The Beginning of the Christian Church – Part 1

Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church South Point area in Ohio

The Beginning of the Christian Church (Acts 4:32 – 5:12)

by: Christopher M. Flees

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………….      Part 1

            ORIENTATION AND CONTEXT………………………………….   Part  1

                        SIGNIFICANCE OF TEXT………………………………….   Part 1

                        HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL SETTING…………………… Part 1

                        LITERARY CONTEXT………………………………………  Part  2

           

PRESENTATION OF TEXT…………………………………………   Part 3

                        SCRIPTURE PASSAGE………………………………………  Part  3

                        OUTLINE OF PASSAGE……………………………………..  Part  3

TEXT CRITICAL NOTES……………………………………  Part 3

THE GENEROSITY OF THE BELIEVERS…………………………………..  Part 4

THE DECEPTION OF ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA………………………   Part 5

CONCLUSION……………………………………………………………………  Part 5

            SUMMATION………………………………………………………….   Part 5

            APPLICATION………………………………………………………..    Part  6

WORKS CITED………………………………………………………………..     Part 6

 

INTRODUCTION:

ORIENTATION AND CONTEXT

Significance of Text

The first impressions of Acts 4:31b -5:12. The initial theme of Acts 4:31b-5:12 appears to center around the harmony of the believers in the newly emerging ministry of bringing the “Good News” thru the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem and beyond. This is the beginning of the fulfillment Matthew 28:18-20.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (NASB).

The passage shows the Apostles and their new converts were of one mind and in one accord. This included their feelings toward their personal property, money and material things. Our text appears to indicate that there was a socialist mindset, at least in one of the most basic or rudimentary forms. This paper will explore if the early church actually promoted a socialistic idea or if the gifts to the Apostles were actually a stewardship response from the newly converted Christians.

The account of Ananias and Sapphira withholding a portion of the sale of property and being struck dead will also be addressed. Why is it believed that they lied about the sale price of the property, how was the lie revealed to Peter, and by who’s or what authority were Ananias and Sapphira struck down?

Finally, the story of Ananias and Sapphira had a profound effect on the early church, what effect of this event continues to have an effect on The Salvation Army and Church of the Nazarene today?

Historical and Social Setting

The book of Acts was written by Luke, and it is traditionally understood to be a continuation of the Gospel according to Luke. The book of Acts is traditionally understood to be written in the “late 70’s to early 80’s AD by Luke, a traveling companion of Paul” (Varughese, 172). Many commentaries agree with this date and some argue that it was written 68- 70 AD before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. The book of Acts recounts the ministry of several Apostles but tends to focus primarily on the Apostle Peter, the leader of the church in Jerusalem and the Apostle Paul, the leader of the Gentile church. As in the Gospel of Luke, the book of Acts was addressed to Theophilus, who is believed to have sponsored the writing of both the Gospel of Luke and Acts.

There are several sources for the writings. The first source is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Luke being a traveling companion of the Apostle Paul would have experienced many of these events firsthand. He also would have obtained some of the research from the Apostle Paul. Luke had access to several of the Apostles: Peter, Paul, James, Silas, and Timothy (Kistemaker, 5). There are, however, issues with the discourses of Peter, Stephen, and Paul because there is not a record of a scribe giving the information to Luke or that there was written forms of the discourse speeches that Luke did not personally witness. This has the potential to affect a portion of the focus of this study, namely the discourse between Peter, Ananias, and Sapphira. While this may cause some concern, during the period in which Acts was written oral tradition was the standard of the day, not the written word. There are many reasons for this but the primary reason was cost and material availability.

The Christian Church which emerged from the efforts of the Apostles was met with hostility, not from the people to whom “Good News” was brought to but by the Sanhedrin as well as other leaders of this day in time. This was a time that it was dangerous to be a Christian. You would be cut off from the faithful followers of Judaism, face religious persecution because many of the leaders of Judaism believed that Christ was a heretical prophet. To preach in His name could get you imprisoned or killed. With the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles went out and proclaimed the Gospel, without regard to their own personal well-being or safety. The people turned and crucified the Christ, the promised messiah, and son of God. The apostles experienced this firsthand. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, set aside what would ultimately be most of their demise, and preached the “Good News” of Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. They were able to ignore the peril they were putting themselves in because of the Holy Spirit’s work within them. The focus of this paper is nestled between the first inquiry by the Sanhedrin and Peters arrest. By the time of Peter’s arrest and imprisonment, the works of the Apostles in the Messiah’s name was well known. The early church was already establishing itself. The church came to one accord, one mind and mission. The early churches mission was to spread the “Good News of the Gospel”. Like everything God has ordained to take place, Satan attempts to put up a road block to stop the progress of the believers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Click on any link below to read the other parts of this blog entry:

The Beginning of the Christian Church – Part 1
The Beginning of the Christian Church – Part 2
The Beginning of the Christian Church – Part 3
The Beginning of the Christian Church – Part 4
The Beginning of the Christian Church – Part 5
The Beginning of the Christian Church – Part 6

Author: Chris Flees

I am an artist, art promoter, and art marketing professional who specializes and blogs primarily about art topics and the “behind the scenes” of my subject and images. Occasionally I blog about Christian topics.