Tag Archives: Acts 2:42

Baptism ABC: B is for Belonging

When my grandson was baptized on Sunday it was a family celebration. His parents, aunts, grandparents and friends were present to publicly welcome the tiny newborn into God’s kingdom. Though Jack slept the entire time, his baptism was filled with praise and promises.

Occasionally as a pastor I am asked to do a baptism outside of Sunday worship. I generally decline because one of the central themes of baptism is that the baptized person becomes part of the Christian community. Baptism is not an isolated event between God and the baptized.  Baptism is a community event in which the family of God, the church, welcomes and receives the newest member of the family.

In the book of Acts we see a clear expression of this. After Peter preached his first sermon about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in Acts 2, the people who heard it were cut to the heart and said to Peter, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter responded,

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven and you will receive the Holy Spirit (see last post). For the promise is for you, for your children and for all who are far away”. . . . Those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added (Acts 2:38-40).

(Side note: I often wonder how they did 3000 baptisms that day. Did they use a fire hose, a supersoaker or the Jerusalem municipal swimming pool?)

The key verse comes next. The newly baptized did not wander back to their old communities and ways. Instead they formed a worshipping community. They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42). The apostle teaching became what we know as the New Testament of the Bible. The fellowship they shared involved more that drinking coffee, but actually sharing their possessions with one another. The breaking of bread is a reference to the bread of Holy Communion or Eucharist. And prayer is prayer.  All are elements of a worshipping community.

The expectation is that the newly baptized needs the community to grow in his or her understanding of God’s grace and love. We do not live our faith in isolation; the community brings us strength, support, correction and comfort.   Jesus modeled this by living in a community of at least twelve disciples.

A wonderful moment for me at Jack’s baptism was when the pastor asked the entire congregation if they promised to support and encourage Jack as he grew in faith. The congregation joyously responded, “Yes, we do!” Jack’s home and family has just grown by a factor of ten.

How does baptism help you stay connected to God’s people?


Lord Jesus, Thank you for providing me with your fantastic family.

Acts 2:42 part 1

Studying the Apostle's Teachings

Life in the early church may sound strange to our contemporary ears. The description of miracles and healings, the passionate letters of Paul, and the missionary zeal of the apostles can appear to be other-worldly.  Our lifestyle, political systems, technologies and economic complexities can seem distant from the stories of the Bible. Perhaps that is why I value Acts 2:42 so much.

Acts 2:42 describes the life of the early church in Jerusalem, shortly after Peter preached his first sermon and several thousand people placed their trust in Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. (Acts 2:42)

Their four signs of devotion are still practiced by followers of Jesus today:
1. Apostle’s Teachings
2. Fellowship
3. Breaking of Bread
4. Prayers

Followers of Jesus continue to study the “apostle’s teaching:” Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the Book of Acts, the Epistles of Paul, John and Peter.   The apostle’s teachings became our New Testament. We study them to understand who Jesus is and what his life, death and resurrection mean for us.

As we study together we continue to create fellowship, because we discover how the teachings impact our shared lives.  We listen to each other’s joys and sorrows.  We care for one other during times of illness, stress or hardship.  Fellowship is more than a shared cup of coffee after worship; fellowship is the shared cup of blessing and generosity through all of life.

One of my deepest tastes of apostle’s teaching and fellowship came in college when I participated in the Haverford-Bryn Mawr Christian Fellowship.  Every Friday evening twenty to forty college students would gather to study God’s Word and to reflect together how it impacted our lives.  It created a missionary zeal in many of us.  We did not want to simply survive college with our faith intact. We felt a calling to bear witness to Jesus Christ in an often academically hostile environment.   The study and fellowship gave us the courage and compassion to speak.  The ancient devotions brought us life.

How has the study of the apostle’s teaching affected your fellowship?

Tomorrow, reflections on the breaking of bread and prayers.

 Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me to be devoted to your ways.