Acts 2:42 MEANING

Acts 2:42
(42) And they continued steadfastly.--The one Greek word is expressed by the English verb and adverb. As applied to persons, the New Testament use of the word is characteristic of St. Luke (Acts 2:46; Acts 6:4; Acts 8:13; Acts 10:7), and peculiar to him and St. Paul (Romans 12:12; Romans 13:6; Colossians 4:2).

The apostles' doctrine.--Four elements of the life of the new society are dwelt on. (1) They grew in knowledge of the truth by attending to the teaching of the Apostles. This, and not the thought of a formulated doctrine to which they gave their consent, is clearly the meaning of the word. (See Note on Matthew 7:28.) (2) They joined in outward acts of fellowship with each other, acts of common worship, acts of mutual kindness and benevolence. The one Greek word diverges afterwards into the sense of what we technically call "communion," as in 1 Corinthians 10:16, and that of a "collection" or contribution for the poor (Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13).

And in breaking of bread, and in prayers.--(3) St. Luke uses the phrase, we must remember, in the sense which, when he wrote, it had acquired in St. Paul's hands. It can have no meaning less solemn than the commemorative "breaking of bread," of 1 Corinthians 10:16. From the very first what was afterwards known as the Lord's Supper (see Note on 1 Corinthians 11:20) took its place with baptism as a permanent universal element in the Church's life. At first, it would seem, the evening meal of every day was such a supper. Afterwards the two elements that had then been united were developed separately, the social into the Agap?, or Feasts of Love (Jude 1:12, and--though here there is a various-reading--2 Peter 2:13), the other into the Communion, or Eucharistic Sacrifice. (4) Prayer, in like manner, included private as well as public devotions. These may have been the outpouring of the heart's desires; but they may also have been what the disciples had been taught to pray, as in Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:1, as the disciples of John had been taught. The use of the plural seems to indicate recurring times of prayer at fixed hours.

Verse 42. - Teaching for doctrine, A.V.; in the breaking for and in breaking, A.V. and T.R.; the prayers for in prayer, A.V. And fellowship; better, as in the margin, in fellowship; not meaning the apostles' fellowship, but the fellowship of the Church - that common life of close brotherhood in which all that they did was done in common, and all that they possessed was possessed in common, so that there seemed to be but one heart and one mind amongst them all. Breaking of bread; in the Holy Eucharist (see Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; Luke 24:30; 1 Corinthians 11:24; 1 Corinthians 10:16; Acts 20:7). The prayers; the common prayers of the Church.

2:42-47 In these verses we have the history of the truly primitive church, of the first days of it; its state of infancy indeed, but, like that, the state of its greatest innocence. They kept close to holy ordinances, and abounded in piety and devotion; for Christianity, when admitted in the power of it, will dispose the soul to communion with God in all those ways wherein he has appointed us to meet him, and has promised to meet us. The greatness of the event raised them above the world, and the Holy Ghost filled them with such love, as made every one to be to another as to himself, and so made all things common, not by destroying property, but doing away selfishness, and causing charity. And God who moved them to it, knew that they were quickly to be driven from their possessions in Judea. The Lord, from day to day, inclined the hearts of more to embrace the gospel; not merely professors, but such as were actually brought into a state of acceptance with God, being made partakers of regenerating grace. Those whom God has designed for eternal salvation, shall be effectually brought to Christ, till the earth is filled with the knowledge of his glory.And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine,.... And which is the same with the doctrine of Christ, of which he is the author, preacher, and subject; the substance of which is peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by him: this the apostles received from Christ, and constantly taught in their ministry; for which reason, it is called theirs; and this these young converts had embraced gladly; and were not only believers of it, but persevering believers; they were constant hearers of it; they continually attended on the ministry of the apostles, and held fast the form of sound words they had received from them; and stood fast in the faith of the Gospel, notwithstanding all the reproach cast upon it, and the afflictions they endured for it:

and fellowship; with the apostles and other saints, in spiritual conversation with them, in private, and in communion with them at the Lord's table in public: and so the Vulgate Latin reads this clause, in connection with the next, thus, "in the communication of breaking of bread"; to which agrees the Syriac version, and "they communicated in prayer, and in breaking of the eucharist"; though it seems better to understand this of a distinct branch of fellowship, or communication, and may rather intend liberality and beneficence, in which sense it is used, Romans 15:26 and so expresses their constant contributions towards the support of the apostles, as ministers of the word and of the poor members of the church; a duty which, in both its branches, is incumbent on those who have it in their power to perform, and which these first Christians were remarkable for:

and in breaking of bread; or "of the eucharist": as the Syriac version renders it, which was an usual name with the ancients for the Lord's supper; and which seems to be intended here, and not eating common bread, or a common meal; seeing it is here mentioned with religious exercises: and though the Jews used to begin their meals with breaking of bread, yet the whole repast, or meal, is never by them called by that name; and for what reason these saints should be commended for keeping their common meals, cannot be said, unless to show their sociableness, agreement, and brotherly love in eating together; and which is not hinted at here, but in Acts 2:46 where it is mentioned as something distinct from this: it seems rather therefore to design, that they were constant at the Lord's table, kept their places there, and duly attended whenever the ordinance was administered:

and in prayers: not only in their closets, and in their families, but in the church; in the public prayers of the church, they observed all opportunities of this kind, and gladly embraced them.

Courtesy of Open Bible