Church of Acts
The Early Church was a community of believers and full of life. The people of God were filled with the Holy Spirit. They witnessed miraculous healings, experienced supernatural power and gathered together in homes for worship and fellowship. Simple Churches are commissioned to emulate the Early Church and to faciliate an environment for people to worship, strengthen relationships and encounter the presence of God.
Authority to Break Bread
One characteristic of the Early Church was the believer’s authority to administer communion. Communion was not set apart for the apostles or a select few Christians. The Early Church gathered in homes and worshipped the Lord together. They enjoyed deep fellowship with one another, shared meals together and gave to to anyone in need. And the Lord blessed them with new salvations and more people were added to their fellowship.
“42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47 NIV).
Authority to Baptize
Another characteristic of the Early Church was the believer’s authority to baptize. Baptism was not set apart for the apostles or a select few Christians.
In Acts 8 and 9, Philip and Ananias were common believers. There were not among the original twelve apostles. In Acts 8, we see the story of Philip. This is not the same Philip who was an apostle of Jesus and a native of Bethsaida in Galilee (John 1:44; 12:21). This particular Philip is one of the seven men chosen to serve widows and the poor in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:5, 21:8). He was gifted in evangelism and had four daughters who all prophezied (Acts 21:8).
The story in Acts 8 reveals that Philip baptizes a government official of Ethiopia. Here, common believers during the early Church were given the authority to baptize:
“4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:4-8 NIV).
“34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” 38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him” (Acts 8:34-38 NIV).
In Acts 9, Ananias is a Christian disciple living in Damascus at the time of Apostle Paul’s conversion. Ananias is a common believer. He was not among the original twelve apostles. Ananias encounters the Lord’s presence through a vision. Here the Lord tells Ananias of Paul’s conversion and commands Ananias to go to Paul and lay hands on him. Ananias obeyed the Lord’s commands and went to see Paul.
As Ananias placed his hands on him, Paul’s sight was immediately restored and he received the Holy Spirit. Ananias then baptized him (Acts 9:17-18). Here we see again common believers given the authority to baptize:
“10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized…” (Acts 9:10-18 NIV).
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