Acts 1:14 and 2:46 – “Of One Mind”

In the days leading up to Pentecost, Luke describes the disciples of Jesus as being of “one mind.” This nouns (ὁμοθυμαδόν) is repeated in 2:46 (translated simply as “together” in the ESV) and 4:24 to describe the worship of the apostolic community. As Keener notices, the word forms an inclusio, framing the events of Pentecost with the idea of the unity of this early community of believers (Acts, 1:751). In fact, the unity of the early community is an important theme in Acts.

The word means “one passion” (ὁμός, “common,” and θυμός, “passion, anger”), and can be used for any group that has a single interest, whether for good or bad. For example, in Acts 8:6 it describes the crowd paying close attention to Philip the Evangelist). In Acts 15:25 the word is used for the unanimous decision of the Jerusalem council.

The shoe is the sign. Let us follow His example.

The shoe is the sign.
Let us follow His example.

But the word is not always positive since the crowd in Acts 7:57 were also “of one mind” when rushed out to stone Stephen, in 18:12 for the Corinthian Jewish attack on Paul, and in 19:29 for the mob in Ephesus which rushed into the theater to (potentially) persecute Gaius and his companions. and 12:20 (political parties in agreement). It can even be used quite generically, as in Acts 5:12 where it simply has the sense of the word is simple “together.”

The idea of unity is important for Paul in his letters. In Phil 1:27, for example, he urges the readers to “be of one mind.” In Col 3:14 Paul tells his readers to “put on love” since that will bind them together in “perfect harmony.” There are examples in the Hebrew Bible of people coming together as “one person” (Ezra 3:1, Neh 8:1). The Greco-Roman world thought that harmony was a virtue, Dio Chrysostom said “For when we praise human beings, it should be for their good discipline, gentleness, concord, civic order, for heeding those who give good counsel, and for not being always in search of pleasures” (Or. 32.37).

In the first century, groups that were peaceful and harmonious were attractive, no one would join a movement which was perceived as fragmented and tempestuous. The reason that Luke highlights unity throughout the book is that unity and harmony where attractive to the Greco-Roman world. Luke presents the community in Jerusalem as unified around certain beliefs about Jesus as well as a few practices (prayer, sharing meals together, etc.)

If there is anything in the earliest community of followers of Jesus which ought to be a model for all churches, it is this unity of mind and purpose. It is fairly easy to point to church splits or denominationalism as symptoms of a larger problem. Everyone knows of a church which has been through a split, a pastor who was divisive, or a denomination which seems designed to fight with other Christians. It quite easy to point the finger at Fred Phelps (someone I do not consider a Christian). There are plenty examples of disunity in churches I respect.

But the early community did separate on some theological issues, primarily who Jesus was, and later in the book of Acts there will be significant differences between Paul and other Jews on the issue of Gentile salvation. While Acts 15 is sometimes used as a prime example of unity, there are some serious differences between the parties even in that point in story of Acts. This means that there are some things that are intensely important, things that unify Christians everywhere. It also means there are less-important issues. How can the church of the twenty-first century use the unity of the believers in Acts as a model for “doing church” today? What is it that ought to unify us, what might separate us?

My guess is that the things with unify are more important that the things which separate.

18 thoughts on “Acts 1:14 and 2:46 – “Of One Mind”

  1. Unity is one of the most important aspects that a church needs in order to be glorifying God in all that is done. There are many ways to answer the questions that you posed at the end of this article, there are many issues that divide churches and there are many aspects that should unify churches. There are a couple issues that are close to my heart that I have witnessed in the churches that I have been to that I’m going to mention. The issue that I have seen that has divided believers in a church the most is the issue of different beliefs, denominations. My girlfriends church is a borderline Pentecostal church, as they believe in the gift of tongues and prophecy and they are very charismatic. Not that I disagree with their beliefs, instead I disagree with how they express their beliefs. Her church is a great church, they always have a good message, but in a lot of their services someone will get in front of the congregation and speak in tongues and someone will claim to interpret them. Personally I think that it is wrong for churches to use the gift of tongues in front of the church because that isn’t a really effective way of reaching out to new people. People who come to her church for the first time, I feel, will be pushed away, thinking that Christianity is crazy. I go to South Harbor where the main vision of the church is to preach the Gospel, or as the pastor says, to preach about Jesus. He speaks to any crowd that may come to the church, it is a non denominational church. In Hebrews 12, we are told to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” I feel like there is also truth to this shown in Hebrews 2 where it says to pay careful attention so that we don’t drift away.” I think churches are drifting away, getting distracted by issues that are not worth the division they cause.
    Unity looks like community. It says at the end of Acts 2 that they met in the temple every day. That is what community looks like. Now church looks like a lot of people just wanting to spend their hour with God for the week and get on with their Sunday. What has happened to the fellowship? Some other things that should unify the church are ministry, prayer, accountability. The little beliefs that are more of personal conviction are smaller issues than the means of fellowship and spiritual growth among believers and the bringing in of unbelievers.

