Acts 2:46
And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(46) Continuing daily with one accord in the temple.—At first it would have seemed natural that the followers of a Teacher whom the priests had condemned to death, who had once nearly been stoned, and once all but seized in the very courts of the Temple (John 8:59; John 10:31; John 7:45), should keep aloof from the sanctuary that had thus been desecrated. But they remembered that He had claimed it as His Father’s house, that His zeal for that house had been as a consuming passion (John 2:16-17), and therefore they had attended its worship daily before the Day of Pentecost (Luke 24:53); and it was not less, but infinitely more, precious to them now, as the place where they could meet with God, than it had been in the days of ignorance, before they had known the Christ, and through Him had learnt to know the Father. The apparent strangeness of their being allowed to meet in the Temple is explained partly by the fact that its courts were open to all Israelites who did not disturb its peace, partly by the existence of a moderate half-believing party in the Sanhedrin itself, including Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathæa, and Gamaliel (Acts 5:35); and by the popularity gained for a time by the holiness and liberal almsgiving of the new community.

Breaking bread from house to house.—Better, with the margin, at homei.e., in their own house. The Greek phrase may have a distributive force, but Romans 16:5, 1Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:14, where the same formula is used, seem to show that that is not the meaning here. They met in the Temple, they met also in what, in the modern sense of the word, would be the “church” of the new society, for the act of worship, above all, for the highest act of worship and of fellowship, for which the Temple was, of course, unsuitable.

Did eat their meat . . .—We have again the tense which implies a customary act. The words imply that as yet the solemn breaking of bread was closely connected with their daily life. Anticipating the language of a few years later, the Agapè, or Love-feast, was united with the Eucharistic Communion. The higher sanctified the lower. It was not till love and faith were colder that men were forced to separate them, lest (as in 1Corinthians 11:20-21) the lower should desecrate the higher.

Gladness and singleness of heart.—This “gladness” is significant. The word was the same as that which had been used by the angel to Zacharias (Luke 1:44) in announcing the birth of the Forerunner. The verb from which the noun was derived had been employed by our Lord when He bade His disciples rejoice and be glad (Matthew 5:12). The literal meaning of the word translated “singleness,” which does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, was the smoothness of a soil without stones. Thence it came to be used for evenness and simplicity, unity of character; thence for that unity showing itself in love; thence, by a further transition, for unalloyed benevolence, showing itself in act.

Acts 2:46-47. And continuing daily with one accord — With unanimity and fraternal affection; in the temple — At the appointed hours of public service. This was their place of rendezvous: and here they worshipped not only on sabbaths, and solemn feast-days, but every day: for to worship God is the daily work of a true Christian, and where there is opportunity, the oftener it is done publicly the better. God loveth the gates of Zion, and so must we: and to have fellowship with God in his ordinances, is the best fellowship we can have with one another. And breaking bread from house to house — For they associated as frequently as they could at other times, each family that was of ability entertaining their brethren, especially those that were sojourners in Jerusalem; they eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart — With the greatest joy, on the part of those who made the entertainments; and with disinterested simplicity of heart, in those who received them; and on all sides with the sincerest sentiments of devotion and friendship. Thus did these first Christians carry the same holy and happy temper in which they worshipped God, through all their common actions, eating and working with the same spirit wherewith they prayed, and received the Lord’s supper! Praising God — For the riches of his grace to them, for the wonderful things he had done for them, in redeeming them by the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, for the assurances he had given them of their justification and regeneration through him, and for the bright prospects he had opened before them, of glory and felicity for ever in his presence and kingdom. Having favour with all the people — That is, with the generality of them, particularly the common people. So wonderfully had the fear, spoken of Acts 2:43, the signs and wonders wrought by the apostles, and the astonishing events which had taken place, restrained the spirit of persecution; which, however, was soon revived, and broke forth in all its fury: and no wonder; for the carnal mind will still be enmity against God, however the outward manifestations of that enmity may, on certain occasions, be checked for a season. In this remarkable passage, then, we have a striking picture of the primitive church, and that in its first days: its state of infancy, indeed, but the state of its greatest innocence. 1st, The members of it were regular in their attendance on holy ordinances, and abounded in all instances of piety and devotion. For Christianity, received in the power of it, will cause men to delight in communion with God in all those ways wherein he has commanded us to meet him, and has promised to meet us. They were, therefore, constant in their attendance on the preaching of the word; frequently received the Lord’s supper, celebrating that memorial of their Master’s death, as persons who were not ashamed to own their relation to, and dependance upon him, who had been crucified; they continued instant in prayer, social and public, as well as private; and abounded in praise and thanksgiving. 2d, Their charity was as eminent as their piety, their joining together in holy ordinances tending greatly to endear them to one another, and to unite them together in disinterested friendship and brotherly affection. Hence they were peculiarly loving and kind to one another, had a deep concern for each other’s welfare, and were constantly ready to help each other in any way in their power, suffering no one to want what another had. 3d, God owned them for his people, giving daily and signal tokens of his presence with them, and delight in them, bearing testimony to the word of his grace, and causing his power so to attend the ministration of it, that the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, his kingdom enlarged, and multitudes, both of men and women, were added to the society of the faithful.

