“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.'” (John 4:21–24 ESV).
Observations in Exposition of Scripture
1. Jesus revealed that believers among the Samaritans and the Jews will worship God in another place — in spirit and truth.
2. The coming time for true worship started then and was coming.
3. True worship is NOT the worship that the Jews had that David brought to Jerusalem (cf. 1 Chr 16).
4. God seeks true worshipers.
5. True worshipers are disciples of Christ who must worship in spirit and truth — by spirit and truth.
Tired from a long journey, Jesus rested beside Jacob’s well and requested from a woman, “Give me a drink.” The woman was surprised that a Jew would be talking to her, a Samaritan woman, because Jews had no dealing with Samaritans (John 4:9). Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.'” (John 4:10).
Jesus wanted the woman to know two things:
- The gift of God
- Who Jesus was
Jesus further revealed that He is the source of living water unto eternal life.
“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.'” (John 4:13–14; cf. John 7:37–39; Rom 8:11).
Jesus began teaching the woman that a new age has come and will come (John 4:14, 4:23–24). Christian worship of God is fundamentally different than worship of the unknown and worship under the Old Testament.
Can anyone worship God without knowing what is spirit and truth by which God wants true worshipers to worship?
Worship in spirit and truth is sincerity of heart, obeying God’s commands, and more. Did David worship with a sincere heart and by obedience to God’s commands? Jesus contrasted true worship from worship in Jerusalem. David did worshiped sincerely from the heart and according to God’s instruction, but Christ told of a new age of worship.
Christ foretold worship for a new age (cf. John 4:14, Gr. eis ton aiona). The new era of true worship was based upon the Messiah in His time. True worship is by spirit and truth that is by Christ. The Samaritan woman reflected, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us” (John 4:25). Jesus revealed to her, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:26). The result was the woman left her jar and went to town telling of the Christ who told her all that she did (John 4:27–30). Many in the town came to believe that Jesus was the Christ (John 4:39–42).
The Messianic age is the time of worship by honoring the Son. Further in John’s Gospel, Jesus taught,
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him” (John 5:21–23; cf. 5:25–29).
Furthermore, Jesus emphasized that worship in spirit and truth is essential because God is spirit (John 4:23–24). Jesus’s promise of living water for eternal life will come by the Holy Spirit (John 7:37–39). The Holy Spirit will resurrect the faithful to eternal life as the Spirit resurrected Jesus (Rom 8:11; 1 Cor 6:14).
The apostle John followed a common thread of giving honor to Jesus Christ. When some sought to be fed again as Jesus fed the 5,000, Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35; cf. 6:51). Upon this message, Jesus alluded to worship and God-given tradition for worship in the new period of worship. Jesus proclaimed,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (John 6:53–56).
Jesus foretold of true worship in spirit and truth (John 4:21–24). He foretold of eating Jesus’s body and drinking His blood that is the likeness of the Lord’s Supper (John 6:51–58).
In John’s Gospel, Jesus alluded to baptism by instruction to be born again of the water and the Spirit to enter the kingdom (John 3:5). While Jesus’s disciples baptized during His life, Jesus would command baptism in His name when He resurrected (Matt 28:19–20; cf. Mark 16:16).
When Jesus taught that He is the bread of life and that one must eat His flesh and drink His blood for eternal life, many found Jesus’s words hard to listen so that many turned back and no longer walked with Him (John 6:60–66). Jesus response to them was, “Do you take offense at this?” (John 6:61).
By Jesus’s standard, the disciples of Christ must be true worshipers. The church of Jesus Christ consists of true worship, and this sets the church apart from all others.
The power of true worship is about different ways in which to worship God. As Isaiah enters the presence of God, he is awestruck by God’s majesty and holiness. https://catalyticministries.com/
“Neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father”. This means, of course, that the place of worship for Christians is not important. There are no instructions for Christians in the New Testament to go to a certain place on a certain day at a certain time to participate in staged worship. “True worshipers worship the Father in spirit and truth”, wherever they are, every day, every hour. That’s why Christians in the New Testament didn’t gather in buildings (“churches”) set aside for worship. The Bible is quick to tell us that buildings have no scriptural basis because our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit, there is no need to go to a special place to worship. The place for worship has shifted to the heart. Worship now centers on and in the individual (the temple of God) and what he does with his life to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31). Jesus guided his followers away from the outward forms of worship to the inward motives of the heart. He focused attention away from the outward acts of Jewish sacrificial ceremony and ritual to the personal act of communion with God in prayer.
