Luke tells us the early disciples “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). I would like to examine what this statement implies, and some related passages. What is the apostles’ teaching? Does that mean it originated with the apostles? In one sense that is true, since the majority of what we know concerning the revelation of God in the new covenant came through the inspired teaching of the apostles. But in reality it came from above. Even Jesus did not speak of His own initiative (John 12:49; 14:24), although the gospel came through Jesus (Heb 1:1,2). Jesus trained and prepared the apostles to carry on the work of revealing the entire doctrine through the direct guidance of God (John 14:26; 16:13-15). They denied that they were speaking of their own wisdom (1 Cor 2:10-13; 2 Pet 1:16-21). What then do we make of this term? I believe it meant that they looked to only the apostles as their source of doctrine. There were many alternatives available in their day, including the Law of Moses, the Jewish oral traditions that carried the force of law among most Jews, and the edicts of the Sanhedrin, to name a few. Yet they listened to only one source, that which God had demonstrated He had sent. In the same manner I believe that seekers today must limit themselves to only the Bible as the source of doctrine. When a man came to Jesus seeking the entrance to the kingdom, Jesus gave an answer for the ages: What do you read? (Luke 10:25-28). Jesus told the man he answered correctly when he quoted scripture. We cannot fail when we do the same. But, Jesus response to the man implies that there are incorrect answers. Far too often mankind has used logic, feelings, guesswork, and especially, the teachings of other men, to determine to answers to questions about God. Those answers are incorrect.
A second important point about this passage is the attitude the early disciples had for the apostles’ teaching. It tells us they were devoted to their teaching. What is required by that term? It requires us to see a dedication and commitment on the part of these early disciples to listen or read the message and analyze its meaning. With this attitude, it is no surprise the power this message had in changing the lives of those who devoted themselves to it (1 Thess 2:13). What attitudes do the Lord’s people display today towards the word of God? Can anyone honestly say that you are devoted to the Bible’s teachings? I hope the answer is “Yes,” but the evidence of lukewarm, dying saints everywhere suggests it is “No” for many. So many saints do not have any regular pattern of Bible study. They consistently fail to participate in Bible classes, or come unprepared. Many fail to do any independent study at all. Then those same folks will complain when sermons or studies delve into deep, meaty subjects because they are unable to understand the complex analysis necessary to comprehend the subject at hand. Millions, perhaps billions, of people devote themselves to their life’s work. They study it, prepare for it, analyze it and make it their highest priority. All of those efforts are for a fleeting few years in a mortal body. What should be the devotion of the saint in preparation for an eternity in an immortal body (Psa 19:7-14)?