Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
And the Lord added, etc. Difficulty of reading history, especially Christian history, without reading into it our own prejudices and opinions. Infancy of the Church an important study; but as an adult often misunderstands a child, so we must beware of misconstruction of the simple facts. Yet a great good in getting as near as possible to the purity and unsophisticated artlessness of the primitive Church; a fresher, sweeter, more beautiful life. Connect this last verse of the chapter with what goes before. It is all a testimony to the Lord and his work. The prejudice against the supernatural is best overcome by pointing to the facts of Christian history and life. How could the Church have conquered the world unless the Divine had been manifested specially in the human? The few verses which describe the immediate sequel of the day of Pentecost like an open door into the new temple, which should take the place of the old. The disciples clung to the building in Jerusalem, but they themselves were the prophecy of a higher, spiritual edifice which should be filled with a greater glory.
I. SALVATION A FACT. "Be saved," or "those being saved."
1. The rescue. Salvation from self - as sinful, condemned, corrupt, dying; from the "untoward generation," i.e. from the world - from the sinful life and habits. If the message was understood in Jerusalem, so everywhere. Salvation is coming out of the old world into the new.
2. The gracious reception and pledged security. "Saved - like the furtive passing through the gate of the fortress. Necessity that there should be a separation unto Christ. The baptism was a confession by the mouth unto salvation," i.e. unto safety within the fold. Not that the fold is itself equivalent to salvation, but it is the pledge of Divine grace. The presence and operation of the Holy Spirit set the promises of God clearly before men's eyes. They were invited to put themselves into the embrace of Divine power. So still, men are scarcely safe when they despise the fold of Christ.
II. SPIRITUAL WORK THE HOPE OF THE WORLD. "The Lord added to the Church" (or "to them," Revised Version). Divine in its origin, the grain of mustard seed has never ceased to grow - must spread to the ends of the earth. The difference between Church life and ecclesiastical assumptions. The true Church neither a mere assembly nor association, but a Divine fact - the body of Christ. The Name of Christ the rallying-point, the presence and authority of Christ the power. There was confession - open, public, decided; there was fellowship - true brotherly love; there was apostolic doctrine and order - not formalism, but living obedience to the laws of Christ. Sentiment and ceremony not to be substituted for practical religion. The community was not communistic. It was not a revolt against laws nor an experiment in politics; it was a simple method of expressing the sense of separation from the world. The believers must be provided for at any sacrifice, that they may continue faithful to Christ. It was not for the sake of abolishing distinctions, but of substituting the spiritual distinction for the falsehood of the world. In Christ Jesus there is neither high nor low, rich nor poor; all are one in him. The true remedy against mammon-worship, with all its crowd of evils, is to set human life on the spiritual basis. "Seek first the kingdom of God," etc. The renovation of the world wilt be by the increase of the Church.
III. THE OPEN SECRET OF CHRISTIANITY the mingling together of Divine power and human agency. Incarnation begins the Gospels, the day of Pentecost the Acts. The Lord must add to the Church. The Church must confess its own insufficiency, and seek the Lord. "Day by day" the addition was made, day by day the blessing falls. Ask for it, individually and in fellowship. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.