In “preaching study” posts, I’m really interested in fostering a “community” approach to study and prep for the message, so please interact as much as you like. All Scripture quotes are from the TNIV unless otherwise noted. Thanks!
Continuing with the series on the Gifts of Christ as we live out the Christian Story, we’ve looked at the gifts of the Word and the Spirit. This week is the gift of the Community. For that, we begin by looking to Luke’s writings in Acts 2:42-47, a classic text on the early Christian community.
- Preceding this passage is Peter’s Pentecost sermon, which is an answer to the question voiced in 2:12, “What does this mean?” referring to all the noise and the disciples proclaming God to the people in their own native languages, which seemed (we suppose by the crowd’s reaction) clearly to be an unusual, if not supernatural event. Not to mention the fire on their heads!
- In 2:41, we read that the church began with a small-ish group of disciples, a defining sermon from Peter and a response from the crowd of “about three thousand” people “added to their number that day.” Not a bad day for a church plant… So, they seemed to have been organized into home groups.
- 2:42 has taken to describe the devotional practices of those home groups: apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread (Eucharist or common meal?), prayer.
- One theme is unified devotion to God in community (instead of individually, which is not mentioned or alluded to), which runs throughout, not just in v42.
- They met both in the temple courts and in homes (v46).
- “Signs and wonders” were still a prominent feature of apostolic proclamation (v43).
- There is an emphasis on inclusivity and universality in the language throughout the passage: “Everyone was filled with awe,” “All the believers,” “everything in common,” “anyone who had need,” “enjoying the favor of all the people.”
- And the flow of the passage seems to imply causation between their life together as a community (remember it’s 3000 people in home groups we’re talking about) and the daily stream of persons added to their number.
- Table fellowship, a 1st century ethic that is of importance to Luke (as is firmly established in his Gospel), is in play here in vv42, 46. Understanding that ethic more in-depth will probably bring more out of the passage.
- What is the significance of the temple courts? Digging a little more deeply here will help paint the picture more vividly.
Thoughts so far?