By Jonah Doctura | 2016
You may recall in our studies Yeshua (Jesus) spent much time in synagogues (Matt. 4:23). He taught in them (Matt. 13:54), healed in them (Luke 4:33-35; Mark 3:1-5), and debated the interpretation of Torah in them (John 6:28-59). For emphasis, Yeshua is a “rabbi” that belonged to the community of the synagogue, because when he visited Nazareth, he was scheduled to read the Haphtarah (Luke 4:16-30).
This is a remarkable example of God's preparation, as the passage Yeshua (Jesus) read was exactly the passage that he used to explain his ministry. The early Christians continued to attend synagogues, though with a new interpretation of the Torah, now that Yeshua (Jesus) had been revealed as Messiah (Acts 13:14).
The new community of Yeshua (Jesus) was born out of the synagogue. Believers were to become assemblies, not single individuals seeking God alone. We address God as "our Father" because we are his assembly - one body because we are made that way through Yeshua (1Cor. 12:12-13).
In Ephesians 4:11-12 we read: "And indeed He has assigned some to be apostles; and some prophets; and some evangelists; and some shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Messiah". The meaning of the passage and the roles each has to play in the congregation have been misunderstood or mistranslated in modern church. But, the believers of the 1st Century knew exactly what Paul was saying. Let´s look at the Five-Fold Ministry roles:
APOSTLE – An apostle is simply a person who is “sent out” as shown in Acts 13. It is important to understand that an apostle was only an apostle while he was sent out. Once he returned, he was no longer an apostle.
PROPHET – The Hebrew word for prophet is “Navi” ( נביא ). The prophets of old, those who wrote various parts of the Tanakh are called “Navaim”. A prophet is one who “speaks forth” as in the case of Aaron, who spoke for Moses (Exodus 7:1).
EVANGELISTS – An evangelist was a person who would seek new converts in the local community and outlying areas. In theSynagogue he was call a “Maggid” (מגיד), a word that means “telling”. He was oftentimes a rabbi with good speaking skills who could relate the various Biblical stories in such a way as to encourage a person to come back into Synagogue fellowship. The Maggidim were considered itinerant in that he would often visit neighbouring Synagogues to bring good news.
PASTORS – Pastors were appointed by the congregation once it had grown to the point that it needed one. The Synagogue term was “Zakin”. He was often an older, wiser rabbi who’s purpose was to provide counselling and to visit the sick. This was not an administrative office and was usually reserved for the “retired” rabbis and priests.
TEACHERS – The teachers were often rabbis. The Synagogue term was “batlanim” which in Hebrew means “men of leisure”. These were men who had the free time to spend studying the scriptures. In order for a new Synagogue to be established, there had to be at least ten batlanim available in order to form a “minion”.
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