The Life of Jesus in Harmony | Index | Previous | Next

The Synagogue

jesus00000019.gif jesus00000019.gif

THE SYNAGOGUE

During the Babylonian exile in the sixth century BC Jews began gathering to pray and study the scriptures in the synagogue A quorum of ten men was necessary to form a synagogue. Women sat in a separate section, and were not expected to take part.

jesus00000019.gif jesus00000019.gif

Numerous synagogues were set up in Jerusalem, including one for freedmen, or ex-slaves. There were no less than 480 synagogues in Jerusalem during Jesus' time. The well preserved synagogue at Capernaum dates from the first or second century AD and is almost certainly the site of the building where Jesus spoke. About the only synagogue visible today which for certain, dates to the first century AD, is the building excavated at Masada.

Wherever the apostle Paul traveled he made first for the local synagogue to preach the Christian message to the Jews. As a qualified rabbi he would be invited to expound the weekly readings from the Torah and the Prophets. At Philippi he went to 'a place of prayer'. This was a common description for a synagogue and may have been a synagogue rather than just a riverside place of prayer, as is traditionally accepted.

Some synagogues were huge. Excavators have discovered an enormous synagogue at Sardis, in western Turkey, which was in use from 200-600 AD. The main hall is 65 yards long, with a forecourt and porch projecting an additional 43 yards. The great Diploston synagogue in Alexandria was so enormous that a man was stationed in the middle of the building so he could signal with a flag the correct moment for the Amen to people at the back of the building.

SYNAGOGUES IN THE TIME OF JESUS

- The first synagogues may have been built by Jews held captive far from the temple during the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century B.C., but synagogues were important religious and social institutions in the time of Jesus.

- The original Greek word synagogue means merely "a place of meeting."

- In the Jewish world synagogues were second only to the temple in Jerusalem itself as religious institutions. They also served as schools of religious instruction and communal halls for civic functions under the direction of a council of elders.

- Typically, a synagogue was a small structure built on a rise above the neighboring houses. Opposite the entrance, a portable ark contained the scrolls of the Law and the Prophets. In front of it, facing worshipers, were the "chief seats" for religious leaders.

- Men and women perhaps sat apart from each other in the congregation as they did in later times.

- For public worship, which was conducted on the Sabbath, a minimum of 10 adult males had to be in attendance.

- The five-part service included prayers, psalm-singing, blessings, readings from the Scriptures, and commentaries on the sacred passages, but there were no sacrifices and no standard liturgy.

- Although a rabbi might be recognized as the leader because of his distinguished teaching, there was no official clergy. In fact, any Jew who felt himself qualified could ask for permission to teach the Scriptures-as Jesus did at Nazareth.

SYNAGOGUE AND CHURCH

In the very beginning, believers in Jesus did not separate themselves from their fellow Jews. Like Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and lesser-known groups, they seemed to form a new sect of Judaism-sometimes called "the Way"; and the first Christians preached in synagogues whose members shared many of the same beliefs and were already familiar with the Scriptures.

Later, as missionaries carried the Gospel out into the Greco-Roman world, services that included gentiles were initially held in synagogues; but soon there were churches specifically for gentile converts.

Soon, the gentile Christianity that grew out of the early churches began to predominate over the Jewish Christianity that was centered in synagogues. In fact, as the faith spread in the West, it failed in Palestine, partly because it did not give encouragement to the Zealots, who wanted to rise up against Rome, and partly because its essential ideas and beliefs struck many traditional Jews as too revolutionary.

Perhaps as early as AD 50, Jews and Christianized Jews split, even rioting against each other in Rome, and soon the gulf between synagogue and church had widened beyond the point of reconciliation.

The Synagogue

The synagogue played a large part in the growth and persistence of Judaism, as previously noted.

The Jews of the Dispersion founded synagogues in every city of the empire where there were enough Jews to maintain one, and foreign synagogues flourished in Jerusalem.

Galilee, which in the days of the Maccabees was largely Gentile (I Macc. 5:21-23), was filled with synagogues in the time of Christ.

The synagogue was the social center where the Jewish inhabitants of a city gathered weekly to meet each other.

It was the educational medium for keeping the law before the people and for providing instruction for their children in the ancestral faith.

It was the substitute for temple worship, which was precluded by distance or by poverty.

