Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.…
I. FOUNDED ON A NEW DOCTRINE.
1. This doctrine was in harmony with and fulfilment of the old, but yet it was new. Its subject was the life, death, etc., of Christ, and the salvation which His work had brought to man.
2. This doctrine, received by faith and applied by the Holy Ghost, became spirit and life to the hearers. There were, of course, no church buildings; the meetings, therefore, could only be held in the Temple courts or in private houses. Wonderful evenings must those have been which were spent in the spacious apartments of such as, being wealthier, kept open house — evenings not only of hearing the doctrine, but of worship, mutual converse, frugal feasting, and winding up with the Lord's Supper. But it was to learn about Jesus that mainly brought them together.
II. INSPIRED BY A NEW LIFE.
1. This life began in repentance and faith, and broke out of cloud into sunshine, and from embryo into active and joyous expression through the power of the Holy Spirit. It was the soul of the new fellowship, the spring of its development, the source of its tendencies and laws.
2. This new life, like the new doctrine, was one with the old, but so much fuller, and more intense and glorious, that it may justly be called new. Moreover, it was poured forth with so free and wide a bounty that it may well be called the donation of a new life to the Church, and through it to the world.
3. This new life belongs to every penitent believer, and there is no "higher life" than this, although it has its stages from the "babe" to the "father" in Christ. It is in fact that "life eternal," which is to "know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent."
4. This new life made all things new.
5. Its secret and its relations to Divine truth and holy duty are summed up in 1 Peter 1:22, 23. Faith is obedience to the truth; the new life develops itself in holy love.
III. EXPRESSED AND SUSTAINED BY NEW MEANS AND DEVELOPMENTS.
1. Fellowship meetings from house to house, where speech and prayer were free to each, were the ordinary means of common edification, and appear for some time to have been the only specific and characteristic means maintained in the Church at Jerusalem. There was neither ritual nor organisation, but the primary germ cell was there in the fellowship meetings, and we are thus shown what is the true substratum of Church organisation and life. Without this a so-called church is not a living Christian community. However complete its organisation may become, it is bound to retain its character as a spiritual commonwealth, instinct with free life.
2. This new life grafted on its new means new developments of mutual care. The converts did not say that anything was their own; they acknowledged themselves to be not proprietors, but stewards. There was a vast number of pauper Jews, and we may be sure that the fountain of Pharisaic beneficence would be sealed against them when they became Christians. It was therefore incumbent upon their believing brethren to make provision for their necessities. And in that hour of loving enthusiasm their generosity knew no bounds. This was no new principle. It lay at the root of all Bible ethics, but it had never been fully acted on by a whole community before.
IV. SEALED BY NEW SACRAMENTS — baptism and "the breaking of bread." The latter was a natural and beautiful finish to their social meals and sacred exercises. As multitudes were continually joining the Church, we may believe that at each gathering, house by house, there were fresh converts. To these the seal of the Holy Communion would rightfully be given as consummating their union and fellowship with the company of believers.
V. MAINTAINED IN HARMONY WITH THE EARLIER ORDINANCES OF PUBLIC WORSHIP AS ESTABLISHED IN THE TEMPLE SERVICES. "The prayers" were the daily prayers of the Temple. Thus in the providence of God it was ordered that the Christian Church should take root, and partially unfold its form and glory within the ground of Judaism. The unity and continuity of the Divine dispensations was thus to be set forth.
(J. H. Rigg, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.