And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was on them all.
Grace sometimes denotes the full and undeserved compassion which our Heavenly Father manifests to a lost world. At other times, the term is employed to describe the subduing and sanctifying effects of this marvellous love. In the text it is to be understood as referring to both. Great grace was manifest —
I. IN THEIR EARNEST AND UNITED PRAYERS. They held frequent communion with the God of all grace. This practice was habitual (Acts 1:14). On any unusual occasion of trial, prayer was their first and last resort (Acts 4:31; Acts 12:5; Acts 21:5). If "great grace" is to rest upon believers in our time, it will be when they realise the cheering promise of their Lord (Matthew 18:20). No matter how small, or how great the number, nor from what quarter, nor the place of assembly, He — the Prophet, Priest, and King of His Church — will be present to bless.
II. IN THEIR STEADFAST DEVOTION TO SCRIPTURE DOCTRINE. Indifference to Divine truth is always the sign that the spark of grace in the heart is near extinction. The first-fruits of the day of Pentecost, instead of dividing themselves up into rival factions, to suit their individual caprice, "continued steadfast in the apostles' doctrine" (Acts 2:42).
III. IN THEIR LOVE ONE TO ANOTHER (ver. 32). When a company of Christians in Numidia had been taken prisoners by barbarians, and the churches to which (hey belonged were unable to pay their ransom, they sent to the Church in Carthage. Bishop no sooner heard of this than he set himself at work, and never relaxed his efforts until he had collected the necessary sum. This substantial token of brotherly kindness was not more gratifying than the letter of Christian sympathy and tenderness which accompanied it. "In cases like these," wrote the bishop, "who would not feel sorrow, and who would not look upon a brother's sufferings as his own?" As the apostle says, "When one member suffers, all the members suffer with it" (1 Corinthians 12:26). Therefore, we must consider the captivity of our brethren as our own captivity. We must see Christ in our captive brethren, and redeem Him from captivity who redeemed us from death.
IV. IN THE HOLY JOY AND PEACE IN BELIEVING WITH WHICH THEY TRIUMPHED IN EVERY PLACE.
V. IN THE SPIRIT AND DEPORTMENT WITH WHICH THEY RECOMMENDED THEIR RELIGION TO THE WORLD (Acts 2:47). A Christian young man was asked what had led him to turn aside from his wild and thoughtless career to become a follower of Jesus. Was it a sermon or a book that had improved him? He answered very emphatically, No. Had any one spoken to him specially on the subject of religion? "No. It was a Christian man, who boarded at the same house with me." "Did he ever talk to you about your soul?" "No, never, till I sought an interview with him; but there was a sweetness in his disposition, a heavenly-mindedness about him, that made me feel that he had a source of comfort and peace, to which I was a stranger. His whole life was a sermon. I sought an interview with him. He pointed me to Jesus Christ, prayed with me and counselled me." In this, and in all such cases, religion is preached most eloquently to the world. About twenty years ago, a Christian woman of London was asked to take charge of a Bible-class of three young women. Although the work was a very humble one, she shrank from its responsibilities, and, with many misgivings, consented to the trial. The first month's experience was so encouraging that she consented to go on with the work, and the class constantly increased in numbers. From fifty, it soon grew to eighty, and a larger room was provided. In the course of a few years the Bible-class became five hundred strong; and now, at the age of sixty-nine, the faithful teacher (Mrs. Bartlett) has fallen asleep in Jesus. She was not a woman of marked ability, but simply one who gave up her whole self to the service of the Lord. This was the secret of her success. She knew the members of her large class, and called them by their names. She visited them at their homes, and wrote letters to the absent ones. For each, and for all of them, she prayed unceasingly. Her pupils are scattered over the whole earth, and many of them are telling to others the good tidings she brought to them.
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.