Saturday

25 June 2022

Acts 2:37-42

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (v. 42)

Background

At Pentecost, God's Spirit came to the disciples. Today's passage comes towards the end of the Pentecost account. The tongues of fire have descended; the crowds have spoken in diverse native languages, and Peter has addressed them, explaining how Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s promise to all people. Today’s five verses are a glimpse into what happens when lives are touched by grace and how that faith can be nurtured.

Verse 37 begins with the Apostles being approached by people who had been 'cut to the heart'. For the ancient Greek world, the heart was the place of emotion and feeling, the centre of personality. Even in contemporary Britain we still use phrases such as ‘my heart skipped a beat’ or I have a ‘broken heart’. The people we read about here had a heartfelt response: they want to understand the implications of what has stirred in them. They ask what they should ‘do’. This could be translated as ‘what should they practise’ or ‘make’, so that their inward conviction can find outward expression. Peter responds with two things they can do: repentance (the Greek word implies turning the direction of one’s life to walk God’s path); and baptism, which is an outward expression of that change and commitment. We note that Peter’s instructions (v. 38) emphasise that they each need to know forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. We can perhaps pick up echoes of Wesley’s 'Four Alls': All need to be saved. All can be saved. All can know they are saved. All can be saved to the uttermost.

Three thousand people were baptised and in verse 42 we see their new-found faith calls them into community. Here in this new place the first new people to be followers of Jesus deepen their discipleship in relationship with others. Archbishop Rowan Williams describes church as “What happens when people encounter the Risen Jesus and commit themselves to sustaining and deepening that encounter in their encounter with each other.” In the description of listening to teaching, being in fellowship, sharing bread and praying, there is a glimpse of a profound and simple expression of what church is.

From the birth of the Church here in Acts 2, it became normal to start new Christian communities. And as the narrative of Acts unfolds, the pattern of hearts being changed and new communities springing up will be repeated again and again.

To Ponder:

  • Can you single out moments in your life when your heart was touched by the love of God?
  • What are the simple practices of church community you value most?

Prayer

Loving God, we thank you that your love is for us. Help us, each one, to know your transforming grace at work in our lives. May we find and begin new places that deepen our faith and that of others. Amen.


Bible notes author

The Revd Matt Finch

Matt is the Pioneering and Church Planting Officer for the Evangelism and Growth team, developing and implementing a Church-wide strategy for ‘new places for new people'. He previously was a Methodist minister in the St Neots and Huntingdon Circuit, where he established a café church, a contemplative community and new patterns of children and families' ministry.

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