Acts 4:32 – The Jerusalem Church of Christ
One of the most thrilling passages in the book of Acts is recorded as follows:
“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul…” (4:32).
Several important points from this passage must be noted.
The Church, a Multitude
The church had come to consist of a “multitude.” It started on Pentecost with at least 3,000.
“They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
A bit later, the number had grown to 5,000 men, in addition to women (4:4).
“But many of them that heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand” (Acts 4:4).
Underscore “multitude” and enter these passages in your margin.
The Saints Believed
The saints are described as those who had “believed” (an aorist participle). “Believed” reflects a figure of speech known as a synecdoche, where a part of something stands for the whole. Since believing is the thing which motivates all other acts of obedience in the scheme of redemption, it frequently represents the entire plan.
Repentance, confession, and immersion are also sometimes employed to summarize the entirety of gospel obedience.
“And when they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).
“Every one therefore who shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32).
“which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21).
Underscore “believed” and record: Stands for entire plan of salvation.
The Church, Unified
Though these believers had come out of varying backgrounds (different nations, economic status, Jewish sects, etc.), they were of one heart and soul. They were united in their understanding of the gospel and in their passion for it.
This statement forever destroys the notion that folks of diverse backgrounds cannot understand the plan of God in precisely the same fashion. Note this comment from the Lutheran commentator, R.C.H. Lenski:
“In this regard the mother congregation of Christendom [the Jerusalem church] serves as a model for all time, a rebuke to all her daughters who followed heresies and errors and caused rents in the church, and a rebuke likewise to all members in any congregation that cause strife and disturbance; but a shining example for all congregations that hold in unity to the one faith and doctrine (2:42) and in one mind to the things that make for peace” (Acts, p. 187; emp. added).
What a refreshing sentiment in a time of digression in the church, when voices of apostasy are ridiculing the notion that the early church is a model for the present. Make a notation to this effect.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.