They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.Acts 2:42-47
- What was it these early cell group / church people were feeling?
- How many of them were there? (There is a difference between a cell of 12 and a gathering of 120)
- Is this prescriptive of a church or a cell group? What is the difference?
- Is there a difference between “being together” and “having fellowship”?
- What is the meaning of “had all things in common” / began selling their possessions / sharing with anyone in need?
- Is this like Communism?
- What is the difference between “property” and “possessions”?
- Are you seriously suggesting I should sell my house and give the money to the church?
- Is the secret to seeing this kind of thing happen these days, being in church everyday?
- Should we have communal meals every day?
- Should we have communion more than once a month? Like every day?
- Do you think you could fit into this church?
- What would it take for you to fit into this church and enable this system to work?
- What significant changes would you need to make to your “modus operandi”?
- What is the secret to seeing this kind of thing happening in your church?
- What is the likelihood of seeing this kind of thing happening in your church?
all those who had believed were together and had all things in common.
The notion of having all things in common is expanded for us by Luke. We are told that these believers were together and had all things in common.
How did this look, what did it mean? Well, Luke adds explanation in the verses below:
- – they began selling their property and possessions
- – sharing them with all
- – as anyone might have need.
Day by day continuing
- with one mind
- in the temple,
- and from house to house
- breaking bread
- taking their meals together
- with gladness
- and sincerity of heart,
Let’s address the matter of them having all things in common. To what degree was that the case? I believe the sense here is not that no one actually owned anything as an individual and that all property and possessions were put in a communal pool from which all could take and use as they pleased. I don’t think that is the meaning here. We all know that kind of arrangement doesn’t really work. Where no one is responsible for something then it’s likely to result in the abuse of privilege. The verb [echo] usually means “to” have in the sense of “to possess”. However [echo] has another connotation where it is used in Matt 14:5, 21:26 & 46, Mark 11:32 and Phil 2:29. Here the sense is to have or to hold an opinion about something or someone. I think this sense of the verb is what is meant here in Acts 2:44. That is they considered or were of the opinion that all things were for common use. They had a truly Christian attitude that, “what is mine is yours to share if you need it.” Now that is different from the way of the world. They held to the idea that their possessions were to be used for the common good.
Likewise, I don’t believe the notion of selling their property and possessions and adding it to the common pool was a definitive act, whereby they sold up and moved on. The verbal structure is an interesting one. The verb is an imperfect form and thus carries the idea of an ongoing practice or it is an inceptive, meaning the on-going action is just beginning, as has been translated in the NLT, “they began selling their property”. In other words, this could have been the beginning of their response which continued over a long period of time. Perhaps it might best be translated – from time to time they sold their possessions to meet other people’s needs as they arose.
The next question is to determine whether what they were selling included land as well as goods or things. The words used are [ktema] “possessions” and [huparxis] meaning “goods or chattels”. There is huge debate over the meaning of these words among the experts. Did it include land and property in the sense of a field or piece of ground which one may have owned? Or was it simply the possessions, belongings or household stuff which they sold from time to time. I am not going to guess on this one. I will wait until I meet one of the people involved in heaven and ask them then. If it was indeed land and sections or fields they owned, which they sold for the common good, that is huge. What safeguards did they have as a protection of their investment? I am not convinced there were any safeguards or protection of their property. It seems a foolhardy thing to sell property to provide for one’s short term need. God made that very clear to us when we were heading out on the road for training with Wycliffe.
I began to have second thoughts when faced with the cost of all that lay before us, despite all the LORD had confirmed to us. I was faced with giving up my job and income and faced with the prospect of more training as well travelling around the world. The only way I could see out of the predicament was to sell our house and use the money to cover the expense of all that God had shown we would do. On the second Sunday in Sept. 1981 we went to our pastor, Dick Hemming’s house to tell him how I was feeling and to seek someone to whom I could pour out my burden. But Dick had John Massam, the guest preacher, as a guest for lunch. As they began talking after lunch, all Dick could do was to excitedly tell John about the exciting things that had been happening to Ian & Tania and how they were soon going to Bible College and afterwards to work with Wycliffe. All I could think of was the cost of all this commitment and how I would have to sell my house to pay for all that we faced. John shocked me by ‘out of the blue’ saying, “Ian, I feel the LORD is telling me, if you are thinking of selling your house, not to”. That comment although amazing and timely, sent my mind reeling as to how we would cover the costs if I didn’t sell my house. Finally John left and I had the chance to tell Dick how hard this all was and how burdened I was financially over all we faced ahead. As I started to pour out my feelings to Dick, another guest arrived, Mike Shaxton, who had been a missionary in West New Britain, PNG. Again Dick began to excitedly tell Mike what the LORD had been doing in our lives. Again my thoughts turned inward as before and once again I was thinking the only way out of this is to sell our house. The LORD spoke through Mike this time when he in turn, ‘out of the blue’ without any prompt from the conversation said, “Ian I believe the LORD would say to you, if you’re thinking of selling your house, don’t.” Dick almost fell on the floor laughing. Twice in a short period of time God had said, “Ian, don’t sell your house; I will provide for you.”
The verses which sprang immediately to my mind as I pondered were:
So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’Matthew 6:31-33
These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.Matthew 6:32-33
My advice to you: Hide God’s Word in your heart and memory so He is free to speak to you whenever He chooses.Ian Vail