No, it isn’t! When the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost, the immediate impact was the creation of a dynamic (and probably chaotic) community of believers. Acts 5 gives us a glimpse into the life of this early community: “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” (Acts 5:42) This was happening in the central meeting place but also in and out of homes.
The Greek word used for house in Acts 5:42 is “Oikos”. Its usage here probably implies a wider household of perhaps 8-15 people rather than a nuclear family. Today it might embrace neighbours, close colleagues and church family. The gospel was being preached and taught in smaller community groups which must have multiplied at a rapid rate. It is then in this setting of temple and home that we discern some distinctives of the church emerging.
They were a loving church
We see they shared life together (koinonia). “And they devoted themselves to …the fellowship“. This bears witness to sharing our fellowship with the trinity (1 John 1:3; 2 Cor. 13:14) and the life we share together. Koinonikos is Greek word for generous having everything koinos (in common). Koinonia is the word Paul used when organising collections for the poorer churches (2 Corinthians 8:4; 9:13).
They were an evangelistic church
“And daily the Lord added to their number those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). They always inclusively reached out. “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Acts 5:42). The verb “adding” here is imperfect meaning “kept adding”. Those being added were also saved (sozomenous – timeless, a progressive experience for us), so belonging to the church and salvation go together.
They were a worshipping church
“they devoted themselves…to the breaking of bread and prayer”. Being a worshipping church is expressed here in corporate, shared worship. We see this is formal and informal – “in the temple courts and in their homes” (Acts 2:46). Their worship was joyful and reverent – “with glad and sincere hearts” which literally means “in exultation (agalliasis) and sincerity of heart”. The same Greek word is used in Revelation 19:7 for the wedding of the Lamb…”Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” At same time in Acts “everyone was filled with awe” at what God was doing.
They were a learning church
They were being discipled to grow in maturity – “devoted…to the apostles teaching”. The Holy Spirit leads us into learning truth. He leads us into submission to the word of God and growing in understanding. The church was also accompanied by “many wonders and miraculous signs”. As we build church, this culture of exhorting each other to grow has an urgency to it. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
So, is church just about a Sunday gathering? Scripture and church history clearly tells us no. Church is about sharing life together in one another’s homes, worshipping together, learning together and reaching out together. It’s in this way we get to be a true community of believers.
 Source: Stott, John R. W. The Message of Acts: The Spirit, the Church & the World. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1994. Print.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris is an Elder working at Living Hope Community Church on the Isle of Man. He is married to Carol and they have 2 married daughters. Chris was in the business world for 26 years before joining the church staff. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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