What happens when Pentecost happens? That’s our week’s question. What happens is that community happens? That’s our week’s answer. How does community happen? We’ll begin to look at that today. Again, the passage:
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 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, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
There are a number of elements involved when Luke says the early messianists were “together.” (Again, I hope you can purchase and read Beverly Gaventa’s wise and to-the-point Acts commentary as we work this NT book over the next few months: The Acts of the Apostles (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)
The first thing we see in the Spirit-created friendship of this “togetherness” is their focus: they are “devoted,” which could be translated “persistent tenacity” (Fitzmyer) or perhaps even better as a characteristic focus, to four things: apostolic teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer.
Spirit-come-down communities learn the teachings of the apostles, now neatly deposited in the New Testament, they are committed to living with one another, they enjoy table fellowship with one another (I’ve never been convinced this is simply the Lord’s Supper, though the language is hardly capable of a certain interpretation), and to prayer.
When God moves, God creates community. God-moved communities learn the apostles’ teachings and they…. This again is an act of God.
The second thing I observe here is awe — they are aware that God is at work, they stand back and watch as they participate, and they see the mighty hand of God’s Spirit at work in miracles. Problem? Sure, but that doesn’t make us change what we see in this text.