Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:41-47).
The first church in the New Testament started with a group of seemingly insignificant disciples on the Day of Pentecost. On that momentous day when they were gathered – “all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2: 1) – the Holy Spirit descended “as of a rushing mighty wind” (v 2) and the disciples “were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (v 4).
One of the blessed fruits of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was His mighty influence upon the hearers of the Gospel. In response to the apostle Peter’s preaching on that eventful day, three thousand souls believed and were baptised: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (v 41).
The infant church was characterised by joy, devotion, unity, selflessness and love. They gathered regularly for apostolic teachings, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper and prayer: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (v 42). The phrase, “continued stedfastly” has the idea of “attending earnestly and diligently”.
Verse 43a tells us of the church’s powerful impact upon the community: “And fear came upon every soul”. God also gave them special tokens of His presence through the “many wonders and signs” that “were done by the apostles” (v 43b).
These early believers displayed a spirit of mutual affection in their fellowship with one another. They shared freely with their poorer brethren, their worldly goods and possessions: “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (vv 44-45). Commentator John Gills elaborates: “No man called anything peculiarly his own; and whatever he had, his brother was welcome to, and might as freely take, and use it, as if it was his own.”
As an assembly of believers, these faithful members met daily for worship and fellowship. They were of one heart and one mind: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (vv 46). We note that their “breaking bread from house to house” and eating “their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” refer to the common meals which they shared together in one another’s home. So strong was their unity and affection that they “took all occasions to meet” (Matthew Henry).
The early converts were constantly praising God for His grace and mercies upon them. Their sincere love for one another, and their humble and devoted lives won the favour of the community: “Praising God, and having favour with all the people” (v 47a). The Lord blessed them by adding “to the church daily such as should be saved” (v 47b).
The New Testament Church was an infant assembly of believers. Yet they exemplified a genuine faith that was manifested in their joy, devotion, unity, selflessness and love. The Lord encouraged the faithful young church by adding to their number those whom He had ordained unto salvation.
Brethren, let us emulate the faithful example of the New Testament Church. Resolve to gather regularly as the Body of Christ for worship, Lord’s Supper, prayer and fellowship. Let us be “kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love” (Rom 12: 10). Our love for one another distinguishes us as the followers of Christ and exerts a powerful influence upon the watching world: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn 13: 34-35).
Let us not neglect the means of grace that will enable us to be a faithful, loving and united church. Take heed to the exhortation in Hebrews 10: 24-25: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” May each of us do our part to fulfil God’s will and purpose for our ministry in Berith.