In the synagogue the study of the law took the place of ritual sacrifice, the rabbi supplanted the priest, and the communal faith was applied to individual life.

Each synagogue had as its leader the "head of synagogue" (Mark 5:22), who was probably selected from among the elders by vote. The leader presided over the services in the synagogue, acted as instructor in case of any dispute (Luke 13:14), and introduced visitors to the assembly (Acts 13:15).

The synagogue attendant, or hazzan, acted as custodian of the property and had the responsibility of caring for the building and its contents. His duties included warning the village people of the beginning of the Sabbath on Friday afternoon and notifying them also of its close. Probably he was the official mentioned in Luke 4:20 who brought forth the roll of Scripture from which Jesus preached in the synagogue at Nazareth and who replaced the roll in its proper niche when He had finished reading from it. On occasion the hazzan served as the master of the local synagogue school.

The synagogue buildings were usually substantial structures of stone, sometimes richly furnished if the congregation or sponsor were wealthy. Every synagogue had a chest in which the roll of the law was kept, a platform with a reading desk from which the Scripture of the day was read, lamps for lighting the building, and benches or seats for the congregation.

Most of the equipment in use in the ancient synagogues still appears in their modern counterpart.

THE SYNAGOGUE SERVICE consisted of recitation of the Jewish Shema, "Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah: and thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deut. 6:4, 5),

This was accompanied by sentences of praise to God called Berakot because they began with the word "Blessed."

Following the Shema was a ritual prayer, concludingwith an opportunity for individual silent prayer on the part of the members of the congregation.

The reading of the Scriptures, which came next, began with special sections of the law which were assigned to holy days; but as time went on the entire Pentateuch was divided into sections which gave a fixed cycle of one hundred fifty-four lessons to be read in a definite period of time. The Palestinian Jews read through the Pentateuch every three years, whereas the Babylonian Jews completed the reading in one year. The Prophets were also used, as Jesus' reading in the synagogue shows (Luke 4:16-.). Probably on that occasion Jesus Himself selected the reading.

A sermon followed the reading of the Scripture, explaining the portion which had been read. The sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth was in full keeping with the regular procedure of the day. The sermon was closed with a blessing, pronounced by some priestly member of the congregation. If no person with priestly qualifications was present, a prayer was substituted for the blessing.

Jesus Himself attended regularly the service of the synagogue and took part in it.

His disciples also had been accustomed to its ritual.

Paul in his travels visited the synagogues first whenever he entered strange cities, and he preached and debated with the Jews and proselytes who gathered to hear him.

The Church followed to some degree the procedure of the Synagogue. As a matter of fact, some early Christian worship may have been carried on within the synagogue; for the Epistle of James implies that the Christian community to whom it was written was still worshipping there (Jas. 2:1, 2).

Because of the summary and persistent rejection of the gospel of Christ by the Jewish people, the church and the synagogue parted company as it is today.

An Outline of The Life of Jesus in Harmony

jesus00000036.gif

"I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Caesar, and Alexander should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant - Jesus should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations."  - Napoleon I Bonaparte (1809)

The Life of Jesus Map
 

The Birth of John the Baptist

Jerusalem

Gabriel Announces John's Birth (Lk 1:5-25)

The History of the Birth of Jesus

The Genealogy of Jesus (Mat 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38).

Nazareth

Gabriel Announces to Mary (Lk 1:26-38).

Mary Visits Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-56).

An Angel Comes to Joseph (Mat 1:18-25)

Bethlehem

The Decree of Augustus Caesar and the Birth of Christ (Lk 2:1-7). jesus00000019.gif

The First Visitors - Shepherds (Lk 2:8-20).

The Second Visitors - Magi (Mat 2:1-12).

Jerusalem

Jesus is Circumcised and Presented in the Temple (Lk 2:21-38). jesus00000019.gif

Egypt

Out of Egypt (Mat 2:13-23).

Nazareth

jesus00000011.gif

Jesus' Early Years

Jerusalem

The Boy Jesus at the Temple (Lk 2:41-52). jesus00000019.gif

The Beginning of His Ministry

The Jordan

Jesus is Baptized in the Jordan (Mat 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-23).

The Wilderness

The Temptation in the Wilderness (Mat 4:1-11; Mk 1:12, 13; Lk 4:1-13).

The Eternal Word (Jn 1:1-18).

