Acts 2:44

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, Acts 2:44

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Acts 2:44 (along with other verses to come) is a great verse for dispelling the notion of applying the book of Acts to our current religious lives. Luke has been describing the growth and fellowship of the early church. To highlight the unity and brotherhood that existed, he continues with, “Now all who believed.”

It is referring to those who had accepted that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. They are all Jews at this point, and they have separated themselves from the larger group within the nation, identifying themselves first and foremost with Jesus. Only after that were they considered people of Israel.

This was not uncommon. Pharisees had their own sect that stood apart from the others. Sadducees did as well. The extra-biblical record refers to the Essenes. These and other groups identified as Jews, but with a separation based on various beliefs. This had become the case with followers of Christ.

As such, Luke notes that they “were together.” This implies communal living. It is something that is found in various sects even today, and it is something that is set forth as an ideal in the modern Jewish kibbutzim. Though not believers in Jesus, the people live together, work together, and are almost one large family. If one were to add in Jesus, such a community would closely reflect what is developing here in Acts. One noted aspect of the kibbutz that is stated here in Acts is that they “had all things in common.”

This will be further explained in the next verse, and then it will continue to be explained a bit later in Acts. Unfortunately, this system will be seen to be a flawed one that will eventually break down, even to the point where these people will become dependent on the Gentiles in order to meet their needs.

As noted, the words here show the folly of selecting verses from Acts and applying them in a prescriptive manner. How common it is to argue over Acts 2:38. Churches set doctrine based on that verse, or other verses, that have nothing to do with the intended structure of the church or of rightly established doctrine within the church.

And yet, right in the same chapter, and in verses dealing with the exact same group of people, verses that clearly define what they did and how they lived are completely ignored for establishing any sort of doctrine. The chances of establishing a viable, working church based on the words stated now are pretty much zero. Those churches that would attempt to do so would almost immediately turn into an aberrant cult led by a megalomaniac. This is the natural outcome of such a system.

Rather, the words here simply describe what occurred, and they will eventually describe the failed outcome of the system. The failure is not from this noble ideal, but because we are living in a fallen world. Such a system cannot sustain itself. It has been attempted by sects and even governments (communism) and the result is always failure. The human heart is not conditioned for such a system at this time.

This is why Paul gives instruction to the church concerning our responsibility to work and to earn one’s own keep, such as –

“But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.
10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

Paul’s words are prescriptive. They are commands for us during the church age, and they are to be adhered to. If you want to eat, get to work. If you want to excel in this current system, you will be diligent in your labors, save when you can, and pay your bills with money earned by your own efforts.

Life application: Remember that Acts describes what occurred at various points in the early church. It shows us how things were, but it does not speak to whether those things are right or not. Nor does it set forth doctrine for us to live by. Instead, we are to look at what Acts says as a way of understanding how the church began, was able to grow, and how it eventually became established in the world.

During this early period, things took one form or another, identifying what did work and what failed to work. Eventually, the epistles were completed. They give enough information for the church to have effectively continued for two millennia.

Let us not pick and choose verses from Acts in order to establish doctrine. Should the temptation arise to do so, then simply come back to this verse in Acts and ask yourself, “Why am I not also applying what it says here to my doctrine as well?” The answer will come forth telling you that Acts is not intended for such purposes.

Glorious heavenly Father, thank You for Your kind hand upon us. Bless the work of our hands as we go forth to our respective places of employment. Help us to be productive, fruitful, and to work honorably for the wages we receive. May our lives be examples to others of our desire to honor You through our daily actions. Amen.