On the day of Pentecost, after the 3,000 were baptized, we read that “they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the break of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). The first part of this verse is what we want to focus on this morning. What does it mean to devote ourselves to the apostles’ teaching?
Devoting Themselves to The Apostles’ Teaching:
Let’s start with the verse we read a moment ago. “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42 NASB 95). The meaning of this verse, I believe, is intuitive; however, we want to break down the phrase we are studying to bring out its meaning.
- “Continually devoting” – They were never relaxing or slacking in their care and attention to the Apostles’ teaching. The same idea is expressed in 1 Timothy 4:13 “until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.” The word used in this passage “suggests devotion of thought and effort to a thing” (Vine 1996, 44).
- “The apostles” – The divinely appointed messengers sent by Christ, which means twelve (see Acts 1:15-26).
- “teaching” – This is not the Apostles’ own, “I think so’s.” This is not teaching that is unique or originates with them. The teaching here is that teaching which Christ gave them to teach disciples (Matthew 20:20 cf. Ephesians 2:19-20).
Our Attitude Toward the Word:
The first Christians, among other things, gave their care and attention to the teaching of Christ that the Apostles were proclaiming. In short, they were devoted to it (as the text says). Included in this idea of being devoted to the Word of God are several other attitudes we should have.
- These Christians were devoted to the word because they first sought the word. Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who seeks find, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
- They hungered and thirsted after the word. Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” We see this in action in Matthew 15:32, where the crowd was so focused on the teaching of Jesus for three days without food.
- On the day of Pentecost, we see that the crowd was much like a similar assembly back in the days of Nehemiah. In that, they were “attentive to the book of the law” (Nehemiah 8:3).
- The first Christians continued to seek the word and the answers it gave. Paul noted the Berean brethren in that they “were more noble-minded than those at Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
To be devoted to the word, to be faithful to it, includes an attitude that encompasses a deep desire for it, attentiveness to it, and holding it as the source of answers to all of life’s most important questions.
Why Should We be Devoted to the Word:
The people of God were not without good reasons why they should be devoted to it. They were not involved in some bibliolatry (idolatrous worship of a book). They had ample reasons why the Word of God was important and worthy of devotion.
- The first being that the Word of God is precisely that. It is the revelation that comes from God. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” The ESV words it as “breathed out by God.” The Word of God is worthy of our devotion because it comes from God Himself. It tells us how to be right with Him and what He expects of us. In short, it tells us the whole duty of man to His creator.
- Because the word comes from God Himself, it is the only message I will read or study that will cut me to my core and tell me like it is. It is the only message that presents an accurate view of reality. The Hebrew writer wrote in Hebrews 4:12, “for the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of the soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
- The word has within it the power to save unto eternal life. I think that would be reason enough for anyone to show their utmost attention to this message that God has given us! John understood this when he said to Christ, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Paul preached that this word, the Gospel, “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Showing Devotion or Faithfulness to the Word:
We have seen what our attitude should be toward the word of God and the reasons why we should have such an attitude. However, how do we show or practice devotion to the word? What is the so what? Of all of this? I want to offer three applications for us today from one verse. In Ezra 7:10, it reads, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra shows us the how of devotion to the Word of God.
- It begins with knowing it. John tells us that what was recorded was so that we would believe it (John 20:30-31). James admonishes us to receive the word which saves our souls (James 1:21). We need to know the Book (2 Timothy 2:15).
- It continues with practicing it. James summed it up well in James 1:22 “but prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”
- Devotion to the word continues when we teach it. Ezra studied and practiced it so that he could adequately and faithfully teach the word of God to his countrymen. The Apostles were told to go and teach all the world, and at some point, it is the expectation that all Christians should be teaching in some capacity in some way (cf. Hebrews 5:12).
We can be faithful to the word of God if we, like Ezra, will resolve ourselves to be people of the book. To study the word, practice it, and teach it to others.