Assembly 2.0: Part 11.4: Frequency; Setting



Remember: the early church had but one congregation per city, and that congregation typically met in multiple houses under a single eldership.

Many Christians, both Jews and Gentiles, also attended synagogue, because the synagogue would have had a complete set of scrolls of the Tanakh (Old Testament) to allow for scripture study. And the church would have periodically met as a whole church, as opportunities arose — such as by meeting at the synagogue, in a public space, or perhaps just outdoors by a river.

They gathered primarily to pray, to receive instruction, and to eat together — a meal called the love feast or the agapē — which included the bread and cup of the Lord’s Supper.

They sometimes gathered as often as daily but never less often than weekly. Indeed, daily fellowship seems to have been the rule, at least in some locales —

(Acts 2:46-47 ESV)  46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,  47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

(Acts 5:42 ESV)  42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. 

(Acts 17:11 ESV) 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 

(Heb. 3:12-13 ESV)  12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

It’s important to realize that copies of the scriptures — the OT while the NT was being composed — were expensive and so originally available only at the local synagogue. Over time, Christian congregations pooled money to buy scrolls of the Torah,  Isaiah, etc., eventually assembling a complete OT. To read the scriptures, Christians had to visit either the synagogue or whoever in the church had custody of the scrolls, likely the home of the evangelist or one of the elders. After all, they met in homes because they had no church building, and they had often been expelled from the local synagogue.

Therefore, the members would gather whenever they had free time to read and study the scriptures together. Bible study was a community activity — and this meant gathering more often than weekly in some communities, at times and on days that were convenient in that particular location. I imagine that many Christians studied to memorize much of the scriptures — as was also the Jewish practice.

The availability of physical or electronic copies of the scriptures for every church member is a great blessing of the modern times, but somewhere along the way, we lost the joys and benefits of studying together. In fact, by studying in community under the oversight of the elders, the church would have routinely worked toward a consensus understanding, not because the elders’ imposed an interpretation from on high but because Bible study was done together and in humility before God’s word and God’s church.

The setting

Now, to take the Lord’s Supper was no mere ritual. It involved either receiving or granting hospitality because it was part of a meal served in a home. It was likely a covered-dish meal, and so in many ways very much like our modern small group meetings.

Upon arriving, a guest would have been welcomed with a kiss — the Holy Kiss — as this was the customary greeting in the Roman Empire (as is still true in many nations). The guest’s feet would have been washed — as most of the Empire had a dry, dusty climate, where people wore sandals and often walked behind animals or stepped across ditches dug to drain human and animal sewage out of the city. Washing feet was nasty, humbling work. Later on, some churches practiced foot washing as a ritual, but in the early days, it was customary for receiving guests in one’s home. The Christian difference is that the washing wasn’t done only by slaves but was a mutual service.

People would not have arrived all at once, as watches had not yet been invented, and there were no city clocks other than sun dials. People kept time by the sun and the stars, and the culture was much less focused on getting somewhere on time and starting on time. In fact, as we see in Acts 20, a visiting preacher might preach for hours (why is this not a “binding example”?). So you get there when you can get there, and leave when it’s over. Why be in a hurry to leave friends?

The meal was a literal supper — as the Greek word translated “supper” refers to the largest meal of the day, normally an evening meal. And communion was usually taken in the evening for that reason.

Like any meal, the table would have been filled with conversation. We picture a quietly reverent ritual, but it was a meal among friends — filled with conversation, encouragement, and a growing closeness. The bread was likely baked on site in a brick oven. Wine was served but cut with water. And some part of the mealtime would have been set aside for the shared cup and bread that is the Eucharist. Special prayers would have been offered as the bread and wine were passed around and Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection would have been revisited and, in a sense, re-experienced.

Wine was served in a shared cup, a practice borrowed from the Passover and Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper. Separate cups weren’t used until the late 19th Century — and didn’t become common practice until Louis Pasteur’s germ theory and the influenza and tuberculosis epidemics of the early 20th Century. Pasteurized grape juice was invented by Mr. Welch in the mid-19th Century in response to the Prohibition Movement to provide churches with alcohol-free sacramental “wine.” Hence, the wine was alcoholic, but the church made a point of not becoming drunk — contrary to the practice at many Greek banquets.

Children would have been all over the place. There were no attended nurseries, but the kids might have been allowed to play outside with adults taking turns watching them. The children would not have had their own rooms, because space was too expensive. The kids likely slept with their parents. In a small town, the farm animals would have been brought indoors in the winter. Really.

There was no privacy in the First Century — nor did the people even have a concept of privacy. Windows had no glass, and houses were small. Most gatherings were likely outdoors in a courtyard — and far from secret. The catacombs came centuries later, as did other hidden worship areas. The church wasn’t legal during apostolic times, but persecution early on was occasional and sporadic (although, at times, severe and deadly). It’s possible that an engaging speaker or fervent song service would draw a crowd of unbelievers from those happening to walk by. But with only 30 or so present, no one could slip in unnoticed.

Roman society was highly stratified. There were slaves, freedmen, and aristocrats. There were many other layers within these layers, and people dressed to show the world where they fit in society. There were citizens and non-citizens. During the apostolic age, most residents were not citizens and so had fewer civil rights than the rest. But in church, these distinctions did not matter. A master might wash the feet of a slave. A slave might exercise church discipline against his owner. All ate at the same table — a notion unheard of in the Roman world.

The egalitarian nature of the meal and time spent together was likely the most counter-cultural, astonishing thing about the assembly. Eating with friends was, of course, very common. Eating with friends of a different social class as though they were equals? Unheard of. Unthinkable. Seditious.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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43 Responses to Assembly 2.0: Part 11.4: Frequency; Setting

  1. Price says:

    The bread was likely leavened as was the normal type of bread made except during the Passover celebration… There is no command or even mention of unleavened bread being used in the NT… it is only by understanding what was instructed from the OT.. Also, you mentioned the synagogue but not the temple… however the verses you quoted spoke of them being in the Temple.. besides church homes, weren’t they also taking advantage of the worship services in the Temple ?

