Shelby G. Floyd
Good morning church! It is good to be together. We are thankful for all our dedicated members at Heartland.
Today I speak to you on “Breaking Bread Together.” We read Acts 2:36-42 in our Bibles. This reading described how sinners were saved and how they worshipped on the birthday of the church of Christ. They worshipped on the day of Pentecost (always the first day of the week) by continuing “…steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). “The breaking of bread” is a reference to “the Lord’s Supper.” This was practiced every “first day of the week!”
PAUL AND FELLOW WORKERS TRAVEL BY SHIP TO TROAS
But my lesson today is on what happened on “the first day of the week” in Troas, Asia (Acts 20:1-12)! Paul is on his second evangelistic journey throughout the Roman empire. The background of the setting is that Paul was successful in establishing a strong church in Ephesus, Asia for three years. But when a riot over idolatry broke out, the church sent Paul away immediately.
Paul and his co-workers went to Philippi in Macedonia. Seven of Paul’s fellow workers boarded a ship and went ahead to Troas and waited for Paul and Luke (Acts 20:4-5-we and us). From Philippi Paul and Luke travelled on their way to Troas: “But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days” (Acts 20:6). Therefore Paul, Luke, and the seven men all stayed at Troas seven days. This means that the whole company was all together on “the first day of the week!”
BREAKING BREAD ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK
All that we have said brings us to this verse. “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7). This is a very simple statement of fact! When did they come together? Now! When is now? “On the first day of the week.” When is the first day of the week? It is what we call Sunday. It is the first day of the seven-day week. Who came together? “The disciples!” Who did that include? That included Paul and Luke. We are now in the “we” an “us” section of Acts!
And that would also include the seven men who had traveled on ahead to Troas. And it would also include any other disciples who were living there at Troas. We do know of one disciple that came together with them on the first in the week, and that was the young man Eutychus! And there were probably many others, but the text does not tell us. The church then was at work, whether Paul was there or not. And we need to be at work reaching out to bring in new people to believe in Christ and to be added to the body of Christ–the church.
So, Paul and all the believers (including Eutychus) came together–to do what? The text says, “to break bread.” Now to “break bread” is a figure of speech. It is used in two ways. You could invite some people to your house to have a meal. And you might say, “come over and break bread with us.” That expression is not used much anymore, but at one time it was a common expression.
“To break bread” is a figure of speech to eat “the Lord’s supper,” which we will do after this lesson is over. And that is how “communion” came to be called, “to break bread!” Why did they come together? When did they come together? They came together on “the first day of the week.” Why did they come together on the first day of the week? “To break bread!”
Therefore, the church at Troas and also the Jerusalem church met on the first in the week to break bread (Acts 20:7; Acts 2:42). And here we are 23 centuries later, doing the same thing on the first day of the week!
GOD CREATED THE SEVEN DAY WEEK
Now, I ask what is the origin of the seven-day week? Where did the seven-day week originate? Did it come up out of nowhere? With a little scientific knowledge, we know how the 365-day year originated. The earth goes around the sun in 365 days. Hence, we understand how we have a 365-day year.
We also understand why we have a 24-hour day, a 30-day month, and the four seasons during the year. The book of Genesis says,
“While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22 NKJV).
But where did the seven-day week originate? Why do we have a seven-day week and not eight- or 10-day week? There’s only one reason. The Lord God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day!
Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:1-3 ESV).
And that is how we got the seven-day week. It is that simple! But people do not like simplicity. They like to confound everybody and make things difficult.
BELIEVERS ASSEMBLE EVERY FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK!
Therefore, today we meet “to break bread” on the first day of a seven-day week. This is because God created the seven-day week when he created the world. Now when we come together, this is also called an assembly. We have assembled together. The book of Hebrews urges that we stir up one another when we come together. For what? We are to stir up one another to love and good works! To have a loving church, we must engage in love and good works.
The book of Hebrews also sharply rebukes those members of the church who miss the assembly all the time. Some just do not assemble if they have something they want to do. The writer says plainly, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NKJV). When we contact with each other throughout the week, we exhort one another to be faithful in our attendance Sunday on the Lord’s Day!
PAUL SPOKE UNTIL MIDNIGHT
Now, we notice that Paul the preacher spoke until midnight. “Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7). We do not know how many were present. The audience was large enough that one young man sat in an open windowsill. This assembly reminds me of the little church building I attended as a child. It is located on Cruft Street about two blocks east of Shelby St. in Indianapolis.
The church at Troas met in a room on the third story to worship God. Paul spoke and his message continued until midnight! And that is what I am going to do today! Just kidding. I am not going to do that. But we do not know at what time they began to worship on the first day of the week. If they were on ancient time, Sunday began at sundown and continued to sundown the next day. They probably met after sundown. Paul continued his speech until midnight.