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  2. Unity amongst believers in one church causes amazing things to happen and if there was unity amongst all Christians this world would be a different place. I have personally seen two churches work together, sharing resources and people at activities that allow 170 people to hear the gospel twice a week, and if they didn’t work together only 80 would. I have also seen two churches that because of some small disagreements decide not to work together and the amount of people reached dropped by at least 150! In Acts Chapter 2 we see glimpses of what unity can do when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and other believers. At the end of the Chapter we see the full picture of this unity as all these believers and the new ones who had come to faith become one! “All believers were together and had everything in common…They gave to anyone as he had need…every day they continued to meet together…Praising God…and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:44-47) They all had “One Mind”, “One Passion” and this one unifying Goal to tell others about Jesus Christ increased their numbers every day! It would be amazing to hear every church, or every believer be able to say that they are seeing one person come to faith every day! There honestly is so much disunity today and most of it over things that don’t matter like style of music, accidents, and small doctrinal interpretations. No matter where we go humans are going to have their own little ideas or interpretations of the Bible. But the focus of every church and believer should be founded on the non-negotiable of the Bible like God always existed, he created all things, Jesus Christ is Gods son, salvation is through Grace alone believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Those who received the Holy Spirit and came to faith in Acts 2 where not worried about their own personal interests or interpretations they just wanted to share the incredible gift they had just received with everyone else. Believers and churches today should be unified by the goal of telling everyone of Jesus Christ.

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  3. For the Greco-Romans, harmony was considered a virtue (“Of one mind”…). As I read that in the first century groups who were harmonious and of one mind were attractive to others; people were less likely to join movements that were dysfunctional or were not united (“Of one mind”…). I think that the united front that was shown to the community by the apostles was very glorifying to God. I agree that the model of unity of the early Christians can definitely be an example for the Church today. I think that although there are times were it is necessary for a church to split or go different directions, I also think that people should do everything in their power to first be unified. I think that when people join churches, they should carefully examine what the church says are their core values and that the people agree and acknowledge that the church is doing its best effort to live that out. However, I think that if a pastor is divisive, then perhaps the church needs a new pastor. I believe that someone called to that position of leadership should foremost do their best to keep unity among believers and only as a last resort should division happen. Even if in the end division is what is best, I think the people of the church should do their best to maintain the sanctity of being of one mind in Christ. I believe that Christians unified; God glorified.

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  4. As twenty-first century believers, we can draw many examples of how a church can be bound in unity today.

    A big part of unity is acknowledging the unique strengths and gifts of each individual and using them to glorify God as a whole. In Acts 6:1, the disciples choose seven men among them to go and serve the widows. These men “selected were better equipped to serve and communicate with the widows” (ESV Study notes). In Acts 19:36, we hear of a disciple named Tabitha (Dorcas) who had died. Her ministry was also to the windows, making clothes for them. Somewhere along her life, Tabitha saw a need that she uniquely could fill to further God’s kingdom, and she took action. As believers today, we can use these examples, constantly look for roles we can accomplish, and take action. “If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:19-20) and one Spirit (Eph. 4:4).

    Physical closeness is another important attribute of unity we can gather from Acts, and throughout the rest of Scripture. In Acts 2:1, we see that that “they were all together in one place.” Although it is impossible for all of the believers to be in one place, smaller congrgations of people are essential for growth. Worshiping together, sharing in what God has done, grapping over scripture, and learning from one another.

