The Early Church’s Life and Witness

MEMORY VERSE: “And we are his witnesses of these things and so is also the Holy Spirit, that obey him.” —Acts 5:32

ACTS 2:43-47; 4:13-22

AS OUR lesson indicates, for a short time the Early Church “had all things common.” Seemingly this arrangement did not continue, and for the probable reason that even dedicated Christians found it difficult to be satisfied with a common lot, especially if some at one time might have fared a little better than the general average.

We have a short record of the difficulties which developed. Acts 6:1 reads, “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.” To overcome this difficulty the responsibility for the distribution of supplies was taken from the apostles to give them more time to minister in spiritual things, and “deacons” were appointed to care for the temporal things of the church. But apparently this arrangement did not operate too well whom God has given to them either, and we read no more about the arrangements.

Many miracles were performed by the apostles. This was essential in order to demonstrate that they did indeed enjoy the blessing of God. The desired result was attained, for we read that fear—more properly, reverence—“came upon every soul.” There was a sweet fellowship of the believers in those early days of the church.

“They, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (2:46,47) We are glad for the information that it was the Lord who added to the church. When human wisdom attempts this it usually does not work out so well.

ACTS 4:13-22

It was soon after Pentecost that the Apostle Peter preached that marvelous sermon concerning “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19-23) This sermon was prompted by the miracle performed by Peter and John—the healing of a man who had been lame from birth. Peter explained that when Jesus returned there would be a restitution, or restoration of all things.

Certain religious rulers were “grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead, and they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.” (Acts 4:2,3) The next morning they brought Peter and John forth from prison for trial, and “they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” that is, healed the lame man.

Without hesitancy Peter replied, “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.” (vs. 10) The rulers were amazed by this forthright reply, and we read that when “they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with. Jesus.”—vs. 13

Jesus was kind and loving and sympathetic, but he was also courageous; the religious rulers had been impressed with this, and now saw that his apostles were likewise courageous. But there was not much they could do about it. The news of the great miracle Peter and John had performed had spread, and to injure or imprison those who so manifestly had God’s favor working for them would be unwise.

So they warned these zealous followers of the Master to cease preaching in the name of Jesus. They probably had little faith that the apostles would heed their warning, which they did not. Their reply to their persecutors simply was, “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Our memory verse further emphasizes the fact that those in the Early Church were personally witnesses of the working of God’s mighty power.


Did the communal practice of the Early Church continue?

Explain the background of the second section of the lesson.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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