We are all familiar with the word Church but do we know what the bible says about Church? Some common meanings are
- A building
- A denomination (e.g. Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc.)
- A religious service
At the end of Acts 2 is a summary of how the church operated in the first century.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.
On the day of Pentecost the Church grew from the twelve apostles to 3012. That is amazing growth. There was no government, Church buildings, culture, programs, leadership hierarchy, or plans for how to support the 3000 new saints. What a great problem to have! Then God proceeds to explain how the early Church operated. The souls were saved by confessing that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Jesus from the dead. This produces baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
These new believers were devoted to four things.
- Apostles doctrine
- Fellowship (koinonia)
- Breaking of bread(sharing meals)
The apostle’s doctrine consisted of teaching the right way of believing. We have the New Testament today but on the day of Pentecost their bible consisted of only the Old Testament. The information needed by the believers is in the church letters (Romans to Thessalonians). I assume that God gave the apostle’s revelation by Word of Knowledge and Word of Wisdom concerning the doctrine that they received and shared.
Fellowship is koinonia which is “intimate joint participation”. Koinonia is an intimate two-way communication. Listening to a pastor teach and then saying hi to a few people after the service is not koinonia.
Breaking of bread is a figure of speech which means eating meals together. There is a bonding that happens during the sharing of meals and many times it fast tracks intimacy discussions.
Prayer was a priority for the saints. This underscores the importance of prayer in a healthy church.
43 And fear came on every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
Each saint had a deep respect for God, the apostle’s, and the other believers.
The apostles accomplished many signs and wonders. Since signs and wonders follow believers then the apostles produced supernatural signs through operating the manifestations: faith, miracles, healings, prophecy, and exorcism by discerning of spirits
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
The believers spent time together as family and shared.
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
People sold what was in excess of their need and shared with others so that nobody had lack.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
They were daily in the temple with a common purpose. They were fulfilling the law.
They were sharing meals regularly in each other’s homes (which was the common meeting place) by thankful eating and having a sincere heart.
47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Praising God was their lifestyle. This crushes pride and builds up humility. The more we praise God the more we recognize God’s presence in our lives.
They had favor (grace) with the other believers. There will never be favor with all of the local people. Since they persecuted Jesus we can safely assume that we can expect the same resistance.
As a result of all of this church culture in action the Lord added to the Church daily all that were being saved. This is the blueprint for a healthy growing church. Jesus said “They will know you are my disciples by how you love each other. He did not say they will know you my disciples by how you love them. Unbelievers are most impacted by observing believers love each other and realizing that they want the same fellowship.
This is the Church that Christ died for.