02.04.05 Individualism vs. Community
At the time of Moses, the cultural system of families, clans and tribes was strong. Some fifteen centuries later at the time of Christ this cultural characteristic was still strong among the Jews, but much weaker in some Gentile groups. Among the Gentile family and clans, loyalty was becoming secondary to a national identity. Gentile prayers were almost always individualistic.
The Jews, however, did not see themselves as individualistic, but rather as part of a community of believers. Jewish prayers are nearly all prayed in the first person plural such as the well-known Lord’s Prayer. This was underscored when Jesus prayed His prayer of unity in the church (cf. Jn. 17:21). The strong sense of community was enforced during the Babylonian exile, when the community center was established within the synagogue system.