I am a firm believer of the idea that we must worship “in Spirit and in Truth.” But I do not understand the above argument.
There is no “new” way to worship God. God has ALWAYS wanted people to worship in spirit – and in truth! The question the woman wanted answered was the core a a centuries old debate between Jews and Samaritans: Here, or in Jerusalem.
What Jesus answers is that the place no longer matters – soon. But the underlying aspects of worship WILL remain the same.
Unfortunately, “we” have made this passage mean something which was never the intent. We have made it focus on externals: Do the correct five things, and you have now worshiped in truth.
When you have ‘performed the five acts of worship,” you have worshiped in TRUTH. I question that there, indeed, are such “acts of worship.’ The implications of this concept are interesting.
If the Saints gather on a given Sunday morning, and all they do is focus on the Supper. No singing. No preaching. Just prayers. No giving. Has worship, acceptable worship, taken place?
Say we do all five things. But we all have complaints: Music off key; asked for money AGAIN; preacher had five good stopping points, but used none of them; did you hear what that guy was mumbling into the mic when he lead the prayer? Boy, they took forever with getting that bread broken today. Has worship taken place?
Some time ago, all we did was pray and celebrate. No songs. No collection. No sermon. And yet, worship DID take place: In truth and in Spirit.
First, I see that you agree the place of worship did change, so worship has changed. Furthermore, the implications of such a change include the temple, priests, and sacrifices. A new change includes the Lord’s Supper as a new altar and table of worship (John 6:51–56; Heb 13:10). As Peter observed, Christians are stones who make up the spiritual house of God where Christians as priests offer pleasing sacrifices to God (1 Pet 2:5). Such spiritual sacrifices include giving one’s life to God, good deeds, praising God, and giving to others (Rom 12:1; Heb 13:15–16). This is Christian worship.
Evidently, worship has changed. The place, the priests, and the offerings have changed. Likewise, when Jesus referred to worship in spirit and truth, I thought, “Was not David already worshiping in spirit and truth?” The difference is the coming of the new age of the Messiah — Jesus Christ. That is what Jesus was leading the Samaritan woman to hope for that time. The reality of “worship in spirit and truth” is fulfilled in Jesus Christ as the truth (John 1:14; 14:6). The Holy Spirit indwells Christians rather than simply abiding as with past believers (John 7:38–39). A great new era has come in Jesus Christ. I thank God for it. What I don’t think that I noted in the article is that the Greek construction of “in spirit and truth” are interlinked and not distinctly separate. For instance, the age of the Holy Spirit as prophesied by Ezekiel includes the Spirit as the source of all truth (Ezek 36:26–27; John 16:12–13).
Second, I don’t see worship as confined to the assembly. However, one act of worship in the Lord’s Supper is specifically for the assembly (while there may be exceptions). I agree with Guy Woods who observed that the sign over the assembly room doors “Enter to worship. Leave to serve” is a misconception of worship. One worships God by taking food to a needy family.
Third, Paul specified that the Lord’s Supper, singing, praying, and teaching are acts of the assembly (1 Cor 11; 14). Furthermore, the collection in association with the day of assembly (1 Cor 15). These acts fulfill the the purposes of the assembly to praise God, edify one another, and stir one another to love and good works (1 Cor 14:1–5; Heb 2:12; 10:24–25). The assembly is only one form of worship in spirit and truth. There is no way that I am going to think that I can improve the assembly, the Lord’s Supper, or any act of worship. While this does not call for rigid traditionalism, Christians must maintain the traditions from God just as delivered to them (1 Cor 11:2). That is what the churches of Christ must continue to do.
Appreciate your clarification on some comments!
