The Acts of the Apostles is a wonderfully encouraging book of the Bible. In its very first chapter, we find the apostles and other disciples of Christ met together in the city of Jerusalem. They are a relatively small group, and are found meeting in the confines of an upper room. Yet, from this room, and by the Holy Spirit working through and blessing these witnesses, the gospel spread. Indeed, so greatly and widely, that by the end of the Book of Acts, we find the remarkable scene of the Apostle Paul present in Rome, the heart of the empire, witnessing for Christ. One who had been a chief persecutor of Christ’s church was by then a converted man and the Apostle to the Gentiles.
In verse 14 of chapter 1 we read of the apostles named in verse 13 that, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren”.
Two prominent marks of the early Christian Church are found in this verse.
Firstly, there was unity. “These all continued with one accord.” They continued in the unity that they had enjoyed when Christ was physically present among them. The core and strength of their unity, of course, was the common interest they had in the Saviour. So too, in our day, the true unity of any Christian congregation or wider church body, is in Christ the Head of the Church and in His glorious gospel of peace. They continued with “one accord”. With one mind. No dissent here. No division. On the contrary, a beautiful unity in doctrine, in worship and in practice. Unity, in separation from the world, and togetherness as the disciples of Christ.
Secondly, there was fellowship. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” Do we not get the very real sense that there was a spirit of fellowship in this gathering of Christians? The fellowship was spiritual, with divine worship and acknowledgement of God among them. For we read that they continued with one accord in prayer and supplication. No doubt they had hopes and fears, yet in holy fellowship they continued in the spirit of prayer. It was in this frame and fellowship that the believers in those days were. It was in this spirit that they were before the great blessing of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
And we read nothing of worship being given to Mary the mother of Jesus, nor of her having some place of preeminence. On these things, the Scripture is silent. Rather, she had the privilege of being present with other sinners saved by grace, in this Christian congregation in the upper room.
How we in our day, whichever congregation of Christ’s church we may belong to, should seek and strive for these marks of the Church of Christ – unity and fellowship – exemplified in the early Christian church!
Rev George B Macdonald