  2. Dwight says:

    Very good Jay. This is the best summation of the practices of the church I have seen yet.
    The Lord’s Supper was instituted during the Passover of which they had unleavened bread, but there is no indication that the unleavened bread was manditory, although present. Jesus body was never related to as unleavened bread. But then again Jesus could have instituted the LS during the time of any other meal.
    The scriptures indicate them going to both the Temple and the synagogues, but the scriptures were read in the synagogues out loud, which is why Jesus did so, the he handed the scriptures back to the attendee. But they did go to worship in the Temple as well.

  3. Ray Downen says:

    Jewish Christians did not go to the Jewish temple to worship as Jews. With one exception of which we read. Paul made a vow which involved the Jewish temple and went to the temple as an individual to fulfill the vow. Other Christians may have had similar actions at various times. But it’s a mistake to assume that Christian worship was ever conducted in the Jewish temple worship area.

    The temple COURTS are a different matter. There, business was done, visiting was done, selling occurred, and buying. To speak of going to the temple implies to some that the visit was in order to make a sacrifice or to make a gift to the temple. But Christians no longer were taught to sacrifice animals as an act of worship.

    That the Jewish temple courts were open to anyone for any good purpose is obvious, and that’s where large gatherings took place. Some imagine that Christians went to join in Jewish prayers. They may not realize that Luke reports that two apostles went to the temple at the TIME of prayer and that doesn’t mean they went there to join in Jewish prayers. Nor did they do so. They healed a lame man and then preached to the crowd which gathered in the temple COURTS. They hadn’t gone there to join in Jewish prayers!

  4. Dwight says:

    Ray, Paul was run out of the synagogue for teaching Christ.
    Jesus while he went to the Temple read from the OT about Himself as the Messiah…basically teaching Christ.
    One exception form a precedent in that Paul recognized that he could be a Jew and a Christian and not be contradictory after all Jesus was.
    After al this was to God.
    Just because they weren’t taught to sacrifice animals, doesn’t mean they couldn’t sacrifice animals.
    In Col.2:16 “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths…”
    The Jewish Christians were allowed to practice as Jews and could not be judged for that.
    Now in AD 70 the Temple was destroyed so with it went any worship that could be performed there.

  5. Price says:

    @ Dwight.. Agreed.. Bobby Valentine wrote a recent article about this exact thing as recorded in Luke/Acts.. The earliest believers, including the Apostles were very Jewish and continued in many of the customs and traditions. Many just choose to read with a “Christian” lens and ignore the text where it is uncomfortable.

  6. Dwight says:

    Price, a strange thing happened…those that we often refer to as the ‘early Christian fathers” became very anti-Jewish, because the Jews killed Jesus and turned away from God often, and thus anything that they associated with Judaism became sinful. They thought the Jews themselves as a group were degenerate, never mind that Jesus was a Jew. This is why they condemn IM according to their own writings as they offer no scripture.
    Now many generations later we still place the Jewish practices in the sinful list. Some of this has to do with conservative stance of the silence of the scriptures, but then again we fail to recognize that the Jewish Christians/Apostles performed Jewish practices and were not condemned.
    We some how think that something that God had commanded as good in its concept, is now bad in its concept. God never repealed worship, but rather changed what justifies us before God “spirit and truth” Now it may not be needed to justify us before God, but then again prayer and singing doesn’t justify us before God either. God deserves praise and wants communication, but this doesn’t make us righteous, but rather is a reflection of righteousness.

  7. Price says:

    Well stated

  8. John F says:

    Saul / Paul understood that he could HONOR Jewish culture, but not “Jewish” religiosity. That is why timothy could be circumcised AS A JEW (culture) but not Titus (a Greek). What should be clear to all is that God inspired a WORD that transcends culture and should guide culture across time and across the world. Scripture should interpret culture; culture does not interpret scripture. It was written in a cultural setting that helps us understand principles that transcend culture.

    Without this understanding, all scripture is merely relevant culturally, and scripture may be modified BY culture; scripture becomes unauthoritative. I cannot go there.

    I am proposing that our congregation host a “late” Sunday evening service for those workers who cannot meet earlier. we want to leave services and go out to eat, expecting someone there to serve us; do we give any thought to their need to be able to join in worship / fellowhsip.

  9. Dwight says:

    Or how about meet in the morning and then have a late evening LS for everybody, which should allow all to gather.
    The problem I see is that Paul never sought to argue that the religions things were not religious in nature, but rather that they could not use it to justify themselves before God.
    IF you ate meat offered to idols, even though it was just meat, when you considered it as religious in nature as being of a demon it became a sin to eat.
    On the other side we are told in Rom.14 “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.”
    So in reality we can make or not make a day religious in nature by how we approach it. The Jews observed the Sabbath and the gentiles did not and that was fine respectively. However, we are told “For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” so within the context of Jesus everything we are is religious in nature.

  10. Not wanting to steal Jay’s thunder here but the Jewishness of the early Way is beyond dispute. Modern folks are often guilty of reading BACK into the text mindsets that did not exist for decades and even centuries. Luke never uses the word “Christianity” and no believer is recorded in the book of Acts of appropriating the word “Christian” to themselves (it only occurs 2x any way) whereas Luke routinely uses readily available traditional Jewish talk to describe the identity of the Way. All with roots in the Bible he used, the Septuagint. Here is a brief overview that I wrote for my Facebook wall … I post a slightly modified version here.

    A major flaw in “our” (a traditional SCM) hermeneutic has been taking the Bible piecemeal. We have collected isolated texts, often with little relation to the narrative around it, and built mountains out of assumptions. We have not typically thought in terms of unified narrative. Our approach to Luke-Acts is a case in point. Luke-Acts is a single unified book. And needs to be read in light of its entire framework – and Luke does have a framework (lots of useful and readable scholarship on this point but Jacob Jervell’s, Luke and the People of God is essential reading)

    This is important because today it was declared that Paul, James and the Jerusalem church sinned bc they participated in temple worship, especially sacrifice in Acts 21. There is no basis for this charge. It in fact flies directly in the face of Luke’s consistent Jewish emphasis that runs from Luke 1 to Acts 28. This emphasis is extremely consistent and we have to work hard to miss it.

    I will highlight this Lukan Jewish emphasis. My references are representative and not exhaustive. Most are in Acts simply for ease sake but I will begin with Jesus …

    … far from being a sin, Luke would have us believe Acts 21 is “par for the course” and a celebration of the unity of the Way in all its liturgical diversity.

