The first converts to Christianity

2:1. Held 50 Days after Passover, Pentecost was also called the Feast of Weeks. It was one of three major annual feasts (Deut.16:16), a festival of thanksgiving got the harvested crops. Jesus was crucified at Passover time, and ascended 40 Days after his resurrection. The Holy Spirit came 50 days after the resurrection, ten days after the ascension. Jews of many nations gathered in Jerusalem for this festival. Thus Peter’s speech(2.14ff) was given to an international audience, and it resulted in a worldwide harvest of new believers—the first converts to Christianity.

2:3,4 – This was a fulfillment Of John the Baptist’s Words about the Holy Spirit’s baptizing with fire (Luke 3:16), and of the prophet Joel’s Words about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:38,29).

Why tongues of fire? Tongues symbolise speech and communication of the gospel. Fire symbolises God’s purifying presence, which burns away the undesirable elements of our lives and sets our heart aflame to ignite the lives of others. On Mount Sinai God confirmed the validity of the Old Testament law with fire from heaven. (Ecodus 19:16-18). At Pentecost, God confirmed the validity of the Holy Spirit ‘s ministry by sending fire. At Mount Sinai, fire had come down on one place; at Pentecost, fire came down on many believers, symbolising that God’s presence is now available to all who believe in Him.

3:11. Peter had an audience, and he capitalised on the opportunity to share Jesus Christ. He clearly presented his message by telling

  1. Who Jesus is?
  2. How the Jews had rejected him?
  3. Why their rejection was fatal and
  4. What they needed to do to change the situation.

Peter told the crowd that they still had a choice; God still offered them the opportunity to believe and receive Jesus as their Messiah and as their Lord. Displays of God’s mercy and grace; such as the healing of this crippled man, often creAte teachable moments. Pray to have courage like Peter to see these opportunities and to use them to speak up for Christ.

4:3. Not often will sharing the gospel send us to jail as it did Peter and John. Still, we run risks in trying to win other’s to Christ. We might be willing to face a night in jail if it would bring 5,000 people to Christ, but shouldn’t we also be willing to suffer for the sake of even one? What do you risk in witnessing – rejection, persecution? Whatever the risks, realise that nothing done for God is ever wasted.

4:12. Many people react negatively to the fact that there is no other name than that of Jesus to call on our salvation. Yet this is not something the church decided; it is the specific teaching of Jesus himself(John 14:6). If God designated Jesus to be the Savior of the world, no one else can be his equal. Christians are to be open minded on many issues, but not on how we are saved from sin. No other religious teacher rose from the dead. Our focus should be on Jesus, whom God offered as the way to have an eternal relationship with himself. There is no other NAME or WAY!

4:29-31. Boldness is not reckless impulsiveness. Boldness requires courage to press on through our fears and do what we know is right. How can we be more bold? Like the disciples, we need to pray with others for that courage. To gain boldness, you can (1) pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to give you courage. (2). Look for opportunities in your family and neighbourhood to talk about Christ,(3). Realise that rejection, social discomfort and embarrassment are not necessarily persecution, and(4) start where you are by being bolder in small ways.

4:32-35 The early church was able to share possessions and property as a result of the unity brought by the Holy Spirit working in and through the believers lives. This way of living is different from communism because

  1. The sharing was voluntary.
  2. Didn’t involve all private property, but only as much as was needed.
  3. It was not a membership requirement in order to be a part of the church. The spiritual unity and generosity of these early believers attracted others to them. This organisational structure is not a Biblical command, but it offers vital principles for us to follow.

5:14. What makes Christianity attractive? It is easy and o be drawn to churches because of programs, good speakers, size, beautiful facilities, or fellowship. People were attracted to the early church by expressions of God’s power at work, the generosity, sincerity, honesty, and unity of members, and the character of the leaders. Have our standards slipped? God wants to add believers to his church, not just newer and better programs or larger and fancier facilities.

5:16. What did these miraculous healings do for the early church?

  1. They attracted new believers.
  2. Theyconfirmedvtgebtruth of the apostle’s teaching.
  3. They demonstrated that the power of the Messiah, who had been crucified and risen, was now with his followers.

5:41 Have you ever thought of persecution as a blessing and as something worth rejoicing about? This beating suffered by Peter and John was the first time any of the apostles had been physically abused for their faith. These men knew how Jesus had suffered and they praised God that he had been allowed to be persecuted like their Lord.

If you are mocked or persecuted for your faith, it isn’t because you are doing something wrong, but because God has counted you “worthy of suffering disgrace for the name”.

Clara Radhakrishna