O, what an age of golden days! O, what a choice, peculiar race! Join’d by the unction from above, In mystic fellowship of love.

Meek, simple followers of the Lamb, They lived, and spake, and thought the same They joyfully conspired to raise Their ceaseless sacrifice of praise.

With grace abundantly endued, A pure, believing multitude; Wash’d in the Lamb’s all-cleansing blood Anointed kings and priests to God!

Ye different sects, who all declare, Lo, here is Christ! and Christ is there! Your stronger proofs divinely give, And show me where the Christians live.2:42-47 In these verses we have the history of the truly primitive church, of the first days of it; its state of infancy indeed, but, like that, the state of its greatest innocence. They kept close to holy ordinances, and abounded in piety and devotion; for Christianity, when admitted in the power of it, will dispose the soul to communion with God in all those ways wherein he has appointed us to meet him, and has promised to meet us. The greatness of the event raised them above the world, and the Holy Ghost filled them with such love, as made every one to be to another as to himself, and so made all things common, not by destroying property, but doing away selfishness, and causing charity. And God who moved them to it, knew that they were quickly to be driven from their possessions in Judea. The Lord, from day to day, inclined the hearts of more to embrace the gospel; not merely professors, but such as were actually brought into a state of acceptance with God, being made partakers of regenerating grace. Those whom God has designed for eternal salvation, shall be effectually brought to Christ, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of his glory.With one accord - Compare Acts 1:14; Acts 2:1.

In the temple - This was the public place of worship; and the disciples were not disposed to leave the place where their fathers had so long worshipped God. This does not mean that they were constantly in the temple, but only at the customary hours of prayer - at nine o'clock in the morning, and at three o'clock in the afternoon.

And breaking bread - See the notes on Acts 2:42.

From house to house - In the margin, "at home." So the Syriac and Arabic. The common interpretation, however, is, that they did it in their various houses, now in this and now in that, as might be convenient. If it refers to their ordinary meals, then it means that they partook in common of what they possessed, and the expression "did eat their meat" seems to imply that this refers to their common meals, and not to the Lord's Supper.

Did eat their meat - Did partake of their food. The word "meat" with us is applied to "flesh." In the Bible, and in Old English authors, it is applied to "provisions" of any kind. Here it means all kinds of sustenance; what nourished them - τροφῆς trophēs - and the use of this word proves that it does not refer to the Lord's Supper; for that ordinance is nowhere represented as designed for an ordinary meal, or to nourish the body. Compare 1 Corinthians 11:33-34.

With gladness - With rejoicing. This is one of the effects of religion. It is far from gloom; it diffuses happiness over the mind; it bestows additional joy in the participation of even our ordinary pleasures.

Singleness of heart - This means with a sincere and pure heart. They were satisfied and thankful. They were not perplexed or anxious; nor were they solicitous for the luxurious living, or aspiring after the vain objects of the people of the world. Compare Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Colossians 3:22; Ephesians 6:5.

46. daily … in the temple—observing the hours of Jewish worship.

and breaking bread from house to house—rather, "at home" (Margin), that is, in private, as contrasted with their temple-worship, but in some stated place or places of meeting.

eat their meat with gladness—"exultation."

and singleness of heart.

In the temple; in the court and porches of the temple, whither the people did use to resort at the time of the morning and evening sacrifice and prayers, that by means of the great concourse at such times they might have the better opportunity to preach the gospel amongst them; casting that net where they found most fish.

Breaking bread; not only celebrating the eucharist, but their love feasts which they usually had at that time, as 1 Corinthians 11:21,22.

From house to house; now here, now there, as they could conveniently; the richer also entertaining their poorer brethren at their tables.

