After a short summer break, my Sunday school class started back up it’s Wednesday night Bible study. This week we read from portions of Acts 2. We picked up right after the Apostles had received the Holy Spirit. Some in the crowd were wondering if the Apostles were in fact drunk due to hearing them speak in different tongues (languages).
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
So, Peter addresses the crowd:
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.’[c]
22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[d] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’[e]
29 “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
“‘The Lord said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”’[f]
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
The Fellowship of the Believers
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. – Acts 2:14-47 (NIV)
Thoughts from the study:
1. I love how Peter immediately addresses the crowd regarding the thought that the disciples were drunk (Acts 2:13). They weren’t! Peter quotes to the crowd scriptures found in Joel 2:28-32 which talks about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The day they had been told to wait for, by Jesus, had finally come.
49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” – Luke 24:49 (NIV)
2. My Bible had a side note that talked about how up until the time in Acts 2, all throughout the Old Testament, only select men (some kings and prophets) received the Holy Spirit. Now, all believers have the Holy Spirit in them the moment they accept Christ. We have been clothed with power from on high and sent a helper.
3. I also like how Peter re-accounts Christ’s story. Specifically telling the crowed that:
23 This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[a] put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
Verse 23 wonderfully reveals that Christ’s death was not in vain but part of a bigger plan. Oftentimes we can’t see God’s bigger plan for our lives. Rest assured that His plan is active and good. I like the following verse as well:
24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
4. We focused a lot on verses 42-47. Specifically on how the early Christians treated one another. A few thoughts hit me that I was unable to voice:
a. Much was made about how the early believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (42).” Our group openly wondered how we could be like this with our own class. We talked about how we could invite others into our homes and how we needed to get together more than just once a week. Something that struck me during this conversation is how we do not need to make a big deal about when we have people over. Reminded me of Matthew 6:3 – “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,”
b. Verse 45 talks about how they gave away their possessions and goods to anyone who had a need. I want to note that this verse says nothing about personal possessions or goods being bad or evil. As our group talked about what it looks like to give stuff away, to fight the American obession with goods, I was reminded of Ecclesiastes 5:18-20:
18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
God is always concerned about the individuals heart. I want to stress that it is a gift from God to be able to enjoy what He has given to you. This means that possessions and wealth aren’t bad! As long as your heart is in the right place, pointed towards God, you are good to go. Anything else is a guilt trip that reeks of legalism that seeks to rob us of a possible area of blessing from God.
In closing, this was the beginning of the early church, believers were excited about what God was doing. The Church still had it’s new car smell. I would argue that it is easy to do things when you are “enjoying the favor of all the people” (47a). Therefore, it would be easy to meet daily and live together when you do not have any conflict. When things are positive, with believers numbers being added to daily, it is easy to be a follower of Christ. What I love about Acts, as a book, is that it shows that things weren’t always easy for the early church and that things won’t always be easy for us.
Next Wednesday, our Bible study picks up in Romans 1. Should be good!