Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.…
The text tells us how the newly-baptized lived, in that first bloom and freshness of the gospel. They waited constantly upon —
I. THE TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES. There was much for them to learn. They knew nothing as yet in detail of the doctrine of their new Master. The particulars of His life, words, character, work; how must the apostles have busied themselves in recounting these things to a congregation all but wholly ignorant of them, amidst breathless silence or murmured satisfaction! — the gospel story. We are too ready to imagine that we have nothing to learn now from public teaching. We sit in judgment upon our teachers, as though we had all truth and knowledge already in possession. And most unwilling would your ministers be to speak as though they had anything which you know not, or might not know, for yourselves from the pages of the Holy Book. Nevertheless, preaching is one of God's ordinances, and to it belongs the emphasis of that solemn caution, "Despise not prophesyings." It is still one mark of the true Christian that he waits stedfastly upon the teaching of appointed men, whose responsible office it is rightly to divide the word of truth.
II. IN FELLOWSHIP — i.e., in the formation and fostering of that brotherly spirit of Christian love which the Apostles' Creed calls "the communion of saints." The converts did not separate after their baptism, each to his home, to live a life of pious meditation. They set themselves resolutely to a life of fellowship. The Christian is one of a community; alone, he is but a limb cut off from the trunk; separately, he must draw his vital vigour from the Head, but that vigour must be used and manifested in a self-forgetting fellowship. He must never fancy himself the whole body, either in being independent of the Head or of the organised system. "Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."
III. THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD. How instantly the sacrament of the Lord's Supper took its place among the marks and tokens of the true Church! From the very first it was understood that a Christian is one who observes all that Christ has commanded, and not least His dying charge, "This do," etc. Doubtless the Lord's Supper was a daily celebration. And do you suppose that any of the three thousand dared or wished to turn their back upon it? And yet how many of us are knowingly, wilfully, and throughout life, acting as if the charge, "This do," had never been uttered, or as if the apostles only had ever been addressed by it! And no doubt there are those who could not, without presumption or profaneness, attend on that breaking of bread. But does not that inability, of itself, startle them? Does it not sound in their ears the condemning sentence, "Thou art none of Christ's; thou art yet in thy sins"?
IV. IN PRAYERS. No doubt they prayed in secret. No doubt it was a life of prayer. The charge which we treat as hyperbolical — "Pray without ceasing" — was to them, in its spirit, a literal precept. Their life was now above, hidden with Christ in God, and well might they exercise that life in offices of perpetual communion. Christ was to them not a name nor a doctrine, but a real and living Person, their Friend and their Saviour, their Lord and their God. They could not have too much of Him! Therefore a life of prayer was to them a life of happiness. But the particular place occupied by the word "prayers" in the text, leads us rather to think of the worship of the congregation than of the worship of the secret chamber. It was not then, as it is now, that any little fluctuation of feeling, or any passing accident of weather or of company, can thin a congregation almost to nothing. It was not then the case, as it is now, that everything is more attractive than worship; an additional half-hour's rest, a walk into the country, a newspaper or a novel; nothing felt to be so little worth exertion as the opportunity of joining in the Church's prayers or listening to the Church's teaching.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.