Did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart: if the former words be understood of the Lord’s supper, then these words speak the great spiritual strength, cheer, and comfort they got by it: if we understand them of the ordinary meats which they willingly bestowed one upon another, the rich were more than recompensed with inward peace and satisfaction, for what they gave unto their poor brethren. And they continued daily with one accord in the temple,.... Every day they went up to the temple, at the time of prayer, or whenever any religious service was to be performed; this was their constant practice, and in this they agreed:

and breaking bread from house to house; either administering the Lord's supper in private houses, as the Jews kept their passover, sometimes administering it at one house, and sometimes at another; or because their number was so large, that one house could not hold them, they divided themselves into lesser bodies; and some met, and had the ordinance administered to them in one house, and some in another: or this may be understood of their common meals, which they ate together at one another's houses in great love and friendship; for

they did eat their meat with gladness; with great thankfulness to the God of their mercies for their daily food, acknowledging that all came from him, and that they were undeserving of it, and with much cheerfulness and affability one among another, without murmuring and repining at their lot, or envying each other, or grudging what each other partook of:

and singleness of heart; without deceit and hypocrisy; either in their thanksgivings to God, or in their welcome and entertainment of each other; and with great sincerity, openness, and frankness before God, and one another. The Syriac version joins this clause with the beginning of the next verse, "with singleness of heart, praising God".

{14} And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

(14) The faithful came together at the beginning with tremendous results, not only for the hearing of the word, but also to eat.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 2:46. καθʼ ἡμέραν] daily. See Bernhardy, p. 241.

On προσκαρτερεῖν ἐν, to be diligent in visiting a place, comp. Susann. 6.

ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ] as confessors of the Messiah of their nation, whose speedy appearance in glory they expected, as well as in accordance with the example of Christ Himself, and with the nature of Christianity as the fulfilment of true Judaism, they could of course have no occasion for voluntarily separating themselves from the sanctuary of their nation; on the contrary, they could not but unanimously (ὁμοθυμ.) consider themselves bound to it; comp. Luke 24:53.

κλῶντες ἄρτον] breaking bread, referring, as in Acts 2:42, to the love-feasts. The article might stand as in Acts 2:42, but is here not thought of, and therefore not put. It would mean: their bread.

κατʼ οἶκον] Contrast to ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ; hence: at home, in meetings in their place of assembly, where they partook of the meal (perhaps in detachments). Comp. Philemon 1:2. So most commentators, including Wolf, Bengel, Heinrichs, Olshausen, de Wette. But Erasmus, Salmasius, and others explain it domatim, from house to house. So also Kuinoel and Hildebrand. Comp. Luke 8:1; Acts 15:21; Matthew 24:7. But there is nowhere any trace of holding the love-feasts successively in different houses; on the contrary, according to Acts 1:13, it must be assumed that the new community had at the very first a fixed place of assembly. Luke here places side by side the public religious conduct of the Christians and their private association; hence after ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ the express κατʼ οἶκον was essentially necessary.[141]

μετελάμβανον τροφῆς] they received their portion of food (comp. Acts 27:33 f.), partook of their sustenance. Plat. Polit. p. 275 C: παιδείας μετειληφέναι καὶ τροφῆς.

Acts 2:46 is to be paraphrased as follows: In the daily visiting of the temple, at which they attended with one accord, and amidst daily observance of the love-feast at home, they wanted not sustenance, of which they partook in gladness and singleness of heart.

ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει] this is the expression of the joy in the Holy Spirit, as they partook of the daily bread, “fructus fidei et character veritatis,” Bengel. And still in the erection of the kingdom believers are ἄμωμοι ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει, Judges 1:24. This is, then, the joy of triumph.

ἀφελότης] plainness, simplicity, true moral candour. Dem. 1489. 10 : ἀφελὴς καὶ παῤῥησίας μεστός. The word is not elsewhere preserved in Greek, but ἀφέλεια is (Ael. V. H. iii. 10, al.; Polyb. vi. 48. 4).

