Acts 2 records that the Holy Spirit filled the apostles on the day of Pentecost and enabled them to speak the word of God in such a way that everyone could understand in their own native language. Peter explained to the crowd why this had happened and preached the gospel message, exhorting whoever believed in the death and resurrection of Jesus to repent and be baptized so that their sins would be forgiven and so that they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (v.38). V.41 says, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
Thus the church was born, and those who were added to it continued to meet together on a regular basis for fellowship and worship. Acts 2:42 is a key verse for understanding life in the early church—“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Let’s take a closer look at the devotion of these believers.
First, they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. They paid close attention to the words of the men who had been chosen by Jesus to be his closest disciples. The apostles taught the word of God. They explained how the Old Testament had pointed to Jesus, and that Jesus had perfectly fulfilled the prophecies of the Messiah who was to come into the world. In addition to this, they no doubt shared the teachings that Jesus had uttered during his ministry on earth.
Secondly, they devoted themselves to fellowship. They shared their lives together. They met in each other’s homes. They took care of one another’s needs to the extent that they gave generously so that the poor among them would have all of life’s necessities. They leaned on each other for support and encouraged one another in times of trouble.
Third, they devoted themselves to the breaking of bread. Most scholars agree that this is a term Luke used for communion, also called the Lord’s Supper. Jesus had instituted this ceremony to help his followers remember the sacrifice that he made on the cross to pay for the sins of the world. Every time they ate the broken bread and drank from the cup, it reminded them of the broken body of Jesus on the cross and the precious blood that he shed for the forgiveness of our sins. According to Luke, the historian of the early church, Christians came together every Sunday to devote themselves to taking communion together (Acts 20:7).
Finally, they devoted themselves to prayer. Someone once said that the early church did not think that prayer was a good thing; they thought that prayer was the only thing! Prayer was the passion of believers in the first century. They took seriously the admonition to “pray continually” (1 Thess.5:17). They had some moving prayer meetings. Acts 4:31 says, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken…” As they devoted themselves to prayer, the God of heaven moved, and his kingdom grew in leaps and bounds.
Now it’s time to consider our own level of devotion. Do you spend significant time reading the word of God and then doing what it says? Are you really involved in the lives of your brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you faithfully participate in the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis? How important is it to you to pray? These are serious questions for us to consider. Let’s strive to deepen the level of our own devotion to Jesus Christ and the church that he purchased with his precious blood!