Acts 4:32-37 Sharing From The Heart
We are entering our 11th study on Acts. I hope you are seeing just how awesome this book is. There is an excitement in Acts that continues to built with time. The scenery is changing continually.
Now that we've gotten our feet wet, I plan to provide studies on a more frequent basis. This is the second study this week. Always feel free to comment on any study that has been provided.
This is Acts011 - Acts 4:32-37 Giving From The Heart.
Vs32: "And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them."
What are the factors behind all this togetherness and sharing? Consider the following:
(1) Thousands of people are receiving Jesus as Messiah. A new community of believers is forming around the apostles. And no one wants to leave Jerusalem. Can you imagine the excitement and anticipation with these new believers? What will happen next? Miracles and healings are taking place. All eyes are on the apostles.
(2) This new community of believers also speaks to their Jewish heritage. For the Jewish peoples, hospitality and sharing are considered mitzvots, that is, good deeds. Sharing is at the very heart of their Abrahamic faith.
(3) Then we need to consider how the Holy Spirit has created a new love bond between the believers. This is what the unity of the Spirit is about. Did not the apostle say, "The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Rom 5:5)
Side note: Paul said, "Showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph4:2,3) How often do we find a new group, or a new organization springing up whose rally cry is, 'We are creating a new unity.' But no one can create a new unity. All we can create is a fresh division in the body of Christ. Our charge is to keep the unity that God has already given us in Christ. We are given the love walk as our union with other believers. Love is to all the activities, of all believers, for all times. (Think about it.)
We will look at a (4) reason shortly.
Vs33: "And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all."
Notice the miracles are taking place through the apostles. There is a reason for this. The apostles had the chief role in laying the foundation for Christ's new community. You will see later that when a new cultural group is brought into the covenant, an apostle is always present.
Vss34,35: "For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need."
(4) This brings us to another reason behind the selling of homes and bringing the proceeds to the apostles for the care of the peoples. There is a doctrine that has always served to place a spiritual tension in believers of all ages. (I'm using tension in a good sense, such as in expectation.) This doctrine is found primarily by two Greek words, 'epiphaneia' (appearing), and 'parousia' (actual presence or arrival) of the Lord.
Since the beginning of the Church age every generation of believers has lived with a certain expectation of the return of the Lord. It is this expectation that serves as one of the hallmarks of true new covenant faith. And it appears the Lord hid the 'time' of His appearing for the purpose of distinguishing true believers of all ages. It also serves as the purifying doctrine of the Church.
Paul said, "In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing [epiphaneia]." (2Tim4:8)
John said, "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears (phaneroo: make visible), we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." (1John3:2,3)
"So Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him." (Heb9:28)
"For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming (parousia)?" (1Thess2:19)
And so it was the expectation of the return of the Lord that is behind the early believers selling their homes, and bringing the proceeds to the apostles. We will see later that it was not God's intention for the believers to 'clump' up in a bunch. They needed to be scattered into the nations. (Salt has to be sprinkled, not clumped on food. Christians often have a tendency to clump. This is why the Lord often allows certain things to happen in order to scatter us. Covered in a later study.)
vss36,37: "Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet."
(1) Joseph is of the tribe of Levi. This means he is connected to the priesthood of Israel.
(2) He is from Cyprus. Joseph is a Hellenist, or a Greek speaking Jew of the diaspora. A great many of the Hellenist Jews became Christians. According to one Jewish writer, the larger part of the diaspora of the middle east had all but disappeared by 300 a.d. What happened to them? They became Christian.
(3) Joseph has a nick name. Barnabas means 'Son of Encouragement.' Have you ever met a son or daughter of encouragement? These are the most beautiful of people in God's kingdom. Nothing but grace flows through their lips. We have a goodly number of sons and daughters of encouragement in our ministry.
(4) This same Joseph soon was known to everyone as Barnabas. It was the apostles who gave him his name. Barnabas became a traveling companion of Paul, and was noted as a prophet. Isn't one of the main functions of prophecy to encourage? (By the way, all prophets are teachers, but not all teachers are prophets.)
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 22, 2004
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