The book of Acts and the Epistles reflect continuing involvement of Christians with the institutions of Jewish worship. However, with the Gentile mission and increasing separation from the temple and synagogues, the churches had to develop their own forms of common worship. Even Jewish Christians came under increasing pressure as persistent evangelism aroused the hostility of the ecclesiastical authorities.
In the New Testament, the concept of covenant is often subsumed under other metaphors that describe the relationship between the Lord and his people. The most important of these is the “kingdom of God,” which was the primary theme of Jesus’ teaching and preaching. The new Israel is also called God’s temple (Eph. 2:21; 1 Cor. 3:16–17), Christ’s body (Rom. 12:4; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12–27; Eph. 2:16; 4:15–16), and the city of God (Matt. 5:14; Rev. 21–22). The numerous references to God as Father, to believers as brothers, and to the church as a household portray the church in terms of a family. There are, however, many references to the covenant itself. The brief covenant formulary of the Old Testament—I will be their God and they shall be my people—is applied to the church by several New Testament writers (Heb. 11:16; 1 Pet. 2:10; Rev. 21:3).
In addition to the vocabulary of worship actually being offered in the church, the New Testament contains references to worship that may be described as “visionary”; that is, worship is described in images that seem to transcend the actual practice of the nascent church and which place its worship in an eternal and glorious context.
Paul’s letters established much of the framework upon which Christian doctrine is built.