    There are some things in the early church that we cannot and, in some cases, should not apply to the church today, but there are many amazing models that we can apply today.

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  5. As evidenced by many others, the theme of unity in Acts 2 is rather important. As the Body of Christ, we are called to build up the Church, not tear it down. This does not mean that the Church is perfect. Certainly, there is going to be strife and division among members of the Body. Personally, I have had more displeasure with the Church. I was outcast from four Churches for multiple reasons, and as a result, this has turned me away from the Church as it stands today. As the apostles in Acts 2 illustrate this theme of unity, I believe that unity between the Body shows a true demonstration of the unity that is displayed between God the Father, and God the Son. This is one model from Acts that the Church in America can greatly benefit from in this day and age.

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  6. Clearly unity is very important in the world church and is a key theme that runs throughout Acts. This has quite obviously been an issue since the days of the early church as Christians have split off to form many different dominations. I’d say that the problem is even deeper than that and argue that most churches aren’t very just among themselves. I think a take away from the unity we see in Acts is that individual churches should be more “of one mind.” I think that means the entire church body needs to have a better knowledge of the missions of the church, the goals and measures being taken to accomplish those goals. The church should function more as a body where everyone is key and involved rather than having the church administration carrying the entire church on their backs. The administration should be leading the church but not doing all the outreach and work to accomplish the goals on their own.

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  7. “Strength through unity, unity through faith” (V for Vendetta). This quote I think begins to shed light on the importance of unity. Unity comes from faith and produces strength. Not only is it important to remember that a committed faith is a faith that is unchangeable complete surrender to idea, person, or action. So how can this become strength? When you have one person who believes an idea the masses can overpower that one. However when the masses believe an idea it is much more difficult to overpower the mass.

    So the question that needs to be answered is what disconnects us and what unifies us? This is something that Christians have been struggling with since the early generations of Christianity. I think that the starting point for this discussion needs to be Christ’s example. When I think of disunity I think of the examples of others and myself of when we have not acted in a Christ like manner. Disunity among Christians will come from differences of opinion in actions, beliefs, and theologies. However I think it is imperative to point to the early church and see that they were not much different from us, save for one huge difference.

    Acts 2:42 “42 they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.” This passage concretely shows the unity between the early churches, but there was also disagreement and differences in opinions between them shown in Acts 10 when peter is confronted with his vision of animals. This may have been a dispute between Paul and Peter, and the other apostles, however there was still unity. How is this done? This is accomplished by the following of the basics of Jesus’s teachings, devotion to loving each other, prayer, fellowship, and completing the mission/purpose of which God had sent them to accomplish.

    P long even states “Everyone knows of a church which has been through a split, a pastor who was divisive, or a denomination which seems designed to fight with other Christians.” This is true, and a great example of Christians not seeing the basic most simplistic teaching of Jesus that even though we have differences, hesitations, misunderstandings, frustrations, confusion, or disconnect there can still be unity between the churches of today. If the churches are committed to the faith, the true faith, and to the accomplishment of the mission of the church/body of Christ, then there can be unity even in the face of slight disagreements.

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  8. When you ask the question what are the things that should unify us and what are things that could separate us. I truly believe that where the Holy Spirit is there should be no separation. It seems impossible to me to have the Spirit be divided. Now when i state this I am talking on bigger issues of the Church. Now if we take the issue of baptism I truly feel that the Church as a whole should be united in this. Being a issue of salvation to some and a issue of showing inward change to others seems as though there seems to be that some perhaps are not quite in unison with the Holy Spirit. As bold of statement as that may be, or perhaps it’s not that bold. Now for issues that are more personal such as should some eat meat and others not. That is a individualistic thing and one has to decide whether or not the Spirit has convicted them of that. The same goes with the drinking of alcohol, now for some that is completely wrong and for others they feel no conviction for having a drink with dinner. I do whole heartily agree with your statement about the westboro baptist church. While Christ preached with the Spirit of love it is the exact opposite spirit that they preach. I would have to say that they are not in unity with the spirit. As verse 44 says they had “everything in common” the early church was together and new what they needed to do so it was done.

