Unity Among the People Part 3
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
They “did eat their meat with gladness” signifies an attitude of great thankfulness to the God from whom they received their daily food, acknowledging that it all came from Him, and that they did not deserve His mercy, and so they ate together with much cheerfulness and friendliness for one another, without complaining about their lot, or envying each other, or without resenting what each other partook of. This is one of the effects of religion. It is far from gloom; it diffuses happiness over the mind; it bestows additional joy in the participation of even our ordinary pleasures.
“And singleness of heart” means without deceit and hypocrisy; either in their thanksgivings to God, or in their fellowship with each other; and with great sincerity, openness, and frankness before God, and one another. This also means “with a sincere and pure heart.” They were satisfied and thankful. They were not puzzled or anxious; nor were they desiring the luxurious living, or the vain objects of the people of the world (See Romans 12:8; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Colossians 3:22; Ephesians 6:5). The Syriac version joins this clause with the beginning of the next verse; "with singleness of heart, praising God.”
“Did eat their meat” proves that it does not refer to the Lord's Supper; because that ordinance is nowhere represented as being part of an ordinary meal, or for the purpose of nourishing the body (See 1 Corinthians 11:33, 34).
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
These new Christians were “praising God,” not only for their secular blessings and pleasures of life, which they shared with each other in a pleasant and joyful manner; but for their spiritual blessings—that the Lord had been pleased to call them by His grace, and reveal Christ to them, and pardon them who had been such vile sinners, give them a name, and a place in his house, and provide them with such agreeable and delightful company to have fellowship with, as the saints were.
and having favour with all the people.
“Having favor with all the people” indicates they not only behaved with true brotherly love towards their brothers and sisters in Christ, but that they treated those outside the fellowship as they would like to be treated; courteously and kindly, and that they lived a life that honored God and their religion, which gained for them the good-will of the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
“And the Lord” is a reference to Jesus, as the glorified Head and Ruler of the Church. It was the Lord who did this. There was no power in man to do it; and the Christian loves to trace all the increase of the church to the grace of God: “Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number” (Acts 5.14).
The word rendered "church" means "those who are called out," and is applied to Christians who are being called out, or separated from the world. He began with the three thousand converts on Pentecost, but following that miraculous event, converts were added daily (And continued to be added for a long time after Pentecost) by the ministry of the word—many souls were won and “added to the church” (The Holy Spirit caused or inclined them to be joined to the church.); the Holy Spirit inclined their hearts to give themselves to the church, and follow all the ordinances and commands of the Lord. Each one was chosen by God, and each was redeemed by the Lord Jesus’ precious blood, were regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit of God, and so were surely saved; but that cannot always be said about persons added to churches, many of them are not truly saved, and so they soon fall away; but these were added by the Lord, and there is a world of difference between being added by the Lord, and being added by men.
“Such as should be saved” simply expresses the fact that there were those who would be, or who were about to be saved. It is clear, however, from this expression, that those who became members of the church were those who gave proof that they were sincere Christians; such as their life changed for the better, and they were not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. It is implied here, also, that those who are to be saved will join themselves to the church of God. This is almost universally required; and it constitutes one more evidence of piety when they are willing to face the world, and give themselves to the service of the Lord Jesus. Two remarks may be made regarding this last verse of this chapter; one is, that the effect of a consistent Christian life will be to command the respect of the world; and the other is that the effect will be the steady increase in the number of those who are saved. In this case, they were adding to the church on a daily basis and their number was constantly increasing; and the same result may be expected today where there is similar zeal, self-denial, consistency, and prayer.
The appeal in verse 40 was "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." Those who were added to the Church were those who complied with this request, and escaped from complicity with their unbelieving countrymen. They were the remnant that escaped—“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16)—Believes the gospel message; believes in Christ as his Savior. And is baptized. These are the conditions of pardon; faith in Christ and obedience to his command. If anyone does not have enough faith in Christ to obey him, his salvation may be in question. “He that believeth not” remains in a state of unbelief and cannot enter into the kingdom of God—“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son” (John 3:18).
This is God’s prescription for church growth. If we will follow the example of Acts 2:42-47a, God will take care of growing the church Himself.