The Origin of the Church Life
2:42 They continued steadfastly in
2:43 Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through
the apostles' teaching and
in the breaking of bread, and
2:44 All who believed were together, and had all things in common.
2:45 They sold their possessions and goods,
and distributed them to all, according as anyone had need.
2:46 Day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple,
and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and
singleness of heart,
2:47 praising God, and having favor with all the people.
The Lord added to the assembly day by day those who were being saved.
They Devoted Themselves
Just because one is involved in certain activities doesn't mean that one
is devoted to them. Devotion requires an enduring intense commitment. To
be devoted to Bible study doesn't simply mean that you read the Bible.
To be devoted to the fellowship doesn't simply mean you go to church once
a week. To be devoted to prayer doesn't mean that you simply pray when
you feel like it. Rather it takes intentionally directed effort doing these
To the Word
The Jews had formerly been quite familiar with the Old Testment. But now
those who became Christians must become learned in the apostle's teachings.
Today these are incorporated in the New Testament. Study of the Bible for
the purpose of deriving applications should be reckoned part of the Christian
In evangelical circles, "Fellowship" is often associated with getting together
for coffee and doughnuts and carrying on a conversation with other Christians.
The word "fellowship" in the Bible is "koinonia" and is used a number of
different ways. In Romans 15:26 it is the word "contribution" in
the phrase "to make a certain contribution for the poor saints". And it
is used in this sense in a number of places such as 2Cor 8:4;9:13.
It's also translated "communion" in 1Cor 10:16 when referring to
the wine and bread of the communion being a fellowship with the body and
blood of Christ. Philippians 1:5 speaks of "fellowship in the gospel",
which is simply colaboring in the communication of the gospel message and
its application. And in fact is also translated "communication" in the
kjv in Philemon 1:6 and Heb 13:6. 1John 1:7 also indicates
to have fellowship with one another we must be living a lifestyle enlightened
by the truth.
To the Breaking of Bread
This could refer to communion in remembering the death of our Lord through
the wine and the bread as He instituted at the Last Supper. (1Cor 11:23-26)
However this was generally practiced in a much less formal ritualistic
manner than today. The expression "breaking bread" could also refer to
generally eating together. At the time eating together was a sign of fellowship
and acceptance. Today eating together isn't interpreted in the same manner,
but it was quite significant at the time. We find it becomes a controversial
issue later in Acts when Gentiles become Christians. Peter even had be
to given a special vision just to get him to go to the house of a
Gentile, let alone eat with him. Jews were racist and as such did not eat
with Gentiles because of this symbolism of fellowship. So this was to be
a particularly significant symbol when Gentiles entered the church. But
more on that later in Acts.
Talking to God was particularly characteristic of the Christian life. For
under the New Covenant the relationship God established with His Elect
is much more intimate and active than under the Old Covenant. There was
also the sense that prayer matters. This sense has been somewhat diminished
by the influence of a deviant fatalistic theology not uncommon in the Christian
As I mentioned previously, and indeed as the Apostle mentioned earlier
in the chapter, miracles affirm the Word. Not only did Jesus do miracles,
but the Apostles also did them. For whenever God speaks He affirms his
word. Other religions such as Islam do not have such miraculous signs to
affirm their "scriptures." And those who claim that God spoke to them and
who add on to the Bible, I simply ask - prove it by doing miracles. Of
course even so, miracles alone are not sufficient. For revelation must
be consistent with what God already revealed. That's what the Bible says,"If
a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces
to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which
he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods
you have not known) "and let us worship them,"you must not listen to the
words of that prophet or dreamer." Deut 13;1-3 And this was
the basis upon which the religious leaders condemned Christ despite his
miracles. So also the Apostles would face similar persecution despite their
All the Believers were Together
It seems that was the only time in history when the believers were all
together. That was a time when one Christian didn't ask another Christian
as to what church they belonged. Realize also, as I mentioned, that all
the believers at this time were Jewish. And it was not uncommon for Jews
to be accomodating to one another. Realize also that Pentecost was an international
event and as such many converts didn't live nor work nearby. As such if
they were to stay together those from outside the area would have had to
abandon their homes for a time. And in addition there was the need to feed
and house these people. Thus there was a need for Christians to share things
in common at the time to get the church started.
But also I suspect another motivating factor is their anticipation of
what they thought would be the imminent return of Christ. Of course we
saw in Acts chapter 1 that Jesus didn't specify when he would return. But
it appears from his teachings that he did want the believers to have a
sense of anticipation so as to motivate them to get the job done. (In fact
I suspect what is holding up his return is that he is waiting for Christians
to finish the work he has given us)
We have to be careful not to read too much into the Bible. Although we
should read applications out of it. But many cults or somewhat deviant
churches have claimed legitimacy by imitating certain external historic
aspects of church life we see here, while neglecting more substantive aspects.
Or they claim that because they are increasing that therefore the Lord
is increasing them, and therefore whatever deviant doctrines they have
must be from God. Rather the emphasis here is that God was building His
Church inspite of a hostile environment. He gave spiritual gifts to his
people to preach. He gave miraculous signs to affirm the Word, and He added
to the Church even daily those who came to faith in Christ. This was the
Harvest of the First Fruits.