It’s the day of Pentecost. The apostles were faithful and waited in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. At 9am, they were in the temple and started breathing heavy when suddenly cloven tongues as of fire distributed on each of them. They began to speak in tongues and all of the non-locals understood at least one of the languages. Peter then proceeds to deliver one of the greatest sermons in the Bible. Later that day 3000 people are saved and become new members of the body of Christ. Over 3000 people are born again on the first day of the Church. Wow! How did they organize and function? Most churches would struggle with 3000 new people showing up on a Sunday morning. God provides us a framework for how the early church grew and expanded. These same principles still work today.
All of the New Testament (Gospels, Acts, Church letters, Revelations) was written 20-60 years after the day of Pentecost. They had no scripture to guide them in how the church operated. They did have the Holy Spirit to guide them.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
They were diligent and dependable at fellowshipping and following the apostles doctrine (had to be oral), sharing meals, and prays together.
Fellowship is the Greek word koinonia
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
Fear does not mean scared but it means to give reverence or respect. This was the fear of the lord. The apostles demonstrated that God was present and working in their lives.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
They were believers (Romans 10:9-10) and spent time together.
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Notice that possessions and goods are plural. This was not a commune. They share of their abundance with their neighbors so that nobody lacked. They gave freely. It was not commanded or legislated.
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, with a common purpose, in the temple. They shared meals together in their homes. These were community groups which are scalable, affordable, and homey. People were thankful for their food and had their hearts knit together with the love of God.
47 Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
They praised God, which means they practiced the presence of God, acknowledged God, and worshiped God with thankfulness. They had favor (grace) with all the people. They did not have favor with all of the Jews but they had favor with the believers.
God added to the church daily all that had a desire to be saved. This was an exponential growth because this loving, committed environment was irresistible.