Worship in the Early Church | Ralph Martin


Ralph P. Martin, professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, Ph.D. of the University of London, and author of numerous books and articles about the New Testament, wrote this book to provide “an introduction to what the New Testament teaches concerning the early Christian principles and practices of corporate worship” (7). With a large number of Scripture references, Martin hopes this book will “serve to quicken a practical concern in the life and worship of our Churches today” (8).

Martin designed the first chapter as the foundation for the whole discussion of worship by stating “the church of Christ is summoned into being by God in order be a worshipping community” (10). By presenting God’s attributes through biblical references, Martin also stresses worship’s essence in this chapter.

Chapter two explains the Jewish inheritance of temple worship and synagogue worship in early Christian worship.

Chapter three displays the critical role prayer and praises taken for New Testament Christians worship and presents the contents of prayer and praises at their time.

Chapter four, first, confirms the Christian community as a hymn-singing community; second, it suggests that “an outburst of hymnody and praise to God” is expected along with the sharing of the Christian Gospel; third, it investigates the New Testament books “with a view to discerning therein the presence of, or witness to, such canticles of worship” (39).

Chapter five addresses that the church used “sound words” to help Christians learn the early creeds and confessions of faith, which also indicates the church is  a “believing, preaching, and confessing community” (54).

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Chapter six deals with the preaching of the Word (Old Testament) and exegetical teaching on and Apostles’ letters in the early churches.

Chapter seven discusses the money offering of the early church gathering.

Chapters eight and nine bring attention to baptism, including Jesus’s teaching on baptism and the apostolic practice of baptism.

Chapters ten and eleven specifically exams the Last supper Jesus conducted and the communion the church later practiced in their worship.

Chapter twelve functions as a summary of the book, which contains key features of early Christian worship and developments of worship from the New Testament period to the second century.

Worship in the Early Church roots in what the Scripture teaches about worship and presents how the first Christians worshiped, which reflected their Jewish heritage while doing full justice to their belief in Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, through prayers, praises, singing, creeds, confessions, preaching, offerings, and sacraments (back cover). Students, worship leaders, teachers, and ministers who wish to understand the subject better, will find this book quite informative and helpful.

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