Church as a Family
We see the new believers after Pentecost banding together in unity under their new relationship in Jesus Christ. "And they devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." They were devoted, which means they were strong, firm, persistent, and sold out to these things.
1. The apostle's teaching
They were devoted to The Word - remember, the Bible had not been canonized yet, so these new believer's were hearing the apostle's teach and actually begin forming the scriptures that we now know as the New Testament!
2. And the Fellowship
They were devoted to one another - they shared with one another in something (Jesus) above and beyond their personal relationship with each other.
John 13:34-35 - Love one another
Romans 12:10 - Love as brothers and sisters; outdo with honor
Romans 15:14 - Instruct one another
Galatians 5:13 - Serve one another through love
Galatians 6:2 - Carry one another's burdens
Ephesians 4:32 - Be kind and compassionate to one another
Colossians 3:9 - Do not lie to one another
1 Thess 4:18 - Encourage one another.
3. To the Breaking of Bread
They were devoted to the breaking of bread - this could be a reference to the Lord's Supper or to sharing a meal. There is much evidence that it is referring to both, termed as a "love feast". Meals in that day were a very important time of day. People lingered around the table and really knew each other.
4. And the Prayers
They were devoted to prayer - prayers included the regular corporate prayer times at the temple, praying with their home group, and praying alone. They truly "prayed without ceasing".
The passage goes on to say that "awe came upon every soul", they had "all things in common", and that they "distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need." Christianity says that what's mine is yours and you can have it. This is different from communism which says what's yours in mine, and I will take it. The Christians generosity came from a sense of God's grace towards them.
The passage concludes by pointing out that they "attended the temple together" and "the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." They probably gathered in an area called Solomon's Portico, which was a common place to hear teaching. Remember, they didn't have churches yet, so they needed to find a place to meet! They were devoted, unified in purpose, and God was blessing this time as they loved one another in a wonderful way. They words and their deeds were compelling to those around them, and God used them to grow this baby church!
To Discuss Today:
1. What are you devoted to? Would those that know you say the same thing?
2. We believe it is vitally important to be in corporate worship and in a small group. Are you currently doing both? If not, was there a time that you did? How does that/did that time impact you?
3. How do your habits, devotion, and relationships show that you believe that "the church is the hope of the world"? Is there an adjustment that needs to happen?