The Way of the Lord: Then and Now
What we know about the earliest Aramaic community of Christ believers comes from an Aramaic (Syriac) document from the first or early second century, when the church was still primarily Jewish. This document is known as the “Odes of Solomon.”
The Odes have been called the "earliest Christian hymnbook". They are 42 biblical style psalms, each psalm usually in three sections - the first is about the Lord, the middle section in which, Jesus often speaks as sometimes in modern Christian churches, and the last section - a doxology of praise.
These Odes are from the time of some of the New Testament writings, but show an even earlier phase of development of the Church. For instance, in the New Testament (Romans), Gentile Christians are exhorted to be tolerant, less rejecting and caring for the "Old People of God" and, by implication, the early Jewish believers in their midst (now a minority). Here in the Odes of Solomon, Jewish believers are in the majority and are urged to be tolerant and caring for the Gentiles who had come to faith and were now coming into their midst.
"And the Gentiles, who had been dispersed, were gathered together; But I [Jesus speaking] was not defiled by My love (for them); Because they had praised Me in High Places. (Odes Sol. 10:5).
Here is how they worshipped. They went out early each morning before work and prayed together standing with arms outstretched, forming the shape of the cross, praying,
"I extended my hands and approached my Lord, For the expansion of my hands is His sign, And my extension is the common cross; That was lifted up on the way of the Righteous One."
Some of the Odes string verses and thoughts together that we can see came from the New Testament. An example is Ode 41:12-15 bringing together the prologue of the Gospel of John and Philippians 2.
"His word is with us on the way; The Savior who gives life and does not reject (us); The Man who humbled Himself, but was exalted because of His own Righteousness...; And Light dawned from the Word, that was before time in Him."
Here from Ode 12:4 is a beautiful list of ministries that you cannot separate from the beauty and goodness of the Lord: "...the Interpreters of His beauty, and the Narrators of His Glory, and the Confessors of His purpose, and the Preachers of His mind, and the Teachers of His works."
Amen. Even so come our Lord Jesus!