "Church," "Prayer," in Hdb , Db , New Sch-Herz , Dcg ; Commentaries on Psalms, Chronicles, Corinthians; Weizsacker, The Apostolic Age of the Church , II; Pfleiderer, Das Urchristenthum (English translation); Leoning, Gemeindeverfassung des Urchristenthums ; Edersheim, The Temple, Its Ministry and Service, as They Were at the Time of Jesus Christ , and Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah ; Hort, The Christian Ecclesia ; Lindsay, Church and the Ministry in the Early Centuries ; McGiffert, A H istory of Christianity in the Apostolic Age .
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
(properly some form of שָׁחָה , especially in Hithpael; Λατρεία )., homage paid to a superior, especially to God (which we consider only), usually expressed by prayer, sacrifice, and ritual. See each term in its place; also (See Adoration).
I. General View . — The homage of the progenitors of our race was the direct and simple effusion of gratitude (see Schroder, De Prima Cultus Divini Publici Institutione, Marburg, 1745). There can be no doubt that the Most High, whose essence no man hath seen, or can see, was pleased to manifest himself in Eden, by an external symbol, to the eyes of his innocent worshippers. This divine manifestation is called the presence of the Lord; and may have been in connection with the tree of life in the midst of the garden ( Genesis 2:9; Genesis 3:8).
After the first transgression the mode of the divine manifestation was altered; and a mediatorial economy was established. Henceforth, the homage paid by man was the service of a. creature conscious of crime, approaching God through the medium of sacrifice, pleading for forgiveness, and confiding in mercy. Though the divine manifestation was no longer immediate, yet a visible symbol of Jehovah was still vouchsafed in the Shekinah or visible glory, from which Cain was exiled ( Genesis 4:16; comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Psalms 96:8); which was Seen by Abraham ( Acts 7:2); by Moses and the people ( Exodus 3:2-6; Exodus 13:21-22; Exodus 24:16; Exodus 24:18; Numbers 14:10; Numbers 16:19; Numbers 16:42); by the high-priest ( Exodus 25:22; Leviticus 16:2); by Solomon in the temple ( 1 Kings 8:10-12); and finally in "the WORD made flesh " ( John 1:14).
Since this last visible manifestation, the worship of the Most High, which is no longer external and symbolic, has not been confined to any one place. "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" ( John 4:21-24). God now manifests himself to the spirits of his faithful worshippers, helping their infirmities. Hence the presence of the Lord is in every place where Christ is active in the Spirit, and where through hium, the sole mediator, the faithful pay their homage. As the true worship of God is only in the inward heart, and the whole life a spiritual service, every Christian in particular, and every Church in general, now represent a spiritual temple of the Lord. In the assemblies of the faithful, God by his Spirit diffuses his vital and sanctifying influence, and takes his devout worshippers into fellowship with himself, from which they derive strength to do and suffer his will in the various scenes of life, while he there affords them a foretaste of the deep and hallowed pleasures which are reserved for them in his immediate presence forevermore ( Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12:14). See the monographs cited by Volbeding, Index Programmatum, pages 107, 127, 130.
II. Among The Ancient Israelites . —
1. In General Acts. The forefather of the Hebrew nation, Abraham, appears at the outset as a firm monotheist; but in his migrations there are obscure traces of a lingering idolatry, at least in his family ( Genesis 21:19; Genesis 21:30; Genesis 35:2 sq.; comp. Joshua 24:2; Joshua 24:14; Judges 5:6 sq.; see Jonathan, Targ. on Genesis 31:19; also Sonne, Der Gott Abraham'S [Hanover, 1806]). (See Teraphim).
The worship of the patriarchs (Ben- David, Ueb. Die Relig. Der Ebraer Vor Moses [Berlin, 1812], contains strange hypotheses) was exceedingly simple, consisting of offerings and prayer ( Genesis 24:63), presented at whatever place of residence, although very early particular spots seem to have been held sacred (i.e., where God had specially manifested himself; see Genesis 12:7-8 [comp. 13:4]; 46:1 [comp. 26:23]; e.g. anointed pillars, Genesis 28:18; Genesis 35:14), heights having the preference to plains ( Genesis 22:2; Genesis 31:54; see Creuzer, Symbol. 1:158 sq.; Zacharia. De More Vett. In Locis Editis Colendi Deum [Halle, 1704]). (See High-Place).
