William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

The Characteristics Of The Church (Acts 2:42-47)

2:42-47 They persevered in listening to the apostles' teaching, in the fellowship. in the breaking of bread and in prayers. Awe was in every soul; and many signs and wonders were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and they were in the habit of selling their goods and possessions and of distributing them amongst all as each had need. Daily they continued with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house they received their food with joy and in sincerity of heart; and they kept praising God and everyone liked them. Daily the Lord added to them those who were being saved.

In this passage we have a kind of lightning summary of the characteristics of the early Church.

(i) It was a learning Church; it persisted in listening to the apostles as they taught. One of the great perils of the Church is to look back instead of forward. Because the riches of Christ are inexhaustible we should ever be going forward. We should count It a wasted day when we do not learn something new and when we have not penetrated more deeply into the wisdom and the grace of God.

(ii) It was a Church of fellowship; it had what someone has called the great quality of togetherness. Nelson explained one of his victories by saying, "I had the happiness to command a band of brothers." The Church is a real Church only when it is a band of brothers.

(iii) It was a praying Church--these early Christians knew that they could not meet life in their own strength and that they did not need to. They always went in to God before they went out to the world; they were able to meet the problems of life because they had first met him.

(iv) It was a reverent Church--in Acts 2:43 the word which the King James Version correctly translates fear has the idea of awe in it. It was said of a great Greek that he moved through this world as if it were a temple. The Christian lives in reverence because he knows that the whole earth is the temple of the living God.

(v) It was a Church where things happened--signs and wonders were there ( Acts 2:43 ). If we expect great things from God and attempt great things for God things happen. More things would happen if we believed that God and we together could make them happen.

(vi) It was a sharing Church ( Acts 2:44-45 ); these early Christians had an intense feeling of responsibility for each other. It was said of William Morris that he never saw a drunken man but he had a feeling of personal responsibility for him. A real Christian cannot bear to have too much when others have too little.

(vii) It was a worshipping Church ( Acts 2:46 ); they never forgot to visit God's house. We must remember that "God knows nothing of solitary religion." Things can happen when we come together. God's Spirit moves upon his worshipping people.

(viii) It was a happy Church ( Acts 2:46 ); gladness was there. A gloomy Christian is a contradiction in terms.

(ix) It was a Church whose people others could not help liking. There are two Greek words for good. Agathos ( Greek #18 ) simply describes a thing as good. Kalos ( Greek #2570 ) means that a thing is not only good but looks good; it has a winsome attractiveness about it. Real Christianity is a lovely thing. There are so many people who are good but with their goodness possess a streak of unlovely hardness. Struthers of Greenock used to say that it would help the Church more than anything else if Christians ever and again would do a bonnie thing. In the early Church there was a winsomeness in God's people.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible