By Frank Jamerson

When we think of attendance, we usually think about bodily presence. Though this is involved, the Bible includes much more than that in the use of this word.

The word prosecho appears twenty-four times in the New Testament and is defined by W.E. Vine as: “to take heed, give heed, is said of the priests who ‘gave attendance at the altar,’ Heb. 7:13. It suggests devotion of thought and effort to a thing.” It is translated by the English words: “attend to, be given to, beware, give attendance, give heed, have regard, and take heed.”

The queen of Sheba went to observe the wisdom and wealth of Solomon. “And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her” (2 Chron. 9:3,4). The “attendance” of Solomon’s ministers surely involved more than their physical presence. She was impressed with their actions, their devotion.

The Hebrew writer, in discussing the priesthood, said: “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood” (Heb. 7:12-14). The priests who “gave attendance” at the altar, did not simply stand near-by. They served, or devoted themselves to offering sacrifices.

Paul admonished the young preacher Timothy to “let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:12, 13). Again, the word “attendance” means more than bodily presence. He was to devote his attention to, to concentrate upon, the word of God.

We often wonder why those who have been exposed to so much Bible teaching can remain so ignorant of truth. It may be that they have not really been in “attendance” at all! Physical presence and lack of devotion are often found in the same person.

What do visitors see when they look at our “attendance”? Are they impressed with our devotion, as the Queen of Sheba was with the “attendance” of the ministers of Solomon? More importantly, what does God see when He observes our “attendance”? Are we simply present in body, or are we really in attendance?

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 22, p. 690
November 21, 1985