    1) The last thing the risen Jesus does is give the apostles an “OT” theology lesson, Lk 24.44-49. Pretty important stuff to him it would appear. The emphasis on the “Scriptures” (Luke knows nothing of an “Old Testament”) is in all the sermons in the book save one – Acts 17. These sermons point back to that Jesus inspired “OT Theology” lesson.

    2) the Spirit is poured out on Pentecost, a traditional covenant REnewal time and celebration of the giving of the Law on Mt Sinai (Luke makes numerous allusions to this in his narrative), Acts 2.

    3) The Way is declared to filled with the Spirit and directed by the apostles doctrine. Apparently among other things they devote themselves to Jewish hours of prayer which coincide with the hours of sacrifice (called the Tamid). The Way worships in the temple (Acts 2.42, 46). Luke alludes to the Tamid several times throughout the narrative of Luke-Acts.

    4) Acts 3.1ff is an illustration of “one day” at “THE hour of prayer.” Luke provides a window into the life of the renewed people of God. Peter and John are heading to worship in the Temple at the hour of sacrifice/prayer.

    Skipping stuff

    5) The Way in Damascus meets in the synagogues, they were not separate from it (9.1-2)

    6) Even Cornelius keeps Jewish piety (10.1-3, 30, note 3 o’clock is the hour of sacrifice and the same time as in 3.1ff).

    7) The “authority” claimed by James for EXCLUDING Gentile obligation to the ceremonial aspects of the Law, is the Law of Moses itself. This is declared explicitly in 15.21 with the use of “gar” or “for.” The Law declares what a resident alien living within Israel is to do and that is exactly what the Council imposes upon Gentiles, see 15.21 and Leviticus 17.10-16 and 18.24-30. James says this applies “gar Moses has been read …”

    8) immediately after the Council Paul CIRCUMCISES Timothy, Acts 16.3 (this is Luke proving wrong and anticipating the the charge in 21.21)

    9) The very next chapter, Luke records Paul went to the synagogue on the Sabbath “as was his custom” (17.2). This is the identical phrase used of Jesus in Luke 4.16. One of the numerous parallel “patterns” of the early church/disciples with the life of the Jewish Messiah that Luke stresses.

    10) the very next chapter Luke tells us that Paul had his hair cut “because he was under a vow” (18.18). This can only be a Nazarite vow. By 18.22 Paul is in Jerusalem and he could have made a sacrifice there. But since the text is silent I will only assert that in v.18 Paul clearly is depicted as doing “OT” worship.

    11) Paul stays behind in Macedonia (probably at Lydia’s who is a Jewess) with “us” … that is his Jewish companions for the feast of Unleavened Bread, Acts 20.5-6. I grew up only reading v.7! But the Luke makes an explicit distinction between “us” and “them” (interestingly Paul wrote Romans just a short while before this unleavened bread festival according to most chronologies)

    12) Paul declares that he wishes to be back in Jerusalem “on the day of Pentecost” (20.16) … given Luke’s stress so far this is because Paul wants to worship!

    13) Luke records that the charge that Paul told JEWS not to keep the law was a lie (21.17-21).

    14) James and the elders of the Jerusalem church, recommend Paul join four brothers currently under a vow. Luke has already prepared us for this in 18.18 and his telling us repeatedly of Paul’s kosher habits. So Paul slices an animals throat in 21.22-27 (cf Numbers 6 and the Mishnah tractate, The Vow)

    15) Paul’s defense includes the revelation that the man who brought him into the Way, Ananias, was “a devout man according to the law” (22.12), He was not one that did not keep the law. We assume that Ananias was a believer in the same way as James, the Elders, the Jerusalem Gathering. Clearly this torah man had no issues in telling Saul to be baptized! Being baptized did not “unJewish” him though.

    16) Paul testifies that after his baptism, the first thing he mentions was he went to the Temple!!! It was while “praying IN THE TEMPLE, I fell into a trance and saw Jesus” (22.17-18). Luke has already told us that Zechariah had a weird encounter too (Lk 1, the hour of prayer/Tamid, btw) and of course every Jew knew Daniel did too at the hour of prayer. It is not possible for Luke to make Paul any more a typical Jew than here.

    17) Paul defends himself before the Council and does two things. He states baldy “I AM A PHARISEE” … he does not say “I used to be a Pharisee.” Present tense! And second Paul says he is on trial for the resurrection/the hope of ISRAEL (23.6; 28.20). He is not on trial for breaking the law because, as Luke has shown, he did not break it.

    18) in his next defense, this time before Felix, Paul reflects upon the events of the temple in chapter 21. He states as clearly as can be stated “I went up to Jerusalem TO WORSHIP” (reminding us of his desire in 20.16). What kind of worship, probably the same kind Paul wrote about recently to the Romans in 9.4. I don’t have to infer, Paul tells us “I came to bring alms to my nation AND TO OFFER SACRIFCES.” (24.17)

    19) in between 24.11 and 17, Paul declares he believes “everything laid down according to the law or written in the prophets” (surely a Lukan tie in to Jesus’ OT Theology lesson in Lk 24!)

    20) And my final example is another we just “passover” without a moments thought. This is a calendar reference but it is interesting that Luke makes it in this manner. “… sailing was now dangerous, because even the Fast had already gone by” (Acts 27.9). This is Yom Kippur. Luke even identifies it as a traditional Jew would, with NO explanation! Why? Because that is how 1) Paul understood time and 2) that is how Luke’s original readers would have understood it. They would have known because it meant something to them.

    Ok. A brief overview of Luke’s Jewish emphasis that totally shows Paul’s actions in the temple in Acts 21 is neither sin nor aberration! It is part of a book length thread that is conveniently ignored and erased from our consciousness when we play hopscotch with the Bible.

    Read Luke-Acts from beginning to end. Over and over. Let Luke tell us his Holy Spirit given agenda. Forget the sectarian apologetics and deal with the text. Paul did not err. James did not err. The elders did not err.

    Rather James and Paul lead the Way into a demonstration that God’s people are in fact ONE just as Paul had written in Eph 2, Romans 9-11 and scolded people for wanting to DIVIDE God’s people in Romans 14.

    Luke’s “pattern” is a very Jewish one. Why do we simply sweep these abundant texts (and this is not all) away?

    In Acts 21 the Apostles James and Paul practiced what they preached. Luke celebrates the unity that embarrasses many.