At Heartland we have never had any complaints if we go a little long sometimes. That is a good thing, because some subjects require more time. So, Mitch and I usually speak about 30 to 45 minutes. Question? How long should the preacher speak to present the gospel message? What is the general consensus? It is usually 20 to 45 minutes. Most people do not have a problem with a reasonable length of sermon.
Years ago, we had a veteran preacher hold a gospel meeting. And he spoke 2 to 3 hours each night. Since he was very interesting, we had good crowds each service and no complaints! Paul was an interesting speaker no doubt. However, I received this good advice: “Speak to the point that the audience will want to come back to hear you again.”
PAUL’S SERMON TOPIC
In Acts of Apostles, Luke does not tell us what Paul’s message was about. However, when Paul wrote his last letter to Corinth, he told us what his subject was at Troas:
“Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord. I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia” (2 Corinthians 2:12-13).
Paul, what did you preach at Troas? I preached “Christ gospel.” “And a door was open to me by the Lord.” Why were you in a hurry to leave Troas? “Because I did not find Titus my brother.” So, we know all this because Paul told us. Paul’s message was always about the power of the gospel. And this gospel he preached at Rome: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16-17 NKJV). And the gospel of Christ is what every preacher should be preaching. Because it is God’s power unto salvation!
A MIDNIGHT FALL FROM A WINDOW
And Paul’s midnight sermon was interrupted when a young man named Eutychus fell out of an open window. My sermon was interrupted one time when a little mouse was running around, and people were stopping the floor with their feet. We never know when something like this will happen. Neither did Paul.
We noticed the Troas church had some young people in the audience. The local church will not survive unless we have another generation obeying the gospel. We must invite the young people to obey the gospel, to worship God, to study the Bible, and to serve Him the rest of their life.
A young man named Eutychus was sitting in an open window upon the third floor. I am sure his mother would say, “Son, that is dangerous.” The window was about 30 feet above ground level. If you fall out of that window, you will break your neck. That is the way a mother would talk.
Paul kept on speaking and the Scripture says, “he was overcome with sleep.” And “He fell into a deep sleep.” If we have anyone doing that, poke them in their ribs! And guess what, he fell out of the window and was taken up dead. And the congregation went down, and Paul raised him back up to life saying, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him” (Acts 20:10 ESV).
THE ESSENTIALS AND INCIDENTALS OF WORSHIP
First, let us take notice of everything that happened during this worship assembly on “the first day of the week.”
- Paul spoke to the audience at Troas.
- Paul continued his message until midnight.
- A young man was sitting in an open window.
- The young man fell into a deep sleep.
- His name was Eutychus, and he fell from the third story.
- And he died from the fall.
- Paul went down and brought Eutychus back to life.
- This brought great joy to the members of the church.
- The church went back upstairs and broke bread (Took the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week).
- Paul then spoke until daylight.
- Then Paul departed and left the people at Troas.
- These facts happened at Troas in worship on the first day of the week.
Now notice the incidentals or matters of judgment involved in this worship assembly:
- What time of the day did they break bread? The text does not say. We are to take the Lord’s supper on the first in the week, but we are not told exactly at what time of the day. That is not important. It is a matter of judgment.
- It is not stated how long the preacher should present his lesson. That is a matter of judgment.
- The text does not tell us where someone should sit during the worship. But the preacher usually knows where everyone is generally seated. That is how the preacher knows who is present and who is absent!
- We are not told how many lights we should have for a night service. That also is a matter judgment and expediency.
- Our text does not tell us how this building was being used when there was not a worship service. The Troas church probably rented this upper room for their Sunday worship. Most congregations start out in a rented building. How did Heartland start? We rented space on Sunday at a motel located at Southport Road and I-65. Later we rented some rooms at a public-school building on Smith Valley Road. Then a vacant church building became available, and we rented it for several years. Our present building became available in 2009 and we were blessed to be able to purchase this facility. Growth takes time! God does not give us generic or specific instructions on meeting places.
- Should we assemble to worship on the ground floor or in the upper room? No instruction!
- Can one go to sleep during the sermon? One of our elders said one time, “The best time to take a nap is when you’re sleepy!” And the young man Eutychus was sleepy!
- What about a death during a worship service? That has never happened to me, but if I die standing in the pulpit, that would be the best place for me to leave this world!
- What time should we take the Lord’s supper? The first day of the week. And that is it.
We have demonstrated that in worship some things are essential, and some things are incidental. But the acts of worship, like the Lord’s supper each first day of the week are essential! Like Paul, let us break bread and then continue on our journey of life!
Copyright © 2023 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd presented the sermon, "Breaking Bread Together," Sunday October 22, 2023, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142 shelby@sgf1964