Study Notes

Acts 2:42-47


With the preaching of one evangelistic sermon, the church went from being 120 people to over three thousand. In the passage before us today, Luke tells us what the resulting church looked like...

2:42-47 The Early Church

These verses show us the condition of the church when it was first born: it was as close to perfect as it would ever be. And that means we should constantly be referring back to this section of Scripture for reference, to see where we are today.

Four Foundations

The early church was focused on four things: The apostles' teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer. These four actions were their foundational pillars, and are the key to having a successful, prospering church of 3,000 people.

Apostles' Teaching

First and foremost, they focused on the apostles' teaching. Regularly, the apostles were telling the people everything that Jesus had taught and showed them, as well as everything that had been written about Him in the Law and the Prophets. In other words: Bible study, Bible study, Bible study.

The Greek word "teaching" there is did-akh-AY, which means, "doctrine, instruction, teaching." It is distinct from other modes of public speaking. These people were not getting three-point sermons with a poem at the end. They were getting educated about the Word of God.

When I consider what God wants for the church, I'm not often confident that we've "arrived" or are living up to His standard. But I do feel very confident that we as a church are faithfully doing what God wants regarding the apostles' teaching.


The second thing they focused on was fellowship. That word is "koy-nohn-EE-ah," which means an intimate sharing. These people opened up to one another around Jesus, their center. They had a real Christian communion. They weren't hanging out with each other on the basis of, "Hey, who's your favorite Gladiator?" or "Oh, you like the model XL-3000 chariots too?" No, they were intimately sharing their walk with God with one another. They were talking about what the Lord had done and was doing in their lives. That was their common point. That's what the focus of fellowship is.

Today, people are reluctant to really fellowship biblically. Gossipy, judgmental, or uncaring people make us afraid to open up about our true spiritual state. So we put on masks, and pretend like, "I'm walking great and you're walking great." But if we're going to be as successful as the first century church, we've got to overcome that fear and find that fellowship. At very least, find one Christian that you can be real with, and start there.

Breaking Of Bread

The third practice that the church did was the breaking of bread. This term is often debated as to whether it is referring to the practice of communion (the Lord's Supper), or simply getting together to eat. A strong case has been made for both sides. Frankly, I think it's talking about both, for the early church did make a habit of taking communion together at their potlucks (1Cor. 11).

Clearly though, this is talking about the fact that the people of the early church made a regular habit of eating together. I was blessed last Thursday night to see so many people show up for the potluck before service. And the Pastor's Potluck Pig Party last month was gigantic. There's just something about gathering at a table and eating together that facilitates discussion and friendship. Saints, this really is one of the four keys to a large church prospering. Consider making a habit of inviting new people over for - or out to - a meal.


Fourthly, they were devoting themselves to prayer. Not just individuals praying, but praying together. If I was going to grade our church by ranking these four items, the apostles' teaching would be number one, but gathering for prayer would have to be very fourth. While we do have many people who gather weekly for prayer at various meetings during the week, percentage-wise, it's far from everyone.

I'd like to exhort and encourage you to make one of the prayer gatherings a priority, whether it's the ladies Joyful Life small groups, or one of the prayer meetings that happens throughout the week.

The Result

Luke then tells us seven things that resulted from these four healthy actions:

1) Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe. There was a reverence that was continual. Everybody knew something really amazing was happening in their midst.

2) Wonders and signs were taking place. The church was seeing things like miraculous healings take place. When God's people are walking right, they are a clean conduit for His power to work through. It's interesting that so many churches are looking for ways to manifest signs and wonders, when it's so simple: teach the Word, fellowship, eat together, and pray together!

3) Another result of this healthy ministry was that the believers were together and had all things in common. There was no selfishness, and they had genuine love for one another.

4) Also, the people were coming together for church services, as well as going to one another's houses. No membership drives were needed, no guilting parishioners into attending. They wanted to be there, because they were being taught and finding fellowship.

5) The people were praising God. Today, churches are looking for ways to get people excited about worship. But it all goes back to those four things, doesn't it? When we're doing those four things correctly, God gets the glory.

6) The church had favor with all the people. If we're focused on the Word, fellowship, prayer, and eating together, the church will have a good reputation with people. But if we're focused on politics and protests, or fighting amongst ourselves about dumb church stuff, then the church will have the reputation that it does today.

7) Lastly, the Lord was adding to their number day bay day those who were being saved. People were getting saved every day, and the church continued to grow numerically. Today, there is so much focus on church growth. There's books and seminars and series designed with the latest gimmicks and studies to grow the church. I'll tell you what: If a church wants to grow, they should do four things: be taught the Word, have real fellowship, pray together, and eat together. And the Lord will add to their number day by day those should be saved.

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