    Shalom … this took longer via my Galaxy S5 so be gentle if there are typos.

  11. “The availability of physical or electronic copies of the scriptures for every church member is a great blessing of the modern times, but somewhere along the way, we lost the joys and benefits of studying together.”

    The whole article was well done, but this sentence deserves a special “Amen!”

  12. Thank you, Jay and all who commented, especially Bobby for the amount of detail in his defense of the Jewishness of the early church.

  13. Jay Guin says:

    Price asked,

    besides church homes, weren’t they also taking advantage of the worship services in the Temple ?

    Absolutely, but of course, only in Jerusalem. So Temple worship was not characteristic of the early church anywhere else. But they obviously continued in Temple worship there, and those of the Diaspora, Jewish Christians who lived outside of Jerusalem, might well return to Jerusalem as pilgrims and engage in Temple worship, as Paul did.

    In fact, the Jews considered the Temple the only place of “worship” and so the synagogue was not about worship but Torah study and prayer. Therefore, it’s unlikely that they considered the weekly Christian assembly to be “worship” as, to a Jew, worship was accomplished by sacrificing an animal or food of some sort. Hence, they would have easily understood the meaning of Rom 12:1,

    (Rom. 12:1 ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

    Of course, the way one worships is by giving up a life to God on an altar. For Christians, the life is our own. This was “worship” — not the assembly, Lord’s Supper, agape, etc.

  14. Jay Guin says:


    There’s a great book on the Jewishness of the early church. Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity. Scholarly and thorough but not a difficult read at all. Very enlightening about how long the Jewish influence was felt and why the church ultimately developed an anti-Jewish bias over the centuries.

  15. Jay Guin says:


    (and writes excellent, insightful comments)

  16. Dwight says:

    I don’t print from blogs, but I may have to do that with Bobby’s entry. It is good and correct. We must not lose sight of who wrote the letters and who they were…Jews who were Christians. The whole of Christianity was built on the framework of Jewish sensibilities. Even the Christian baptism was based on the Jewish baptism. The Lord’s Supper based on the Passover and other feast. God created the framework of the Jews and the framework of Christianity. Christianity doesn’t make Judaism wrong or obsolete, it simply fulfills and completes the purpose of Judaism. While the ceremonial laws were no longer needed, the moral laws still remained.

  17. Jay you are kind. Glad my comment was helpful to your readers. I want to second your recommendation of Skarsaune’s outstanding (and very readable) work In the Shadow of the Temple. I like his image regarding Paul’s converts in the book of Acts. Theybare not half baked pagans but people who were already attached to the synagogue. This is clear in Paul’s letters to as he assumes great familiarity with the LXX.

  18. laymond says:

    Bobby V. said (Luke knows nothing of an “Old Testament”) Bobby as you and I both know “old and new testament, are not titles they are descriptions”
    of what is said of the “old covenant , and the new covenant” and Luke probably knew more about both, than you or I. ( I haven’t seen anything from Don Neyland in years, hope he is OK.)

  19. Dwight says:

    Laymond, I think Bobby was making the point that Luke knew the scriptures, but didn’t know them in the form we divide them up into and divide we do. To the Jews it was more seamless than we make it since the OT laid the groundwork for the NT and they had the scriptures to read from and learn from even late into Acts. We attempt to separate the NT from the OT and then divide the Christians and even the Jewish Christians from the world in which they lived by interjecting our world as we know it into the scriptures.

  20. laymond says:

    Thanks Dwight, Bobby and I got pretty well acquainted over a discussion of the bible that lasted a while.
    Just saying I pretty much understand what he was saying.

  21. Charlie M. says:

    When Jesus says “spirit/truth” to the WatW, is he also saying NO specific time, place, day, or putting any other spiritual conditions on worship?

  22. Jay Guin says:

    Charlie M,

    Sort of.

    “Spirit” means “Spirit” not “attitude.” Jesus had been speaking of Living Water as a metaphor for the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39) and said that “God is spirit,” and so he was speaking of the Divine spirit, not going to church with a good and sincere attitude.

    In the NT, “truth” means the gospel and/or Jesus as exemplar of the gospel. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “Truth” means “the gospel brought, taught, and lived by Jesus” not “obedience to a list of rules.”

    And Jesus was speaking in contrast to the OT requirement that God be worshiped at the Temple in Jerusalem.

    In short, not a special place, but in response to the gospel and as prompted by the Spirit.

    At a more sophisticated level, the Gospels see Jesus as the replacement for the Temple (see Nicholas Perrin’s book and several of NT Wright’s writings), and the church as Jesus’ body becomes an extension of the new Temple.

    Hence, to worship is STILL at the temple, but the temple is Jesus incarnated in his church through his Spirit. Hence, true worship is as part of the church/Kingdom, entered and lived in by the gospel of Jesus Messiah, prompted and empowered by the Spirit.

    Now, this has nothing to do with when, how often, or which acts. True worship is giving oneself up in sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1) but also yielding to give up your autonomy to be part of the church, sharing in the unity of the Spirit (Eph 4:1-2), which is found only in the Christian community.

    The assembly matters, but not as box checking or rule keeping. It’s about unity of the Spirit made possible by the truth of the gospel. It’s a whole ‘nuther way to think.

  23. Dwight says:

    Jay, I tend to veer away from the “truth” is the gospel concept as we are not told which truth it is that we are to bind to. Preachers see the truth as the gospel and thus we are led to the set of rules that you argue against in which we are to be saved. Worship isn’t about salvation, but rather worship. Truth is the opposite of lie. when Jesus says he is “the way, the truth and the life” he is relating that He is the real deal and not a falsity, which the Jews accused Him of being.
    We are told by Jesus in John 4:23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.”
    So he says, “true worshippers” before he gets to “worshipping in spirit and truth”.
    We have a tendency to ignore the “true worshippers”, but this defines how he wants the worship. In truth by those who worship, not of a lie, but of truth. Not going through the motions of Temple worship by command, but those who want to worship. This is opposed to ‘false worshippers.”
    “These are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.”

    We are called the Temple as God dwells in us, so we are a place of worship. We are the priest and the sacrifice. We are not limited to place and time, but unlimited in willingness and opportunity.

