SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Friday November 1, 1996

Further Study

If you wish to learn more about how the early church was organized, read "The Seven Deacons" in The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 87-96.

Unity in diversity. When Jesus told His disciples to take the gospel to all nations (Matt. 28:19), that is exactly what they did. Read the following texts, and locate the places they mention on the map (This will help you to comprehend the diversity of cultures and nationalities that composed the apostolic church.): Acts 2:5-11; 8:4, 5, 26, 27; 10:1; 13:4.

Acts 13:1 also describes diversity in church leadership. "The different connections and activities of the men mentioned here indicate that the church at Antioch enjoyed a cosmopolitan leadership. Barnabas was a Cypriote; Lucius, a Cyrenian; Manaen, apparently a Palestinian aristocrat; and Saul, a rabbi from Tarsus in Cilicia....

"Simeon. This man's first name, Simeon, or Simon, indicates that he was of Jewish origin. His second name is a Latin adjective meaning 'black', which he may have assumed, or may have been given, because of a dark complexion."--SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 279.


1. Judging from such texts as Acts 1:14; 9:36-42; 16:11-15; 17:4, 12; 18:1-3, 24-28; Romans 16:1-4, 6, 7, 12, 15,  what was the role of women in the apostolic church?

2. How can unity and spiritual purity be preserved in the church in light of Jesus' prayer in John 17?  What provision has God made to accomplish this unity?

3. "Primitive godliness" was a hallmark of the apostolic church.  What are the true characteristics of such godliness?  How can "Primitive godliness" be the primary characteristic of our church today?

SUMMARY: Blazing with the light of Christ's love and teaching, the early church forged ahead, planting everywhere the standard of Calvary's cross. The immensity of the work and the diversity of the people reached by the gospel did not diminish God's power to preserve unity within the church. The Lord maintained the integrity of His gospel and the bonds of fellowship in two ways: (1) through councils with appropriately appointed representatives from the world field and (2) through the inspired writings of the apostles and prophets.