ACTS OF THE APOSTLES CHAPTER 2
Acts 2:1: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
It was an assembly of the believers in Christ in one place which was a house according to the next verse. The focus was still on Israel and the disciples were still observing this Jewish feast. The word “Pentecost” is not actually found in the Old Testament. This feast is observed fifty days after the Passover. The children of Israel were commanded to appear before the Lord three times in a year. This was one of those times the Jews gathered in Jerusalem to observe this feast, which is also known as the feast of weeks.
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: (Deuteronomy 16:16)
Acts 2:2: And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:3: And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Acts 2:4: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Counting fifty days from the Passover, the Lord’s burial of three days and three nights and the Lord’s forty days appearance to His disciples after His resurrection, this day of Pentecost was actually only a week after the ascension of the Lord into heaven. So the apostles and disciples were only having to wait for a week in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. If the ascension of Christ was on a Thursday or Friday, then the day of Pentecost a week after His ascension could not be on a Sunday either. So the beginning of the Church is Jewish based and there is no need for Christians to have this obsession of making a Sunday gathering into a form.
This was the actual day of commissioning of the Church of the living God. Though the Church was in existence long before this day, the actual empowerment after the work of the cross of Christ began that fateful day on Pentecost. Could the catching away of the Church occur on the day of Pentecost sometime in the future? It remains to be seen. The baptism of the Holy Ghost began suddenly when the disciples least expected. They were promised the coming baptism of the Holy Ghost not many days after the Lord ascended into heaven. However, they were not told of the actual date. It was customary for the apostles and disciples being Jews to congregate in Jerusalem to observe this feast. The Lord did not explicitly tell them to avoid Temple attendance altogether anyway.
This baptism of the Holy Ghost could be heard as a rushing mighty wind and felt as the Holy Ghost filled the whole house. So these apostles and disciples were baptized by the Holy Ghost in the sense where they were “submerged” into the literal presence of the Holy Ghost in that house that day as recorded that the Holy Ghost filled all the house. This is the only instant where the Holy Ghost is mentioned to have filled an entire structure and in this case the house where the apostles and disciples met.
This baptism of the Holy Ghost was observable as well, as cloven tongues like as of fire sat on each of them. These cloven like tongues like fire were not mentioned to have sat on the tongues of the believers. The speaking in tongues of these believers and the cloven tongues like as of fire are not related. The subsequent biblical records of those speaking in tongues have no cloven tongues as of fire accompany those events.
This is not the baptism of fire either otherwise they would be thrown into the midst of fire in a fiery medium. These apostles and disciples were fired up for the Lord. They were filled with the Holy Ghost and so this was the first recorded instance where the believers in Christ spoke in tongues. So the baptism of the Holy Ghost is a phenomenon that could be heard, felt and seen, and this experience was not to be repeated and reenacted by the Christian Church. This was a historical event recorded in the annals of Church history where the Church had officially been commissioned to build a great work for the risen Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, the Church was then officially opened for business that day.
Acts 2:5: And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Acts 2:6: Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
Acts 2:7: And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
Acts 2:8: And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
Since this was a Jewish feast, the gathering of the devout Jews and proselytes was expected. What they did not expect was to hear these disciples of Christ spoke in their own native tongues which they could understand. Their amazement was not surprising as these men had been attending such feasts many times but this was the first time such phenomenon was experienced by them. They recognized these disciples of Christ being Galilaeans yet they could miraculously speak foreign languages without having to learn them. They had become “gifted” and these Jewish temple worshippers were understandably confounded when they heard the message in their own language.
Acts 2:9: Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
Acts 2:10: Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
Acts 2:11: Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
Acts 2:12: And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
Acts 2:13: Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
So all these foreigners could understand the spoken tongues of the Holy Ghost filled disciples of Christ. They understood the message they preached but they could not understand how it was done and what had happened to the disciples. So tongues are known languages and not some gibberish and idiotic utterances to cause speakers to appear spiritual and superior over others. In fact some even mocked the disciples speaking in tongues when what they heard could be understood concerning the wonderful works of God. These tongues speakers were not babblers and viewed as barbarians to those listeners.
Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. (1 Corinthians 14:11)
The hearers could clearly understand the message heralded by the tongue speakers. Whether these speakers in foreign tongues knew what they were speaking, it would be a subject of contention. Nonetheless, the hearers understood what they heard and that much was clear. Contrast these days where Charismatic Christians speak in gibberish and those who could not understand what they heard even felt these gibberish speakers are godly and spiritual. How do they know whether these tongues speakers were praising God or cursing Jesus? Such lack of understanding is really pathetic to say the least. Those unbelieving mockers during that day had more sense than the modern day carnal churchgoers.
Acts 2:14: But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Acts 2:15: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
The apostle Peter was the main actor that day. Together with the other eleven apostles, Peter preached the inaugural sermon to get ready a willing people prepared by the Lord that day. He was instrumental in opening the gospel door to a great multitude that day where thousands became obedient to the faith. Those mockers were obviously trying to be sarcastic. New wine would not get anyone drunk. Moreover, it was only nine in the morning that day. Most people only get drunk in the night and not during the day.
For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:7)
Having put down the mockers, the apostle Peter began his three point-sermon by quoting the prophet Joel to put these surprised hearers at ease. Peter had to prepare these astonished people to come to terms with what was happening. The apostle Peter’s signature message always started with addressing those people in a straightforward manner. Peter was a straight-talker and he did not major in beating about the bush. He did not minced words either. He addressed those men of Israel directly.
Acts 2:16: But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
Acts 2:17: And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
Acts 2:18: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
Acts 2:19: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
Acts 2:20: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
Acts 2:21: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
The prophet Joel prophesied that a day would be coming that the children of Israel would be brought to a state of Spirit filled manifestation in dreams and visions. The event would be followed by judgment from above also known as the day of the Lord in many other prophecies spoken by other prophets. If such an event with phenomenal occurrences was spoken by the prophets, what was so strange about the apostles and disciples speaking in tongues in known languages to those hearers there in Jerusalem? Hence the mockers should stop their mocking and sit up and pay attention. The surprised hearers should be at ease ready to receive revelation from these Holy Ghost filled men and women. The prophecy of Joel ultimately points to the salvation of Israel during the day of the Lord. That day was fast approaching and they were entering extraordinary times. There is one point to note though concerning Peter’s quotation of Joel’s prophecy.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. (Joel 2:31)
There was a slight difference when Peter quoted Joel. Peter called it a notable day while Joel prophesied of a terrible day of the Lord that was coming. Peter was not misquoting Joel in any way. He was pointing out the event that took place at Pentecost as a notable day for believers in Christ while the actual day of the Lord during the times of Jacob’s trouble would be a terrible day indeed and it was no understatement in every sense of the word “terrible” as mentioned by the prophet Joel. During that terrible times of trials and tribulation, their young men would see visions while their old men due to failing eye sight would dream dreams. But that day when the apostles and disciples spoke in tongues to bring these people a message from God was simply a notable day. Indeed a terrible day would be on its way anyway.
Acts 2:22: Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Acts 2:23: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Acts 2:24: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
Acts 2:25: For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
Acts 2:26: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
Acts 2:27: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 2:28: Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
Peter was again calling on the men of Israel to listen up to the second point of his sermon. This time he was preaching Christ and Christ crucified from the Old Testament. It is funny some Christians always insist on listening to Christ and Christ crucified preached every time on Sunday when Christ and Christ crucified should be preached to unbelievers outside a church building. The reason why there is this `need” is because Christians have been using worldly means to entice sinners to go to church. Some lost sinners felt they were “conned” and misled when Christians invited them to visit a church to attend some seminars or programs but they were “hard sell” into making decisions for Christ instead.