Subsequently worship was held under (shady) trees and in groves ( Genesis 13:18; Genesis 21:33; comp. Tacit. Germ. 39:7; Callim. In Dian. 38; Soph. Track. 754; Ovid, Fast. 3:295; Apollon. Rhod. 4:1714; see Woken, De Locis Temporibusque Quae Fideles, Ante Legem Cerimon. Preces Destinerunt [Rostock, 1720]; Doughtei, Analect. 1:24 sq.). (See Grove). In the offerings the ruling idea was that of thanking and propitiating God in general, the proper notion of expiation not yet appearing. (See Offering). The priests were the heads of the families. (See Melchizedek).
In Egypt the larger part of the Israelites may perhaps have been more or less addicted to nature worship (see Exodus 32; Leviticus 17:7; Joshua 24:14; Ezekiel 20:7), and in the desert traces of Sabaism are evident (Numbers 25; Amos 5:25 sq.). Moses, however, established the cultus of Jehovah as the exclusive religion, and to him the strict rule of monotheism is due. The ritual of the law is no copy of the Egyptian (Spener) nor of the Phoenician (Vatke) institutions, although particular features may have been derived from the former (Hengstenberg, Moses, page 147 sq.; Bahr, Symbol. 1:39 sq.), but recognised Jehovah as the sole national deity, and stood in direct personal as well as public relation to him. (See Law).
It contained a multitude of special provisions (such as sacrifices, vows, fasts, etc.), both of a positive and a negative kind, pointing to God as the giver of all good, and the object of all moral obligation, both of blessing and atonement; especially embodying the distinction of clean and unclean in all the bodily relations of life. The cardinal sections of this cultus are marked by the regularly recurring festivals (q.v.), and the tabernacle and temple were its central rallying-points as a national system of observance, while the priesthood formed its official conservators and expounders. (See Priest).
The most marked of its peculiar features were the invisible character of the deity adored, in which it stood in bold contrast with all the prevalent idolatries; and the universality of its prescriptions, as pertaining not only to the whole nation, but to every individual in it, and to the minutest affairs of social and private economy. (See Mosaism).
In later times, especially after the exile, the national worship was in some degree affected by foreign subjugation, and in process of time abnormal elements gradually crept in, such as Sadduceeism and Essenism. Under Antiochus Epiphanes a violent effort was made to force paganism bodily upon the Jews, but it succeeded only to a small extent. Under the Ptolemies full toleration was allowed, and under Alexander extraordinary privileges were granted even to foreign Jews. During all this period the heathen rulers occasionally contributed to the Mosaic worship (see Ezra 6:9; 1 Maccabees 10:34; 2 Maccabees 3:3; Josephus, Ant. 12:3, 3; 14:10-23). It is well known that under the Roman rule, the Jews, even in Rome itself (Dio Cass. 37:17), were allowed the full exercise of their religion (see Zimmern, Gesch. d. rom. Privatrechts, I, 2:470; Levysohn, De Judaeor. sub Caesar. Conditione [L.B. 1828]). (See Judaism).
2. In Prayer Particularly . — This , as constituting the central idea of worship, was always strictly, although not formally, understood in the Mosaic service. There are no directions as to prayer given in the Mosaic law; the duty is rather taken for granted, as an adjunct to sacrifice, than enforced or elaborated. The temple is emphatically designated as "the House of Prayer" ( Isaiah 56:7); it could not be otherwise, if "He who hears prayer" ( Psalms 65:2) there manifested his special presence; and the prayer of Solomon offered at its consecration ( 1 Kings 8:30; 1 Kings 8:35; 1 Kings 8:38) implies that in it were offered, both the private prayers of each single man, and the public prayers of all Israel. It is hardly conceivable that, even from the beginning, public prayer did not follow every public sacrifice, whether propitiatory or eucharistic, as regularly as the incense, which was the symbol of prayer (see Psalms 141:2; Revelation 8:3-4). Such a practice is alluded to as common in Luke 1:10; and in one instance, at the offering of the first-fruits, it was ordained in a striking form ( Deuteronomy 26:12-15). In later times it certainly grew into a regular service, both in the temple and in the synagogue. (See Synagogue).
