The Lord Jesus promised his disciples that where they were gathered together, united in their determination to do what was in accordance with his “name”, they would be heard of his Father in heaven and he would support them by his presence among them (Matt 18:19–20). It was in this spirit of unity that the Ecclesia was first established.

Luke the historian in setting forth the events of that first Ecclesia repeats the secret of their success in the expression “with one accord”. These three words are but one word in the Greek text, the meaning of which, given in Strong’s concordance, is “unanimously”, the word being compounded of two Greek words, one having the meaning “together”, the other of “passionately”. Passionately united together in the purpose of their calling is the only logical explanation for the phenomenal growth of the first century Ecclesia.

Twelve times this Greek word is used in the New Testament, eleven of those in the Acts of the Apostles (the only other occurrence is in Romans 15:6). Seven times Luke chooses the word to describe the power of that unity among our first brethren and sisters. We will explore each of these seven occurrences to see what we, who form what must surely be the last stage of the Ecclesia, can learn that may help us have a similar measure of success.

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:14)

The original Ecclesia consisted of 120 members, including the eleven apostles and the group of faithful women often mentioned in Luke’s gospel record (eg Luke 8:1–3). They also included Mary the mother of the Lord, plus his half brothers, four in number, along with his sisters (Matt 13:55–56). There is a remarkable allusion to an Old Testament counterpart which explains the impetus that inspired this small group. Luke mentions the “120” who met with “one accord”. On the occasion when Solomon brought the Ark of the Covenant into the Most Holy Place of the newly dedicated Temple, there were “a hundred and twenty priests sounding with the trumpets”, and it will be noted that the purpose was to make “one sound”. It is also significant that both records have this detail in parenthesis! (Acts 1: 14–15; cp 2 Chron 5:12–13)

Surely the bringing of the Ark into the Most Holy was but typical of the Lord Jesus ascending into “heaven itself” (Heb 9:24), even to the right hand of God. The surpassing greatness of the antitype is indicated by what was missing in Solomon’s Temple, for we read that “there was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb” (2 Chron 5:10).

What was missing was Aaron’s rod that budded, a dead rod that sprouted life and produced fruit to determine who was to be the Priest (Num 17). It was a dramatic symbol of resurrection and anticipated the resurrection of the Son of God, which demonstrated his Father’s acceptance of him and his appointment as God’s High Priest (Acts 2:24; Heb 7:24–28).

Also missing was the golden pot of manna, that never corrupted though kept for many years. It symbolised “the hidden manna” of eternal life (Exod 16:32–33; Rev 2:17).

Returning from the Mount of Olives, this small group of common folk celebrated the resurrection of their Lord to immortality in the “upper room” (Acts 1:13), the Greek word indicating the “third storey”, as against that of “the second storey” where the apostles had kept the last supper! Thus this small group of Galilean fishermen, with other non-descripts by this world’s estimation, more than matched the splendour of Solomon’s occasion.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1)

The day of Pentecost was dated from the waving of the sheaf of the first fruits during the Passover. The apostles, now united in their belief that Jesus was the first fruits of a larger harvest, were endowed with the Holy Spirit ready to enter into that harvest with enthusiasm and boldness. Is this the way we view our preaching efforts? Are we so convicted that our enthusiasm radiates the message”? Are we, armed with the Holy Spirit-given Word of God, impelled by the hope that the fields are still ready to harvest?

“And 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” (Acts 2:46)

By now the Ecclesia in Jerusalem numbers three thousand plus. They were rejected by their Jewish synagogues and impoverished by “the spoiling of their goods” (Heb 10:32–33). They pooled their resources and lived with a single-minded attitude toward the riches of the Kingdom, sharing their meagre fare with increased hospitality, and with joyfulness. In all this they drew admiration from others outside the ecclesia, and brought commendation upon God and His Son for the profound effect they had upon the believers. As a result of their being seen to be “passionately together”, God adds to His ecclesia. How can we possibly expect to attract people to the hope of Israel if our enthusiasm is cool and our feelings hot with a partisan spirit destructive of the Truth?

“And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in the is” (Acts 4:24)

Peter and John were transformed into courageous advocates of the “truth as it is in Jesus Christ”, when released from custody, the ecclesia responded with acclamation and praise to God. They were united in their gratitude, passionately together and “of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32). Such gratitude for the deliverance of their friends now finds expression in the introduction of the system of selling off surplus goods and lands to assist the needy among them.

Is it any wonder that Ananias and Sapphira suffered such seemingly harsh punishment for their abuse of this system, when it is considered that their actions were not only to live a lie, but had their ruse been successful, news of that would have seen the collapse of the whole system, and the poor brothers and sisters deprived of much needed relief. As a result of this swift and decisive action, Luke records, “great fear came upon all the ecclesia” (Acts 5:11). Failure to co-operate in any worthy cause discourages the ecclesia, whilst conversely generosity can inspire others to emulate the example.

“And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch)” (Acts 5:12)

Solomon’s Porch extended the full length of the Temple precincts on the eastern side. It was a public forum, capable of holding thousands of people and situated at the ‘headquarters’ of Judaism, the fierce opponent to the “truth as it is in Christ Jesus”. Without such “one accord” it is difficult to make public proclamations of the Truth when it is so vehemently opposed by the majority. Unity inspires courage, and if our preaching efforts are to stand up against increasing opposition we will need every brother and sister to rally to our public proclamations.

“It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul…” (Acts 15:25)

“One accord” is absolutely critical when fundamentals of Truth come under attack. It may have been perfectly harmless for sincere believers to practise circumcision out of respect to the Law, or even for the reason of hygiene, but when it is claimed “except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1) it is heresy. It is not just what error teaches that counts, but more so what it denies. If circumcision is necessary for salvation then Christ is dead in vain. That is serious.

From Antioch in the north, right down the Mediterranean coast, from Seleucia via Tyre, Sidon, Samaria and on to Jerusalem there was “one accord” among the apostles and elders about this question, and the swift and decisive manner with which this issue was handled led to the consolidation of ecclesias all over the Roman world.

“And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees [Grk dogmata ‘dogmas’] for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the ecclesias established in the faith, and increased in number daily” (Acts 16:4–5)

Our brotherhood has never been free of controversy about one aspect of Truth or another which has resulted in tragic divisions so destructive of faith. There is no doubt that much of that controversy could have been settled if there had been a wider “one accord” on how to deal with such issues. Elders are needed who are able to recognise the subtleties of language used and see clearly the ramifications of such, and then to express the Truth in “the simplicity that is in Christ”. Brethren and sisters respond to the clear expression of Truth, and to decisive action to preserve it.

Paul made an appeal to the Romans, with the only other occurrence of the Greek word for “with one accord” outside of Acts. May the appeal fall on receptive ears today.

“That ye may with one mind [‘one accord’] and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15:6).