Guide to the Scriptures

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A meetingplace used for religious purposes. In New Testament times, the furniture generally was simple, consisting of an ark containing the rolls of the law and other sacred writings, a reading desk, and seats for the worshipers.

A local council of elders managed each synagogue. They decided who should be admitted and who should be excluded (John 9:22; 12:42). The most important official was the ruler of the synagogue (Mark 5:22; Luke 13:14). He generally was a scribe, had care of the building, and supervised the services. An attendant performed clerical duties (Luke 4:20).

There was a synagogue in every town where Jews were living, both in Palestine and elsewhere. This was a great help in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ because early missionaries of the Church usually could speak in the synagogues (Acts 13:5, 14; 14:1; 17:1, 10; 18:4). This same practice existed among missionaries in the Book of Mormon (Alma 16:13; 21:4–5; 32:1) as well as among early missionaries in this dispensation (D&C 66:7; 68:1).