1. Characteristics of the Early Church
The early church was formed centering Jerusalem after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost, and great revival took place. Through Peter’s preaching, three thousand people repented and were baptized at one time. About three thousand souls were added to them. Also, they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:41-42). Many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together, and had all things in common, and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
As the apostles continued to preach the gospel, more people followed Jesus Christ. So, the early church appointed seven deacons to serve the church (Acts 6:2-6).
Among them, Stephen delivered powerful messages, performed signs and wonders, and became the first martyr. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem and the believers were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. Through this, the gospel was preached outside Jerusalem also.
During this time, Saul from Tarsus was going to Damascus to persecute churches. But on his way he met the Lord, realized God’s will, repented, and became Paul. He became the apostle for the Gentiles. He spread the gospel in Asia and to Rome through many mission trips to lay the foundation of the world mission. Finally, the gospel was spread all over the earth.
The early church was established by the will of God and is the role-model of all churches. Therefore, we should try to take after the example of the early church so that the number of who are saved will be added daily, having favor with all the people and praising God.
A. Continuing Daily with One Accord in the Temple
The members of the early church gathered in the Temple and the Solomon’s porch that was on the east side of the Temple yard. There, they were taught by the apostles, witnessed signs and wonders, and met the living God. Even today, we should not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another–and all the more as we see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).
We should try to gather together not only on Sundays, but also for Wednesday service, Friday all-night service, cell worship, dawn prayer meeting and other prayer meetings. If we do not gather in the church, we will naturally partake in meetings of the worldly people, and it will be more likely that we will not dwell in the Lord completely. If we try to gather in the church, we will gain the faith to win over this world, be filled with hope for heaven, and have spiritual love so that we will be blessed by God.
B. Continuing In Fellowship and Prayers
Those who try to gather in the church will have firmer faith and realize the importance of prayer and pray having fellowship with brothers in faith. Prayer is spiritual breath, conversation with the living God, and the way to receive God’s power. That is why God tells us to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
If we pray, we will receive the strength from above so that we will win over the enemy devil and Satan and gain strength to live according to God’s Word the truth. Our faith will grow so that disease will not come upon us. We will lead healthy life in spirit and body and always be victorious. Generally, one hour’s prayer a day will keep ourselves healthy, and with two hours of prayer, our homes and businesses will be protected overall.
C. Loving Each Other and Being Always Joyful
Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves and that all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments (Matthew 22:39-40, Mark 12:31). Also, He tells us that if someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20).
Therefore, those who love God must love their brothers and neighbors with deed and truth. The members of the early church sold their properties and shared them with the poor as needed. They put into action the love that does not seek one’s own. Today, there are few members who do so, but if we truly hope for heaven, we should take after this example.
The members of the early church could rejoice always because they were filled with not only the joy of receiving salvation through Jesus Christ but also hope of heaven. On this earth are tears, pain, and death. But since they believed that these things do not exist in heaven, they could do everything for the glory of God; even when faced with persecutions, they could be thankful and joyful and praise God.
D. Continuing In Evangelism
The last Great Commission of Jesus Christ was “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The early church was fulfilling this will of God. This was not done just like that; it was because they gathered, prayed, loved one another, and gave out the fragrance of the Christ.
That is why Acts 2:47 says, “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
E. Manifestation of Signs and Wonders
Jesus said blessed is he who believes without seeing. But He also said in John 4:48, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.” Namely, we can have true faith when we see signs and wonders that can testify to the living God. That is why Acts 2:43 says fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
The members of the early church could have greater faith because they themselves witnessed the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. They sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.
2. 12 Apostles and 7 Deacons of the Early Church
The church, the body of Christ, is a gathering of believers to God, spread gospel to neighbors, teach and raise those who accept the gospel, and have fellowship in the Lord and serve the society. So, to accomplish the mission works of this kind, God has given various titles to form the organization of the church.
Acts 6:1-6 tells us about the apostles appointing deacons. As the number of believers increased greatly in the early church, the apostles’ workload of preaching and charity works increased dramatically. So they called all the disciples and had a meeting. They said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose and set before the apostles Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.
The apostles prayed and laid their hands on them to appoint them. in this way, the duty of the apostles and the laymen began to be divided. The apostles appointed the members with the titles and authority to perform special duties.
Then, how did Jesus appoint the twelve apostles? In Luke 6:12-16, Jesus went to the mountain and prayed to God all night. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles. In Matthew 10:1-4, Jesus called His twelve disciples to Him, and gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. The apostles who were called as Jesus disciples were Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.
After Judas Iscariot sold Jesus for 30 silver coins and committed a suicide (Matthew 27:3-9), the number of disciples became eleven. Among the disciples who were waiting in prayer for the Holy Spirit to come after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, Peter told one hundred and twenty people who were praying together that they should select one more apostle instead of Judas Iscariot to testify to the resurrection of Jesus. And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias (Acts 1:15-26). Finally, Matthias joined the apostles to make twelve apostles.
These twelve apostles gave themselves to prayer and ministering the word. The seven deacons who were selected among the believers took charge of serving the tables, so that the apostles could preach the Word of God more powerfully. The number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).