The Testimony of John (Jn 1:19-34). jesus00000019.gif

The First Disciples (Jn 1:35-51).

Cana

Turning Water to Wine (Jn 2:1-12).

Jesus Visits Jerusalem jesus00000019.gif

The First Passover

Jerusalem

jesus00000010.gif

A House of Merchandise (Jn 2:13-25).

Unless One is Born Again (Jn 3:1-21).

Jesus Baptizes (Jn 3:22, with 4:2).

Galilee

He Departed Again to Galilee  (Mat 4:12; Mk 1:14; Lk 4:14; Jn 4:1-3).

Samaria

The Woman at the Well (Jn 4:4-42).

Jesus' Ministry in Galilee jesus00000019.gif

Galilee

He Taught in Their Synagogues (Mt 4:17; Mk 1:14,15; Lk 4:14,15; Jn 4:43-45).

Nazareth

A Certain Nobleman (Jn 4:46-54)

Physician, Heal Yourself! (Mat 4:13-16; Lk 4:16-31).

Sea of Galilee

Peter, Andrew, James, and John (Mat 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20; Lk 5:1-11).

Galilee

And Jesus Went About All Galilee . . Teaching (Mat 4:23-25; Mk 1:35-39, Lk 4:42-44).

A Man With an Unclean Spirit (Mk 1:21-28; Lk 4:31-37).

Capernaum

Simon's Wife's Mother Lay Sick (Mat 8:14-17; Mk 1:29-34; Lk 4:38-41).

Then a Leper Came to Him (Mat 8:2-4; Mk 1:40-45; Lk 5:12- 16).

They Brought to Him a Paralytic (Mat 9:2-8; Mk 2:1-12; Lk 5:17-26).

Capernaum

Matthew the Tax Collector (Mat 9:9; Mk 2:13, 14; Lk 5:27, 28).

The Second Passover

Jerusalem

Healing at the Pool of Bethesda on the Sabbath Day (Jn 5:1-47). jesus00000019.gif

Healing in the Synagogue on the Sabbath Day (Mat 12:9-14; Mk 3:1-6, Lk 6:6-11).

And in His Name Gentiles Will Trust (Mat 12:15-21; Mk 3:7-12)

Then He Appointed Twelve (Mat 10:2-4; Mk 3:13-19; Lk 6: 12-19).

The Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5-7; Lk 6:20-49).

A Certain Centurion's Servant (Mat 8:5-13; Lk 7:1-10).

Nain

Jesus Raises the Dead Son at Nain (Lk 7:11-17).

jesus00000036.gif

Are You the Coming One? (Mat 11:2-19; Lk 7:18-35).

My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light (Mat 11:20-30).

Capernaum

The Woman With the Alabaster Flask (Lk 7:36-50).

Mary Called Magdalene (Lk 8:1-3).

The Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Mat 12:22-37; Mk 3: 19-30; Lk 11:14-20).

Teacher, We Want to See a Sign From You (Mat 12:38-45; Lk 11:16-36).

Woe to You, Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites (Lk 11:37-54).

He Began to Say to His Disciples (Lk 12:1-59).

Parable of the Fig Tree (Lk 13:6-9).

Parable of the Sower (Mat 13:1-23; Mk 4:1-25; Lk 8:4-18).

Many Such Parables (Mat 13:24-53; Mk 4:26-34).

Sea of Galilee

Jesus Rebukes the Storm (Mat 8:18-27; Mk 4:35-41; Lk 8:22-25).

jesus00000038.gif

The Herd of Many Swine (Mat 8:28-33; Mk 5:1-21; Lk 8:26-40).

Nazareth

He Came Again to His Own City (Mat 9:1; Mk 5:21 Lk 8:40).

The Parable of the Wineskins (Mat 9:10-17; Mk 2:15-22; Lk 5:29-39).

Jairus' Daughter and the Woman With the Flow of Blood (Mat 9:18-26; Mk 5:22-43; Lk 8:41-56).

The Blind and the Mute (Mat 9:27-34).

A Prophet is Not Without Honor Except in His Own Country (Mat 13:53-58; Mk 6:1-6).

He Was Moved With Compassion For Them (Mat 9:35-38)

Sent His Disciples Out With Power and Authority (Mat 10; Mk 6:6-13, Lk 9:1-6).