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  9. I really liked what Furno had to say on being in one mind. For the church to be on the same page would be a huge accomplishment! If we could agree on the mission and the goals of the church that would be huge. We would all have the same goals and there would be unity. However, we do not see that within the Christian “world”. We are very divided even on basic goals (from what I have seen)

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  10. It is incredibly sad when churches split and when people who have been in a church for any amount of time feel the need to leave. We don’t think of this as unity. Obviously separation and unity cannot be the same thing but it was brought to me a couple of weeks ago about if this separation is actually unifying.
    When someone from a church chooses to leave, the separation is upsetting and many things can be done about it. Some choose to use aggression in their thoughts and actions towards those who left. The other result of those leaving the church is a series of questioning of other believers. If one person decided to leave for one reason or another, that may cause someone to dig deeper into what they think and believe that could not only strengthen their own walk but also bring people with them. If one person is distracting from the ministry and decides to leave, it might just unify the church because they are now missing that piece that was causing them to not be of one mind.
    When there is negativity in the church, we can choose to think negatively towards the person or we can think of how to unite and challenge each others ideas and beliefs to bring the church closer together.
    There is no doubt that there were differences in personalities back in the days of Acts. No individual can be the same as another and togetherness is never perfect. Unity in the church back then was not all “of one mind” as there is no way possible to fully achieve authentic like-minded-ness. Even still there is no way for complete unity except together In Christ.

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  11. To be of one mind is the calling that the church is given by Paul. He urges us to be united so that we can bring glory to God. Unity is such an important aspect that the church needs so that the church is able to fulfill what God has called them to do and to bring glory to God. However, it seems so easy for the church to become divided due to small issues and topics where there are disagreements. There are many topics which cause the church to disagree with one another. One prime example is the topic of speaking in tongues and how it is or would be done in the world today. There are also much smaller issues that can lead to the divide of a church. One that I had been a witness to in my own church was the style of music that was chosen for Sunday mornings. The older people wanted only organ music with hymnals while the younger members wanted a variety of music including the use of drums. Something that I struggled with during the entire time was the idea that because different members believed that their view on music is correct, it caused a divide within the church. Music seems like such a trivial thing when we look at the entirety of what God has called us to do. He has called us to reach others for His glory. As the church, we need to look past small issues and realize that our unity as the church is far more important than then a small disagreement.

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  12. Some say that the church is the only place that has a visible form of segregation. Meaning that the body of the church no longer acts united, or there are too many people supporting the “me” factor rather that the “Jesus” factor. As this blog writes, “The idea of unity is important for Paul in his letters.” For someone who was a huge influencer throughout the Bible, when we read these letters, or any form of writing by Paul, one could think that it would be of importance, right? Why hasn’t unity been the most important to us as Christians in the twenty first century? I sometimes think that we don’t understand what is being written throughout the Bible. Unity should be very important in the church, which is pretty much the theme throughout Acts. The blog also writes out a few words such as, “Of one Mind” and I instantly think of how a church should be. We should be thinking as one Mind. We all serve the same God, when do we all start acting like it?

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  13. In Romans 15 , Paul makes the same analogy as Luke as he says “encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus” represents is Jesus! When I hear the words “of one mind” I instantly think of the ethics and teachings that Christ taught and demanded us to follow as well. His mind was constantly on the kingdom of God (John 18:36), giving to the poor (Matthew 19:21) and being obedient to the father (John 14:30-31). It saddens me that many churches across the globe and especially in the west, split because Christians aren’t having Christ’s mind therefore their minds are set on something different. People in the church can lead rebellions against the pastor and others in a church because of something as little as color chosen to paint the walls of a church. Having that unified one mind through Christ Jesus is what the early church in the book of Acts had, having one mind that is his mind will bring much glory and honor to God whom died for us.

