“All those who became believers were together and had everything in common, and they were selling their possessions and properties and distributing the proceeds to all, according to what each one needed.”
Were the first Christians practicing an early form of Communism?
The story of the first Christian congregation relates that they went from 120 members to over 3,000 people in a single day. (Acts 2:41,47)
Many of those people were from far away and had not originally planned to extend their stay in Jerusalem, but that is what they ended up doing in order to learn more about Christ. (Acts 2:5-11,42)
The generous Christians knew that very soon, they would be persecuted and eventually, Jerusalem would be destroyed, so their possessions would be lost. (Acts 8:1)
Their material things were put to better use because they had a sense of urgency, not because of a philosophical ideology.
While donations were administered by the congregation, property owners could choose how to manage their own assets. (Acts 2:46; 5:1-4)
Later on, a formal distribution was arranged for the benefit of widows only. (Acts 6:1-3; 1 Tim. 5:16)
Christians were always encouraged to share, even after the congregation had been well established. (Acts 20:35; Jas. 2:15-17)
But the fact that there were still class distinctions indicates that the congregation did not redistribute wealth as a rule. (Rom. 12:13; 15:26; 2 Cor. 9:7)
“[…] He was at home. And so many gathered that there was no more room, not even around the door, and he began to speak the word to them.”
When I think of Jesus’ ministry, I do not think of him as having people over for brunch, but rather picture him as a wanderer, reaching out to others wherever they were at.
But he did have a home based in Capernaum, which was close to Nazareth, the town he had grown up in. (Matt. 4:13)
What strikes me in this passage is Jesus’ hospitality, even towards those who did not have faith in him. (Mark 2:6,7)
Not only was his privacy overcrowded in an unannounced manner, but some even removed the roof to bring down a paralytic man. (Mark 2:4)
Jesus remained helpful and compassionate as always. (Mark 2:5)
When we in the Christian congregation are encouraged to be hospitable, it is not a suggestion based on culture or personal preference. (1 Pe. 4:9)
The way of hospitality is part of Christ’s example.
“At this the boy’s mother said: ‘As surely as Jehovah is living and as you yourself are living, I will not leave you.’ So he got up and went with her.”
~2 Kings 4:30
The Shunammite woman is worthy of noting because of the fine example of faith, respect and hospitality that she displayed.
She displayed hospitality toward the prophet Elisha by offering him meals and a room to stay in, without expecting anything in return (2 Ki. 4:8-10, 13, 14).
She displayed respect toward her husband’s position as head of the household by consulting him before carrying out important decisions, despite being a “prominent woman,” (2 Ki. 4:8-10, 22, 23).
And she displayed faith in God because when her only son died, she ran and then clung to the prophet until he resolved to go see him (2 Ki. 4:19-21, 27-31).
Years earlier, when the prophet had promised her a son, she had replied, “Do not tell lies to your servant,” (2 Ki. 4:16).
Now, under these tragic circumstances, she firmly told her husband, “Everything is all right,” because she knew Elisha’s predecessor had resurrected a boy under similar circumstances (1 Ki. 17:20-22; 2 Ki. 4:23).
The Shunammite woman’s faith and behavior were compensated when her son’s life was restored to him (2 Ki. 4:35-37).
It is as Jesus stated, “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will get a prophet’s reward,” (Matt. 10:41).
Therefor we should hold fast to our faith in the resurrection and demonstrate our faith with actions.
No unauthorized person may eat anything holy. No foreign guest of a priest or hired worker may eat anything holy. But if a priest should purchase someone with his own money, that person may share in eating it. Slaves born in his house may also share in eating his food.
This text implies that circumcised foreigners who had been bought as laborers were thereafter considered to make up part of the priest’s household.
The priest’s immediate family members could also partake in holy meals.
Daughters were considered a part of the household if they were single, divorced or widowed and did not have children who could care for their needs (Lev. 22:13).
Jehovah truly extends his kindness toward every person regardless of their origin (Matt. 5:45).
From these verses we can gather at least a couple lessons:
1. God has his own arrangements as to who can enjoy things that he considers to be His own and how those things are enjoyed.
When we respect those arrangements, we are demonstrating godly devotion, especially if that implies making certain personal sacrifices (1 Tim. 6:6).
2. God is not partial toward any “but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him,” (Acts 10:34,35).
Therefor we should make a genuine effort to eradicate racist or prejudice notions that may have been engrained in us as children and that keep us from extending our hospitality toward members of our own faith who come from different roots.