“Third, Paul specified that the Lord’s Supper, singing, praying, and teaching are acts of the assembly (1 Cor 11; 14). Furthermore, the collection in association with the day of assembly (1 Cor 15). These acts fulfill the the purposes of the assembly to praise God, edify one another, and stir one another to love and good works (1 Cor 14:1–5; Heb 2:12; 10:24–25). The assembly is only one form of worship in spirit and truth. There is no way that I am going to think that I can improve the assembly, the Lord’s Supper, or any act of worship. While this does not call for rigid traditionalism, Christians must maintain the traditions just as delivered to them (1 Cor 11:2). That is what the churches of Christ must continue to do”
Actually, Paul did no such thing. What Paul DID say in 1 Cor 11 – What you are doing is NOT the Lord’s Supper (attitude and action), allow me to explain what IS (Action and attitude). But he says nothing of “worship.” Apart from that, he indicates (strongly!) that there was more to the Lord’s Supper than a “snip & sip” event, to be done as efficiently and quickly as possible, so the preacher can earn his keep.
Nor does he indicate frequency, as a matter of fact.
The collection was not considered an “act of worship” either. When I read the text, it tells me that a) there is a need in Jerusalem; b) I encourage you to gather some money to prevent c) from making this an, “O, all I have is a dime” event when he comes. It was a gathering of financials for a very specific purpose: needs of the saints in Jerusalem. No wherein the text do I see an admonition to consider this as either an “act of worship,” or a command/example to have a weekly collection in perpetuity. And I definitely do not see the ideas that we have to collect money to pay the mortgage (Of way too elaborate structures many times), the bills associated with said mortgages and salary for all the staff from ministers to custodial staff and groundskeepers.
Now, am I believer in the weekly celebration of the Lord’s Supper? You bet! But can I do that honestly based on our use of Scripture? Not really (In order to get the idea from Acts 20 I have to add the word “every” into the text in two locations, not to mention the trouble we have with the 2nd time the term is used!
I also believe, wholeheartedly, that we have an obligation towards the widows, the orphans and others who need help. But salaries for professional staff? Cannot make a case for that. Missions? You bet. But “preaching” ministers? “Managing” ministers? “Worship” ministers? “Youth” ministers” Ministers of “member involvement?”
ACU does an annual survey of how much ministers get paid, and what their title is. In the last one I checked, I found 16 (SIXTEEN) professional ‘ministers.’ Interesting fact: The “Worship” minister gets paid the most for the least number of hours, while the “youth” minister gets paid the least for the most number of hours. Lesson: Get a “youth” minister, make him do the work of the “worship” minister but at the scheduled salary for the “youth” minister.
Money was used for aid and for missions. Not to keep the home masses occupied.
So, where does that leave us? Time to do some serious rethinking about a) what our assemblies are for and b) what “Worship in truth” really means.
I don’t think that we talking on the same things or “playing on the field.” Your speaking about “acts of worship” and ignoring my points and not really recognizing when we agree.
The pay of ministers seems like a rabbit hole or even red herring. I appreciate your interesting points on ministers from ACU’s research. Paul did command churches to give an income to their evangelists to receive their livelihood from ministry (1 Cor 9). That’s not a foreign missionary. Paul received support from the church at Philippi to preach at Corinth in the beginning. However, that’s more of a local mission as this is in the region connecting Macedonia to Achaia. Paul’s mission work was quite local to the Mediterranean enve launching from Antioch as compared to other apostles going to India, Africa, and Britain according to Eusebius’s traditional history.
I don’t see a lack of giving to missions, but a lack of keeping ministers in the ministry. The larger congregations that I know in Alabama and Georgia give immensely to missions from hundreds of thousands to over a million a year.
Because Paul directed the churches at Galatia about how to give, Paul specifically directed the church at Corinth to give for “the collection for the saints.” In 1 Cor 16, Paul spoke of a specific purpose in collection in addition to the usual collection. Paul also directed putting gifts aside into the collection on the first day of the week rather than waiting for his coming.
The earliest churches had buildings and rented halls. James wrote of most Jewish churches met in synagogues when the church began (Jas 2:2; Gr. sunagogei). Furthermore, the church at Corinth most likely met in a synagogue since the ruler and the leader of the synagogue converted to the Christian faith (Acts 18:7–8). The church at Corinth was a large congregation and needed more than an upper hall for rent or a member’s living room (1 Cor 16). The whole church at Corinth met together at the same time for the assembly (1 Cor 14:23). However, I recognize that historians disagree with one another about the predominance of synagogues (church buildings) among early Christians.
