Acts 2:46

Monday, 6 December 2021

So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, Acts 2:46

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verses spoke of the new believers having everything in common, and of the people selling their goods and possessions, and then dividing up the proceeds among one another. With that noted, and implying it is a reason the people could gather daily, the words now state, “So continuing daily.”

Because of having sold all their possessions, the believers could remain together as a group, even after the end of the pilgrim feast. Normally, people would come to the feasts, spend time in the presence of the Lord, and then return to their homes in order to return to their employment. Whether it was working in the fields, working as a potter, or doing whatever else they once did for their livelihood. In essence, the believers had come to live out an almost permanent festive celebration.

The instructions for the attendance at the pilgrim feasts are stated several times in the books of Moses. The particular instructions for the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) are noted in Deuteronomy 16 –

“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. 11 You shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. 12 And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.” Deuteronomy 16:9-12

Because of the enormity of what occurred, and because of the marked change in the people who had come to this feast, they were so converted that they kept the spirit of the feast going, even after it had ended. This attitude was found in all the believers who continued together “with one accord.”

There was a unity of purpose and heart among the believers because of their faith in Christ. It is the same attitude that has been seen, such as in Acts 1:14, and it will be seen several more times (where the same Greek word is used) through Acts 12 when referring to the faith and unity of these early believers. For now, it is a unity of mind that was on display “in the temple.”

The disciples would gather there openly to consider the wonder of what God had done in Christ. It is probably at this time that they began to ponder the larger picture of what their history had been leading to and how it was actually all a typological anticipation of the coming of the Messiah.

The Passover celebration that they had observed year by year would have taken on a whole new meaning to them. The Day of Atonement would suddenly stand out in a whole new way. And so on. There must have been an overwhelming sense that they belonged to a people that had served a greater purpose than they ever could have previously imagined.

In this state of amazed joy, they were not only in the temple daily, but they were also “breaking bread from house to house.” The Greek reads “at home.” The words are then set in contrast to “in the temple.” When they weren’t at the temple, they were at someone’s home. Wherever the believers dwelt, other believers would come and sit over a meal, symbolized by the breaking of bread that would set the tone for the meal.

Bread would be brought forth, a blessing would be made, and then bread would be broken and passed around. This is seen in all three synoptic gospels, such as in Mark 8 –

“So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments.” Mark 8:6-8

Once the bread was brought forth, blessed, and broken, “they ate their food with gladness.”

One can think of the complete joy of knowing they had become a part of what God had been preparing since the fall of man. Step by step, He was working in the world as it led to the coming of Christ and toward the restoration of all things in Him. These early believers were sensing the glory of God in a way that probably stunned their senses from moment to moment.

Each time someone brought up a story from their Scriptures, they would probably talk about it and how it actually was leading to Jesus. As they ate their meals, they would be filled with gladness in the Spirit that their eyes had been opened to these marvelous things. Luke next notes that this state would be combined with that of “simplicity of heart.”

Here is a word found only this once in Scripture, aphelotés. It means “not stony ground.” As such, it is that which is simple or plain. There is nothing complicated to the eyes or to the feet when walking, and thus the steps are unencumbered. The term “purity of heart” would give a good sense. There is nothing complicated in it, there is nothing uneven or difficult in it.

As such, there would be no concerns or worries. No matter what arose during the day, the people would acknowledge it as being within the will of the Lord. In other words, “If the Lord took everything that we know of our part of human history, and He organized it so meticulously that we can see Jesus in every detail, then He must be guiding our lives for a good purpose, even if difficult or bad things happen along the way.”

The story of Joseph would have taken on a completely new meaning in their minds. The exile to Babylon would begin to make sense, the raising up of good kings, and the failings of the bad kings would be understood more clearly. The story of Ruth and that of Esther would suddenly call out to them in a completely new way. There would be no stony ground in their hearts because they could see the world with eyes that had never seen such wonder and glory before.

Life application: There are people who have been Christians for many years, or even for all of their lives – having come to know Jesus at young ages – and yet, they have never taken the time to dive into Scripture and search out its treasures. But at some point, they decide to start listening to sermons from the Old Testament, and they start to realize that everything there is about… JESUS.