With a captive audience having witnessed the manifestation of power from the Holy Ghost, Peter contented that Jesus of Nazareth was the Man approved of God and they all knew about the miracles, signs and wonders He did. But the men of Israel rejected Christ and put Him to death according to the foreknowledge of God. The implication was that Peter accused those people in Israel for murdering their Messiah. Notwithstanding God raised Jesus up from the dead as foretold by David who called Jesus Lord. Peter was simply bearing witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and proving that the Messiah of Israel was alive by quoting Scriptures as evidence from the Old Testament to justify his assertion.
The NASB refused to translate the Greek word as hell and let it remained as hades while the NIV informed us that the soul of Christ was not left in the grave in verse 27. Such unbiblical teaching has resulted in confusion regarding the tripartite being of man. The nonsensical NIV suggests that the soul of man would go to the grave upon death. Unfortunately, the soul of man is not a body of flesh that is subject to corruption by the power of the grave. The grave cannot keep the soul. The Bible teaches that the spirit of man will return to God.
Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 3:21&12:7)
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46)
Upon death, the body of man will go to the grave and see corruption, which is just plain common sense that is uncommon to the NIV translators.
The soul of unregenerate man will go to hell upon death.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. (Luke 16:22-24)
When the rich man died, his body went to the grave and not his soul. However, the soul of this rich man went to hell. When a man dies, his body does not speak anymore. His body does not move anymore. His body is incapable of any response at all as it degenerates and corrupts into dust. The soul of a man is different as the unregenerate soul could be subject to torment and could feel the heat of hell fire. The soul of this rich man could see and speak in hell as well. So the modern helless bibles are not worth the time of the child of God to study and memorize their contents.
Acts 2:29: Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
Acts 2:30: Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
Acts 2:31: He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
Acts 2:32: This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
Acts 2:33: Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
Acts 2:34: For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
Acts 2:35: Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
Acts 2:36: Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Peter continued will his final third point of his sermon to drive home the point that Christ was definitely alive. This time Peter is getting closer to the ground and addressing these men of Israel as brethren. These brethren were of course aware of their heritage and were waiting for their Messiah all these years. Many prophets and even David spoke about Christ in the Old Testament. God promised He would not allow the Son of David who is the Messiah of Israel to remain in hell and His flesh see corruption in the grave. God promised He would raise up the Messiah which He did and they were witnesses of this defining event that would bring in the Kingdom sometime in the near future where Christ will sit on the throne of glory to reign over all the nations on earth. Peter concluded that God had made this Jesus of Nazareth whom they crucified Lord and Christ who was now sitting on the right hand of God in heaven awaiting to return to earth to reign over all creatures great and small.
Peter had not yet invited any response from these hearers but the response was spontaneous that day when the Holy Spirit brought deep conviction upon these hearers. The promise of the Father had come and the baptism of the Holy Ghost upon this first batch of believers was accomplishing what the Lord intended.
Acts 2:37: Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
In this Pentecostal sermon preached by Peter, he accused them of murdering their Messiah and he testified that he and others had witnessed the resurrection of Christ. He proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the resurrection of Christ was revealed in the Old Testament. This Spirit filled preacher preached with so much conviction and truth evoked such a response that no other preacher on earth could match. These repentant sinners were asking what they had to do after hearing Peter told them what they had done and what God did about their Messiah who was now alive. Peter was given the keys and the gospel door was now open to these hearers to enter the Kingdom.
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)
It was the work of the Holy Ghost. That day was the official opening of the Church of the living God to add members to His Body, the Church. The repentant hearers were pricked in their heart and instead of getting ready to put the preacher to death for telling it like it was, they were convicted of their sins and for their crimes for murdering their Messiah. They asked what they should do. They could not undo what they did. They wanted to know what they could do from then on to make restitution and move on since God had already raised up their Messiah who would be coming back anytime soon.
Acts 2:38: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 2:39: For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
Acts 2:40: And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
So Peter offered them a solution to their predicament. The New Testament era started with John the Baptist. It was a transitional period during a chaotic time. It would be needful to study what John the Baptist did as well as the message preached by the Lord Jesus Christ after him.
