ACTING AND MOVING AS ONE BODY
The entire record of the book of Acts also shows us a group of people who always acted as the Body. From the very first chapter neither Peter, John, nor those one hundred twenty acted individually. Rather, all the actions of this group of people were the actions of the one Body. The one hundred twenty prayed together with one accord, and they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, preached the gospel, bore the testimony of Jesus, and always moved and acted as one Body (1:14; 2:1, 4, 14, 46-47). From chapter one to chapter twenty-eight, the actions of this group of people were the actions of one Body.
It is difficult to find anyone among them who acted individualistically. Although it appears that Philip preached the gospel by himself in chapter eight when he was in Samaria, it was Peter and John who came to confirm his preaching (vv. 5, 14-17). The Holy Spirit, the power upon the Body, did not come upon those believers through Philip’s preaching. It was when Peter and John came and laid hands on the Samaritan believers that the Holy Spirit on the Body was transmitted to them. This proves that even Philip’s preaching was not an individual action. His preaching was related to the move of the Body. Therefore, chapter after chapter in the Acts records the move and activity of the Body, not of individual believers.
The activities recorded in Acts were not only of the Body but also for the Body, that is, for the building up of the church. No one acted in a way that had nothing to do with the Body. Rather, every one acted in a way that was for the building up of the Body. The issue and result of what they did was the building up of the church. The activities in this book are absolutely different from the movement of today’s Christianity. Many in today’s Christianity act in a way that is not of the Body or for the Body. As we have seen, the Acts is a record of a group of people who act and work all the time for the Body and through the Body. Therefore, in this book the churches are built up of out of the activities of those people. The Acts contains a beautiful picture of the one accord in the activities, work, and move of the believers. They always moved in the Body and for the Body.
MOVING, ACTING, AND WORKING IN ONE DIVINE FLOW
Lastly, this book shows us a divine stream, a divine current. This stream flows from the throne in the heavens (Rev. 22:1). What happened in the book of Acts is the same as the picture in Revelation 22. From the throne of God and of Christ, the enthroned Lamb, the flow began, and in the book of Acts it flowed to the earth, beginning from the first station, Jerusalem. All the members of the Body of Christ were in this flow. As this flow proceeded, they simply moved in the current of this flow. This flow eventually went to Antioch (Acts 11:19-21). Antioch became a turning point for the flow to move from the east to the west. From Antioch the flow turned westward across the Aegean Sea, between Asia Minor and Macedonia in the eastern part of Europe, and from that sea the flow reached Europe (16:10-12). From there, the Lord’s move went onward to western Europe and Rome (28:14, 30-31). We can draw a line to trace the flow all the way from Jerusalem to Antioch, westward across the sea to eastern Europe, and from there to the middle part of Europe, including Rome.
The divine stream moved westward rather than toward the east. To understand this, we must know the history, geography, and civilization of the time. At that time it was difficult for people to go eastward. There was no way to turn but toward the west. History tells us that the Roman Empire built many highways. Moreover, there was much traffic on the Mediterranean Sea, and it was very easy for people to sail from Palestine to the west. Not only so, there was much intermingling of the people, and their language and even citizenship were brought together. There was no need to obtain a permit to travel. As long as someone was a Roman citizen, he could travel throughout the entire Mediterranean area. In this way, all the different countries became one under the Roman Empire.
Beginning from Jerusalem in Acts 2 there was only one flow on this earth, and all the early disciples moved, acted, and worked in the flow. There were not two currents in the flow, but always one. All those who were raised up by the Lord sooner or later were brought into the flow. While the flow proceeded westward, believers such as Aquila, Priscilla, Apollos, and others were raised up by the Lord and brought into this one stream (18:2, 24-28).
There is no record of more than one stream. Barnabas was in this one flow up to a certain point; after that he was separated from the flow (15:35-39). Following this, there is no further record of Barnabas in the book of Acts, because he was no longer in the flow. There was only one stream, one current, of the flow. The flow was not like today’s turnpikes, which branch in every direction and confuse people. In the New Jerusalem there is only one flow, one way.
Today there are many works which are not in the one flow, as exemplified by the work of Barnabas. The work of Barnabas was not in the flow, whereas the work of the apostle Paul and his co-workers was. We may do a work for the Lord, yet our work may not be in the one divine flow. Throughout the entire history of the church there has always been a situation that some of the Christian work was in this unique flow, but many works were not in the flow, even though these works were for the Lord. The work of Roman Catholicism, for example, is a work for the Lord, but it is not in the one flow. The work in the flow is the work of the Lord’s present testimony.
Thus far we have seen the principles of the book of Acts. If we apply these principles when we read chapter after chapter, we will be clear about what is in the Acts. We will know its real meaning, and we will have the insight into it. The central meaning of the flow in the Acts is that there is a group of people who know the meaning of resurrection and ascension. They live not by themselves but by Christ as their life, and they act not according to certain ways or methods but by the living Christ as their strength, power, method, and way. Moreover, they realize that they are the Body, and they always act in the Body and for the Body in the one divine stream. May we all be clear to such an extent that we not only know the resurrection and ascension, but we live in resurrection and act in ascension, not by ourselves but in the Body, for the Body, and in one flow. This is the real meaning of the book of Acts.
(General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 1: The Gospels and the Acts, Chapter 8, by Witness Lee)