Gracefully Truthful

Fear,Holy Spirit,Jesus,Power,Victorious

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Acts 2:42-37

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. 45 They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

The Original Intent

1) What does it mean to be filled with awe? (verse 43)

Let’s start with ensuring we understand what the word “awe” means. Merriam-Webster’s defines awe as “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime; astonishment or wonder”. In other words when we see something beyond description, (like an incredible mountain range) we might say, “That is awesome!”.

However, the word “awe” used in the Gospels and Acts, comes from the Greek phobos [fovbo”], which is commonly used as the word for fear. In our passage, “awe” is describing the people’s reaction to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This is the same word used in Luke 7:11-16 (verse 16 specifically) to describe how the people felt after Jesus raised a young man from death to life.

Like so many times when reading the Bible, it’s imperative we have the proper context to understand the specific verses we are studying. In Acts, it’s important to start at the beginning of Acts 2 to understand the word usage and its reasoning. Acts 2:1-4 provides detailed explanation of the day of Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the first time. I can only imagine the numerous feelings and experiences these people encountered that day!

Because we’ve read in context, we understand that to be filled with awe meant something fairly impossible to understand or describe unless you were there. Awe is the one word Luke chose in his attempt to describe the impossible. The joy, fear and absolute amazement of encountering the Spirit of the Living God in real, everyday life!

The Everyday Application

1) What does it mean to be filled with awe? (verse 43)

The meaning of “awe” hasn’t changed, but I wonder if we’ve lost our ability to recognize it or understand our experiences through the lens of God’s awe-inspiring work. Sure, it’s easy to be in “awe” when we see wondrous and beautiful things like a brilliant sunset across the ocean or snow-covered mountain peaks. When other miraculous things in life occur, however, it seems we are quick to give credit and awe to everyone except God.

In December of 2020, my family faced an insurmountable medical expense. My husband had injured his back and required surgery, but we had a major obstacle. We had no medical insurance at the time and the surgeon needed to be paid up front. Having no idea what to do, we were considering all sorts of options including asking our church for help.

One night, a friend called and asked if she could visit. Little did we realize the reason for her call was to deliver an envelope of cash containing contributions from many. The amount not only covered the medical bill, but also the loss of income my husband would face post-surgery. Talk about being in aweOur entire family sat stunned to tears because we had no words. God had a plan all along and we had no need to worry or be anxious because God had us covered!

Experiences like these build and reinforce our “awe” of God. My challenge for us is that we would each prayerfully ask God to help us live with eyes wide open so we don’t miss His Awe; I am convinced the evidence of His awe-inspiring works are all around us, we just miss it because we don’t look for, or expect, to see His awesomeness.

The Original Intent

2) Verse 44 says “the believers held all things in common”. How is this feasible in a practical sense?

A better question is how could they not hold all things in common? Consider what had transpired within weeks of their shared time together. Jesus, the man they thought would be their earthly King had been crucified. Yet, just when they had lost all hope, Jesus rose victoriously from the dead! Their hope was astoundingly restored, but only a short time later, Jesus left again telling them it was actually better for them if He returned to His throne in Heaven so the Holy Spirit could come and dwell within them. (John 16:7)

Not knowing what the Holy Spirit would be like surely left them utterly confused and, again, on the brink of losing hope. When the Spirit arrived in a mighty, powerful display of God’s authority, their response was to be bound together in His powerful unity.

Having walked through the past few months together, the highs, lows and absolutely amazing events had connected them together, but, even the bond of shared experiences wanes over time. The power Source that kept them connected and equipped them to share all their needs and abundances together “in common” was the power of the Living God indwelling them.

The Everyday Application

2) Verse 44 says “the believers held all things in common”. How is this feasible in a practical sense?

The early church described in this passage had the right idea about living in true, biblical community. In fact, we could learn much from them if we are willing. I can’t help but think of sports teams when I read passages like this because guys, we are all on the same team, “Team Jesus”!

We all should be working for the same goal of advancing the Kingdom of Jesus and share His love with everyone. However, what often happens instead is that we work hard advancing our own little kingdoms and agendas. We are more focused on what we think is right and proving others wrong than we are on sharing the love of Jesus with everyone we meet. (Even good intentions somehow get skewed and begin trying to prove our church is better than yours) – when we should be promoting each other’s churches. Because you know what? WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM! We have a common goal! We also have a common enemy, who is a master at distraction and division. And we have got to stop allowing him to win!

Paul addressed something similar in his first letter to the Corinthians. I would encourage you to read all of Chapter 3, but for sake of time and space let’s look at verse 5-6 which says “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has givenI planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” Do you see it?

The church was fighting over who brought them to faith, but Paul is pointing out that he and Apollos are simply working in the roles God assigned – Paul lays the foundation which is Jesus and Apollos waters and God grows! They are playing on the same team with the same goal! They had “all things in common”.

The Original Intent

3) Were believers actually selling property and possessions? What are the implications for all Christ-followers? (verse 45)

Yes! This community of believers was fired up for Jesus! They were willing to make huge sacrifices in order to share what they had experienced and stay together. Check out what Acts 4:32-37 says:

“Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common. 33 With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them. 34 For there was not a needy person among them because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of what was sold35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed to each person as any had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus by birth, the one the apostles called Barnabas (which is translated Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Talk about commitment!

The Everyday Application

3) Were believers actually selling property and possessions? What are the implications for all Christ-followers? (verse 45)

This is a tough question to answer today because there are those who have in fact been called by God to sell all that they have for the sake of the Kingdom. For some that may mean moving overseas as a missionary, for others that may mean moving into the urban core to meet the needs and share Jesus in their own city.

However, for others it may mean using what God has blessed you with to open your homes in your own community, inviting others in, holding Bible studies, etc… It may mean you forgo that brand new car and buy used so that you can give some of that money away. For others it may mean quitting that high paying job, to work at your church or spend more time with your family.

Going back to 1 Corinthians, this time chapter 12:4-7 

“Now there are different gifts, but the same SpiritThere are different ministries, but the same LordAnd there are different activities, but the same God works all of them in each person. A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good:”

Guys – use the gifts, resources and opportunities God has given you, not your best friend or spouse, but you to work for Him to the best of your ability.

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Amazement,awe,Filled,Indwelling,Living God,Necessity,Outpouring,Pentecost,Together,training
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