The following is from the Advanced Bible Studies Series “The Book of Acts,” which is available from Way of Life Literature.
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (Acts 2:44-45).
Does Acts 2 describe some sort of communism or communalism in the early churches?
First, we observe that it was not coerced but was done of their own free will. Compare Acts 5:4, where Peter said to Ananias and Sapphira of their possessions, “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?...”
Second, the situation in Acts 2 was a special one that necessitated a special practice. Many of the new converts from other parts of the world stayed in Jerusalem and needed assistance by the church.
Third, there is no mention in the rest of the New Testament of any other church that practiced this.
Fourth, wealthy believers are mentioned in the epistles and are not rebuked (e.g., Philemon). They are addressed in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 and are not told to sell everything they have. They are told, rather, that God gives us things to enjoy but that we are also responsible to share what we have with others.
Fifth, the Bible teaches the right to the private ownership of property. This was assumed in the Law of Moses, which forbad stealing and coveting that which belongs to another (Ex. 20:15, 17). Thus, the poor do not have the right before God to take from others just because they are needy. To do so is to commit the sins of coveting and stealing. The Bible gives men the right to private ownership of property, but it does not give them the right to be greedy and selfish.
Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family. You may also post parts of reports and/or entire reports to websites, blogs, etc as long as you give proper credit (citation). A link to the original report is very much appreciated as the reports are frequently updated and/or expanded. Things we do not want copied and distributed are "Store" items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18). Questions? firstname.lastname@example.org
Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.
Offering: We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and those who use the materials are expected to participate (Galatians 6:6) if they can. We do not solicit funds from those who do not agree with our preaching and who are not helped by these publications. We seek offerings only from those who are helped. OFFERINGS can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: www.wayoflife.org/about/makeanoffering.html.
Way of Life Literature
Publisher of Bible Study Materials