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Celebrating In Unity
(Believers Praise God)
Printed Text – Acts 2:32-33, 37-47
Bible Background - Acts 2:32-33, 37-47
Devotional Reading - Psalm 134

Daily Bible Readings


MONDAY: A Priestly Kingdom, a Holy Nation (Exodus 19:1-8)
TUESDAY: Worship God Alone (Exodus 20:1-6)
WEDNESDAY: When Kindred Live in Unity (Psalm 133; 134)
THURSDAY: Praise in the Heavenly Community (Revelation 4)
FRIDAY: The Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-12)
SATURDAY: Jesus Is Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:22-36)
SUNDAY: A Community of Praise (Acts 2:37-47)

 

 

Keep in Mind:

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." (Acts 2:42, NRSV).

Lesson Aim:

UNDERSTAND the role of Christ and the Holy Spirit in our lives,
DISCERN how the Holy Spirit inspires believers to share a life of worship, and
PLAN opportunities for people to begin a relationship with Jesus through our ministries.

Background

The events in our lesson today take place after Jesus had appeared to the apostles and specifically instructed to wait for the promised Holy Spirit, which would be given to them so they might have effective witnessing. In obedience to Jesus ‘command, the apostles went to the upper room in Jerusalem and devoted themselves to prayer and supplication.
 

Lesson Commentary:

The Call to Community (Acts 2:32-33, NRSV)

32This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses.
33Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear.

Peter has been giving his audience the full story of God's history-spanning plan of salvation.  He concludes with the exciting news, only 50 days old: Jesus Christ is risen, and ascended to glory, power, and honor.  The Father gave Him the Spirit to pour out on His followers.  This is the explanation for the speaking in tongues that had astonished everyone.

In this explanation, we see that the very basis of Christianity is grounded in community between the Persons of the Trinity.  Each has a role; each affirms the others' powers.  It is a communion of love that naturally calls others to join in its love.

1.    What is your response to hearing the Good News of verses 32-33?

2.    Are you willing to sacrifice and share for the improvement of the entire church body?  What are some elements of what makes a great church?

The Community Forms (Acts 2:37-43, NRSV)

37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"
38Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him."
40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."
41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.

After listening to Peter's convicting message, the Scriptures affirm that the people were ready for a change in their lives (v. 37).  In essence, they tell Peter, "Whatever that is you have, we want it in our lives today."  The apostle tells the people that all they have to do to receive God's power is repent of their sins, receive Jesus Christ as their Savior, and they will receive the precious Holy Spirit.

Many people believe that Peter's words were only applicable to the people whom he addressed.  But Peter makes it clear that the promise of God's power is available to all who would believe in Jesus Christ throughout this age ("unto you, and to your children") and the age to come ("to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call").  The Holy Spirit's presence and power for the believer did not cease at Pentecost (Acts 8:5; 10:44-46).  The Holy Spirit is the birthright of every true born-again believer in Christ (Joel 2:28; Matthew 3: 11; Luke 24:49).

Those in the crowd whose hearts had been "pricked" by Peter's words accepted his call to repentance and were baptized that same day.  On the birthday of the New Testament church, 3,000 people were converted to Christ and formed the first Christian community.  Once the people had received Peter's word, they continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine.  It is evident that the people needed to be taught how to live for God and how to effect change in the lives of their community, and they were willing to sit at the apostles' feet to feast on the Word of God.

1.    What keeps the modern church from such diligent fellowship and discipleship in Christ?

The Community Grows (Acts 2:44-47, NRSV)

44All who believed were together and had all things in common;
45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.
46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts,
47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

The 3,000 new converts joined together with the original 120 believers (Acts 1:15) to form a community of believers who "had all things [in] common" (2:44; 4:32).  This meant that everyone in the community was ready and willing to sacrifice for the good of the whole.  They shared a commonality of participation, prayer, and purpose.  They regarded their material blessings as a means of being a blessing to others.  All their possessions, talents, and time were dedicated to furthering the mission of the Church and meeting the needs of the brothers and sisters.

The group continued to meet daily in the Temple and at various homes after the services to share meals and companionship.  The table of fellowship provided members of the early church with an opportunity to gather together in small groups and discuss the day's teachings.

As the church was faithful in its mission, God demonstrated His faithfulness to the church.  Not only did God continuously provide for the needs of His people, He "added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).  The church did its job, and God did His.

1.    What helped the early church grow so quickly?

2.    The church assumed the responsibility of meeting the needs of its less fortunate members.  Should our modern-day churches assume this responsibility?  If so, how should this ministry be funded?  Should this ministry be more than just a "giveaway" program?  If so, what programs would you suggest?

3.    Lifestyle and active evangelism were key elements of the early church.  Do you believe that every Christian is called to active evangelism, or are some people called on just to let the light of their lives shine?

Lesson in Our Society

During the reconstruction period and through the period of Jim Crow segregation, the church was the spiritual, social, and political center of the Black community.  In modern times, the church has become far less influential.  What are some of the social and political factors that may have contributed to this decline?  What are some of the implications of the church's decline in influence?  What can the church do to improve its relevance to Black society?  To society in general?

Sources:

Achtemeier, Paul J. Harper's Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985.

Biblical Studies Press: The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006.

Brown, Raymond E., S. S., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S. J.; Roland E. Murphy, O Carm. The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Dummelow, J. R., M.A. Rev. The One Volume Bible Commentary. New York: The Macmillan Company Publishers, 1961.

James Orr, M.A., D.D., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Electronic Edition, Parsons Technology, Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa 1998.

Keck Leander E., The New Interpreter's Bible Commentary, Acts, Introduction to Epistolary Literature, Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, New York: Abingdon Press, 1996.

Morris, William, ed., Dictionary of the English Language, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981.

Polhill, John B., New American Commentary Volume 26, Acts: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992.

Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Hrsg.): The Pulpit Commentary: Acts of the Apostles Vol 1. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004

Strong, James, Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, Electronic Edition STEP Files, QuickVerse, a division of Findex.com, Inc., Omaha, Nebraska. 2003.

Vine, W.E. Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Edited by Merrill F. Unger and William White Jr., Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.

 

Next Week Lesson:  3 October

 

Only You
Bible Background: Psalm 100
Devotional Reading: Psalm 66:1-7

Daily Bible Readings


MONDAY: Praise the Rock of Our Salvation (Psalm 95)
TUESDAY: Stones Shout Out! (Luke 19:28, 36-40)
WEDNESDAY: Indescribable and Glorious Love (1 Peter 1:3-9)
THURSDAY: Sing to God a New Song (Psalm 98)
FRIDAY: A Continuous Sacrifice of Praise (Hebrews 13:12-16)
SATURDAY: Rejoice in God’s Mighty Rule (Psalm 66:1-7)
SUNDAY: Enter God’s Courts with Praise (Psalm 100)