The following comments are designed to help you better understand the passage and stimulate your thinking on the implications of the scripture.
The following comments are designed to help you better understand the passage and stimulate your thinking on the implications of the scripture passage.
As the Church grows and is shaped by the gospel, we are told once again that they are “of one heart and soul.” This deep unity drove them to deep generosity.
Luke makes it clear that the willingness to share possessions was based on a powerful sense of unity. This provided the inspiration for refusing to insist on the right to retain what one had received by inheritance or toil. It was not a matter of legislation, as in the Qumran community, where sharing of goods was imposed on its members. According to the Qumran sect such renunciation was necessary in order to purify the mind in the truth of God. With the Christian community, however, the sharing was not a means to the end of personal edification but rather was the expression of the love of the Spirit… (Harrison, Acts, 90)
The Spirit of God was shaping a people living under the rule and reign of King Jesus. And this meant that they expressed radical generosity in meeting needs. There are inevitably needs in the Church.
In the New Testament, some of the likely needs they were facing here we read about in church letters, that there were widows whose husbands that had provided for them died, there were orphans who didn't have parents to care for them, and there were those with disabilities who couldn't work to make ends meet. Needs. On top of [this], there was and is expense in running a church. The design Jesus gave was that a few men, who labor in preaching and teaching and those who help them be able to do that, ought to be paid for their time and their work (1 Cor 9:8-14; 2 Cor 9:1-15; 1 Tim 5:17-18). And there are costs involved with food, tables and buildings. Needs. Needs are real. It's part of life. It's a part of church life. We as a church do and will face needs. The question is how do we do that? What ought our approach be? (Smets, “The Church and Money”)
The early Church responded to these needs with radical generosity and love. They are truly an example for us to follow. This doesn’t mean that we are commanded to go sell our homes right now.
What we should surely do, instead, is to note and seek to imitate the care of the needy and the sacrificial generosity which the Holy Spirit created. (Stott, The Message of Acts, 108)
How should we respond to this passage? John Calvin sums it up best:
We must have hearts that are harder than iron if we are not moved by the reading of this narrative. In those days the believers gave abundantly of what was their own; we in our day are content not just jealously to retain what we possess, but callously to rob others… They sold their own possessions in those days; in our day it is the lust to purchase that reigns supreme. (Calvin, The Acts of the Apostles: Vol. I, 130)
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