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  14. Being of one mind is something that the church has not seen for some time and the effects are clear to see. When there are over 30,000 different denominations and the key aspects that are being the dividers of the same goal of living and serving Christ, we have huge battles over our minor non-significant and non-important perspectives of faith. The universal truths we ought to be sharing and united in are on the back-burners of the faith instead of them unifying us. As Christ states in Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind. The second is like this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no greater commandment than these.” In Christianity, we have neglected to show and live out love, grace, compassion, patience, and trust to all within and outside of the church. If we are to be one minded in faith we need to start within the churches to love and work with one another not against each other. We as the body of believers, the hands and feet of Christ are meant to be one body of believers with many parts that work together for the same goal to reach the lost, hurting and isolated. In Christ who is life and breathes life into our lives for the purpose that has already made for us to fulfill. In a community, this is how we can share, care and meet the needs of those around us and come alongside those who need Christ within their lives. As Philippians 1:27 presents, we are to be united people under the service of God to be one in the faith with sharing and living out the gospel.

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  15. Unity is such a central aspect to the early Christians that it can even be found outside of Biblical cannon. In Ignatius’ letter to the Ephesians. He says that the Presbyter and the Bishop have been perfectly tuned to one another by God similar to the strings of a harp. And because of the leadership being so perfectly united, the congregation should follow their every move. At first, it seems alright, but when I was spending more time thinking about it I realized that this could be the beginning of denomination preferences and splits.
    In my experience whenever a Church split happens it is because the congregants do not want to follow the doctrine or beliefs of the leadership anymore. An example of this would be the Church where I grew up. A disaster struck and a large chunk of the congregation did not like how the Pastor handled the situation. Leading them to leave in a huff. They questioned his God-appointed leadership and split the congregation in half.
    This is not the kind of unity that we find in scriptures like Acts 1, 5 and 7 and Phil 1. I think that the current Church has to be unified by the Holy Spirit and not solely by man. If we were to take anything away from the Christians in Acts I would say that they were united because of the Triune-God first and foremost. Personally, I think that would mean a lessening of denominational preference and a more open and caring heart to fellow believers.

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  16. Unity in the early church can mean and look like a variety of things (John 17:21).

    Jesus prayed that all believers, those to come and the current ones would be “one” as Jesus is with the Father. Then again in Ephesians where Paul urges the believers to live a life worthy of their calling and to be diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3).

    Of these two it is worth noting that Paul uses a rare Greek term in his letter to the Ephesians and it is “Henotes” (If I spelled that wrong forgive me). Henotes is not found, as far as the term goes, does not appear anywhere else but this passage. The term communicates specifically for unity in the Spirit and not just being unified as a people group who have a common purpose. The purpose of a unified group is certainly needed however.
    If I am a leader and have a following. It is important that I have a vision of what we are about and where we are moving forward to. Yet, if I have a following and 50% of them are only about their vision of what should be, then that is rebellion and a spirit of division has been manifested. If I am no longer submitted and supporting my authority, then this is where division begins.
    Look at the word “division” it is literally DI-vision. Which could be interpreted as “Two Visions”. I believe this interpretation goes hand in hand with your take on being of “one-mind”.

    The one mindedness can be good and bad. You can be passionate about a good cause and also a bad cause. In the case of the people who stoned Stephen, they were of one mind and thought what they were doing was good and well-pleasing to God. However, the distinguishability of clear vision and skewed vision is evident. The Jews’ who stoned Stephen saw only what they wanted to see and understand, despite Stephen’s valiant effort to get them to see.
    Furthermore, I think this kind of unity was what Jesus prayed for and Paul as well. Theological difference is not worth dividing over, and at the same time, the pillars of the Christian faith (Christ as the atoning sacrifice, died for the sake of mankind, and was resurrected on the third day) are heavily important and would be necessary division. I will add too, that if theology is skewed, you can still be unified, but it is worth nothing that not well thought out theology can hurt you in the long run and the people to whom you are associated with.
    What should unify us is our passion for the one true God (One-minded). The passion for our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ironically this is what the Jews thought they were doing too). Each believer’s understanding differs from the next, so in this way this did not divide them but carrying an attitude of growing together and seeking wisdom brought them closer.

    We will likely sin, but Christ offers restoration and forgiveness for those fallen into sin, thus we can be unified in the Spirit of the Lord. As a body, one member’s sin can weaken or effect other members of the body. It must be in union and purpose with one another to allow the presence of the Lord to be abundant. Community in unified fellowship breeds more of the presence of the Lord which then begets more impact for the Kingdom of God (Psalm 95:2, 100:4, 133:3).

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