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark 1:4)
John the Baptist was preparing the ground for the arrival of the Messiah of Israel after four hundred years of silence after the prophet Malachi wrote the last book of the Old Testament. The message was the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Luke recorded the same mission of John the Baptist.
And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. (Luke 3:3&4)
The purpose of his mission was to prepare Israel to enter the Kingdom Age promised to their fathers. The King of Israel would be arriving and so the people must be prepared to accept their Messiah, the Christ, and be accepted by Him with their repentance by going to John for water baptism for the remission of sin.
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:1&2)
John the Baptist’s message to Israel was a call to repentance and get Israel ready for the Kingdom. Likewise, when the Lord Jesus Christ came unto the scene, He took over and commenced His message with the same call of repentance for He had indeed come as the Messiah of Israel and the Kingdom was indeed at hand.
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17)
As far as Peter was concerned, his Pentecostal sermon was in fact a call for repentance to the men of Israel who murdered their Messiah whom God had raised up to sit on the right hand of the Father. As such, his offer to those repentant sinners was in line with what John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ preached. Hence Peter’s call for these repentant sinners to Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost was not a heretical teaching during that time. Though eternal salvation for the souls of fallen men was accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary and remission of sins was not based on water baptism but by faith on the Son of the living God, what Peter offered was not off base either.
Peter’s offer and call for these people was a natural correlation of events as they were just all baptized by the Holy Ghost that day and water baptism for repentant sinners for remission of sins was not something extraordinary during that transitional period. Unfortunately, some tried to help God out as they thought that the preposition “for” remission of sin was wrongly translated which should be “because of” remission of sin. They simply add confusion to the issue and contradicted what John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus preached at the beginning. Why do not these good godly scholars who think they know the Bible better than God would not correct John the Baptist and Christ’s erroneous teachings in the beginning are simply unexplainable. If they thought Peter was wrong or the translators were wrong, why did not they think John the Baptist and Christ were wrong to begin with?
What had been recorded for us was a picture of historical events taking place during that time. We must never read some New Testament truths for Christians into some practice and requirement prior to their time in the past to align Scriptures or it would result in a nightmare situation where Scriptures become of none effect. If salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone is applicable to Noah, he would have drowned with those mockers had he not built the Ark as commanded by the Creator God.
Peter’s call for salvation includes the call for separation from unbelieving sinners as well. For indeed judgment from above would fall on sinners in this world what has the child of God in common with unbelievers? For those repentant sinners acknowledging their sin of unbelief and murder of their Messiah, their duty was to separate from those who refused to repent and believe in the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:41: Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Thus those repentant hearers accepted Peter’s exhortation with gladness and obeyed him and accepted his call and offered to be baptized in water as an outward act of contrition and acceptance of salvation from above. They had asked what they must do and Peter told them what they had to do. So they became doers of the word and not hearers only. So three thousand souls were added unto them, the Church, that day. Peter could not be the only person performing the water baptism for all these three thousand candidates. It would have taken several hours for many of those apostles and disciples to baptize all these repentant sinners who turned to the Lord Jesus Christ that day. Their acknowledgement of their guilt for murdering the Messiah and their faith in the risen Saviour bore witness by these apostles and disciples with the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on those preachers speaking in foreign tongues brought conviction to these Temple attending Jewish feast observing Jews and proselytes. The official opening of the Church was a resounding success. It was a phenomenal increase to the number of apostles and disciples who waited for the Holy Ghost and received power from heaven to open the gospel door to these people attending the feast of Pentecost.
Acts 2:42: And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Acts 2:43: And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
The event leading to the conversion of these souls was spectacular and their repentance was sincere and genuine. They did not attend church on Sunday for worship but they attended the temple feast as Jews and proselytes. So Sunday gathering was a non-issue for them. They were steadfast and had close fellowship with the apostles learning and fellowshipping as well as praying on a regular day to day basis like the commandment given in Hebrews 10.
