The Ordinances of Fellowship
In this passage we have a snapshot of what the church should look like. It serves as a pattern and outline for the life of the local church. The Church represents the community of God on earth. The Church is not an organization as much as it is a living organism. We are members of the Body of Christ. The church is pictured here as a group of believers who are not only involved in the work of Christ on earth but they are very much involved in interpersonal relationships with one another. There is mutual care, encouragement, ministry, and it is all bathed in the love of Jesus Christ.
The common denominator of the church is fellowship with one another.
And we have fellowship with one another because it is rooted in our fellowship with God.
In verse 42, we have the four ordinances for Christian fellowship. This verse describes their practice not their creed. They put forth a conscious effort and were faithful to these ordinances of fellowship. This kind of fellowship does not just happen, it is a conscious effort of believers in reaching out to one another. These new Christians were not coerced into this fellowship, they were happy, joyous, and glad in their experience of fellowship. This was an active and joyous church.
These Christians were active students of God’s Word. They taught, they listened and fellowshipped in God’s Word. The “Apostle’s Doctrine” refers to teaching – instruction. There was a hunger for the Word of God. There was a desire to learn and receive all that the Lord had for them.
“Fellowship” comes from the Greek term, koinonia. This is where we derive our English word “common.” This word has to do with companionship and speaks of those who have something in common. They saw each other more than just at assembly or worship time. They were excited about their new-found faith and therefore they looked forward to being together. It was TRUE KOINONIA!
3. Breaking of Bread
Twice the breaking of bread is mentioned in this context. It is probable that this refers to both the Lord’s Table (Communion) and fellowship with one another in each other’s homes. This also includes what was known as the Agape (Love Feasts) where the saints would gather in various homes, since they did not have fellowship halls. Eating together was an important part of early church life. It was common at these meals, at the beginning of the meal, to observe the Lord’s Table-Communion. The key was that they gathered in fellowship around meals. Note that in Revelation 3.20, Jesus desires to come in and sit at the table with us. When we sit and take a meal together with a friend that is not a stressful experience. It is meant to be an intimate and enjoyable experience.
These early Christians prayed together often. Prayer meetings were common in the early church. They were said to observe the daily prayer time together at the Temple during the week both at 9 am and 3 pm. This accounts for the unity, rich fellowship and the demonstration of the power of God. This prayer was both personal and corporate. The personal prayer provided the dynamism for the corporate prayer.
The church is known for a number of designations in the New Testament. It is known as The Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the family of God, the community of God. All of these depict intimacy and unity. And rightfully so, because the church reflects Jesus Christ and His work on earth.
What a privilege to be considered a part of this great Body of Christ!
What a privilege to be adopted into the great big family of God!
What a joy to be known as the Bride of Christ, the object of His love and favor.
What a glorious opportunity to have all of this in common with each other – as fellow-believers!
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For a similar study see “Sharing Their Lives | Spirit Filled Community, pt. 6” CLICK