The Acts of the Apostles shows how the gospel grows and how the number of disciples increased.
Luke, the author of the Acts, uses six summaries to show the continuous and dramatic growth of the church. The first of these (Acts 6:7) sets the tone for all that the Holy Spirit would do as the apostles carried God’s word to the world.
“And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).
Notice this remarkable summary. As a result of the church emphasizing the word without diminishing care for the poor and needy, the word of God increased, the number of the disciples multiplied, and even–astonishingly–a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith!
What caused this?
First, the disciples withstood the satanic attack against the church. This attack took three forms. 1) The Jewish authorities attempted to suppress the truth through force (Acts 4). 2) The husband and wife Ananias and Sapphira sought to corrupt the church through hypocrisy (Acts 5). 3) The squabbling widows sought to distract the leaders to neglect preaching and prayer (Acts 6).
Second, the apostles devoted themselves to the word of God and, as a result, the word increased greatly. Both the word “increased” and “multiplied” are in the imperfect tense in the Greek language, indicating something continuous.
We can see this same growth in the other summaries.
“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied” (Acts 9:31).
“And the word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24).
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily” (Acts 16:5)
“So the word of God grew and prevailed mightily” (Acts 19:20).
“And he lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ quite openly and unhindered” (Acts 28:30-31).
May we have this same emphasis on the word of God.