Acts 2:42-47 A Measuring Stick for the Church

Acts 2:42-47

A Measuring Stick for the Church


One of the greatest helps in studying Acts is to understand that it is not completely prescriptive but just fully descriptive.

What we see in Acts is Luke’s description of how the Spirit powers the advance of the gospel of the kingdom through every disciple engaging in their domain of society.

It’s easy to focus on the Apostles, but the Apostles are not the catalyst. Holy Spirit, through the preached gospel and public engagement, making disciples who make disciples is the catalyst recipe.

Take note of the irony of Paul’s impetus to get to Rome. Yet when Paul get’s to Rome, guess who greets him? Some brothers! Paul does not bring the gospel to Rome. Other disciples got there and made disciples. Paul mobilizes, instructs and moves on after his imprisonment (first Roman imprisonment).

Paul knows this because he writes a letter to the church before he visits, it’s called “Romans”.

Acts 8:1-4 reminds us that the Apostles stayed at Jerusalem after the persecution but the other disciples are scattered and go about preaching the gospel, making disciples and planting churches.

REMEMBER: Every disciple a church planter! Leadership is appointed from within after disciples are made (Titus 1:5).


They did not start with a church service. They started by being transformed by the gospel of the kingdom. They were made disciples who operated within their domains of society, and they made disciples in their domains of society. From that platform of domain engagement Jesus constructed his church!

Let’s make sure we look at our text today through that lens.

What do we see? Observation 1

1. The disciples devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers v. 42

“An initial summary of the essential elements of Christian discipleship, elements the apostles had learned from their experience with Jesus: (1) his teaching about his person and work (Matt. 16:18–19; Luke 24:46; cf. Acts 3:15; 4:10; 1 Cor. 15:1–4; etc.) and their Christian responsibility as his followers (cf. Matt. 5–7); (2) the fellowship of Christ with his disciples (cf. John 13); (3) the Lord’s Supper—the breaking of bread (Matt. 26:17–30; cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:20; etc.); and (4) his prayer life for and with the disciples (Matt. 6:5–13; Luke 11:1–13; John 17: cf. Acts 1:14; 3:1; 6:4; 10:4, 31; 12:5; 16:13, 16).”

What does it mean?

1. The disciples were following Jesus through devotion to his teaching through those the Lord entrusted it to, the apostles!

2. The teaching of the apostles is canonized (captured) in the New Testament (1 criteria for canonicity was that it had to be “apostolic”), so we have Jesus’ teaching in the “Manual”.

3. The disciples were devoted to fellowship as Jesus modeled it.

4. The disciples were devoted to the Lord’s Supper.

5. The disciples were devoted to prayer.

6. This was messy and would lead to conflict (collision with culture) as ministry ramps up.

We take for granted living in a “Christian” influence culture. But these disciples lived in a Jewish culture, informed by Hellenization and ruled by Roman law. The developing church would practice within the cultural practices they knew and it would be 300 plus years before an evolving “Christian” culture would emerge.

What do we do with this?

1. We imitate the early example of devotion to core disciplines of following Jesus.

  • Scripture
  • Fellowship
  • Lord’s Supper
  • Prayer

2. We must exercise patience as we make disciples in our part of the world. Followers of Jesus have to practice following Jesus within some very similar situations that the early church did. We must disciple, allow Holy Spirit to dictate practice and timing, love, understand, stand with, support, engage domains, work for peace and protection of all, and advocate for as the kingdom grows.

What do we see? Observation 2

2. The disciples were in awe of God as signs and wonders are done v. 43

1. Awe (literally fear) describes everyone in the fellowship.

2. Miraculous things are happening as the apostles push out to mobilize the community to do the mission.

What does it mean?

1. The whole fellowship saw and responded in awe at the work of the Spirit.

2. Signs and wonders accompany apostolic sending.

  • Apostle means “sent”. Sometimes “Ambassador” is used as a synonym with “apostle”.
  • Signs and wonders accompany the “sending” and “going” movement of the mission.
  • The inverse may be true here. Signs and wonders DON’T ACCOMPANY not “sending” and not “going”.

3. Awe is the natural human response to coolness.

What do we do with this?

1. We are to be “pushing” the frontiers of domain engagement because Jesus told us to.

2. Jesus promised us that because of Spirit, we would do greater work than him.

3. We are to expect signs and wonders (like people continuing to give $50,000 to our work, people beginning to follow Jesus with transformed lives, the city giving us buildings)

4. We are to be in awe! It’s not optional. The heart not captivated by the glory of God has not been transformed by the glorious gospel of God.

What do we see? Observation 3

3. The church comes together and obediently shares in order to meet needs as they arise (in addition to their “tithe”) v. 44-45

1. The people have gained a proper understanding of “stewardship”.

2. The people share God’s resources for the good of those who are in need.

What does this mean?