In this realization, they start to hunger for the word as they never had before. Not only do the Old Testament Scriptures start to make sense, but the New Testament starts to take on a completely new tone. This is because they see that the Bible is one united whole, all telling the same story – slow and progressively revealing what God is doing in Christ.

With this new appreciation, their faith finds a stronger footing than it ever had before, and their lives take on a new calmness that they had never experienced. “If God had everything so carefully structured in the past, certainly my life is being carefully handled as well.” With this new attitude, the trials, pains, and woes all seem less troubling. A new reliance on Christ is realized, and a surety in salvation is more fully appreciated.

If you have not pursued God’s word to its fullest, start today. The sermons from the Superior Word will help you in this. Start with Genesis 1:1 and just keep on going. There is treasure in this word. Forget the TV shows! Get into the word!

Lord God, help us to not squander our time, but to focus on You and on Your word now… while we can. Surely our lives will be more grounded if we do this. So, help us to pursue this path. Give us the heart to cherish this word all the days of our lives. Amen.

 

 

 

Acts 2:45

Sunday, 5 December 2021

and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. Acts 2:45

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse noted that “all who believed were together, and had all things in common.” Along with that, it now goes on to say, “and sold their possessions and goods.” It should be noted that all of the verbs in this verse are in the imperfect tense –
“they were selling,” “they were dividing,” “anyone having a need.”

The idea is that they were in a state of selling everything they had as the occasion called for it. The word translated as “possessions” signifies landed property, such as a field or the like. The word translated as “goods” signifies stuff in general. It is simply something under the authority and discretion of a person.

One can get the sense that the disciples really thought that Jesus must be coming back quickly and there would be no need to have these things. So, they gathered together into a commune and sold their things off, waiting for that day. In doing this, they “divided them among all.”

There is a definite state of generosity here that follows after precepts found in the Law of Moses, such as –

“If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.” Deuteronomy 15:7, 8

This doesn’t mean these people were all poor that came into the fellowship, but that the principle of extending your hand to another to meet his need is one that Israel was aware of and lived by. As people sold their things, eventually someone would need to follow suit to take care of the person who had done so and found himself with nothing left. This is seen in the final words of the verse, “as anyone had need.”

Until these people joined the movement, they would have had their own property, their own employment, and their own means of tending to themselves. But it is quite apparent that they felt that these things would no longer be needed. The Lord would surely return soon, and the kingdom had arrived where there would be a new order of things.

Unfortunately, they misunderstood the meaning of the “times and the seasons” Jesus spoke of in Acts 1:7. Israel, as a nation, had rejected the Lord. As a corporate body, they would be corporately punished for this, as outlined in the law – such as in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. They would go into an extended exile and the gentiles would pick up and carry the spiritual banner that had been carried by Israel for so long.

This is all clearly seen and revealed to them as Acts closes out –

“Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” Acts 28:28

It would be a calamitous mistake indeed to use Acts in a prescriptive way by following along with this verse in the church today.

Life application: The early church, misunderstanding the timeline of events to come, must have thought that they would enter into the kingdom age quickly. As such, they followed a rather reckless path concerning future savings. But even the Proverbs warned against that –

“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,
But the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous.” Proverbs 13:22

Solomon’s advice did not stop being true after the resurrection of Jesus. We should save for contingencies in life, and we should even save in anticipation of blessing the next generations.

Unfortunately, the early Gentile church at Thessalonica caught the same fever as the Jews in Jerusalem. Paul told them about the coming of the Lord at the rapture in his first epistle, and they took that as an indication that they would be swooped out of there in short order. Hence, in his second epistle, it is seen that there were believers who were lolling around and not being productive. That is what brought about Paul’s words that anyone not working would also not eat.

What is similar, but is found on a spiritual level, is the constant whittling away of time by the people of the church today because of the shape the world is in. And this has been going on constantly since the 1800s. Individuals and groups have gotten so into date setting that every twenty or thirty minutes it seems that a new date for the rapture is set. When it doesn’t happen, a new and “corrected” calculation comes out, moving the timing back a couple days or a month.

This constant stream of failure is bad enough, but the true failure is that these same people spend all their time consumed in the thought of their speedy departure, and they fail to do the things that are truly necessary – like telling people the gospel and actually learning proper doctrine.

