Participation In The Conduct Of Public Church Services By Other Persons Than Ministers -- By: Ralph E. Prime

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 067:267 (Jul 1910)
Article: Participation In The Conduct Of Public Church Services By Other Persons Than Ministers
Author: Ralph E. Prime


Participation In The Conduct Of Public Church Services By Other Persons Than Ministers1

Ralph E. Prime

The subject is not limited to any time or period or place. It is applicable to every time when there was what we understand as public church services, with or without forms, and includes any time when there were no ministers. It involves the whole Christian period, It therefore includes history and also observations on present lawfulness and usefulness; and for convenience, for the present paper, the use of the word “layman” includes all who are not called ministers.

How early the term “synagogue” as a gathering, or as a place of gathering, was used, no one knows. The Jewish exiles, captives in Babylon and separated from Zion and all holy places, had the synagogue and the synagogue service, and brought both with them on the return of the captives, four hundred years before the coming of the Lord; so that

when the Lord came it was an established institution. Each separate synagogue was a depository of few or many of the books or rolls of the sacred writings. In each of them, at least on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1–9; Luke 4:16; Acts 15:21), the Jews met for a public service, and the Scriptures were read (Acts 15:21).

The synagogue service was most simple. Whatever may be claimed for a synagogue ritual must find its source in tradition and inference, and not from any historical statement. That it was open to those qualified to read or teach in its services appears from the fact that the Lord Jesus was wont to attend these services, and there to read the Scriptures, speak to the people in the service, combat the traditions of the Jews, and argue from the Scriptures his own coming and mission (Luke 4:16, 21). The synagogue had officers, rulers, and elders; but the Lord Jesus was no Jewish rabbi, nor a scribe, nor a Levite, nor any synagogue officer. Neither was Paul a Jewish rabbi, nor a synagogue officer; and yet in Antioch of Pisidia, a traveler and a stranger, and without letters commendatory from anybody, on entering into the synagogue on a Sabbath day, he was invited to address the people (Acts 13:15, 16, 42, 44). Official station or recognition was not a necessa...

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