You are speaking a language many Christians don’t understand because they read the Bible through rose colored eyeglasses rendering them unable to understand the truths of Holy Scripture. Concerning the Lord’s Supper. Of course there is more to it than a “snip & sip” event. The Lord’s Supper has been so distorted and desecrated by the majority of the Christian Church that if any Christian from the first century Church were to visit a Christian gathering today celebrating “communion” they would be aghast at what they observed, considering it to be a pagan ritual.
Do you have any idea to what Scott he is referring when he writes about “the collection in association with the day of assembly”. I didn’t see anything about that in 1 Cor. 15. First, Christians assembled in the early church but they didn’t observe a “day of assembly”. Neither does the Bible authorize nor even suggest weekly collections. You see that so plainly…why is it such a difficulty for others to see.
You’re also correct about the use of the Lord’s provision. The Bible authorizes payment to those who go out and proclaim the gospel to the outermost areas of the world ((1 Cor. 9:14 – 1 Tim. 5:17,18 – Luke 10:7 – Matt. 10:7,10). The Bible does not authorize paying organists, janitors, landscapers, choir directors, secretaries, any of the 16 professional ministers you mentioned and any other person. Doing so is a blatant misuse of God’s provision. So too is the appropriation of funds for buildings. The early church had no concept of a building set aside strictly for their gatherings. Today, according to George Barna research, the real estate owned by churches is worth over $230,000 Billion. To equip these facilities (rather than equipping Christians for service), service the debt and maintain them, Christians spend $50 to 60 Billion every year. That’s almost 20% of a churches budget. Since this is not God ordained, such expenditures must be considered a sin because it’s stealing from care for widows and orphans, prevents Matthew 25 ministry and is a detriment to Great Commission efforts. Widows, etc. are the areas to which the Bible teaches God’s provision is to go.
Not only is it necessary to “do some serious rethinking” about our assemblies and worship, but many Christians need to become obedient to biblical teachings and not continually invent what they want the Bible to say. That means taking off those rose-colored glasses.
Gary & Rudy,
I’m agreeing a lot with you. I think you are making some good points. I appreciate being able to read your discussion.
Keep challenging me. I hope you will let me challenge you with scripture.
I will gladly be challenged with Scripture! The problem is though, that we have no Scripture telling us about our assemblies other than 1 Corinthians 11 and 14. Even 1 Corinthians 16 does not help, other than showing us that money was collected, planned, with a specific purpose in mind: Relieving the needs of the saints in Jerusalem.
But what when Paul stops by, picks up what they had collected, and is on his way to Jerusalem? Are they still collecting money?
And even, even when they do continue, the purpose does not change. No where do you find examples of spending close to 50-75% of what is collected on the ‘locals,’ in salaries for professional ministers, real estate ownership, retirement plans etc.
I have been able to find but 3 (THREE) examples as to how money was used in the early church: Missions, the needy, and where available, an elder who teaches, and is worthy of his ‘hire.’
There is no interviewing process. No educational requirements. No previous experience required. Send us three samples of your preaching. No health insurance, housing allowance nor continual education allowance.
I am all in favor of education. I graduated for a program at Harding College. I have continued education throughout the years following my graduation. And I hope the congregation where I attend has benefitted from my continued education.
But I cannot see how congregational finances should be spent on any of such costs…
LikeLiked by 1 person
How you address Philip the evangelist living 20 years in Caesarea (Acts 8:40; 21:8)?
Who is being supported in 1 Cor 9?
Explain more about how you would use the collection.
As far as Philip is concerned, the last phrase in Acts 8 helps: and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea. Preaching the gospel – one of the reasons why men were supported. What he did in Caesarea after Acts 8, we have no idea.
1 Corinthians speaks of Paul being supported – in preaching the gospel – one of the reasons men why men were supported.
Which is one of the purposes which I stated: Missions, the needy and maybe an elder.
As you trace the “preaching words” throughout the New Testament, they are always directed outward – i.e. to unbelievers. And for that, money was sent from congregations to support that work.
And that pretty much does it from what we know about how money was used in the early church.
Of course, what a local congregation decides to do with monies collected is their responsibility. But when we speak about biblical aspects, this is one we cannot ignore. And when we consider how much money is invested into real estate by a pilgrim people, it just seems unbiblical. And when we add payroll, it really sounds unbiblical. For a people who claim to be Christians in a New Testament model, we sure have departed a long way from the model!
