How did people worship in the early church?

Did they have alters, candles, incense, or music?

Clarify Share Report Asked August 27 2013 Stringio Julie N

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Stringio Vincent Mercado Supporter Skeptic turned believer, Catholic, father of 3
Justin Martyr, in year 155 AD, wrote one of the most detailed accounts of contemporary Christian practice. Quote below:

On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead.


The Early church has encountered plenty of persecutions from Roman emperors. During these persecutions, they worshiped in secret, in homes and catacombs. The place is lit by candles, and the coffin of the saints serve as altars. 

After the persecutions, Christians were allowed to build places of worship (or rebuild those destroyed during the persecution) in public. Bread and wine are still offered at the altar, candles lit the place of worship, incense and music were added.

August 28 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Shanna Duck "Let a search be made in the royal archives..." Ezra 5:17 NIV
One of the best things that any Christian can do is study the New Testament and the Apostolic Church. It is humbling, and shows at what a low, childish level many of our modern churches are operating. 

I think it would be correct to say that there was a difference even between the earliest churches (bodies of believers) as recorded in the New Testament and the slightly later churches as recorded in the Apostolic Fathers. 

The most primitive churches were simply groups of believers who met, formally or informally, in individual homes, sometimes on the Lord's Day (1st Day of the Week), and apparently at other times when a traveling evangelist happened to come through. During the transitional time of Acts, when some Jewish- Christians were still following Judaism to more or less of a degree, some Christians still went to the local synagogue or the temple as well.. Of course, this would later end for a number of reasons. 

In the earliest church, many of the Believers had probably been converted by an Apostle or someone close to an Apostle. There is no indication of a long catchumen period; people were apparently saved and then baptized. Whether infants were baptized is highly debated.

Possibly because becoming a Christian often involved social stigma, rejection by family, and lost of income, some of the earliest Christians appear to have lived communally. This does not appear to have been universal, however.

While there were "offices" and a hierarchy within each church (there was no overarching all-powerful hierarchy other than the Apostles), there does not seem to be the idea that the laity and the clergy were intrinsically different. There were "different gifts," but all gifts were necessary for the Body of Christ to function. Early Christians were also warned not to favor the rich. 

Speaking in the assembly might be by an evangelist or apparently by a number of different "prophets" or "teachers." The letters in the New Testament were probably read in the assembly as well. In some cases there was speaking in tongues, although this was to be practiced in a controlled setting with an interpreter present. Paul performed at least one miracle, restoring to life a boy who'd fallen asleep during a sermon and died after falling out a window. 

One of the other things that we know that early Christians did in the assembly, however, was sing (1 Cor 14:26 and others). We do not know if instruments were used. Yet we know that instruments were used in Judaism, and instruments are also mentioned in Revelation. 

The earliest Christians may also have learned basic doctrinal creeds- some of these may even be in the New Testament. Perhaps these were recited in the assembly as well. 

It's very clear that the earliest Christians practiced a type of communion; at times this may have taken the form of a "love feast" or full meal rather than just bread-and-wine. There was a problem when some people drank too much.

As the church passed from this first period into the time after the apostles, it may have begun to be slightly more institutionalized. The role of the local Bishop was magnified. The process of becoming a church member became more lengthy. Rituals began to develop. Regular times of prayer and fasting/feasting-days were set. 

I agree with one of my fellow commentators that some aspects of Jewish Temple worship, with the idea of a "holy" building, a special priesthood, and holy artifacts, gradually came into Christian worship. In no place in the New Testament is there mention of candles (although the home probably would have had oil lamps). There is no "altar," no holy water, incense, amulets, statutes, or any other ritual items mentioned as being used during worship in the New Testament.. 

The earliest church was simply a group of sometimes-persecuted people who had obeyed God's command to believe on the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins, and who were meeting for support, encouragement, charity, and instruction.

May 14 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Jeff3 Jeff Hammond
The New Testament church seems to have worshipped every day using the most of every opportunity, Acts 2:46. They were an illegal sect and not very popular, Acts 8:1. However, we know that they worshipped and had communion, at least in some places, because they gathered on the Sunday (1st day of the week) as is recorded in Acts 20:7; 1Corinthians 16:2. The church services, at least in some places, involved an openness for everyone to share the Word, to share spiritual gifts as every member was considered an important part of the Body of Christ with a freedom to share - Romans 12:1-10; 1Corinthians 12:7-12; Ephesians 4:15-16; 1Peter 2:9. They also worshipped with a variety of singing and speaking - Ephesians 5:18-21; Colossians 3:16.