[141] Observe how, on the one hand, the youthful church continued still bound up with the national cultus, but, on the other hand, developed itself at the same time as a separate society, and in this latter development already put forth the germs of the distinctively Christian cultus (comp. Nitzsch, prakt. Theol. I. p. 174 ff., 213 ff.). The further evolution and independent vital power of this cultus could not but gradually bring about the severance from the old, and accomplish that severance in the first instance in Gentile-Christian churches.Acts 2:46. ὁμοθυμαδόν, see note on Acts 1:14.—προσκαρτεροῦντες, cf. Acts 1:14.—ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ: we are not told how far this participation in the Temple extended, and mention is only made in one place, in Acts 21:26, of any kind of connection between the Apostles or any other Christians and any kind of sacrificial act. But that one peculiar incident may imply that similar acts were not uncommon, and their omission by the Christians at Jerusalem might well have led to an open breach between them and their Jewish countrymen (Hort, Judaistic Christianity, pp. 44, 45). No doubt the Apostles would recommend their teaching to the people by devout attendance at the Temple, cf. Acts 3:1, Acts 5:20; Acts 5:42, like other Jews.—κατʼ οἶκον, R.V. “at home” (so in A.V. margin). But all other English versions except Genevan render the words “from house to house” (Vulgate, circa domos), and this latter rendering is quite possible, cf. Luke 8:1, Acts 15:21; Acts 20:20. If we interpret the words of the meeting of the believers in a private house (privatim in contrast to the ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, palam), cf. Romans 16:3; Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 1:2, it does not follow that only one house is here meant, as Wendt and Weiss suppose by referring to Acts 1:13 (see on the other hand Blass, Holtzmann, Zöckler, Spitta, Hort)—there may well have been private houses open to the disciples, e.g., the house of John Mark, cf. Dr. Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, pp. 259, 260. Hilgenfeld, with Overbeck, rejects the explanation given on the ground that for this κατʼ οἴκους, or κατὰ τοὺς οἴκους, would be required—an argument which does not however get over the fact that κατά may be used distributively with the singular—according to him all is in order if Acts 2:42 follows immediately upon 41a, i.e., he drops 41b altogether, and proceeds to omit also the whole of Acts 2:43; Acts 2:45.—κλῶντες ἄρτον: the question has been raised as to whether this expression has the same meaning here as in Acts 2:42, or whether it is used here of merely ordinary meals. The additional words μετελάμβανον τροφῆς have been taken to support this latter view, but on the other hand if the two expressions are almost synonymous, it is difficult to see why the former κλῶντες ἄρτον should have been introduced here at all, cf. Knabenbauer in loco. It is not satisfactory to lay all the stress upon the omission of the article before ἄρτον, and to explain the expression of ordinary daily meals, an interpretation adopted even by the Romanist Beelen and others. In the Didache 1 the expression κλάσατε ἄρτον, chap. iv. 1, certainly refers to the Eucharist, and in the earlier chap. ix, where the word κλάσμα occurs twice in the sense of broken bread, it can scarcely refer to anything less than the Agape (Salmon, Introd., p. 565, and Gore, The Church and the Ministry, p. 414, on the value of the Eucharistic teaching in the Didache 1).—μετελ.: the imperf. denotes a customary act, the meaning of the verb with the gen[133] as here is frequently found in classical Greek; cf. LXX, Wis 18:9, 4Ma 8:8, AR., and Acts 16:18.—ἐν ἀγαλλιάσει: exulting, bounding joy; Vulgate, exultatione, “extreme joy,” Grimm, used by St. Luke twice in his Gospel, Luke 1:14; Luke 1:44—only twice elsewhere in the N.T., Hebrews 1:9, quotation, and in Judges 1:24. The word, though not occurring in classical Greek, was a favourite in the LXX, where it occurs no less than eighteen times in the Psalms alone. This “gladness” is full of significance—it is connected with the birth of the forerunner by the angel’s message to Zacharias, Luke 1:14; the cognate verb ἀγαλλιάω, -άομαι, common to St. Luke’s Gospel and the Acts, denotes the spiritual and exultant joy with which the Church age after age has rejoiced in the Song of the Incarnation, Luke 1:47.—ἀφελότητι καρδίας: rightly derived from a priv. and φελλεύς, stony ground = a smooth soil, free from stones (but see Zöckler, in loco, who derives ἀφέλεια, the noun in use in Greek writers, from φέλα, πέλλα, Macedon. a stone). The word itself does not occur elsewhere, but ἀφέλεια, ἀφελής, ἀφελῶς are all found (Wetstein), and just as the adj[134] ἀφελής signified a man ἁπλοῦς ἐν τῷ βίῳ, so the noun here used might well be taken as equivalent to ἁπλότης (Overbeck) “in simplicity of heart,” simplicitate, Bengel. Wendt compares the words of Demosthenes, ἀφελὴς καὶ παρρησίας μεστός.

[133] genitive case.

[134] adjective.46. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple] The Greek is more emphatic. Render, And day by day attending continually with one accord, &c.