  24. I tend to agree with Dwight. After all John in another of his writings said, “Love not in word, it in deed and truth.” Here truth certainly appears to refer to genuine love as opposed to love that is only words. Worship in truth would stand in opposition to those who honor God with their lips while their hearts are far from him.

  25. Jay Guin says:


    Several years ago, I did a series looking at every use of “truth” in the NT. /category/index/theology-index/truth-what-is/. I don’t think we’re too far apart in our understanding.

    Our preachers see “gospel” as the Five Step Plan of Salvation. We should not follow them in their error. “Gospel” is the announcement of the good news that the Messiah has come, bringing in the Kingdom and inaugurating a new age, died and resurrected by God in accordance with prophecy, offering salvation to all through faith. 1 Cor 15:1 ff is as comprehensive a definition as any. My point is that “gospel” has nothing to do with Five Acts of Worship or other legalisms. It’s about the new covenant, the Kingdom, the outpoured Spirit, and most especially, Messiah.

    Leon Morris’s NICNT on John’s Gospel has an extensive Additional Note on the use of “truth” in John, and it’s very persuasive.


    In Greek writings generally the basic idea of truth is much like our own. It is truth as opposed to falsehood, reality as opposed to mere appearance. But in the New Testament the use of the term is complicated by the fact that it has imported some features from the Old Testament as well. There words like אֱמֶת, and אֱמוּנָה refer to truth, but they also refer to faithfulness, reliability, trustworthiness, sureness, and the like. Especially are they used of God, and it is probably not too much to say that they derive part of their meaning from the connection with God. He may in fact be called “the God of truth” (Ps. 31:5; Isa. 65:16). Truth is characteristic of God, and it is only as we know God that we know truth. But we may know truth, for God has revealed it. Thus Jacob can speak of “all the kindness and faithfulness (or “truth”) you have shown your servant” (Gen. 32:10). Such a prayer as “in your faithfulness (or ‘truth’) destroy them (i.e. my enemies)” (Ps. 54:5) is perplexing until we remember that truth includes the complete reliability and integrity of God. He will certainly act in accordance with the highest conceivable morality.

    In the New Testament truth is associated with God (Rom. 3:7; 15:8). In a very interesting passage Paul refers to idolatry as exchanging the truth of God for a lie (Rom. 1:25), which makes truth very close to God’s essential nature. Truth is also associated with Christ (2 Cor. 11:10), and significantly in the expression, “as truth is in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21). This is often misquoted as “the truth as it is in Jesus” (and even translated this way in REB; NIV has “the truth that is in Jesus”). But Paul is not talking about that aspect of truth which he finds in Jesus. He is saying that the very truth of God, truth itself, resides in him. It is but a step to what Christ has done, and so we read of “the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:5), while “the word of the truth” can be explained as “the gospel of your salvation” (Eph. 1:13). Many passages could be cited here. Now all this affects the conduct of the believer. “The belt of truth” is to be “buckled around your waist” (Eph. 6:14). Christians are to “keep the Festival” with “the bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:8). Truth is to be as characteristic of the saved as it is of the Savior.

    The summit of this development is reached in the Fourth Gospel. Truth for John is a very important concept. He uses the noun ἀλήθεια 25 times, over against once in Matthew and 3 times each in Mark and Luke (Paul has it 47 times, and it is found 20 times in the Johannine Epistles). There is a similar disparity with the adjectives ἀληθής (14 times in John, once each in Matthew and Mark, not in Luke, 4 times in Paul), and ἀληθινός (9 times in John, not in Matthew or Mark, once each in Luke and Paul). Plainly this concept matters to John.

    Bultmann takes “the basic meaning of ‘truth’ in John” to be “God’s reality, which, since God is the Creator, is the only true reality.”123 Especially important is the fact that truth may be linked with Jesus. He is “full of grace and truth” (1:14), and the source of grace and truth to people (1:17). John the Baptist bore witness to the truth (5:33), and, since he is depicted simply as a witness to Jesus (see on 1:7), this may also link the truth closely with Jesus. The Master could say, “I am … the truth” (14:6). “So truth is not the teaching about God transmitted by Jesus but is God’s very reality revealing itself—occurring!—in Jesus.” Truth understood in this way has a special connection with the cross. As the Gospel comes to its climax Pilate asks, “What is truth?” (18:38). No answer is given in words, but the Passion narrative gives the answer in deeds. As A. Corell puts it, “There can only be one meaning of ἀλήθεια in the Fourth Gospel: it is the truth about the death and resurrection of Jesus, to which witness is borne in 16:7 and 17:19. This is in accordance with the whole theology of the Fourth Gospel, the central point of which is the ‘lifting-up’ of Jesus.” Truth as Jesus understood it was a costly affair.

    All this has consequences for his people. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (8:31–32). To know the truth is not to enter intellectual freedom as such, but it is to enter into the liberating experience of being disciples of the Lord, with all that that means in terms of freedom from sin and guilt, and of fellowship with and knowledge of God. Jesus is not describing truth as an ethical virtue or a philosophical concept. The thought is close to that of 17:3, which describes eternal life in terms of the “true” God and of Jesus Christ. We should probably consider here, too, the fact that “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (1:17), for this indicates a close link between truth and the gospel of God’s grace. The whole of Jesus’ ministry was exercised in order that he might bear witness to the truth (18:37; cf. 8:40, 45, 46; 16:7). By contrast the evil one does not stand in the truth, and, indeed, there is no truth in him (8:44).

    Truth can be associated with the Spirit (who was to continue Christ’s work). Indeed, this forms a distinctive feature of the teaching of this Gospel. The Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (14:17; 15:26; 16:13; John can even say, “the Spirit is the truth,” 1 John 5:6). Part of the work of the Spirit is to guide people “into all the truth” (16:13).

    So significant for believers is truth that they can be said to be “of the truth” (18:37; NIV, “on the side of truth”). Only those who are “of the truth” hear Christ’s voice (18:37). They are sanctified “in the truth” (17:17; NIV, “by the truth”). Indeed, Christ’s sanctification of himself (which most exegetes agree involves a reference to setting himself apart for a sacrificial death) was “that they too may be truly sanctified” (17:19). They “do” the truth (3:21, NIV “lives by the truth”; contrast 1 John 1:6). Truth is a quality of action, not simply an abstract concept. Believers worship “in spirit and truth” (4:23–24). So important is this that the Father seeks such worshipers (4:23). Worship must be in conformity with the divine reality as revealed in Jesus.

