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42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all the believers were together and had all things in common; 45 and they would sell their property and possessions and share them with all, to the extent that anyone had need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, NASB20)

Were the following activities/good deeds/expressions of faith taking place in the Temple or in houses?

  1. (v. 42) saints were being taught by the Apostles
  2. (v. 42) saints were fellowshipping with one another (spending time together doing and giving in Christ?)
  3. (v. 42) saints were breaking bread (the Lord's Supper, possibly while having a meal as Jesus did?)
  4. (v. 42) saints were praying
  5. (v. 43) saints were feeling a sense of awe
  6. (v. 43) saints were witnessing wonders and signs done by the Apostles
  7. (v. 44) saints were together (fellowshipping)
  8. (v. 44) saints had all things in common (sharing everything)
  9. (v. 45) saints were selling their property and possessions (sharing everything)
  10. (v. 45) saints were sharing them with all to the extent that anyone had need (sharing everything)
  11. (v. 46) TEMPLE - saints were continuing with one mind in the Temple, daily (the things they initiated including all the above?)
  12. (v. 46) HOUSES - saints were breaking bread from house to house and taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart (could the meal include the Lord's Supper?)
  13. (v. 47) saint were praising God and having favor with all the people
  14. (v. 47) saints were added to their number by the Lord day by day those who were being saved

Also, where were the saints taking the weekly Lord's Supper together in v. 42, in the Temple or in houses?

  • If in the Temple
    • As they must have been thousands of people, this would require everyone to bring their own unleavened bread and fruit of the vine (grape juice or wine) to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ as it would be hard to imagine people cooking bread and preparing drinks for a megachurch.
    • This would also imply that they would have not taken the meaning of breaking One loaf only and drinking from One cup only literally as this would also be impossible to do for thousands of people. The loaf of bread, and the cup would not be large enough.
  • If in houses
    • Would that include a regular meal as the text in v. 46 seems to suggest?
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  • 1
    I suggest that your research indicates a transition period as the New Testament was inaugurated and established (as had been prophesied that it would) and as the old passed away. Good research up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 12 at 20:59

3 Answers 3

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The simple key to this question is provided by Acts 2:46 which says:

  • each day steadfastly continuing with one accord in the temple
  • and breaking bread at each house

Note the two separate activities - meaning meeting (and presumably praising and praying) at the temple, but, breaking bread and partaking of food in houses.

This suggests that the temple, at least initially was still the focus for general worship (this later fell away as the church scattered beyond Jerusalem) but they also enjoyed general food and probably communion services in houses.

"Breaking bread" is a relatively rare phrase that occurs only in Acts 2:46, 20:7, 11 and is much debated. It most probably includes simply eating together and sometimes a communion service.

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  • 1
    +1 I completely agree with this answer, and would add that the situation may have been diverse and that it evolved during the period in question. For example, many church members sold their property for the community good, yet others opened their houses for communal meals and meetings. (We should not imagine the church as a group of homeless people who only met in the Temple.) Commented Mar 13 at 4:51
  • @DanFefferman - agreed - good points. Many thanks.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 13 at 9:36
0

This is my initial examination: In Acts 2:42-47, I would suggest that the activities and expressions of faith of the first Christians in Jerusalem were taking place both in the Temple and in houses.

Let's look at each part:

Teaching by the Apostles (v. 42): This likely occurred primarily in the Temple courts where large gatherings could take place. The Apostles could teach the crowds who assembled there.

  • Acts 5:20 NKJV

    20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”

Fellowship (v. 42): Fellowship in Christian community, likely occurred both in the Temple and in houses. Believers could then have interacted with one another, shared meals, and supported each other spiritually and materially. (Acts 2:46-47)

  • Romans 16:5 NKJV

    5 Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.

Breaking Bread (v. 42): This phrase likely refers to the Lord's Supper, which would have been observed regularly in smaller gatherings, possibly in houses, and also to the sharing of meals in a communal setting, which could have taken place both in houses and in larger gatherings in the Temple.

  • Acts 20:7-8 NKJV

    7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. 8 There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together.

Prayer (v. 42): Prayer would have been a central activity for the early Christians, and it likely took place both in the Temple and in houses, as individuals and groups gathered for worship and intercession.

  • Acts 3:1 NKJV

    3 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

  • Acts 12:12 NKJV

    12 So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.

Sense of Awe (v. 43): This sense of awe and wonder at the miraculous signs and the presence of God would have been experienced by the believers wherever they gathered, whether in the Temple or in houses.

  • Acts 3:8-10 NKJV

    8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Witnessing Wonders and Signs (v. 43): These miraculous signs performed by the Apostles would have likely been observed primarily in the public setting of the Temple courts, where large crowds could witness them. (Acts 2:43)

  • Acts 5:12 NKJV

    12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.

Sharing (vv. 44-45): This could have been done anywhere, both in smaller house gatherings and in the larger gatherings in the Temple, as they lived out their commitment to caring for one another.

  • Acts 4:32 NKJV

    32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

Continuing in the Temple (v. 46): This clearly refers to the believers gathering together in the Temple courts. This could include for worship, teaching, and prayer, as well as for special occasions such as the Lord's Supper.

  • Acts 5:42 NKJV

    42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Breaking Bread from House to House (v. 46): This suggests smaller gatherings in individual homes where believers would share meals, including the Lord's Supper, and fellowship with one another.

  • Acts 20:7 NKJV

    7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

Praising God and Evangelism (v. 47): The praise and evangelism mentioned in this verse would have been expressed, again, both in the Temple and in smaller gatherings in houses, as believers shared the Gospel and worshipped God together. (Acts 2:47, Acts 5:42)

0

Acts 2:42 is a description of their regular worship assembly. Continued steadfastly has the connotation of regular attendance at something. Likely a reference to the celebration of the Lord’s Day (Acts 20:7). The apostles’ teachings alludes to teaching activities. “The fellowship” likely refers to the following two items: the fellowship of the breaking of the bread and the prayer services.

Breaking bread may refer to either common meals or the Lord’s Supper, depending on context. Thus this the Lord’s Supper. The prayers is the common way of referring to worship services, and including hymns. The environs of the temple were very open. This favors services in the temple.

Acts 2:46 is a reference to mutual benevolence, including sharing meals at homes — see the Greek original.

Acts 2:42 is separate from 2:46 as shown by the intervening summary statement.

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