It is a sad state of affairs, and it is as common as bed bugs in a boarding house. What people need to do is to forget about the timing of the rapture (meaning the dating of it, not necessarily the sequence of events as Scripture lays out), and actually live their lives in a productive manner – spiritually, towards their family and friends, and economically as well. The Lord will come when He comes. All of the false date setting in the world will not change the time of His coming one bit. And, when it happens, the date setting won’t have mattered at all.

Lord God, help us to be responsible with the time You have given us in our lives. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Acts 2:44

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, Acts 2:44

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Acts 2:44 (along with other verses to come) is a great verse for dispelling the notion of applying the book of Acts to our current religious lives. Luke has been describing the growth and fellowship of the early church. To highlight the unity and brotherhood that existed, he continues with, “Now all who believed.”

It is referring to those who had accepted that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. They are all Jews at this point, and they have separated themselves from the larger group within the nation, identifying themselves first and foremost with Jesus. Only after that were they considered people of Israel.

This was not uncommon. Pharisees had their own sect that stood apart from the others. Sadducees did as well. The extra-biblical record refers to the Essenes. These and other groups identified as Jews, but with a separation based on various beliefs. This had become the case with followers of Christ.

As such, Luke notes that they “were together.” This implies communal living. It is something that is found in various sects even today, and it is something that is set forth as an ideal in the modern Jewish kibbutzim. Though not believers in Jesus, the people live together, work together, and are almost one large family. If one were to add in Jesus, such a community would closely reflect what is developing here in Acts. One noted aspect of the kibbutz that is stated here in Acts is that they “had all things in common.”

This will be further explained in the next verse, and then it will continue to be explained a bit later in Acts. Unfortunately, this system will be seen to be a flawed one that will eventually break down, even to the point where these people will become dependent on the Gentiles in order to meet their needs.

As noted, the words here show the folly of selecting verses from Acts and applying them in a prescriptive manner. How common it is to argue over Acts 2:38. Churches set doctrine based on that verse, or other verses, that have nothing to do with the intended structure of the church or of rightly established doctrine within the church.

And yet, right in the same chapter, and in verses dealing with the exact same group of people, verses that clearly define what they did and how they lived are completely ignored for establishing any sort of doctrine. The chances of establishing a viable, working church based on the words stated now are pretty much zero. Those churches that would attempt to do so would almost immediately turn into an aberrant cult led by a megalomaniac. This is the natural outcome of such a system.

Rather, the words here simply describe what occurred, and they will eventually describe the failed outcome of the system. The failure is not from this noble ideal, but because we are living in a fallen world. Such a system cannot sustain itself. It has been attempted by sects and even governments (communism) and the result is always failure. The human heart is not conditioned for such a system at this time.

This is why Paul gives instruction to the church concerning our responsibility to work and to earn one’s own keep, such as –

“But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

Paul’s words are prescriptive. They are commands for us during the church age, and they are to be adhered to. If you want to eat, get to work. If you want to excel in this current system, you will be diligent in your labors, save when you can, and pay your bills with money earned by your own efforts.

Life application: Remember that Acts describes what occurred at various points in the early church. It shows us how things were, but it does not speak to whether those things are right or not. Nor does it set forth doctrine for us to live by. Instead, we are to look at what Acts says as a way of understanding how the church began, was able to grow, and how it eventually became established in the world.

During this early period, things took one form or another, identifying what did work and what failed to work. Eventually, the epistles were completed. They give enough information for the church to have effectively continued for two millennia.

Let us not pick and choose verses from Acts in order to establish doctrine. Should the temptation arise to do so, then simply come back to this verse in Acts and ask yourself, “Why am I not also applying what it says here to my doctrine as well?” The answer will come forth telling you that Acts is not intended for such purposes.

Glorious heavenly Father, thank You for Your kind hand upon us. Bless the work of our hands as we go forth to our respective places of employment. Help us to be productive, fruitful, and to work honorably for the wages we receive. May our lives be examples to others of our desire to honor You through our daily actions. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Acts 2:43

Friday, 3 December 2021

Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Acts 2:43

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse noted that those who had believed and were added to the number continued resolutely in the Lord, in teaching, in fellowship, in breaking of bread, and in prayers. With that noted, a word about those who had witnessed these things is given, saying, “Then fear came upon every soul.”