    The connection with Jesus is essential to the idea of truth as we see it in this Gospel. It starts from the essential nature of God, it finds its expression in the gospel whereby God saves people, and it issues in lives founded on truth and showing forth truth.

    Leon Morris, The Gospel according to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), 259–263.

  26. Jay Guin says:


    See my earlier reply to Dwight. But let’s think about —

    (1 Jn. 3:18-20 ESV) 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

    Hard to ignore v. 19’s “we shall know that we are of the truth.” “Of the truth”? What does that mean if not “saved” rather than “truth speakers”?

    (1 Jn. 1:6 ESV) If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
    (1 Jn. 1:8 ESV) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
    (1 Jn. 2:4 ESV) Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
    (1 Jn. 2:21 ESV) I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.
    (1 Jn. 3:18 ESV) Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
    (1 Jn. 3:19 ESV) By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;
    (1 Jn. 4:6 ESV) We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
    (1 Jn. 5:6 ESV) This is he who came by water and blood– Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

    Now, John is not the easier author to sort out because he can be so brief. His ideas are heavily compressed into so few words. He wants us to think in new categories and ways.

    For the elder “truth” signifies what is ultimately real, namely God himself. Hence it can refer to the expression of God in his incarnate Son and in the Christian message. In 2 John 2 it becomes evident that the truth is tantamount to the Spirit of truth who can enter into the believer. The truth stands in contrast to the ultimately unreal and deceptive lies which stem from the devil.

    I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1978).

    From this survey of the use of the word ‘truth’ in 1 John, it is clear that the Johannine understanding of truth (involving ‘doing the truth’, not lying, understanding the message of salvation, acting truly in love, belonging to the truth, and truth personified in the Spirit) is different from Greek notions of truth (that which conforms to reality or logical facts). It is also different from the OT idea of truth as faithfulness and loyalty. There exist some parallels in gnostic writings where the enlightened are said to be indwelt by truth, and in the Dead Sea Scrolls where there are references to the sons/men of truth (1QS 4:5–6; 1QpHab 7:10), and where the Holy Spirit is associated with the truth (1QS 4:21). But none of these parallels comes near the Johannine idea of truth personified in Christ/God/the Spirit, who communicates not only his message but himself to human beings. De la Potterie, commenting on truth in the Fourth Gospel, sums it up well:

    The Johannine idea of truth, then, is quite different from the intellectualist conception of the Greeks, for whom the truth was the reality, the essence of being, that is revealed to the spirit. In hellenistic dualism, this reality is transferred to the sphere of the divine, and consequently cannot be attained except by escaping from the world, and fleeing to the realm of light; but the cosmic dualism underlying this conception is liable to cut the world off from God. For John, on the other hand, truth is found in the word of the Father turned to mankind, incarnate in Christ, illuminated through the action of the Spirit. What men are required to do with respect to the truth is not to win it by intellectual endeavour; it is to receive and enter into it in faith, to submit to it and to live by it.

    Colin G. Kruse, The Letters of John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos, 2000), 67–68.

    But what (as Pontius Pilate famously asked Jesus) is ‘truth’? For John it is very simple, and very profound. At one level ‘truth’ simply means ‘Jesus the Messiah as the full revelation of God the father’. Everything else will flow from that. But this ‘everything else’ gets us into all sorts of areas. Already in these verses we find John speaking of loving in truth, of knowing the truth, of the truth abiding in us and with us, and God’s grace, mercy and peace being with us in truth and love. Then, as the key ‘sign of life’, he finds some members of the other church who are ‘walking in the truth’, who are (that is) behaving in accordance with the truth.
    Truth, for John, seems to be something to do with a wholeness, a completeness, of human life, from the first stirrings of thought and imagination through to every detail of practical living. He believes that in Jesus the Messiah the creator God has both displayed the form and pattern of this truth and, by dealing with all the untruth in the world, all the lies that distort and deface humans and the world, has enabled men and women to rediscover truth-in-action, truth-in-the-heart, truth-in-real-life. Truth has to do with integrity. And integrity has to do with God’s redeeming purposes for the whole world, with God’s plan for the new creation.
    Truth, then, isn’t just a matter of saying things which correspond to reality, saying ‘today it is cold’ when it really is. That is simply surface-level truth. Truth, for John, is something that goes down deep and spreads out wide. It is what happens when humans, redeemed in the Messiah and renewed by the spirit, think, speak and act in a way which corresponds to God’s plan to renew the whole creation—and, indeed, which sets that renewal forward in whatever way they are called to do.
    Untruth (telling lies), by contrast, is therefore what happens when people think, speak and act as though the present unredeemed world is all that there is; as though ‘the way things are’ sets the pattern and boundary for ‘the way things should be’. This is the foundation for what will be said in the second part of the letter, where the Deceiver denies the great new truth which must shape all perceptions of reality, all actions within the world.
    And the great ‘truth’ which is unveiled in the gospel of Jesus is of course that the powerful, redeeming love of God is the motor that drives the cosmos—and that those who are discovering the truth, or rather being discovered by it, must learn to let that love flow through them to their fellow Christians and to the world around. This is the ‘commandment’ above all others, emphasized as such by Jesus himself and by one early Christian writer after another. Love is what matters. If only the church had allowed this to sink in and transform its life from generation to generation. Thank God it still happens all over the place; but please God, may it do so on a larger scale.
    Love is not, then, the optional extra to be added when everything else is sorted out. It is the thing that goes on round and round, like blood circulating in a healthy living body, or to and fro, like good strong breathing. That’s actually how John’s writing works, here and elsewhere. Breathe out: the commandment is that we should love one another (verse 5); breathe in: love means keeping the commandments (verse 6a). And, underneath this, there is the further commandment—that you should keep on living in accordance with it (verse 6b)! He can’t say it enough. And we can’t hear it enough. These little letters may be small, and may not attract much attention in comparison with their better-known neighbours. But they carry the same explosive charge.

    Tom Wright, Early Christian Letters for Everyone: James, Peter, John and Judah, For Everyone Bible Study Guides, (London; Louisville, KY: SPCK; Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 174–176.

  27. laymond says:

    “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.”

