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16. The early church

16-1 A Taste Of The First Century: The Positive : 16-1-1 " With one accord" || 16-1-2 The Early Church Our Example || 16-1-3 Prayer Meetings || 16-1-4 Christ-centredness || 16-1-5 Radical Preaching || 16-1-6 Women In The Early Church || 16-1-7 The Joy Of Faith || 16-2 A Taste Of The First Century: The Negative: 16-2-1 Division In The Church || 16-2-2 Politics In The Church || 16-3 Unity And Division In The First Century : 16-3-1 Unity And Division In The First Century Church || 16-3-2 Oikonomia And Household Fellowships || 16-3-3 Rich And Poor In The First Century || 16-3-4 Unity In The Church || 16-4 The Obstacles : 16-4-1 The Obstacles To The Growth Of Christianity || 16-4-2 The offence of the cross || 16-4-3 The rejection of Caesar || 16-4-4 Women And Slaves In The First Century || 16-4-5 The Roman Empire And Christianity || 16-4-6 The Attraction Of Judaism || 16-4-7 Other First Century Objections To Christianity || 16-5 How They Succeeded: 16-5-1 Why Christianity Spread In The First Century  || 16-5-2 The Example Of The Community || 16-5-3 House Meetings In The First Century || 16-5-4 Witness In The Workplace || 16-5-5 The Witness Of Christian Unity In The First Century || 16-5-6 The Role Of Women   In The First Century || 16-5-7 Style Of PreachingIn The First Century || 16-5-8 Christian Ethics In The First Century || 16-5-9 The Exclusivity Of Christianity || 16-5-10 Early Christian Doctrine || 16-6 Where Things Went Wrong: 16-6-1 Doctrinal Apostacy || 16-6-2 The Rise Of Traditions || 16-6-3 Legalism In The Church || 16-6-4 Social Tensions In The Church || 16-6-5 Wealth In The Church || 16-6-6 Worldliness In The Church || 16-6-7 Lost Emphasis Upon Grace || 16-6-8 Loss Of Faith In The Church || 16-6-9 Poor Church Leadership || 16-6-10 Dogmatism And Legalists

16-1-2 The Early Church Our Example

The early church are held up as our example in Phil. 1:27: " Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel" . Doesn't that sound just like an allusion to the early ecclesia? Now go on to 2:2: " Be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind" . There's that phrase " one accord" again. It's hardly used outside the Acts, so we should read that like a signpost, saying 'Go back to the Acts!'. So Paul is saying: 'You believers must always remember the great spirit of " one accord" in the early ecclesia in Jerusalem. Let the early church be your example!'. And if you look closely, you'll see a number of other allusions back to the early chapters of Acts. For example, v.4: " Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" . Twice we read there in Acts of disregarding our own " things" . Paul definitely has his eye on Acts 4:32: " The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul (just as Paul spoke about in Phil.2:2): neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own (cp. " his own things" in Phil.2:4); but they had all things common" . And then in v.3 Paul warns against doing things " through vainglory" . Doesn't that sound like an allusion to Ananias and Sapphira? Then he warns them in v.14 " Do all things without murmurings and disputings" . It can't be coincidental that in Acts 6:1,9 we read twice about there being murmurings and disputings in the early ecclesia.  Phil. 2 describes the exaltation of Christ on his resurrection. It seems no accident that this is then described in the very words which the apostles so often used in their preaching in the early chapters of Acts. Thus in v.9, " God hath highly exalted him" is a reference to Peter’s words: " Being by the right hand of God exalted ...him hath God exalted" (Acts 2:33; 5:33). The whole theme in Phil.2 is of Christ suffering on the cross and then being exalted by the Father, and given the mighty Name. The very same language is used so often in Acts (2:9-11=Acts 2:36; 2:10= Acts 4:10; 3:6,16).  

We too know this “one accord” exists, even if we allow it to be fractured. That indescribable, wordless, feeling of unity as we embrace after a good Bible School; two brethren weeping like women as they say goodbye in an airport somewhere in Africa, that unity we feel together as we walk away from the graveside of a beloved brother. We've all had these kind of experiences. That's a bond, a unity, which the world knows nothing of. And it’s the finest and deepest proof that we ‘have the Truth’. When Paul exhorts us to hold forth “the word of life” (Phil. 2:16), he surely has his mind on the way the early preachers held forth “the words of this life” in Acts 5:20. We are to follow their spirit.