Acts 2:42-47 (web)

Pentecost IV

The Origin of the Church Life

2:42 They continued steadfastly in 
  • the apostles' teaching and 
  • fellowship, 
  • in the breaking of bread, and 
  • prayer. 
2:43 Fear came on every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 

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. 
 

Comments

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 purposefully.

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 life.

To Fellowship

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.

To Prayer

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 community today.

Miracles

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 miracles.

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)

Warning

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.



The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015