August 28 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

Mini James Bryant
I would have to ask you to define what you are considering to be the " early church "? The Church of Christ, not the denominational one, the " Spiritual " one, was started with Christ, after His resurrection. That church continued on from Christ, and was given revelation from Paul on how to be a LIVING, BREATHING, ASSEMBLY, or CHURCH, which ever you prefer, during his 3 years in the desert. Paul wrote many instructions on how to accomplish this and hardly any are taught today, from the pulpit. Christians don't, or rather, shouldn't observe holy days and keeping of rituals, in their walk with Christ. Christ has set us free from the bondage of sin and death, and Paul has instructed us how to live free  from RELIGION. The Early Church of Paul's teachings, were Living, Breathing, Spiritual beings. Everyday, Everywhere, Anytime, exactly as they were always supposed to be. Worship in TRUTH and SPIRIT. Amen

August 28 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Open uri20110924 31001 1r6ki14 Bob Kee
The early church was comprised of converts from Judaism. As Jewish worship followed a certain order or liturgy, the early Christians would have used that as a model for their own order of worship. The New Testament records the early Christians as having worshipped in the Temple as well as in synagogues (read the accounts particularly in the book of Acts). There is also evidence in the Bible that the early Christians kept to the Jewish practice of daily set time prayers (similar to the Muslim practice of five prayer times a day); ie. Acts 10 where Cornelius went to pray at the 9th hour and Peter went to the roof to pray at the 6th hour.

Christian worship continued on in the fashion of synagogue and Temple worship with the addition of distinctively Christian elements, such as Holy Communion as well as a Christo-centric focus.

Jewish synagogue worship structure, consisting of a litany of prayers, confession, readings from the Scriptures, a brief sermon or homily, and a benediction or blessing, formed the basic core of Christian worship structure which is still retained in form in the liturgical mainline churches, as well as the Roman Catholic and both the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and in spirit in the more informal Evangelical churches.

In fact archeological remains of early purpose built churches, particularly of the Oriental Orthodox tradition indicate that they were built based on synagogue architecture with an ark with veil and candle to hold the Word of God, and a seat for the bishop representative of the seat of Moses. They were also all built with the altar oriented to face the East, reflecting the eschatological expectation that Christ will appear as the Rising Sun that will never set.

There's obviously too much detail to go into this reply but safe to say that there is a lot of symbolism in the form of Christian worship vis a vis Jewish Temple worship and the fulfillment of Jewish Messianic prophecy (ie. the focus of worship was switched from the written word of God to the living Word of God via the Eucharist or Holy Communion).

One of the early Christian texts that describes Christian worship in some detail is the 2nd century Didache. Links to various translations of that text can be found in the Didache's Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache

God bless :)

August 28 2013 6 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Daisy Perez
Mark 2:27,28 - Jesus, Master of Sabbath. And Master of every day, modified the Jewish rules and laws to " benefit of the people". (2:27). 
Mathew 12 Controversy about Sabbath. (Jesus and Apostles modifying rule for the sake of people). 
Jesus also liked the First day of the week, Sunday. Math 26: 17, Mark 14: 12. 1Cor 11: 17. 
The Apostles also followed Jesus instructions, and shared them with all Christians, Acts 2 :46, Acts 20:7, 1Cor16:2. 
However, Rom 14:5-10, says " In the same way some think one day is more holy than another, while others think everyday is alike. Each person should have a personal conviction..........." 6- " Those who have a special day for worshiping the Lord are trying to honor him.........." 
Gal 2:21-"....... For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die".

August 28 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Jim New Just a follower of Jesus Christ and him only!
Worshipping can mean many ways!  Todays Church is very "luke warm" as the Bible states, we are off the mark!  Church is supposed to be for the Believers to come together weekly in fellowship, praising the great "I am."  Worshipping our Father is obeying Him-loving him, reaching out to the needy, following Him to the end and so on.  Unfortunately, America has watered down the Gospel of Jesus Christ in many ways- spiritual blindness, hardness of hearts, denominationalism and deception have all played a part in our decline.  Sadly, our Church today does not line up with the Church in Pauls day!

August 28 2013 1 response Vote Up Share Report

1380913157 Joseph Edim
Know the truth and the truth shall set you free.....worship is meant to be a life style,it is not only when you sing songs you're worshipping. Giving and obeying is also an act of worship. The Father (God) is a spirit and they that must worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

August 28 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Raymond Cooper
The Bible records in Acts hat the apostles and the church worshipped on SabbatH ( Saturday the seventh day of the week ) nor does it record any change  to Sunday Worship by the early church. 
see Acts 13 v 14,42,44  Acts 16 v 13 , Acts 17 v 2  Acts 18 v 2 

Mark 2;27 Jesus identifies himself as Lord of the Sabbath and God calls the Sabbath my holy day in Isaiah 58 v13. Therefore the Lords Day in Revelation 1v 10  is the Sabbath Day .

August 28 2013 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

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