    Dwight I am glad to see someone who believes in what Jesus said as I do. “Spirit and Truth” Truth means “truly worshiping, and in spirit means inward, and continually. When we gather in congregations, see who can sing the loudest, clap hands the most, say praise God with the most feelings. and play the instrument with more perfection. That is not the worshippers the Father seeks. and not everything one does is worship of God. If we look at all the things God created in amazement , and give all credit to God, that is as much worship as one can give. Give all glory to the creator, now that is worship.

  28. I think our concept of truth is really not far apart. Ultimately all truth resides in God, his Son and his Spirit. Since creation itself is a gift of God, all reality resides in him, and in us through him. To worship in truth is not to follow the five avenues of worship precisely. But actual worship takes place only in relation to God, which we have by being born again of water and Spirit (there’s the ‘Spirit’ of worship in Spirit and in truth). So true worship, real worship, actual worship, only occurs as we, in fellowship with God, present our bodies to him as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). Yesterday I wrote the following note to Romans 12:1 in my e-Sword:

    (Begin Quote) Cf. Romans 6:13 where he says, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”

    There, he uses the language of resurrection, ‘you who have been brought rom death to life.’ Here, he uses the language of the temple, ‘present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.’ In both, he speaks of presenting ourselves to God in holiness.

    Our true worship to God is not the ritual on Sunday. It is the life we live before him in holiness, the life Paul describes in the rest of this book. Our ‘synagoguing’ together, the Hebrews writer explained in 10:24-25, is for mutual encouragement and edification for ‘love and good works’ that our lives may reflect the holiness and glory of God. We do this in songs of encouragement and praise, in prayers of thankfulness and entreaty, in remembering the Messiah, in sacrificial giving to the needs of others, and in the proclamation and application of the Word of God to our lives.

    The sign over the doors of many places of assembly, ‘Enter to Worship; Depart to Serve’ has it almost (but not completely) backwards. Maybe it would be better as ‘Enter to Be Revitalized; Depart to Worship.’ (End of Quote from my e-Sword Note)

    For more on my concept of truth see my first post on my blog, as well as other related posts you can find my searching the site for ‘Truth’.

  29. laymond says:

    Jerry wrote in 2009 ; “Worship in Spirit is worship focused on Jesus and His greatness, for the Spirit bears witness to the Son of God. In glorifying Jesus through the Spirit, we glorify God. Worship in Spirit is also worship we offer because we, by faith in Christ, receive the righteousness that comes from God.”

    Jerry wrote in 2016; “I think our concept of truth is really not far apart. Ultimately all truth resides in God, his Son and his Spirit. Since creation itself is a gift of God, all reality resides in him, and in us through him.”

    “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.”

    Jerry this verse has not changed from 2009 until 2016, it still reads the same. I believe the spirit, and truth that Jesus speaks of, resides in the worshipper, since the worshiper is the subject of the conversation.

  30. Dwight says:

    I think the “truth” in John 4:23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.” forms a relational concept.
    God is spirit and we must worship him in spirit…which is our spirit to God’s spirit. The truth we are to worship with is with our truth to God’s truth. But these are still our spirit and truth, but related to God’s spirit and truth.
    The Jews had God’s law, but according to John they didn’t worship in spirit and in truth, even though they had the truth according to Jesus “as salvation is of the Jews”. But knowing the truth didn’t help them relate to God in worship because they weren’t connecting to God spiritually and truthfully. David worshipped God in spirit and in truth because he did it from his heart.
    If this makes sense.

  31. Jay Guin says:


    “Spirit” used with reference to a human means that person’s life or perhaps attitude. “God is spirit” refers not to God’s life or attitude but to his essential nature. Jesus said this to set up “in spirit and truth” — so that we’d understand that “spirit” refers to our essential nature as re-created by the Spirit. Consider the passage with synonyms for “Holy Spirit” substituted in the text —

    (Jn. 4:9-24 ESV) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

    10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you [the Holy Spirit, referred to by the prophets as] “living water”.

    11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”

    13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water [that is the Spirit] that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The [Spirit] that I will give him will become in him a spring of water[/Spirit] welling up to eternal life.”

    15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

    16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”

    17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.”

    Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

    19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet [person inspired by the Spirit; she is missing the point but getting closer]. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

    21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in [S]pirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit [invisible, eternal, incorporeal], and those who worship him must worship in [the invisible, eternal, incorporeal] [S]pirit [that is like God and a part of God] and truth [according to God’s true nature and message as revealed in Jesus].”

    Figurative language is not easily rendered as literal (or else Jesus would have spoken literally), but I think that gets pretty close.

    Although he’s more of a Calvinist than I might like, I am a fan of D. A. Carson’s writing —

    This God who is spirit can be worshipped only in spirit and truth. Both in v. 23 and in v. 24, the one preposition ‘in’ governs both nouns (a point obscured by the NIV of v. 24). There are not two separable characteristics of the worship that must be offered: it must be ‘in spirit and truth’, i.e. essentially God-centred, made possible by the gift of the Holy Spirit, and in personal knowledge of and conformity to God’s Word-made-flesh, the one who is God’s ‘truth’, the faithful exposition and fulfillment of God and his saving purposes (cf. esp. de la Potterie, 2. 673ff.). The worshippers whom God seeks worship him out of the fullness of the supernatural life they enjoy (‘in spirit’), and on the basis of God’s incarnate Self-Expression, Christ Jesus himself, through whom God’s person and will are finally and ultimately disclosed (‘in truth’); and these two characteristics form one matrix, indivisible. Indeed, the association of ‘word’ and ‘Spirit’ is strong in the Old Testament (e.g. Ne. 9:20, 30; Ps. 33:6; 147:18; Is. 59:21), and it is just possible that this connection is in the Evangelist’s mind, since Jesus the ‘Word made flesh’ (1:14) and ‘the truth’ (14:6) is also the one to whom God gives the Spirit without limit (3:34).

    To worship the Father ‘in spirit and truth’ clearly means much more than worship without necessary ties to particular holy places (though it cannot mean any less). The prophets spoke of a time when worship would no longer be focused on a single, central sanctuary, when the earth would be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. The Apocalypse concludes with a vision of the consummated kingdom, the new Jerusalem, in which there is no temple to be found, ‘because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple’ (Rev. 21:22). The fulfillment of that vision has not yet arrived in its fullness. Even so, Jesus insists, through his own mission the hour was dawning when the principal ingredients of that vision would be set in operation, a foretaste of the consummation to come. ‘God is spirit, and his worshippers must (Gk. dei, here the divine ‘must’) worship him in spirit and truth.’