1. It does not mean they were communists.

2. The disciples were simply following the Lord’s teaching in Psalm 24:1.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…”

3. Need in the fellowship is met by the abundance of the fellowship.

What do we do with this?

1. We are to hear Jesus and obey his word:

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” – Lev. 19:9-10

“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.” – Lev. 23:22

2. We are to be transformed by biblical stewardship

What do we see? Observation 4

4. The church operates in the public square on mission and in private devotion v. 46-47a

1. It was natural for them to attend the temple. That was their routine. So, these followers of Jesus follow Jesus in their daily routines!

The routines did not change. The routines were transformed!!

The routines are now transformed into opportunities to make much of Jesus in all facets of life or “domains of society”.

2. The disciples follow Jesus in public obedience and in private fellowship daily, not just on Sunday.

What does this mean?

1. Following Jesus is a lifestyle not an additional task tacked onto my other life.

What do we do with this?

1. The gospel of the kingdom transforms. It’s not a addendum to my other idols.

2. We are to wrestle with obeying Jesus in all things.

3. Our days are to reflect devotion to Jesus, his kingdom rule and his people.


We cannot be a, “They honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me”, kind of people.

What do we see? Observation 5

5. Public Ministry + Fellowship = Transformation of People and Domains of Society v. 47b

1. The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

What does this mean?

1. Following Jesus publicly (preaching gospel and healing; hearing and obeying) and loving each other results in people coming to faith in Jesus and society being engaged.

What do we do with this?

1. We are to follow Jesus publicly. Our faith in Jesus is NEVER to be private.

  • Preach the gospel
  • Love people
  • Don’t be political before you are kingdom. Let the kingdom determine your politics.
  • Make disciples. Get messy in helping people that Jesus is adding to the kingdom get in.
  • Know that public ministry is obeying Jesus because we are operating in the light not in secret.

2. Public following of Jesus will lead to opportunity to change the world. It’s “glocal”.



3. Praise!

Psalm 147:1 “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”


Two Very Opposed Values

After the fall in Genesis 3 the curse of the fall just settles in deeper and deeper awaiting the day that King Jesus would break the curse so that it would no longer “always be winter and never Christmas.”

We see that curse further deepen at Babel when man wants to make a name for himself by building tall buildings and rebel against the creation mandate of Genesis 1:26-28 and the Lord divides the nations and languages to force mankind to fill the earth and subdue it. But the curse has now set in by making language and culture a barrier rather than a glory. So God enacts his strategic and eternal plan in Genesis 12 by calling Abraham to be a light to the nations.

However, since that time the language and cultural barriers, due to the curse of the fall, have been a means by some to hate others who are not the same. Some say they don’t hate but they trumpet their superiority to the shame of others who are not like them in skin color and cultural values.

Part of what Jesus does in his coming, death, burial, resurrection and sending the Spirit is to make those barriers of culture and language go down in creating one new race, the people of the Kingdom of God. So all those who repent and believe the Gospel get the Spirit and their kinship is no longer defined by skin color or language or culture but by our good, loving and mighty adopted Father.

But there is a value conflict for now. Those who do not worship Jesus can treat others not of same color, culture and language with contempt. This was on display last Saturday in my town where a white supremacist group from another town (why pick out city?) gained a permit in our town to hold a rally for white supremacy. Meanwhile, on the same day, unknown t0 my wife, she, due to me speaking out of town and our other sons at various events, took our baby (not a baby anymore but will always be my baby) boy, who is African-American, to Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King center to teach him more about MLK and civil rights in America and how Dr. King fought for that. My son needs to know.

Here are the opposing values: one trumpets the supreme nature of their skin color the other values the skin color and mission of others fellow image bearers and potential citizens of God’s kingdom. One loves the other hates.

The point is not to put ourselves up on a stage and say, “look at us.”. The point is that the Kingdom has values opposed to the system of the world that is under the curse. Jesus breaks that curse and gives his values to his people. Those values will oppose. Those kingdom values will bring suffering. I’ve had to leave establishments because of being asked to because my baby son’s skin is not white. That hurts and it makes me fighting mad and I can’t shoot them for it (hyperbole, sort of, don’t get offended).

Part of our work at Christians is to take on God’s values and oppose the values of darkness. We are not to accumulate safety and security but to advance the rule of Jesus into every domain of society. We can’t do this by being ok with white supremacist rallies or any other supremacist rally. We are to engage, live out God’s values, joyfully receive the suffering it brings knowing those sufferings do not compare to the eternal weight of glory we have in Christ.

Take note of the opposing values and decide which one works for peace and which one stirs up hate. The Kingdom of Jesus is better, but it is laden with values that are opposed to the kingdom of darkness and may get you some licks. Jesus is better.

Daniel at Ebenezer 2

(My baby son at Ebenzer).