The passage can be read here.
One of the great things about mobile phones is that they have a camera. Not so long ago, if you saw something interesting you would have to remember it and tell people. These days you just take out the phone and take a good quality photo and then post it on social media. There are downsides of course, I have a phone full of pictures of my grandchildren and there is always a very clear and present danger that I will produce the phone at any moment and make you look at them all. Then there is the selfie phenomenon, but we do not have enough time to get into that!
This little section is like a snapshot of the early Church. In the following chapters, Luke goes on to give examples of what he describes in this paragraph. The Church was very new, there were probably things that were missed but they had the essentials right and we have much to learn from them.
They devoted themselves, the word for ‘devoted’ is ‘proskartereo’ meaning to be wholehearted. The word appears ten times in the New Testament and six of them are found in Acts. It occurs twice in this little section verse 42 and 46 where it is translated ‘continued’. That in itself should tell us something – they had a wholehearted approach to serving God.
They devoted themselves to four things;
- The apostles teaching, those who had been with Jesus passed on what they had learned. This was a church where there were miracles and amazing things happening but there is a clear focus on teaching, something that continues through Acts and the whole New Testament.
- The fellowship, they were committed to one another; they invested time in their Church relationships. It is possible to drive to church without speaking to anyone, enter with barely a nod of acknowledgement, receive solid Bible teaching and then leave without ever having had a conversation. It means being unaware of the trials people around you are enduring and therefore being unable to pray for them. These believers shared everything. It was probably necessary because some were suffering persecution and that probably isn’t the case where we live but God has called us to generosity and all that we have is his anyway. There have been times in my own life when God’s people have been generous to me, at a time when I really needed it. God taught me so much through that experience. The believers in the early Church ate together regularly and met together for public worship.
- The breaking of bread, there is much debate as to what this means. Sometimes when the phrase is used it means eating together in a sort of fellowship meal. Looking at the context, it seems Luke is referring to something else here; they were devoted to it after all. It seems likely that there is some sort of remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus. We will never know but it does seem to fit. Jesus instructed believers to remember him in this way.
- To prayer, there it is again – prayer. God was doing great things; signs and wonders and people were being saved but this was a Church devoted to prayer. As I read this I am again challenged about my own prayer life. It’s possible to attend Church or read the Bible without giving anything of ourselves. We can be just going through the motions. Prayer is different; it demands something from us. That’s the reason the Prayer Meeting is the poorest service in terms of attendance. We are only at the end of Acts 2 and this is the second time Luke has used the word ‘proskartereo’ in relation to prayer in the early Church (1:14).
At this early stage, the Church was popular but as we shall see, it didn’t last. The early Church made the most of their opportunities. Perhaps we should do the same as we never know when things could change and suddenly be much more difficult.
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated Lord, to thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise. (Take my Life – Frances R Havergal)