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24&25)
This was the very essence of the practice on the exhortation for the Hebrew believers in Christ. They were expecting the second coming of their Messiah anytime soon. These two verses have been abused by so many Christians these day to force it to apply to a man-made Sunday only gathering. If the purpose is to sooth the conscience of some Christians for having performed their duties as believers in Christ, such a practice as compared with those early believers would put them to shame.
It was an extraordinary time and the Kingdom was still at hand as far as they were concerned. The apostles witnessed the ascension of Christ into heaven. They received promises that the Lord would likewise come back. Their view of the return of Christ was imminent and so there was no time to lose on spiritual things and getting prepared and ready for the second coming of Christ. The apostles performed miracles to authenticate their apostolic calling and as a result, fear came upon every soul. They believed these men were apostles chosen by God and given power from above to build up the body of Christ where the Lord would be coming back very soon.
Acts 2:44: And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
Acts 2:45: And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Acts 2:46: And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Acts 2:47: Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
As such, they practiced communal sharing. They pooled their resources together and help one another out. This selfless sharing among believers was the historical record of the early Church during that extraordinary time. They still attended the temple as their center of worship naturally as they were all Jews. They met house to house to have meals and fellowship. Such joyful and unanimous concord during their meetings were indeed favour from above. They were praising God for His goodness and mercy and waiting for the risen Saviour to come back to set up the Kingdom.
As the Kingdom was to appear anytime soon, what were material possessions to these believers in Christ! Their riches would be beyond measure when they enter the Kingdom when Christ returns and hence, they were not selfish and they fulfilled the Old Testament precepts concerning having pity upon the poor. The rich man in Luke 16 who did not have pity on the poor ended up in hell as a Jew having not kept the Old Testament Law. Many rich men could not enter the Kingdom preached by the Lord Jesus Christ as they were hindered by their riches.
And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! (Mark 10:23)
The Old Testament Law required the Jews to love their neighbours which included taking care of the poor and needy. Unfortunately, when such law touched on their riches, they would find excuses to excuse themselves and justify themselves and pretend not to know who were their neighbours.
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? (Luke 10:25-29)
Good question who is my neighbour. So if the children of Israel did not know who their neighbours were, they needed not keep the Law.
Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor. (Proverbs 3:27&28; 14:21&31)
Did not they know who their neighbours were? Their neighbours could be anyone including strangers in their midst. So the rich man who went to hell in Luke 16 failed to honour his Maker when he did not have mercy on poor Lazarus sitting at his gate as his neighbour.
Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:21; 23:9)
And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:33&34)
Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:19)
Even when having to honour their parents, they would devise schemes to free themselves of such duties.
For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. (Mark 7:10-13)
Some of those Jews would try to find ways and means to circumvent the Law of Moses. Could such faith save them? Riches could seriously impede Christians in their walk with the Lord if they are not careful in how they handle their riches. Hence warnings against those who are rich are numerous.
Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
As believers in Christ, these early converts exercised faith in God’s provision and trusted in His bountiful care for them. They were not hypocrites when having to meet the needs of the poorer brethren as exposed by James in his writings.
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (James 2:14-17)
As recorded here, the believers in Christ fulfilled the Law in Christ with their unselfish living. They fulfilled this royal law of loving their neighbours as new creatures in Christ.
If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: (James 2:8)
Thus they obtained favour with all the people and the Church was prospering with increase on a daily basis. By now, the number of members of this church would be several thousands and God had been good to add members to the Church everyday without any man-made programs and activities to entice people to come to church. The power from heaven was clearly manifested on the people of God and sinners come to Christ genuinely and naturally without cohesion or peer pressure. Every convert experienced the power of God and goodness of the Lord. This was the happy state of affair during the early Church after the Pentecostal experience where the Church was officially inaugurated to received lost sinners into her fold.
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