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The Early Church 1

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“THE EARLY CHURCH!”

Acts 2:42

Pastor Robby Roberson

March 25, 2009

 

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.Acts 2:42

1.   THEY DEVOTED THEMSELVES

This is a nominative plural masculine present active participle and means “to persist, keep on with devotion (Acts 2:42, 46; 6:4; Romans 12:12; Col. 4:2), serve personally, be faithful.” “Devoting/ (proskartereo) is the same word as is used in connection with the persistent devotion of the disciples to prayer in 1:14 (translated ‘constantly’ there). This word occurs six times in Acts (1:14; 2:42, 44; 6:4; 8:13; 10:7)…the word is used often with the idea of ‘persisting obstinately in’ something” (Ajith Fernando, The NIV Application Commentary: Acts, pg. 119-120). “The verb translated ‘devoted’ (proskartereo) is a common one that connotes a steadfast and singlesminded fidelity to a certain course of action” (Charles Swindoll, The Birth of An Exciting Vision, pg. 53).

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.Acts 1:14

All the believers were together and had everything in common.Acts 2:44

And will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”Acts 6:4

Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.Acts 8:13

When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants.Acts 10:7

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.Romans 12:12

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.Colossians 4:2

“We know that these activities were priorities in the early church because, according to Acts 2:42, the Christians were continually devoting themselves to them” (Swindoll, Ibid, pg. 53). “These ingredients for growth in Christ were potent” (H. Leo Eddleman, An Exegetical and Practical Commentary on Acts, pg. 29).

 

2.   TO THE APOSTLES TEACHING

This is the word didache and means “teaching, doctrine.” “The apostles’ teaching was enriching: they had just completed a three year course with the Master-Teacher” (Eddleman, Ibid, pg. 29).

“The first priority was to the teaching. The apostles were the instructors, and though we aren’t sure what they taught, they probably used the Old Testament Scriptures along with the words of Christ to feed the people” (Swindoll, Ibid, pg. 53). “Nowhere in Acts are we given a clear description of what was taught to the new believers” (Fernando, Ibid, pg. 120). We can say that this is in obedience to Jesus’ very own command:

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20

“Teaching was so important to the life of the church that when Paul gave Timothy a list of qualifications for elders, the only ability-related qualification mentioned was the ability to teach (1 Tim. 3:2). All the other qualifications had to do with the behavior, character, and reputation of the person” (Fernando, Ibid, pg. 126).

Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,1 Timothy 3:2

Regarding the content of the teaching, I believe it is evident by the words of one of these very apostles:

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.Revelation 1:1-2

I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.Revelation 1:9

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.Revelation 6:9

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.Revelation 20:4

“With time the church developed a comprehensive body of teaching, so that Paul told the Ephesian elders that he had given them ‘the whole will and purpose of God’ (20:27). At the end of his life he urged Timothy, ‘What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you’ (2 Tim. 1:13-14). Later the church came to recognized that certain books with connections to the apostles best represented that ‘good deposit,’ and the canon of the New Testament came into being. The New Testament along with the Old Testament has become the basis for our teaching today. A key, then, for follow-through care today is to teach people the Bible” (Fernando, Ibid, pg. 126).

 So, it seems evident to me that the early church devoted itself to the activity of teaching the Word of God. In fact, trace with me the impact of the Word of God in the church:

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.Acts 4:31

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.Acts 6:2

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.Acts 6:7

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.Acts 8:14

The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.Acts 11:1

But the word of God continued to increase and spread.Acts 12:24

When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their helper.Acts 13:5

Who was an attendant of the proconsul, Sergius Paulus. The proconsul, an intelligent man, sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God.Acts 13:7

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.Acts 13:46

When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, they went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up.Acts 17:13

So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.Acts 18:11

One can also notice the prominence of the Word of God in teaching in the New Testament epistles:

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.2 Corinthians 4:2

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.Ephesians 6:17

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.Philippians 1:14

I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—Colossians 1:25

I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.1 John 2:14

And, the teaching of the Word of God should have such prominence because:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.Hebrews 4:12

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.1 Peter 1:23

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.1 Thessalonians 2:13

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.John 17:17

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.Psalm 119:105

Therefore, it is no wonder that the Apostle Paul commanded his young pastor protégé Timothy. And, the writer of Hebrews valued those who taught:

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.2 Timothy 4:2

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.Hebrews 13:7

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