November 22, 2020, Acts 4:32-5:11, ISSL Reflections, Post 2

IV.
Let’s focus here for while –

Acts 4:32, 34-35
Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common…. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

V.
“… no one claimed private ownership of any possessions…”

Really?

How “literally” am I supposed to take this for “Christian” behavior today?

Let’s acknowledge that other translations express this with different words,

No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. (NIV)

no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. (ESV)

None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions, but held everything in common. (CEB)

They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. (The Message)

But, maybe the words used in the NRSV, “private ownership,” forces us to the heart of the matter more quickly and directly.

VI.
I spent some time looking at what some commentators wrote regarding this passage and the notes in several study bibles.

It was interesting to me how often some writers are very interested in telling us what his passage does not imply. For example, at https://bible.org/book/export/html/21323 , I read –

“They felt and acted like a family. This was the church’s first attempt to finance ministry. It was voluntary and mutual, not mandatory. Love and concern, not government or social leveling, was the motive! … The church felt a responsibility for one another. Those who had, gave freely to those in need (cf. v. 35). This is not communism, but love in action.”

So, is it more important to note this is not about “ … social leveling … communism…” or to pay attention to how these folk felt and acted out of a sense of “responsibility [and love] for one another.”

Is there still another step or two to consider?

How do we understand the behaviors toward one another grace called forth in those folk?

How seriously do we take that call on us today?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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