Acts Shows What the Early Church Believed and Practiced

You are here

Acts Shows What the Early Church Believed and Practiced

Login or Create an Account

With a UCG.org account you will be able to save items to read and study later!

Sign In | Sign Up

×

Its initial chapters describe the Church’s founding and early years; its later chapters describe the travels and actions of the apostle Paul.

The common view among most churches today is that Jesus came to abolish the Old Testament laws and that Paul taught that keeping these laws was no longer necessary for Christians. But what does the book of Acts reveal about what the early Church thought and did? Does it support this view, or does it show us something very different? Was it in conflict with typical Jewish custom and practice of the day as laid down in the Old Testament? Look at the evidence yourself—you be the judge!

Acts 2:1 Acts 2:1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
American King James Version×
—The New Testament Church miraculously began when the members were assembled on the Feast of Pentecost (also called the Feast of Weeks or Firstfruits), in accordance with God’s commands of Leviticus 23:15-16 Leviticus 23:15-16 15 And you shall count to you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16 Even to the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meat offering to the LORD.
American King James Version×
, Leviticus 23:21 Leviticus 23:21And you shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation to you: you shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
American King James Version×
and Deuteronomy 16:16 Deuteronomy 16:16Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the LORD your God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
American King James Version×
.

Acts 2:46 Acts 2:46And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
American King James Version×
—The early Church met daily “with one accord in the temple.”

Acts 5:19-20 Acts 5:19-20 19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
American King James Version×
—After the apostles were imprisoned, an angel told the apostles to continue teaching at the temple.

Acts 5:21 Acts 5:21And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
American King James Version×
, Acts 5:25 Acts 5:25Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.
American King James Version×
, Acts 5:42 Acts 5:42And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×
—The apostles continued teaching in the temple.

Acts 5:32 Acts 5:32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God has given to them that obey him.
American King James Version×
— Peter taught that God gives His Holy Spirit “to those who obey Him.”

Acts 6:7 Acts 6:7And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
American King James Version×
—”A large number of priests became obedient to the faith” (NIV)—they saw no contradiction between Christianity and their roles as priests.

Acts 7:1-53 Acts 7:1-53 1 Then said the high priest, Are these things so? 2 And he said, Men, brothers, and fathers, listen; The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelled in Charran, 3 And said to him, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and come into the land which I shall show you. 4 Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelled in Charran: and from there, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein you now dwell. 5 And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. 6 And God spoke on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. 7 And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 8 And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. 9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 10 And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11 Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers; and Joseph’s kindred was made known to Pharaoh. 14 Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, three score and fifteen souls. 15 So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, 16 And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulcher that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. 17 But when the time of the promise drew near, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 18 Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. 19 The same dealt subtly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. 20 In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months: 21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. 23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 For he supposed his brothers would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 26 And the next day he showed himself to them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, you are brothers; why do you wrong one to another? 27 But he that did his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Will you kill me, as you did the Egyptian yesterday? 29 Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. 30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the LORD came to him, 32 Saying, I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and dared not behold. 33 Then said the Lord to him, Put off your shoes from your feet: for the place where you stand is holy ground. 34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you into Egypt. 35 This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made you a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush. 36 He brought them out, after that he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37 This is that Moses, which said to the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up to you of your brothers, like to me; him shall you hear. 38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spoke to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give to us: 39 To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 40 Saying to Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him. 41 And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice to the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 42 Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O you house of Israel, have you offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43 Yes, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which you made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. 44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking to Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, to the days of David; 46 Who found favor before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 47 But Solomon built him an house. 48 However, the most High dwells not in temples made with hands; as said the prophet, 49 Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will you build me? said the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 50 Has not my hand made all these things? 51 You stiff necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
American King James Version×
—Stephen explained that Jesus Christ and Christianity are the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and a natural outgrowth of what the Old Testament scriptures foretold.

Acts 8:26-39 Acts 8:26-39 26 And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert. 27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot. 30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understand you what you read? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray you, of whom speaks the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus. 36 And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what does hinder me to be baptized? 37 And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
American King James Version×
—Philip explained to the Ethiopian eunuch how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies.

Acts 9:20 Acts 9:20And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
American King James Version×
—Immediately after his miraculous conversion, Paul “preached the Christ in the synagogues” in Damascus.

Acts 10:14 Acts 10:14But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
American King James Version×
—About a decade after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, Peter said, “I have never eaten anything common or unclean”—he obviously was continuing to obey God’s laws regarding clean and unclean meats found in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. (To understand the true meaning of this passage, and how it is grossly misinterpreted, request or download our free booklet Clean and Unclean Meats: What Does the Bible Really Teach? )

Acts 11:8 Acts 11:8But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean has at any time entered into my mouth.
American King James Version×
— Peter recounted the event, saying, “Nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.”

Acts 13:5 Acts 13:5And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister.
American King James Version×
—In Salamis on Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas “preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews.”