The word “fear” has various significations, such as terror, alarm, withdrawal (as in fleeing from something), etc. Here, it probably does not speak of terror, but of awe. It appears that this is referring to not only those who believed, but also those who merely saw what occurred, even if they were not added to the number of disciples.

Those who were added to the number would have been in awe at the events their eyes beheld and the enormity of what it meant that the Christ had come and fulfilled Scripture. Those who didn’t believe would still be in awe of the fact that so many people had suddenly been converted in their lives and conduct.

In all, there would be a sense of something major going on that they were being swept up in. Those inside would want to grow; those outside would want to know. And one of the major reasons for the intensity of the awe is connected to the next words, saying, “and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”

The words here are teras and sémeion. The teras, or wonder, is something that is done in order to bring about a reaction from those who see it. The effect upon those who witness it is intended to bring about a change in them. A wonder is a thing that is evident in itself. It is something that extends beyond what is normal and is thus considered miraculous. When it is done, it is to be attributed to the Lord because there is no other explanation for it to occur.

The sémeion, or sign, is a sign, a miracle, a token, and so on. It generally is given to authenticate, corroborate, or confirm a person or a matter. Whereas a wonder is the thing itself, the sign stands for, testifies to, or points to something else. A simple example of a sign would be the blood of the Passover applied to the doorposts of a house. It is a sign. Jesus’ miracles, at times, are noted as signs. Though they may be miraculous, like the changing of water to wine, they are signs that were given to authenticate Him as the Messiah and His ministry as approved by God.

These things, having been done through the apostles, were clear demonstrations of the power and effective working of the Lord, and they were given as confirmations of their office and of the approval by the Lord concerning their ministry.

The important thing, however, is that everything done by them and through them was ascribed not to their own abilities or capabilities, but to the effectual working of the Lord through them. Thus, even though these signs and wonders confirmed their office, and their approval by the Lord, they ultimately point back to the Lord Himself, acknowledging that He and His ministry among Israel was exactly what was claimed. Jesus is the Messiah.

Life application: Despite it being as common as coins in a slot machine among churches and individuals in the church today, the claim that people are still exhibiting signs and wonders is both unnecessary and contradictory to the word itself. It is the apostles who had this power. There are no more apostles. The signs and wonders were given to testify to the church of the authority and office of the apostles who represented Jesus. The Bible now does this.

Those in the church are to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). If we are expecting signs and wonders, we are not adhering to this precept. And so on. The purpose of the Bible is to be a witness to the workings of God in Christ. As it is given by the Holy Spirit, and as we are to accept it as such after doing our personal evaluation of it, then what do we need signs and wonders for? They are completely superfluous to our walk.

This does not mean that we should not pray for, or hope for, healing. We are specifically told to do so. But we are not to expect it or claim it. That is presumptuous. Should our prayers be answered, we should give God the glory for what has occurred. Let us be sound in our doctrine, reasonable in our walk, and understand the difference in what is merely descriptive and what is prescriptive in Scripture. In this, we will be in the sweet spot.

Lord God, how wonderful it is to have the written testimony of those things that occurred in order to confirm Your workings in redemptive history. Now, we can read about the signs and wonders that were given to establish the faith of early believers, and we can then more readily accept that the message we have is true. Thank You for Your precious word! Amen.

 

 

Acts 2:42

Thursday, 2 December 2021

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

The previous verse saw three thousand souls added to the number of followers of Christ. With this great increase, Luke now records the results of their conversion, saying, “And they continued steadfastly.”

He uses the same word as in Luke 1:14 to describe their conduct –

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”

The word used, proskartereó, signifies a consistent display of strength that does not fail, even in times of difficulty. It is a remarkable attitude considering that they had first been among those who mocked what they saw. But when they heard the words of Peter, and when they realized the magnitude of what had occurred in the coming of their Messiah, they were wholly converted. There is no record of any of these people falling away. Rather, their lives had been completely changed by the events that occurred.

