Snapshot of the Early Church
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (v. 42). - Acts 2:42–3:26
After Peter’s great sermon on Pentecost Sunday, 3,000 persons were baptized into the church (Acts 2:41). Immediately, Luke gives us a portrait of these earliest Christians. Here are some further thoughts on several characteristics Dr. Boice discussed on pp. 21–22.
First, they devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles. They already knew the Old Testament thoroughly, and now it was necessary for the apostles to tell them about the life of Jesus, and to show them how the Christ fulfilled everything in the old covenant. These believers had no disdain for “head knowledge.” Today, if the church wants to hear the apostles teach, they need only study the New Testament, with an understanding of the Old Testament as its background and foundation.
Second, they devoted themselves to fellowship. They got together and enjoyed themselves. Sometimes we Christians feel as if we are doing something wrong or substandard if we just get together for a party without also having Bible study and prayer. That is not a biblical attitude. As restored images of God, we minister to one another and build up one another by simply being around one another. God has created good times of play as well as hard times of suffering to help create this sense of community at the core of His kingdom.
Third, the believers devoted themselves to the breaking of bread. This phrase points to the Lord’s Supper. (Ordinary eating has already been covered by the statement that they enjoyed fellowship.) Throughout the Old Testament, few people were ever allowed the privilege of eating with God; with the new covenant all believers are invited to do so. The early church prized this privilege and took every opportunity to eat with Jesus.
Fourth, these new Christians devoted themselves to prayer. While this indicates that they prayed individually, it more pointedly indicates that they met together for prayer. Many Christians feel awkward praying in a group, and often the same believers feel awkward praying alone as well. Though it can be slightly difficult at first, drawing near to God in a small group is often the best way to learn how to pray and can greatly help your individual prayer life.
Here are four dimensions of the church. The early believers were excited about and practiced all four, and the leaders responded to their excitement. How does your church measure up in these four dimensions? What can you do, without being quarrelsome or cantankerous, to help upgrade your local church in these areas?
Passages for Further Study
- Ezra 7:10
- Matthew 14:13–21; 28:20
- Acts 1:14