Machaerus

John the Baptist is Beheaded (Mat 14:1, 2, 6-12, Mk 6:14-16, 21-29; Lk 9:7-9).

Near Bethsaida

The Disciples Return, Feeding Five Thousand (Mat 14:13-21; Mk 6:30-44; Lk 9:10-17, Jn 6:1-14).

Sea of Galilee

They Saw Him Walking on the Sea (Mat 14:22-36; Mk 6:45-56; Jn 6:15-21).

Capernaum

jesus00000014.gif

I Am the Bread of Life (Jn 6:22-65).

Do you also want to go away? (Jn 6:66-71).

Unwashed Hands (Mat 15:1-20; Mk 7:1-23).

A Woman of Canaan (Mat 15:21-28; Mk 7:24-30). jesus00000019.gif

Then Great Multitudes Came to Him (Mat 15:29-31, Mk 7:31-37).

Feeding Four Thousand (Mat 15:32-39; Mk 8:1-9).

Seeking From Him a Sign From Heaven (Mat 16:1-4; Mk 8:10-12).

jesus00000042.gif jesus00000019.gif

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mat 16:4-12; Mk 8:13-21).

Bethsaida

Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida (Mk 8:22-26).

Caesarea Philippi

Jesus Reveals Who He is at Caesarea Philippi (Mat 16:13-20; Mk 8:27-30; Lk 9:18-21).

He Must Go to Jerusalem and Be Killed (Mat 16:21-28; Mk 8:31-38; 9:1; Lk 9:21-27).

And He Was Transfigured (Mat 17:1-13; Mk 9:2-13; Lk 9:28-36).

And Jesus Rebuked the Demon (Mat 17:14-21; Mk 9:14-29; Lk 9:37-43).

Speaks Again of His Death (Mat 17:22, 23; Mk 9:30-32; Lk 9:43-45).

Capernaum

Miracle of the Coin in the Fish's Mouth (Mat 17:24-27).

Which One is the Greatest? (Mat 18:1-35; Mk 9:33-50; Lk 9:46-50).

He Who is Not Against Us is On Our Side (Mk 9:38, 39; Lk 9:49, 50).

The Feast of Tabernacles

Jerusalem

Set His Face to Go to Jerusalem (Lk 9:51-62; Jn 7:2-11).

The Lord Appointed Seventy Others (Lk 10:1-16).

The Ten Lepers (Lk 17:11-19).

Teaches in the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7:14-53; 8:1-59).

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37). jesus00000019.gif

The Report of the Seventy (Lk 10:17-24).

Bethany

The House of Mary and Martha (Lk 10:38-42).

Jesus Teaches His Disciples to Pray (Lk 11:1-13).

The Feast of Dedication

Jerusalem

I Was Blind, Now I See (Jn 9:1-41).

My Sheep Hear My Voice (Jn 9:39-41; 10:1-21).

They Picked Up Stones To Stone Him (Jn 10:22-39).

Bethabara

Beyond the Jordan (Jn 10:40-42; 11:3-16).

Bethany

Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead (Jn 11:1-46).

Ephraim

The Declaration of Caiaphas (Jn 11:47-54). jesus00000019.gif

Judea

The Woman Who Was Bent Over (Mat 19:1, 2; Mk 10:1; Lk 13:10-35).

Take the Lowest Seat (Lk 14:1-24).

Count the Cost (Lk 14:25-35).

More Parables, Prodigal Son (Lk 15:1-32; 16:1-13).

Exposes the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Lk 16:14-18).

The Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31).

Increase Our Faith (Lk 17:1-10).

Teaches the Pharisees About the Coming of the Kingdom (Lk 17:20-37).

jesus00000015.gif

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:1-14).

Marriage and Divorce (Mat 19:3-12; Mk 10:2-12).

Let the Little Children Come to Me (Mat 19:13-15; Mk 10:13-16; Lk 18:15-17).

Rich Young Ruler (Mat 19:16-22; Mk 10:17-22; Lk 18:18-24).

The Parable of the Vineyard (Mat 20:1-16).

Again Foretelling His Death (Mat 20:17-19; Mk 10:32-34; Lk 18:31-34).

Can I Sit at Your Right Hand? (Mat 20:20-28; Mk 10:35-45).

Jericho

Blind Bartimaeus (Mat 20:29-34; Mk 10:46-50; Lk 18:35-43).

Zacchaeus who was a Chief Tax Collector (Lk 19:1-10).

