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. (Acts 20:7)
When The Disciples Came Together
The purpose of the revelation of the New Testament was to guide the minds and hearts of disciples throughout the generations that wanted to find the truth given by the Lord to lost men. God chooses to reveal Himself in the written word so that all people could have a common knowledge of what they must do to be saved. Without this written testimony, there would be confusion over what the will of the Lord would be for sinful man. Inscribing the testimony of the mind of God to the printed page allows everyone from all time to see, know and understand the precepts, commands and pattern of the new covenant of Jesus Christ. God does not speak to men today in a direct fashion as He did at other times. It requires a diligent study of the written word to know the measure of truth. This is how anyone will begin to understand the pattern of the New Testament church with its organization, purpose and design. Reading the scriptures opens the mind to see the beauty in God’s eternal design as found in the New Testament church. It is imperative that men see the need to establish all they do upon the word of God and nothing else. The Bible is a book containing many books telling the story of the beginning of humanity, its need for salvation and the means by which God provided that salvation. Jesus Christ is the central theme of scripture and He declares that He will build His church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. The church was not an afterthought of Christ but an eternal fulfillment of God’s purpose. If a man is to be obedient to the heavenly pattern of the New Testament church, he must find within the pages of the Bible how to establish the one true church. Luke, a historian of notable reputation, wrote a history of the early church from its beginning to its expansion into the world. One of the elements of the character of the church is found in the many journeys of the apostle Paul.
While on his third missionary journey, Paul comes to the city of Troas to worship with the saints. Paul and his company had left Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread arriving in Troas five days later. They planned to stay a full seven days with the church. Luke explains the church in Troas came together on the first day of the week to break bread and Paul preached to the assembly. The Holy Spirit does not mince words when He inscribes the word of God on the hearts of men. There is a clear reason the text says the disciples came together on the first day of the week. If a man desires to know about the New Testament church, one question that must be answered is when will the saints assemble and for what purpose will they gather? God could easily have given a bulleted list of organizational notations for everyone to follow but He did not. Instead, the careful student of scripture will examine thoroughly the text to find the pattern of how the New Testament church obeyed the will of the Lord. Luke reveals in the story of Troas how often the early Christians came together and for what purpose they assembled. This pattern is found in other letters of Paul when he writes to the Corinthians to gather on the first day of the week to make a collection. He also speaks to the Corinthians about the Lord’s Supper when the church came together. The church in Ephesus, Colosse, Thessalonica and all the churches of Galatia followed a common pattern based upon the information given to them by the apostles, teachers, and preachers of the day. They understood a pattern had to be established and like the brethren at Troas, assembled on the first day of the week to break bread (Lord’s Supper). This theme is constant throughout the New Testament.
For modern man the task is simple: read the New Testament and follow the divine pattern. Genesis sets forth the eternal pattern of God in creation that has remained unchanged and the New Testament sets forth the eternal pattern of God in the church of Christ that must be followed. Jesus built one church, died for one church, gave His life for one church and is the head of one church. That church is real and vibrant throughout the world today as it follows the teachings of the New Testament. There are many churches that claim to be the church but they do not follow the pattern of the New Testament church. When the disciples came together on the first day of the week in Troas, they were following a pattern delivered to them by the word of God. As they gathered to remember the sacrifice of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper, they fulfilled another New Testament pattern of every first day of the week in keeping with the command of God. The true church today will gather each first day of the week which is called Sunday. On this day, and every first day of the week (every Sunday), they will assemble to break bread or commune in the supper of the Lord. There will be exceptions or qualifying the word of God. The authority is clear. Paul left a pattern for all men to follow. Faithful churches of Christ come together each first day of the week and partake of the Lord’s Supper. That is the New Testament pattern.