What is a church? Part 2

This week I went through Acts 2. In this chapter the believers are waiting for the Holy Spirit. As they are filled/baptized they start speaking in tongues, which in the context of the chapter is foreign languages (Acts 2:1-4). The believers are then outside, and everyone hears the gospel in his/her language. This creates a lot of questions, which Peter answers by preaching and a lot of Jews are saved that day (Acts 2:5-41). The end of the chapter gives a small description of how they functioned after this (Acts 2:42-47). The ending of this chapter gives insight into how the believers functioned. The middle is mostly Peter preaching and the salvation of 3000.

Acts 2:1-4

We see the believers together as in chapter 1. They are at this point filled with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:5-41

We see the believers outside. How else would everyone hear them? It is clear that the Jewish visitors in Jerusalem (they were there for the feast of Pentecost) heard the gospel in their languages. This is by the power of the Holy Spirit. There are a lot of questions as to how this is possible, and Peter uses this opportunity to answer them. I imagine that what is happening is Peter is preaching, and other believers are translating so that everyone can understand.

I gather from this passage that evangelism and street preaching are a part of the Christian life after he is filled/baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:42-47

This is the interesting part. Here we see a few characteristics of the first few months of Christianity.

  • Apostles were teaching and the believers were ‘devoted’ to this teaching. (v42) We’ll have to see how this takes further shape. For now, this makes sense as the apostles were the ones discipled by Jesus and had experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. If this is a permanent or temporary arrangement, I will leave open for now.
  • There was fellowship (v42). The Greek here is κοινωνίᾳ (koinonia), Usage: (lit: partnership) (a) contributory help, participation, (b) sharing in, communion, (c) spiritual fellowship, a fellowship in the spirit. We will flesh out what fellowship entails as we learn more.
  • Breaking of bread (v42). This is a term usually used for eating together.
  • Prayer (v42). Again, together as in chapter 1.
  • Miracles done by apostles (v43).
  • All things were shared (in common) (v44,45). This is probably because a lot of the Jews there did not go home, wanting to stay and learn from the apostles. This would mean all the provisions were in their home cities/nations. It is probably the case that those who lived in or close to Jerusalem were the ones selling what they had to provide for the visiting Jews.
  • Attending the temple (v46). They were still Jews, but they were Jews for Jesus. The God of the Christian is the same God as the God of the Jew (יְהוָ֥ה, Yahweh). So naturally, temple worship was still an important part of their lives.
  • Breaking of bread at homes (v46). Again, eating together, this time specifically at each other’s homes. This leads me to seduce that the v42 mentioning of this is to show that they ate together as a large gathering, and v46 would be smaller and at homes. (you can’t fit 300 people in a house).
  • Praising God (v47).

There are another 2 characteristics mentioned, but this not something the believers did. First, they had favor with the people. This comes from the people. And the Lord added to their numbers. This is something the Lord does.

What is a church? Answer:

Believers in Jesus, gathering to pray, praise God, and possibly study the scriptures. They also went to the temple together, daily. This is no longer possible since (1) the temple is destroyed and (2) not all believers are Jews.

They are a fellowship which entails the following:

  • They eat together, as a community but also in separate homes.
  • All things are shared in common, with those having, selling their goods to provide for those without. Historical context here is that a lot of the early converts were far from home and had nothing.

Positions in the church:

  • Apostles: a special position with the criteria that they were with Jesus from His baptism till His resurrection. Based on historical context, this position is no longer applicable for today, as no one alive can meet this criterion. They taught the new believers, while doing miracles.

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