Remember what we studied last week? After the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came to Jesus’ followers and enabled them to do their mission, we heard about Peter preaching to crowds, and 3000 deciding to follow Jesus at once.
With 3000 people joining, they shifted instantly from a handful of people to a crowd, and needed to institutionalize a bit. That’s not a bad thing, it’s necessary with large groups. Otherwise, it’s too easy to lose sight of the group’s values, stories, etc. A group that large needs some practices to help.
Listen to how their first communities were described by Luke in the book of Acts:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
(Acts 2:42-47 ESV)
The Apostle’s Teaching and Fellowship
This refers to continuity with those who knew Jesus, and learned directly from him. They were devoted to learning Jesus’ original teaching, not changing it.
In addition, they were not just isolated individuals, but a group…a community who spent time together around Jesus, and then in the upper room after that.
These same activities spread to others who decided to follow Jesus. They had something to learn, and a community in which to learn it. Classrooms are important opportunities to discuss, refine, argue, and ultimately learn better than simply by reading alone, and a community was important here as well.
Breaking of the Bread
At first glance, this might just sound like they ate together. They probably did. Letters in the Bible written by one church leader, Paul, describe some feasts when Christians gathered. Many cultures gather around food, Christians are the same. But there is probably more to it than just a meal.
The night before he died, Jesus gathered his disciples for a Passover meal. He took bread, broke it and said this is my body broken for you. He took a cup of wine, and said this is my blood shed for you. Whenever you do this, do it in remembrance of me.
With shorthand like “the bread and wine”, it seems pretty likely Luke, the author of Acts, was referring to this practice we now know as “communion” or the Eucharist as well as or instead of a meal. They’d gathered, so it seems entirely appropriate they might have done what |Jesus told them to do whenever they gathered.
Many years have passed since apostles taught and gathered, but these two practices would have helped. We’ll see two more tomorrow, but in the meantime,
Question: What is our connection to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship today? In what ways is fellowship distinct from socializing?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]