    D. A. Carson, The Gospel according to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; W.B. Eerdmans, 1991), 225–226.

    Carson very properly refers to the OT background, that is, what the prophets said about the Spirit to get a deeper sense of Jesus’ words. And he goes one step better by also looking ahead to the Consummation to see how the end of the age would affect our in-between times.

    Another excellent commentary:

    The authentic worship that is no longer tied to particular cultic places entails worship in Spirit and in truth. That the Spirit is the divine Spirit is clear from the comment that precedes the reiteration of the phrase ‘in Spirit and in truth’ in the following verse—God is Spirit. The Spirit is the creative life-giving power of God (cf. 6:63), which, like the wind, ‘blows where it wills’ (3:8) and cannot be confined to any one place. True worship corresponds to the God who is worshipped and therefore takes place in and through the divine Spirit. It also corresponds to what is true and for the evangelist truth is primarily the revelation of God in Jesus (cf. 14:6; 17:17). Since Jesus is the giver of the Spirit and the embodiment of the truth, worship in Spirit and in truth is also worship centred in and mediated by Jesus. The God who desires a relationship with created humanity is actively seeking those who will worship in this way—the Father seeks such people as this as his worshippers—and Jesus as the bridegroom seeking his bride has taken up this mission.

    Andrew T. Lincoln, The Gospel according to Saint John, Black’s New Testament Commentary, (London: Continuum, 2005), 177–178.

  32. laymond says:

    Did anyone here notice how Jesus described the Father as God who is a spirit, yes I know the later versions left out the “a” but try as they would they could not get rid of that pesky word “HIM” .

    Jhn 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

    Jhn 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    pronoun: him
    used as the object of a verb or preposition to refer to a male person or animal previously mentioned or easily identified.
    God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
    God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
    His (possessive pronoun). Alternative letter-case form of his often used when referring to God or another important figure who is understood from context.

    As you might notice the NIV replaced the singular pronoun him, with the singular possessive pronoun his, but it is still singular.

  33. Dwight says:

    I’ve always considered the singular difference between man and God is deity and human, but then again God is spirit and not flesh, that is until God came in the flesh in the form of Jesus. God is a spirit, but God placed the spirit within man, so man can connect to God on a spiritual level, but man has the hurdles of the flesh, which is huge. But man can connect to God spiritually. Enoch did it and David did it. They obviously worshipped in spirit and in truth.They didn’t seem to have the gospel as brought by Jesus. The gospel brought by Jesus was a/the pathway to God born of a New Testament, but didn’t necessarily reflect how to worship God.

  34. laymond says:

    Dwight, maybe you did not grasp the message I attempted to send. may be my fault. I was trying to draw attention to Jesus saying the Father is God, a separate; individual. not one of three, who work as one. Jesus referred to The Father as ” God is a spirit” and as “him” which is a singular pronoun.
    In other words Jesus referred to God as a “him” not a them. nor “us”.

  35. John F says:

    The problem for the Greek / Roman was “One God” where they had a full panoply of gods from which to choose. Thus the charge against the Christians as atheists.

    The problem for the Jew was “God in Three” as they were monotheists.

    As I see it, the plurality of the ONE GOD (From Gen 1, “Let US make….” was intact UNTIL the “WORD became flesh” and tabernacled among men. We do not see any reference to the “only begotten” mono genes until then. From THAT time, we have reference to all the glory, honor, etc. to the SON, but no reference to the SON before that time.

  36. Dwight says:

    Well of course Laymond, just as God referred to Jesus as His son. They are separate in identities, but one in purpose and nature. IF I say “my son, John, and I am a man”, this immediately implies that John is a man also. Now when Jesus said this he was in the flesh, spirit in the flesh, while God the Father was in the spirit.

  37. laymond says:

    Dwight, Jesus did not speak of worshiping God as a trinity, only of worshiping God as The Father.

  38. laymond says:

    Dwight said ; “IF I say “my son, John, and I am a man”, this immediately implies that John is a man also.”
    If the bible is right, we know at the time God said this, Jesus was a man. (it would be hard to baptize a spirit, in water)
    So Dwight, if Jesus was a man when he referred to God as Father this implies that God is a man, right? (wrong God is the father of all creation, even trees, I don’t worship trees)
    What the phrase “my son” really means , is my offspring, or my creation. There are many male children , who are nothing like their father when they grow up, but they are still the father’s child.

    I’m just saying you can’t compare God to man. It just won’t work.

  39. Dwight says:

    Laymond you are backwards engineering from what we are told in the scriptures. In John we are told that God came down in the form of man and this God who was with God was Jesus. God said this of his son, his only begotten son, so the implication remains. Jesus never denied and even argued for His Godly nature as did His apostles, but this is an old argument.

  40. laymond says:

    “In John we are told that God came down in the form of man and this God who was with God was Jesus. ”
    Dwight, I have looked as hard as I know how, and cannot find the scripture you quote , from John or any place in the bible. I looked more than once, because I thought surely Dwight would not make something up, and quote it for gospel. can you direct me to where John said this.

  41. Dwight says:

    Laymond, you have been directed and have picked apart the scriptures not retaining them as a whole in John and Romans. Basically you are of the same belief of the Jews were during Jesus time on earth. The very fact that Jesus called himself the Son of God was enough for them to say he was blaspheming as they knew what it entailed. God didn’t call anyone else His Son and Jesus never said he was the son of Joseph, but of God from beginning to end. He was the only one on who was given the name Messiah or God is with us.
    Once again you have veered a discussion on what should be man “worshipping God in Spirit and Truth” to the nature of Jesus. So until this thread comes back to the original topic I won’t either.

  42. Amen! Laymond seems to have some hobby horses he loves to ride, and at times it gets tiresome.

  43. Larry Cheek says:

    It really seems to me that Laymond should be able to recognize that he is alone in his interpretation among the 2000 or so readers of the blog. I would really wonder if my view on any subject was correct if the odds were 2000 to 1 against me. It takes a very special person to stand firm in such odds without weighing the evidence opposing a belief.

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