But, besides this public prayer, it was the custom of all at Jerusalem to go up to the temple, at regular hours if possible, for private prayer (see Luke 18:10; Acts 3:1); and those who were absent were wont to "open their windows towards Jerusalem," and pray "towards" the place of God's presence ( 1 Kings 8:46-49,; Psalms 5:7; Psalms 28:2; Psalms 138:2; Daniel 6:10). The desire to do this was possibly one reason, independently of other and more obvious ones, why the house-top or the mountain-top were chosen places of private prayer.
The regular hours of prayer seem to have been three (see Psalms 55:17; Daniel 6:10), the "evening," that is, the ninth hour ( Acts 3:1; Acts 10:3), the hour of the evening sacrifice ( Daniel 9:21); the "morning," that is, the third hour ( Acts 2:15), that of the morning sacrifice; and the sixth hour, or "noonday." To these would naturally be added some prayer at rising and lying down to sleep; and thence might easily be developed (by the love of the mystic number seven), the "seven times a day" of Psalms 119:164, if this is to be literally understood, and the seven hours of prayer of the ancient Church. Some, at least, of these hours seem to have been generally observed by religious men in private prayer at home, or in the midst of their occupation and in' the streets ( Matthew 6:5). Grace before meat would seem to have been an equally common practice (see Matthew 15:36; Acts 27:35).
The posture of prayer among the Jews seems to have been most often standing ( 1 Samuel 1:26; Matthew 6:5; Mark 11:25; Luke 18:11); unless the prayer were offered with especial solemnity and humiliation, which was naturally expressed by kneeling ( 1 Kings 8:54; comp. 2 Chronicles 6:13; Ezra 9:5; Psalms 95:6; Daniel 6:10); or prostration ( Joshua 7:6; 1 Kings 18:42; Nehemiah 8:6). The hands were "lifted up," or "spread out" before the Lord ( Exodus 9:33; Psalms 28:2; Psalms 134:2, etc.). In the Christian Church no posture is mentioned in the New Test. excepting that of kneeling; see Acts 7:60 (St. Stephen); 9:40 (St. Peter); 20:36; 21:5 (St. Paul); perhaps from imitation of the example of our Lord in Gethsemane (on which occasion alone his posture in prayer is recorded). In after-times, as is well known, this posture was varied by the custom of standing in prayer on the Lord's day, and during the period from Easter to Whitsunday, in order to commemorate his resurrection, and our spiritual resurrection in him. (See Prayer).
II. Christian Worship. — This is usually divided into three kinds, according to the extent of the persons engaged in it.
1. Private Worship, otherwise called Secret Prayer, is between the individual and his Maker. It is specifically enjoined by our Lord ( Matthew 6:6), and is essential to the maintenance of spiritual life in the soul of the believer. (See Closet).
The lately discovered Teaching of the Twelve Apostles ( § 8) enjoins the use of the Lord's Prayer "three times a day," evidently for private devotion. (See Lords Prayer).
Private worship should be conducted with,
(1) reverence and veneration; (2) self-abasement and confession; (3) contemplation of the perfections and promises of God; (4) supplication for ourselves and others; (5) earnest desire of the enjoyment of God; (6) frequency and regularity. (See Devotion).
2. Family Worship, i.e., regular domestic prayer. This is obviously called for in order to the proper religious conduct of the Christian household and its obligation is enforced by nearly every branch of evangelical Christendom. (See Family).
3. Public Worship, i.e., religious services conducted in the general congregation. Some who have acknowledged the propriety of private worship have objected to that of a public nature, but without any sufficient ground. For Christ attended public worship himself (Luke 4); he prayed with his disciples ( Luke 9:28-29; Luke 11:1); he promises his presence to social worshippers ( Matthew 18:20). It may be argued also from the conduct of the apostles ( Acts 1:24; Acts 2; Acts 4:24; Acts 6:4; Acts 20:36; Romans 15:30; 1 Corinthians 14; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2; 1 Corinthians 11) and from general principles ( Deuteronomy 31:12; Psalms 100:4 1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 10:25).
The obligation of public worship is partly founded upon example, and partly upon precept; so that no person who admits that authority can question this great duty without manifest and criminal inconsistency. The institution of public worship under the law, and the practice of synagogue worship among the Jews, from at least the time of Ezra, cannot be questioned; both of which were sanctioned by the practice of our Lord and his apostles. The preceptive authority for our regular attendance upon public worship is either inferential or direct. The command to publish the gospel includes the obligation of assembling to hear it; the name by which a Christian society is designated in Scripture is a Church, which signifies an assembly for the transaction of business; and, in the case of a Christian assembly, that business must necessarily be spiritual, and include the sacred exercises of prayer, praise, and hearing the Scriptures.