“How you address Philip the evangelist living 20 years in Caesarea (Acts 8:40; 21:8)?
Who is being supported in 1 Cor 9?
Explain more about how you would use the collection”
You really have me confused here. What does Philip have to do with the discussion at hand? Please provide biblical reference of 20 years in Caesarea. Same with 1 Cor. 9…where does this fit in the conversion. Finally, what collection are you talking about.
I think 1 Cor 11 & 14 is enough. There is a lot there and a lot to gain. I think 1 Cor 14 sets a precedent to have 2 or 3 speakers instead of one. However, I imagine the singing was only 2 or 3 songs (1 Cor 14:26–33). J.W. McGarvey recommended small churches follow the model of 2 or 3 speakers rather than seek out a full-time preacher when there were so few.
We don’t have to take Acts 20:7 as an imperative to apply it as most Christians do.
“I think 1 Cor 11 & 14 is enough. There is a lot there and a lot to gain. I think 1 Cor 14 sets a precedent to have 2 or 3 speakers instead of one. However, I imagine the singing was only 2 or 3 songs (1 Cor 14:26–33). J.W. McGarvey recommended small churches follow the model of 2 or 3 speakers rather than seek out a full-time preacher when there were so few”.
Concerning two or three, my Bible uses the term prophets. That’s far different than 2 or three speakers. Out of 59 English Bibles I checked, only five didn’t use the word prophet.
“I will gladly be challenged with Scripture! The problem is though, that we have no Scripture telling us about our assemblies other than 1 Corinthians 11 and 14. Even 1 Corinthians 16 does not help, other than showing us that money was collected, planned, with a specific purpose in mind: Relieving the needs of the saints in Jerusalem.”
Actually, Rudy, we do have other scriptures speaking to assembles. Hebrews 10:24 instructs us to meet together to stir up one another to love and good works and to encourage one another. Acts 2:42 than informs us what the Christians did when they did assemble…Bible teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer.
The 1 Cor. 16 verse in no way suggests weekly offerings are demanded by God, or even suggested. I don’t believe it was money the Christians put away, however. Paul said to store it up. Based on the culture of the time, it’s obvious the brethren were storing up foodstuffs such as fruit, grain wine and other products and supplies. Once I get there, said Paul, I will send those whom you choose to carry the gift to Jerusalem. This project required several men to carry what was collected. If it was money, Paul could have carried it himself.
Never-the-less, the salient points of this entire discussion are the Bible does not authorize weekly offerings, the occasional times offerings were made it was always for specific purposes outside of the local fellowship, as you mentioned, offerings are in no way associated with worship and neither are they to be used for the edification of the local congregation. Anyone advocating otherwise is just another Campbell-ite spouting out theories lacking any scriptural basis.
I did not refer to acts 2, since it does not strictly refer to “assembly time.” And in the Hebrews passage, it is a call not to ignore assembling. I was looking for specif language where the assembly is described… If that makes sense?
There is a web conversation I follow, where the author keeps talking about having to go back to the basics, disciplining etc., but holds on to his preaching job, seemingly not understanding that going back to the basics has enormous repercussions for him, too…
It makes sense. Thank’s for the clarification.
You’re spot on Rudy. Don’t know where the five acts of worship originated but somebody way back when was certainly being creative. However, there is no specific instructions in the New Testament saying if you did these things you have worshiped.
The five Acts of the assembly come from Alexander Campbell if not before in the Reformation.
See Campbell’s teaching for the Restoration of the Ancient Order:
The Christian church today is torn asunder by division and false doctrine, resulting in thousands of denominations which are completely anti-scriptural. God abhors denominations stating he wants his Church to be united. This Campbell article is a perfect example of why denominations exist today. Everybody has their own opinion of what the Bible says. Most of the time their creativity has no biblical basis. Campbell completes a whole essay on worship minus even one scriptural reference. That kind of thing fosters division and more denominations within the Church. Since when is worship staged, contrived, planned and led? True worship is a relationship with God, spontaneous and taking place every hour of every day of every year.
As I read through Campbell’s article, I noticed the same thing: No biblical references. So we have yet another problem with the CENI approach to Scripture.
And just because Campbell wrote it, what does mean for us? Either in the U.S., or any other country?