In this state, it says they continued “in the apostles’ doctrine.” The word is more precisely rendered “teaching.” It signifies both the act and the matter rather than just the matter (as in “doctrine”). Those who had joined the faith were willing to sit and be instructed on what it meant to enter into the New Covenant. Along with continuing in the apostles’ teaching, it adds “and fellowship.” Vincent’s Word Studies provides the meaning –

“From κοινός, [koinos] common. A relation between individuals which involves a common interest and a mutual, active participation in that interest and in each other. The word answers to the Latin communio, from communis, common. Hence, sometimes rendered communion, as 1 Corinthians 10:16; 2 Corinthians 13:14. Fellowship is the most common rendering.”

Indeed, the life of the early believers wasn’t just in common, it was almost in commune. This will be seen in Chapter 4. There was an intimate fellowship that goes well beyond that experienced in almost all of the church today. To find any church that is even closely similar to what is described is almost unheard of. But, if such a body exists, it is more of a fringe cult than anything else.

This alone shows the descriptive nature of the book. It also shows the hypocrisy of those who pull various verses or passages out of Acts and force them upon a congregation in a prescriptive manner while completely ignoring other passages that are just as clearly stated. What is occurring in the early church, as is recorded in Acts, is a state of necessity for the body to survive, grow, and continue within the society in which it existed.

To impose the same type of life upon others in societies elsewhere would not only likely be unwise, it would most certainly be damaging to those who joined. As noted above, this is the type of environment that easily leads to complete bondage in cults. The reason is that any such teacher is not an apostle of Jesus. When such control of others’ lives is obtained, the most aberrant of doctrines quickly arise. This has been seen innumerable times in the present dispensation.

As for these early believers, they had a state of instruction, community, and a reliance on one another. Along with that, they continued “in the breaking of bread.”

The word used, klasis, is derived from a word, klaó, signifying “to break.” It is found only here and in Luke 24:35 where Jesus broke the bread in Emmaus after His resurrection. This is the final use of the word in Scripture, but the connection to Luke 24 may be intended to signify more than just the fact that common meals were shared, but that each meal was considered a participation in the Lord’s Supper.

In other words, the bread in a family would have been broken by the head of the house who would then say a prayer for blessing upon it. In the case of the breaking of bread among the believers, it would be asking for a blessing within the body of Christ. This is, of course, speculation. However, it is reasonable to assume this. Christ had said in Luke 22:19 (and Paul repeats in 1 Corinthians 11:24) to “do this in remembrance of Me.”

Along with these points of activity, Luke adds in the words, “and in prayers.” Even the prayer life of these early believers was a united activity, and it shows the highly intimate closeness of the body as they continued on in their relationship based on the memory of the Messiah who had come to the people of Israel.

Life application: It is often said that those described in the book of Acts who had converted to the faith continued to adhere to the instruction (Torah) of Moses. This is then used to justify that believers today are also bound to Moses.

This is not only untrue, it is one of the principle teachings that Paul argues against. In fact, the book of Galatians is so clear, unambiguous, and precise in arguing against it that it is astonishing that anyone gets caught up in this heretical doctrine. Peter is even used as an example of why this is untrue, being called out openly by Paul for his heresy. In fact, because it is the basis for the book of Galatians, Paul calls it out as anathema, or accursed, right at the beginning of the epistle –

“I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9

Thus, this is not a light and unimportant matter. It is the highest of offenses against the cross of Jesus Christ. The reason these early believers continued on in the culture of the Jews was because they were… Jews. To this day, Jews have a Sabbath. Jews circumcise. Jews (in part) observe their annual feast days. Jews get married under a khupa. These are things they do culturally, whether they believe in God or not, and whether they are believers in Jesus or not.

Even though these things are what they do culturally, they actually have nothing to do with faith in the finished work of Christ. Reinserting the Law of Moses, in part or in whole, is not to be tolerated in our lives as Christians. It is the arrogant attitude that says, “Jesus, You did a good job, but I will improve upon it. Thanks for Your help, but I’ve got this.” You will not survive the judgment for your arrogance.

Be sure to understand the historical record of Acts, but also be sure to understand proper theology so that you do not get swept up into the judgment of God for failing to simply believe that Christ has completed what is necessary for you to be saved. The words, “It is finished,” have meaning. Believe them.

Lord God, thank You for Jesus Christ who has fulfilled all that is necessary to bring me into a right relationship with You. Thank You that we are free from the bondage of the law and that we are brought into the perfect liberty of living by faith in the completed work of Christ. Amen.