“… were baptized and there was added unto them in that day about 3,000 souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:41-42).
The first gospel sermon concluded with Peter’s exhortation, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation” and the response was “then they that received his word were baptized”. Since “they that received his word were baptized”, we conclude that they that were not baptized did not receive his word. In his epistle James wrote, “Receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). In both Acts and James, we, and all others, are urged to receive the word. On Pentecost 3,000 people did receive the word and demonstrated they had by being baptized.
Those who received the word “were baptized” and when they were baptized, they were “added” to them, added to the apostles, but not to them only for Acts 2:47 says that “God added to them those that were being saved”. Christ is the Savior of the body, those who are saved, and baptism is what He chose to be the means through which those who are lost become part of that body “by one Spirit were we are baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Those who received the word not only were baptized and added to the saved; they continued steadfastly in four things. They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine. We understand that by “apostles” doctrine the writer refers to “Christ’s doctrine”. It is the apostles’ doctrine for it was they who preached it first. Jesus had charged the apostles that they “were to go, teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Mt. 28:18f). To ensure that the apostles taught exactly what He wished them to teach, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to them. The Spirit (Comforter) was sent to guide them into all truth and to bring to their remembrance all things Jesus had taught them (John 14:26). The apostles were no more at liberty to change the teaching of Christ than are we. John, the apostle, warned “whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ hath not God” (2 John 9). Whosoever certainly included the apostles. Jesus said “If ye abide in my word then are ye truly my disciples, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make ye free” (Jn. 8:31f).
Those who received Peter’s word continued steadfastly in the “fellowship”. Evidence of this fellowship is seen when they assembled together with others who, like them, had received the apostles’ word. Disciples came together to worship in Troas on the first day of the week to “break bread” (Acts 20:7). They came together to offer special prayer for Peter who was in peril of Herod’s sword (Acts 12:1-6).
Continuing in the apostles’ word means we do not neglect the assembling together of ourselves as some did (Hebrews 10:25). Of course, their fellowship not only involved assembling together to worship, to pray; it involved their participation in using their resources to support gospel preaching and to provide for the needs of indigent Christians. Paul commended the Philippian church for their fellowship with him when earlier he had preached in Thessalonica, and the Philippian church sent support to him there (Philippians 4:15). It was their concern for the needs of Paul when he was in a Roman prison that provoked this epistle for in their concern, they determined to send relief to him by the hands of a brother named Epaphroditus (Philippians 4:18).
Continuing steadfastly in the word of the apostle meant their coming together to break bread (Acts 20:7), remembering Jesus’ command to honor Him by partaking of the memorial He instituted when He was betrayed (Matthew 26:26-29).
Continuing steadfastly in the apostles’ word meant they continued in prayer. There are prayers we pray when we assemble with others to worship; there are prayers we pray when we daily lay before our Lord and Creator our thanks for His love and provisions for us; when we approach God’s throne of grace to intercede for others that their needs might be supplied; that God would keep His watchful Eye over them, just as He does over us. We continue in the apostles’ word when we pray for ourselves; for our daily needs; for strength to resist temptation; for strength to hold out to the very end. May we have no greater desire than to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ word!