The Parable of the Minas (Lk 19:11-28).

Bethany

Mary Anoints the Feet of Jesus (Jn 12:1-9).

Jerusalem

Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Mat 21:1-11; Mk 11:1-11; Lk 19:29-44; Jn 12:12-19).

Jesus Enters the Temple (Mat 21:12, Mk 11:11; Lk 19:45).

Drives the Vendors Out of the Temple (Mat 21:12, 13; Lk 19:45, 46).

The Blind and Lame Came to Him (Mat 21:14).

He Was Teaching Daily in the Temple (Lk 19:47, 48).

The Withered Fig Tree (Mat 21:17-22; Mk 11:12-14, 20-22).

The Parable of the Two Sons (Mat 21:28-31);

The Parable of the Vinedressers (Mat 21:33-46; Mk 12:1-12; Lk 20:9-19);

jesus00000013.gif

The Parable of the Great Supper (Mat 22:1-14; Lk 14:16-24).

Tested By the Pharisees (Mat 22:15-22; Mk 12:13-17; Lk 20:20-26). jesus00000019.gif

Tested By the Sadducees (Mat 22:23-33; Mk 12:18-27; Lk 20:27-40);

Tested By a Lawyer (Mat 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-34).

Beware of the Scribes and the Pharisees (Mat 23; Mk 12:38-40; Lk 20:45-47).

A Certain Poor Widow (Mk 12:41-44; Lk 21:1-4).

The Prophecy of Isaiah About their Blindness (Jn 12:37-50).

Foretells the Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem (Mat 24; Mk 13; Lk 21:5-36).

He Saw the City and Wept Over It (Mat 23:37; Lk 19:41-44).

The Parables of the Ten Virgins and The Talents (Mat 25:1-30).

The Sheep and the Goats (Mat 25:31-46).

Anointed with the Flask of Spikenard (Mat 26:6-13; Mk 14:3-9; Jn 12:1-8).

The Last Passover

Jerusalem

The Last Passover (Mat 26:17-30; Mk 14:12-25; Lk 22:7-20).

Began to Wash the Disciples' Feet (Jn 13:1-17).

The Hand of My Betrayer is With Me (Mat 26:23; Mk 14:18-21; Lk 22:21; Jn 13:18).

jesus00000016.gif

What You Do . . Do Quickly (Mat 26:21-25; Mk 14:18-21; Lk 22:21-23; Jn 13:21-30).

Teaches About the Holy Spirit (Jn 14; 15; 16).

Jesus' Intercession (Jn 17).

The Prayer in Gethsemane (Mat 26:30, 36-46; Mk 14:26, 32-42; Lk 22:39-46; Jn 18:1).

Betrayed and Taken (Mat 26:47-56; Mk 14:43-54, 66-72; Lk 22:47-53; Jn 18:2-12).

The Trial (Mat 26:57, 58, 69-75; Mk 14:53, 54, 66-72; Lk 22:54-62; Jn 18:13-18, 25-27).

jesus00000041.gif

Delivered to Pilate (Mat 27:1, 2, 11-14; Mk 15:1-5; Lk 23:1-5; Jn 18:28-38).

He Sent Him to Herod (Lk 23:6-12).

Tried Before Pilate (Mat 27:15-26; Mk 15:6-15; Lk 23:13-25; Jn 18:39, 40; 19:1-16).

jesus00000017.gif

Mocked by the Soldiers (Mat 27:27-31; Mk 15:16-20).

Crucifixion

Led Him Away to be Crucified (Mat 27:31-34; Mk 15:20-23; Lk 23:26-32; Jn 19:16, 17).

jesus00000037.gif

Crucified (Mat 27:35-56; Mk 15:24-41; Lk 23:33-49; Jn 19:18-30). jesus00000019.gif

Joseph of Arimathea (Mat 27:57-66; Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50-56; Jn 19:31-42).

The Resurrection

He is Risen (Mat 28:2-15, Mk 16:1-11 Lk 24:1-12; Jn 20:1-18).

Has Appeared to Simon (Lk 24:34; 1Cor 15:5).

Road to Emmaus

Appears to Two Disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Mk 16:12, 13: Lk 24:13-35).

jesus00000018.gif

jesus00000031.gif

 

© 1995-1996 The Bible Knowledge Accelerator ( Registered )