But we have more direct precepts, although the practice was obviously continued from Judaism, and was therefore consuetudinary. Some of the epistles of Paul are commanded to be read. in the churches. The singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs is enjoined as an act of solemn worship to the Lord; and Paul cautions the Hebrews that they "forsake not the assembling of themselves together." The practice of the primitive age is also manifest from the epistles of Paul. The Lord's Supper was celebrated by the body of believers collectively; and this apostle prescribes to the Corinthians regulations for the exercises of prayer and prophesyings, "when they came together in the Church" — the assembly. The periodicity and order of these holy offices in the primitive Church, appear also from the apostolic epistle of Clement of Rome "We ought also, looking into the depths of the divine knowledge, to do all things in order, whatsoever the Lord hath commanded to be done. We ought to make our oblations, and perform our holy offices, at their appointed seasons; for these he hath commanded to be done, not irregularly or by chance, but at determinate times and hours; as he hath likewise ordained by his supreme will where, and by what persons, they shall be performed; that so all things being done according to his pleasure, may be acceptable in his sight." This passage is remarkable for urging a divine authority for the public services of the Church, by which Clement, no doubt, means the authority of the inspired directions of the apostles. (See Service).
The ends of the institution of public worship are of such obvious importance that it must ever be considered as one of the most condescending and gracious dispensations of God to man. By this his Church confesses his name before the world; by this the public teaching of his word is associated with acts calculated to affect the mind with that solemnity which is the best preparation for hearing it to edification. It is thus that the ignorant and the vicious are collected together, and instructed and warned; the invitations of mercy are published to the guilty, and the sorrowful and afflicted are comforted. In these assemblies God, by his Holy Spirit, diffuses his vital and sanctifying influence, and takes the devout into a fellowship with himself, from which they derive strength to do and to suffer his will in the various scenes of life, while he there affords them a foretaste of the deep and hallowed pleasures which are reserved for them at his right hand forevermore.
Prayers and intercessions are offered for national and public interests, and while the benefit of these exercises descends upon a country, all are kept sensible of the dependence. of every public and personal interest upon God. Praise calls forth the grateful emotions, and gives cheerfulness to piety; and that instruction in righteousness, which is so perpetually repeated, diffuses the principles of morality and religion throughout society, enlightens and gives activity to conscience, raises the standard of morals, attaches shame to vice and praise to virtue, and thus exerts a powerfully purifying influence upon mankind. Laws thus receive a force which, in other circumstances, they could not acquire, even were they enacted in as great perfection; and the administration of justice is aided by the strongest possible obligation and sanction being given to legal oaths. The domestic relations are rendered more strong and interesting by the very habit of the attendance of families upon the sacred services of the sanctuary of the Lord; and the meeting of the rich and the poor together, and their standing on the same common ground as sinners before God, equally dependent upon him, and equally suing for his mercy, has a powerful, though often an insensible, influence in humbling the pride which is nourished by superior rank, and in raising the lower classes above abjectness of spirit, without injuring their humility. Piety, benevolence, and patriotism are equally dependent for their purity and vigor upon the regular and devout worship of God in the simplicity of the Christian dispensation.
Public worship therefore is of great utility, as
(1) it gives Christians an opportunity of openly professing their faith in and love to Christ;
(2) it preserves a sense of religion in the mind, without which society could not well exist;
(3) it enlivens devotion and promotes zeal;
(4) it is the means of receiving instruction and consolation;
(5) it affords an excellent example to others, and excites them to fear God, etc.
Public worship should be
(1) solemn, not light and trifling ( Psalms 89:7);
(2) simple, not pompous and ceremonial ( Isaiah 62:2);
(3) cheerful, and not with forbidding aspect (Psalms 100);
(4) sincere, and not hypocritical ( Isaiah 1:12; Matthew 23:13; John 4:24);
(5) pure, and not superstitious ( Isaiah 57:15). (See Public Worship).
- Worship from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology
- Worship from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- Worship from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- Worship from Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- Worship from Holman Bible Dictionary
- Worship from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- Worship from King James Dictionary
- Worship from Webster's Dictionary
- Worship from Vine's Expository Dictionary of OT Words
- Worship from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- Worship from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Worship from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- Worship from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature