Read verses 41-42
Q: What activity did the early church repeatedly engage in?
A: First came continual devotion to the apostles’ “didaskin” – learning doctrine.
Point: Unity of the Holy Spirit depends on common doctrine. One faith, one baptism, and a common body of belief without which there is no real unity.
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.
— John 17:17
Q: How did Paul teach in Ephesians 6 through the symbolism of the armor of God that doctrine always comes first?
A: Before anything else, even before the breastplate or righteousness, one has to first gird themselves with the truth. (Eph. 6:13-14)
Point: There is no true salvation without the follow-up of proper discipleship. The “Great Commission” (Mt. 28:19) makes no mention of “converts” but only to make “disciples”. Without “didaskin” – the doctrine of Jesus as taught by the apostles – the tripod falls.
Q: How can you “continually” devote your self to the apostles’ teaching?
A: Although we do need to study the Word, this is not specifically an example of intense Bible study, but rather putting God’s Word into practice. To be “continually devoted” to doctrine means to live it out.
Q: What else were they “continually devoted” to?
A: “Fellowship” The concept is best understood as “being cemented together”.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brothers to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Coming down upon the beard,
Even Aaron’s beard,
Coming down upon the edge of his robes.
— Psalm 133:1-2
Q: How might this Psalm describe biblical fellowship and unity?
A: As explained in Hebrews, Aaron and the high priest are pictures of Christ, shadows of the Messiah. Our anointing depends on being under His head. Notice that the oil never touches the flesh – it goes off the head, off the beard, and over the robe. It never touches the flesh.
Point: Often times what appears to be real or to have spiritual results is not actually of Christ because it is based in the flesh. Everyone must be properly placed under the head – Christ – so that the anointing is real and not tainted by the flesh.
He who separates himself seeks his own desire,
He quarrels against all sound wisdom.
— Proverbs 18:1
Point: No matter what excuse someone gives for not being in fellowship, what it really comes down to is that they’re seeking their own desire, not what God knows is best for them and best for others. They’re quarreling “against all sound wisdom”.
Application: Koinonia fellowship is community life. It’s not attending meetings, but being part of the body under the headship of Christ, exercising your gift under the control of the Head in harmony and coordination with others. The “eye” is related to the “foot”, but it’s coordinated by the “brain”, the head. That’s fellowship.
Q: After fellowship came “the breaking of bread”. How did the early Christian celebrate the Lord’s Supper?
A: They had “agapes” or “love feasts”.
Q: What was the overall message of Passover to Hebrews in the way that they celebrated it? How might it compare with the Lord’s Supper which occurred on the same day of the calendar?
A: For the Jews it was a look back at their redemption out of Egypt, but a looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. For Christians we look back to Calvary, but forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Q: We know that Scripture commands that we do not partake in the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. (1 Co. 11:27) How might the order here be just as important as the “siddur” or order of Passover?
A: Before anything else, get the doctrine right. (It comes from the Passover itself.) Then get the fellowship right, becoming one body that we might never forget Him.
Point: By proclaiming His death until He returns, it’s a way to keep us repenting and in right relationships with each other, eating and drinking judgment to ourselves.
Q: What did the Jews have to do before they could eat Passover?
A: They had to purge the leaven, a symbol of sin. Before we come to the Lord’s table we need to repent of our sins.
Q: Additionally, what did the Jews do just prior to purging the leaven?
A: There was a washing ritual, which parallels Christ’s washing of the apostles’ feet.
Q: Why do only the feet need to be washed?
A: Our feet are what come into contact with the fallen world.
Point: In washing each other’s feet, we’re restoring one another from our contact with the world. It’s a very expressive explanation of the true biblical meaning of “fellowship”.
Application: The DOCTRINE of the Lord’s Supper must be right, the FELLOWSHIP must be right, and THEN we have the Lord’s Supper.
Q: Why do you suppose the very last activity to which they continually devoted themselves was prayer?
A: The only reason we CAN pray, the only reason we have access to the Father in the first place, is because of the blood of the Lamb, because of what Jesus did. That’s why the Lord’s Supper precedes prayer.
Q: Keeping with the concept that the order is important, why else would prayer be last?
A: Effective, proper prayer can’t be achieved either individually or corporately as a church if it’s not first rightly based on doctrine, relationships are in their right and proper order (“…first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” – Mt. 5:24), and so you’re in the right spiritual condition to properly take the Lord’s Supper. It’s about the spiritual quality of one’s heart.
Q: Why doesn’t it say that they were devoted to PETER’S teaching?
A: It’s an important distinction that their devotion was to the APOSTLES’ teaching in order to biblically establish the future false teachings of things like the Pope or devotion to a single apostle.
Point: Biblical leadership is always a plurality. The apostles were sent out in pairs, it was Barnabas and Saul together set apart by the Holy Spirit, it’s found in the example of Moses training Caleb and Joshua or Paul’s training of Timothy and Titus.
Second, biblical leadership is always functional and relational, NOT clerical and hierarchical. Every Christian is a minister, every Christian is a priest. Only God can ordain a minister.
Third, biblical leadership is “apostolic”, coming from the apostles. Hebrews 3:1 makes it clear that Jesus is THE apostle by calling Him “ho apostolos” in the Greek. He is unique and all other apostolic authority is derived from HIM. Apostolic authority still exists today in the BIBLE, the complete and written Word of God.