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james423

Lesson 3 - Life in the Early Church

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james423

Overall Question:  What was life like in the early Christian church?

Memory Text: Acts 2:46-47 New Century Version 46 The believers met together in the Temple every day. They ate together in their homes, happy to share their food with joyful hearts. 47 They praised God and were liked by all the people. Every day the Lord added those who were being saved to the group of believers.

 

Sunday – Teaching and Fellowship

Acts 2:44-45 New Living Translation 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.

Acts 2:44 – ELLICOTT’S COMMENTARY The writer dwells with a manifest delight on this picture of what seemed to him the true ideal of a human society. Here there was a literal fulfilment of his Lord’s words (Luke 12:33), a society founded, not on the law of self-interest and competition, but on sympathy and self-denial. They had all things in common, not by a compulsory abolition of the rights of property, but by the spontaneous energy of love.

Acts 4:34-35 Modern English Version 34 There was no one among them who lacked, for all those who were owners of land or houses sold them, and brought the income from what was sold, 35 and placed it at the apostles’ feet. And it was distributed to each according to his need.

Acts 4:34 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY Although Luke makes no mention of it, the possibility also exists that the Christians were impressed by their Lord’s warnings of wars and coming troubles (Matt. 24:5–12), and thus with the fact that earthly possessions are unstable. Certainly land and property in Palestine must often have been valueless when the troubles the Lord prophesied became fact. Just as Jeremiah had shown his faith in the future restoration of his people to Palestine by his purchase of a field at Anathoth (Jer. 32:6–15), so the Christians showed by a reverse process in the sale of their property a proof of their faith in the certainty of the message to which they witnessed.

 

Monday – The Healing of a Lame Man

Acts 3:12-26 Contemporary English Version 12 Peter saw that a crowd had gathered, and he said: Friends, why are you surprised at what has happened? Why are you staring at us? Do you think we have some power of our own? Do you think we were able to make this man walk because we are so religious? 13 The God that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and our other ancestors worshiped has brought honor to his Servant Jesus. He is the one you betrayed. You turned against him when he was being tried by Pilate, even though Pilate wanted to set him free. 14 You rejected Jesus, who was holy and good. You asked for a murderer to be set free, 15 and you killed the one who leads people to life. But God raised him from death, and all of us can tell you what he has done. 16 You see this man, and you know him. He put his faith in the name of Jesus and was made strong. Faith in Jesus made this man completely well while everyone was watching. 17 My friends, I am sure that you and your leaders didn’t know what you were doing. 18 But God had his prophets tell that his Messiah would suffer, and now he has kept that promise. 19 So turn to God! Give up your sins, and you will be forgiven. 20 Then that time will come when the Lord will give you fresh strength. He will send you Jesus, his chosen Messiah. 21 But Jesus must stay in heaven until God makes all things new, just as his holy prophets promised long ago. 22 Moses said, “The Lord your God will choose one of your own people to be a prophet, just as he chose me. Listen to everything he tells you. 23 No one who disobeys that prophet will be one of God’s people any longer.” 24 Samuel and all the other prophets who came later also spoke about what is now happening. 25 You are really the ones God told his prophets to speak to. And you were given the promise that God made to your ancestors. He said to Abraham, “All nations on earth will be blessed because of someone from your family.” 26 God sent his chosen Son to you first, because God wanted to bless you and make each one of you turn away from your sins.

Acts 3:12-18 COMMENTARY BY MATTHEW HENRY Our Lord always spoke as having Almighty power, never hesitated to receive the greatest honour that was given to him on account of his Divine miracles. But the apostles referred all to their Lord, and refused to receive any honour, except as his undeserving instruments. This shows that Jesus was one with the Father, and co-equal with Him; while the apostles knew that they were weak, sinful men, and dependent for every thing on Jesus, whose power effected the cure.

 

