What Was A Synagogue In Jesus Time?

In this scholarly article, I am going to briefly help you answer the question, what was a Synagogue in Jesus’ time.

To understand what was a Synagogue in Jesus’ time, we are going to briefly look at the history of the Synagogue.

Another word that relates to a Synagogue is the Sanhedrin.

Therefore, after helping you to understand what was a Synagogue in Jesus’ time, we will also help you to understand the meaning of Sanhedrin.

The Synagogue in Jesus’ time.

A brief history of the synagogue.

The center of Jewish worship was the temple in Jerusalem until the Jewish exile in 586 BC.

And after the exile, the Jews shifted their center of worship to the synagogue; which was found in every local community of the Jews.

Though synagogues existed in Palestine before the exile; the Jews while in exile in Babylon, emphasized the synagogue for purposes of prayer, reading of the scriptures, and teaching; more than they did in their homeland.

On their final return from exile, the synagogue was further developed and strengthened by Ezra and his successors as a means of teaching the Jewish laws.

The book of Acts reveals that wherever there were Jews in the Roman empire, there was always a synagogue.

The apostle Paul always began his witnessing in the synagogues.

The ruler of the assembly was always the leader. And he was assisted by the reader of the scriptures, a leader in congregational prayers; and an officer who had custody of the scriptures and presided in the absence of the ruler.

The meaning of a Synagogue in Jesus’ time.

In Jesus’ time, a Synagogue was simply a sub-worship center for the Jews.

The main worship center was the temple, which was permanently located in Jerusalem.

Synagogues, therefore, were those Jewish worship centers that were far away from the temple.

The simple understanding of this is making an example out of our churches that have a headquarter in a particular place.

While their branches are scattered all over the place.

The Sanhedrin.

The Sanhedrin was the governing body of the Jews in Palestine.

Literally, the word “Sanhedrin” means to “sit together”.

Although the Sanhedrin was under Roman authority, it, however, governed the province in both civil and religious matters.

The Sanhedrin was composed largely of Sadducees and Pharisees under the leadership of the high priest.