At the Temple they were likely to meet with the greatest number of devout listeners; and we shall find that the first Christians did not cease to be religious Jews, but held to all the observances of their ancient faith, its feasts, its ritual, and its hours of prayer, as far as they could do so consistently with their allegiance to Jesus. We find (Acts 21:20-24) the elders of the Church in Jerusalem urgent on St Paul that he should shew his zeal for the Law by taking upon him the vow of a Nazarite, and should so quiet the scruples of Jews, and of such Christian brethren as were more zealous for the Law than St Paul himself.

and breaking bread from house to house] Perhaps better, breaking bread at home; though the A. V., if rightly understood, gives the sense very well. What is meant is, that the specially Christian institution of the breaking of bread was not a part of the service in the Temple, but was observed at their own homes, the congregations meeting now at one house now at another. The connection of the Lord’s Supper with the Passover meal at its institution, made the Christian Sacrament essentially a service which could be celebrated, as at the first institution it was, in such a room as that where the Passover meal was eaten.

did eat their meat] i.e. took their food, their ordinary meals.

with gladness, &c.] because those who were able to contribute to the support of the poorer members of the Church were delighted to do so, and thus all over-anxious care for the morrow was removed from the whole community.

singleness of heart] Having but one end in view, that the faith of Christ should be spread abroad as widely as possible.Acts 2:46. Προσκαρτεροῦντες, κ.τ.λ.) There are four important points here; continuing stedfastly (persevering) in the temple, breaking bread, they partook of, and praising: The fourth of these properly coheres with the first; the third with the second.—ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ, in the temple) in public; as κατʼ οἶκον, at home, in private [Engl. Vers., from house to house].—κλῶντες, breaking) Heb. שבר, to break, or to give fragments. Their daily partaking of food is signified, with which often was conjoined the administration of the Eucharist: ch. Acts 20:7, note; 1 Corinthians 11:20-21 : for it is not probable that in this book of Acts no mention at all should occur of the Holy Supper, whereas there is so frequent mention of baptism; but mention of it is made in a guarded (covert) manner, as was usual at that time, 1 Corinthians 10:15 (where Paul is speaking of the Lord’s Supper), and less frequently. Scripture most wisely holds the middle course between those things which are well known, and those which are proper to be concealed.—τροφῆς, food) Christianity loves exemption from earthly cares, as also simplicity, and shrinks from a variety of arts and professions. Such a life is commended throughout the whole book of Ecclesiastes.—ἀγαλλιάσει, with [‘gladness’] exultation) This is the fruit of faith, and a characteristic mark of truth.—ἀφελότητι, simplicity or singleness) Without anxiety for the future, and without envy, as far as those richer than themselves were concerned, without unreasonable (perverse) shame, as far as those poorer than themselves were concerned.Verse 46. - Day by day continuing steadfastly for they continuing daily, A.V.; at home for from house to house, A.V.; they did take their food for did eat their meat, A.V. In the temple. It is very remarkable that at this early age of the Church's existence Christians did not deem themselves separated from their Jewish brethren, or from the Old Testament institutions. Christianity was but Judaism perfected; the gospel the full blossoming of the Law. The first Christian Jews, therefore, did not conceive of themselves as quitting the religion of their fathers, but rather hoped that their whole nation would in a short time acknowledge Jesus to be the Christ. Christian institutions, therefore - the prayers, the breaking of bread, the prophesyings and speaking with tongues, and the apostolic teachings - were supplemental to the temple service, not antagonistic to it; and the church took the place rather of the synagogue than of the temple (see 'Dict. of Bible:' "Synagogue"). At home. This version hardly represents the true idea of the original; κατ οϊκον represents the private Christian place of meeting, as contrasted with the temple. The meaning is not that every disciple broke bread in his own house, but that they broke bread at the house where the Christian assemblies were held, whether one or more. We have already seen the Church gathered together "in an upper room" (Acts 1:13), in "one place," in "a house" (Acts 2:1, 2), and "together" (ver. 44; see too Acts 4:31); and we know that as the synagogue was called בֵּית תְפִּלָּה, house of prayer, or בֵּית הַכְּנֶסֶת, the house of assemblage, so the Christian place of meeting was called ὁ Κυριακὸς οῖκος; the Lord's house, whence the word "church." (For breaking bread, see above, ver. 42.) They did take their food. The link of connection is the ἀγάπη or love-feast, which formed an important part of the κοινωνία, or common life, of the early Christians. The whole description is a beautiful picture of Christian unity, piety, love, and joy. With one accord (ὁμοθυμαδὸν)

See on Matthew 18:19.

From house to house (κατ' οἶκον)

Better, as Rev., at home, contrasted with in the temple. Compare Plm 1:2; Colossians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 16:19.

Did eat their meat (μετελάμβανον τροφῆς)

Rev., take their food. Partake would be better, giving the force of μετά, with. Note the imperfect: "continued to partake."

Singleness (ἀφελότητι)

Only here in New Testament. Derived from ἀ, not, and φελλεύς, stony ground. Hence of something simple or plain.

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