Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet within the Temple courts. They broke bread together in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”
Within this simple sentence is a word found nowhere else within the Bible. This term as well as all other single use words set theologians to thinking about the reason for their rarity and what the writer’s deeper meaning could have been for using them.
The term in question is the word sincere, which is aphelotehti in the Greek. The English translators used the word sincere here for this specific Greek word, but a true translation would be “not rocky.”
Why didn’t the Apostle Luke, the writer of Acts use the word “smooth” instead of “not rocky?” Why didn’t the translators just say they, “ate together with glad and not rocky hearts?”
Interestingly enough, there is a parallel Latin term for the enigmatic concept. Latin was well in use by the time Luke wrote the book of Acts in Greek. During the first century, many stone walls were being built and many sculptures created.
Sadly enough, it was common practice for stone masons and sculptors to skip corners in their craft. When a crack was found in a stone for a wall, the masons would take some wax, mix it with the dust and tailings from the wall and fill the crack.
The same would happen for sculptors. If, while forming an arm, a flaw was discovered, the sculptor would fill the blemish with wax.
Because wax is a good filler, the crack or blemish would disappear. But soon after the sculptor had received his payment, his work would fall apart. Many flaws began to appear in work done badly. A wall might collapse or a head or arm of a sculpture might fall off.
This type of crime was being committed quite often, and so the Roman government required that all people working with stone sign a document stating that there was no wax used within their work.
They would sign their name and then the words sine cera which means “without wax.”
Eventually, the idea of a sculpture without wax meant that it was pure, and whole, and without flaw. This concept was then applied to one person being honest and true with another person, thus the word sincerely being used at the bottom of a letter.
The Apostle Luke was saying the first century church enjoyed each other and spent time with each other with no ulterior motives. Their hearts were pure, without the crags of pride or deceit.
Each person met together with the others having nothing to hide and were not covering up some type of attitude or feeling they held against another.
The first century church members were sincere with one another and truly cared for every other person – a perfect example of being transparent – something the 21st century church should learn.
So, the next time you write a letter and use the word sincere at the end, remember that it means “without wax” or without deceit.
And remember that Luke used this powerful word to describe what a true Christian person and a church focused on Christ should look like.