In fulfillment of His promise (Matthew 16:18), our Lord established His church in the city of Jerusalem on the first Day of Pentecost after He rose from the dead. There had never been a day like it in human history. On that day about 3000 people accepted the gospel message and were saved from their sins when they repented and were baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38-41). What an exciting start for the kingdom of God!
But what happened after those initial baptisms? What did the new converts do? In the last six verses of Acts 2, we get a glimpse of some of the things that were going on in the early church. Here is what is recorded in Acts 2:42-47:
(42) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (43) Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. (44) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, (45) and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. (46) So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, (47) praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
1) Those early disciples continued. They continued steadfastly (2:42). The thought is that they were constantly diligent; they were persevering. Being baptized into the Christ brings to an end the old life outside of Him, but it is only the beginning of the new life in and with Him. Every member of the church should be ready to continue steadfastly in the way of the Lord.
In what did the early saints continue in a steadfast manner? In the apostles’ teaching, in fellowship, in the breaking of bread (the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:20), and in prayers. It is obvious that the early disciples did not simply have their names on a membership list. They were personally involved in the Lord’s Cause.
2) In the early days of the church in Jerusalem, the church was reverent, as fear came on every soul (2:43). Serving God “acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:29) is what God expects of each of us.
3) We further see that the church was united, as the members were “together, and had all things in common” (2:44). We later read that they were “of one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32). Such unity is both powerful and priceless.
4) The early church was blessed with generous members. How did they demonstrate their generosity? They sold their possessions and shared them with those that needed them (2:45). Many continued to display a spirit of generosity, selling their possessions and turning over the proceeds to the apostles so that those who were lacking physical necessities might be aided (4:34,35).
5) First-century members of the church spent time with other Christians in public assemblies, but they also gathered in social settings outside of those worship assemblies. They ate meals together and were glad to be able to associate with one another (2:46). Congregations in which members do not enjoy being together and rarely spend time together in more relaxed, social meetings, often struggle to have and maintain an atmosphere that “feels like a real family.” A careful reading reveals that those early saints were spending time together on a daily basis (2:46). What a blessing!
6) In the early days of the church in Jerusalem, the saints were happy people. They ate food with gladness and simplicity of heart (2:46). Why shouldn’t members of the Lord’s body be happy?! We have a Savior in which to rejoice. We are forgiven of past transgressions, blessed immensely in the present, and have a matchless hope of great things to come in the future.
7) We also see those new-in-the-faith disciples praising God (2:47). Praising the Creator never becomes boring or “gets old” for those that are in love with Him and appreciate all that He has done for mankind. “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).
8 ) It is obvious that the early church was a teaching church. On a daily basis the Lord was adding saved people to His church (2:47). People are saved when they believe and obey the gospel. That can only happen after people have been taught the good news (Romans 10:13-17). So, since conversions were taking place every day, we conclude that the early church was actively spreading the word. Today do we match their zeal?
When we read those last few verses of Acts 2, we may find ourselves silently nodding in approval of all the good things that were going on. It is not enough, though, just to make a list of what the early church did. Let us learn from the early saints and strive to put into practice what they did so well.
— Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.