Were Early Christians Communists? - by Bro Kyle Tucker

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Were Early Christians Communists? - by Bro Kyle Tucker

Сообщение DEK-CHD » Вт авг 02, 2011 4:39 pm



Were the first century believers communists? This is one of those answers that must begin with "it depends on what you mean when you say" communist. Without a shadow of a doubt, the first century believers weren't anything close to the atheistic Marxists that we have witnessed in recent history in places such as the former Soviet Union and in China. At the same time, there is substantial evidence that some first century believers practiced a form of communism. Jesus and the Apostles did as well.

Right after the events at Pentecost, it is recorded in Acts 2:44,45 (NIV), "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need." When we read this, we are told that every believer sold all of their possessions (as was asked of the Rich Young Ruler by Jesus) and put it in the communal pot. This is repeated a few chapters later in Acts 4:32-35: "All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need."

However, a little later in Acts 5, there is evidence that there was a dichotomy in the ecclesia where there were some who did join this communal aspect of the ecclesia and those who did not. Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property and brought it to the Apostles. The Apostles want to know if this was all the money or not. This is an odd question unless we appreciate the circumstances. Let's say we sold a piece of property and made a donation of some of the proceeds to the ecclesia. Would the ecclesia ask us if this was some or all of the money? Certainly not. Any donation would be appreciated and no one would have the audacity to suggest that the entire amount should be donated. However, these circumstances provide us with a clue as to what was developing in the ecclesia. It seems that believers had the option at this time of living independently of the ecclesia OR selling all that they had, putting it in the communal pot and then living on the ecclesia's communal expense account. The only caveat apparently was that if you joined the communal aspect of the ecclesia, you had to sell everything and donate it to the ecclesia. Ananias was trying to scam the ecclesia. He wanted to live off of the ecclesial expense account but still have some of his own money. Of course we know the outcome of his charade - he paid for it with his life and that of his wife.

From the evidence in Acts 5, this seemed to put an end to people joining in the communal aspect of the ecclesia. People continued to join the ecclesia, but no longer joined those in the common purse. "No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number."

The evidence then is that the higher form of Christianity was living communally where people shared a common "bank account" and distributed to people not based on earnings, but on their need. This mindset does require us to cast aside a lot of ideas impressed upon us by our culture.
Imagine a world in which everyone operates on this principle. Everyone works according to the ability God gave them. No one goofs off or is lazy for the simple reason that they have money in the bank. Rather, everyone works hard and gives to those who have genuine need. We no longer have some countries eating too much and getting fat while others starve to death. We no longer have people with money to burn on liposuction and breast implants while others can't afford the most basic medical care. We no longer witness people in massive mansions while others go without basic shelter. One of these days, this will all come to pass. It won't be another feeble attempt at a communistic government that fails because of greed, poor leadership and laziness. It also will not be a government ruled by the people per se, but a truly successful model under the monarchy of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God on earth.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!