Acts 13:14-41 Acts 13:14-41 14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15 And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, You men and brothers, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. 16 Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and you that fear God, give audience. 17 The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelled as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. 18 And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. 19 And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Chanaan, he divided their land to them by lot. 20 And after that he gave to them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21 And afterward they desired a king: and God gave to them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up to them David to be their king; to whom also he gave their testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfill all my will. 23 Of this man’s seed has God according to his promise raised to Israel a Savior, Jesus: 24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think you that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there comes one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. 26 Men and brothers, children of the stock of Abraham, and whoever among you fears God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. 27 For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. 28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulcher. 30 But God raised him from the dead: 31 And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses to the people. 32 And we declare to you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made to the fathers, 33 God has fulfilled the same to us their children, in that he has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, You are my Son, this day have I begotten you. 34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. 35 Why he said also in another psalm, You shall not suffer your Holy One to see corruption. 36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid to his fathers, and saw corruption: 37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. 38 Be it known to you therefore, men and brothers, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins: 39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest that come on you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 41 Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it to you.
American King James Version×
—In Pisidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas taught in the synagogue on the Sabbath, explaining from the Old Testament scriptures that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah and Son of God.

Acts 13:42 Acts 13:42And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles sought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.
American King James Version×
—At the conclusion of this synagogue service, “the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath.” If the Sabbath were done away, Paul and Barnabas missed a golden opportunity to explain to these gentiles that they could teach them the very next day—Sunday—or any other day. Instead they met again the next Sabbath!

Acts 13:44 Acts 13:44And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.
American King James Version×
—”On the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God” taught by Paul and Barnabas. In all of the many mentions of Paul teaching on the Sabbath, not once is there so much as a hint that they need not be there to observe the Sabbath as commanded, nor any hint that they should instead meet on Sunday.

Acts 14:1 Acts 14:1And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.
American King James Version×
— Paul and Barnabas taught in the synagogue in Iconium.

Acts 15:20-21 Acts 15:20-21 20 But that we write to them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
American King James Version×
—At the conclusion of the Jerusalem conference on the issue of circum-cision, the Church pointed gentile Christians to regulations that would allow them to meet alongside Jews in synagogues, where “Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath” (NIV).

Acts 16:13 Acts 16:13And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spoke to the women which resorted thither.
American King James Version×
—In Philippi, Paul met with Jews on the Sabbath beside a river and taught them about Jesus Christ.

Acts 17:1-2 Acts 17:1-2 1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
American King James Version×
—In Thessalonica, Paul, “as his custom was,” went to the synagogue “and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures.”

Acts 17:10-11 Acts 17:10-11 10 And the brothers immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night to Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
American King James Version×
—In Berea, Paul and Silas “went into the synagogue of the Jews” and taught, after which their hearers “searched the [Old Testament] Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

Acts 17:17 Acts 17:17Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
American King James Version×
—In Athens, Paul reasoned in the synagogue with Jews and gentiles.

Acts 18:4 Acts 18:4And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.
American King James Version×
—In Corinth, Paul “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.”

Acts 18:19 Acts 18:19And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews.
American King James Version×
—In Ephesus, Paul “entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.”

Acts 18:21 Acts 18:21But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that comes in Jerusalem: but I will return again to you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
American King James Version×
— Paul departed Ephesus, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem”—in accordance with God’s command in Deuteronomy 16:16 Deuteronomy 16:16Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the LORD your God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
American King James Version×
.

Acts 19:8 Acts 19:8And he went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God.
American King James Version×
—After returning to Ephesus, Paul “went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months.”

Acts 20:6 Acts 20:6And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came to them to Troas in five days; where we stayed seven days.
American King James Version×
— Paul and his group “sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread,” one of God’s festivals commanded in Leviticus 23:6 Leviticus 23:6And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
American King James Version×
and Deuteronomy 16:16 Deuteronomy 16:16Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the LORD your God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
American King James Version×
.

Acts 20:16 Acts 20:16For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hurried, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
American King James Version×
— Paul changed his travel plans because “he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost,” another of God’s festivals.

Acts 21:20 Acts 21:20And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said to him, You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law:
American King James Version×
—In Jerusalem, the apostles told Paul that “many thousands of Jews have believed [in Jesus Christ], and all of them are zealous for the law” (NIV). They saw no contradiction between Christianity and the laws they had always followed.

Acts 21:21-26 Acts 21:21-26 21 And they are informed of you, that you teach all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. 22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that you are come. 23 Do therefore this that we say to you: We have four men which have a vow on them; 24 Them take, and purify yourself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning you, are nothing; but that you yourself also walk orderly, and keep the law. 25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.
American King James Version×
—To counter false accusations that he taught against the law and to show that he himself was “living in obedience to the law” (NIV), Paul joined with several men to be purified at the temple and to pay their expenses for their rites and offerings.

Acts 24:14 Acts 24:14But this I confess to you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
American King James Version×
— Paul, in a legal hearing before the Roman governor Felix, stated that he worshiped the God of his fathers and believed “all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets”—the Old Testament.

Acts 25:8 Acts 25:8While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
American King James Version×
—In a legal hearing before the next Roman governor, Festus, Paul said, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”

Acts 27:9 Acts 27:9Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
American King James Version×
—Luke noted that sailing in the Mediterranean Sea in late autumn “was now dangerous because the Fast”—a reference to the Day of Atonement, one of God’s Holy Days (Leviticus 23:27 Leviticus 23:27Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD.
American King James Version×
)—”was already over.”

Acts 28:17 Acts 28:17And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said to them, Men and brothers, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
American King James Version×
—Speaking to the Jews in Rome where he was now a prisoner, Paul told them, “I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers.”

The record from the book of Acts couldn’t be clearer. Paul and the early Church were not at odds with the laws of the Old Testament!