Tuesday – The Rise of Opposition

Acts 4:1-18 Good News Translation Peter and John were still speaking to the people when some priests, the officer in charge of the Temple guards, and some Sadducees arrived. 2 They were annoyed because the two apostles were teaching the people that Jesus had risen from death, which proved that the dead will rise to life. 3 So they arrested them and put them in jail until the next day, since it was already late. 4 But many who heard the message believed; and the number grew to about five thousand. 5 The next day the Jewish leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law gathered in Jerusalem. 6 They met with the High Priest Annas and with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and the others who belonged to the High Priest's family. 7 They made the apostles stand before them and asked them, “How did you do this? What power do you have or whose name did you use?” 8 Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders: 9 if we are being questioned today about the good deed done to the lame man and how he was healed, 10 then you should all know, and all the people of Israel should know, that this man stands here before you completely well through the power of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth—whom you crucified and whom God raised from death. 11 Jesus is the one of whom the scripture says, ‘The stone that you the builders despised turned out to be the most important of all.’ 12 Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us.” 13 The members of the Council were amazed to see how bold Peter and John were and to learn that they were ordinary men of no education. They realized then that they had been companions of Jesus. 14 But there was nothing that they could say, because they saw the man who had been healed standing there with Peter and John. 15 So they told them to leave the Council room, and then they started discussing among themselves. 16 “What shall we do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone in Jerusalem knows that this extraordinary miracle has been performed by them, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to keep this matter from spreading any further among the people, let us warn these men never again to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus.” 18 So they called them back in and told them that under no condition were they to speak or to teach in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:2 COMMENTARY BY ALBERT BARNES The ground of their grief was as much the fact that they should presume to instruct the people, as the matter which they taught them. They were offended that unlearned Galileans, in no way connected with the priestly office, and unauthorized by them, should presume to set themselves up as religious teachers. They claimed the right to watch over the interests of the people, and to declare who was authorized to instruct the nation.

Acts 4:13 COMMENTARY BY ALBERT BARNES They had not been trained in their schools, and their boldness could not be attributed to the arts of rhetoric, but was the native, ingenuous, and manly exhibition of deep conviction of the truth of what they spoke; and that conviction could have been obtained only by their having been with him, and having been satisfied that he was the Messiah.

 

Wednesday – Ananias and Sapphira

Acts 5:1-11 Easy-to-Read Version There was a man named Ananias. His wife’s name was Sapphira. Ananias sold some land he had, 2 but he gave only part of the money to the apostles. He secretly kept some of the money for himself. His wife knew this, and she agreed with it. 3 Peter said, “Ananias, why did you let Satan fill your mind with such an idea? You kept part of the money for yourself and lied about it to the Holy Spirit! 4 Before you sold the field, it belonged to you, right? And even after you sold it, you could have used the money any way you wanted. How could you even think of doing such a thing? You lied to God, not to us!” 5-6 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. Some young men came and wrapped his body. They carried it out and buried it. And everyone who heard about this was filled with fear. 7 About three hours later his wife came in. Sapphira did not know about what had happened to her husband. 8 Peter said to her, “Tell me how much money you got for your field. Was it this much?” Sapphira answered, “Yes, that was all we got for the field.” 9 Peter said to her, “Why did you and your husband agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! Do you hear those footsteps? The men who buried your husband are at the door. They will carry you out in the same way.” 10 At that moment Sapphira fell down by his feet and died. The young men came in and saw that she was dead. They carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 The whole church and all the other people who heard about this were filled with fear.

Acts 5:4 SDA BIBLE COMMENTARY Ananias was not compelled to sell the land; it was expected only that he would honestly bring from the proceeds what he had pledged. The implication is that the church compelled no one to give to the common fund, but if a man did promise to give, he should give what he had promised. At every stage Ananias was free to act as he thought best. The part he tried to retain might not have been large; he could have retained much more, had he done so honestly. But this attempt to obtain a reputation for generosity without the reality of sacrifice made him guilty of sacrilege.

 

Thursday – The Second Arrest

Acts 5:34-39 New International Reader’s Version 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up in the Sanhedrin. He was a teacher of the law. He was honored by all the people. He ordered the apostles to be taken outside for a little while. 35 Then Gamaliel spoke to the Sanhedrin. “Men of Israel,” he said, “think carefully about what you plan to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared. He claimed he was really somebody. About 400 people followed him. But he was killed. All his followers were scattered. So they accomplished nothing. 37 After this, Judas from Galilee came along. This was in the days when the Romans made a list of all the people. Judas led a gang of men against the Romans. He too was killed. All his followers were scattered. 38 So let me give you some advice. Leave these men alone! Let them go! If their plans and actions only come from people, they will fail. 39 But if their plans come from God, you won’t be able to stop these men. You will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Acts 5:38 COMMENTARY BY ALBERT BARNES In this respect the remark may be applied.to the Christian religion. It has stood too long, and in too many circumstances of prosperity and adversity, to be of men. It has been subjected to all trials from its pretended friends and real foes; and it still lives as vigorous and flourishing as ever.  Other kingdoms have changed; empires have risen and fallen since Gamaliel spoke this; systems of opinion and belief have had their day, and expired; but the preservation of the Christian religion, unchanged through so many revolutions, and in so many fiery trials, shows that it is not of men, but of God… Christianity, without arms or human power, has lived, holding its steady and triumphant movements among men.

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