on Acts 2 :45
on Acts 2 :45
And sold - That is, they sold as much as was necessary in order to procure the means of providing for the needs of each other.
Possessions - Property, particularly real estate. This word, κτήματα ktēmata, refers properly to their fixed property, as lands, houses, vineyards, etc. The word rendered "goods," ὑπάρξεις huparxeis, refers to their personal or movable "property."
And parted them to all - They distributed them to supply the needs of their poorer brethren, according to their necessities.
As every man had need - This expression limits and fixes the meaning of what is said before. The passage does not mean that they sold all their possessions, or that they relinquished their title to all their property, but that they so far regarded all as common as to be willing to part with it if it was needful to supply the needs of the others. Hence, the property was laid at the disposal of the apostles, and they were desired to distribute it freely to meet the needs of the poor, Acts 4:34-35.
This was an important incident in the early propagation of religion, and it may suggest many useful reflections:
1. We see the effect of religion. The love of property is one of the strongest affections which people have. There is nothing that will overcome it but religion. That will; and one of the first effects of the gospel was to loosen the hold of Christians on property.
2. It is the duty of the church to provide for the needs of its poor and needy members. There can be no doubt that property should now be regarded as so far common as that the needs of the poor should be supplied by those who are rich. Compare Matthew 26:11.
3. If it be asked why the early disciples evinced this readiness to part with their property in this manner, it may be replied:
(1) That the apostles had done it before them. The family of the Saviour had all things common.
(2) it was the nature of religion to do it.
(3) the circumstances of the persons assembled on this occasion were such as to require it. They were many of them from distant regions, and probably many of them of the poorer class of the people in Jerusalem. In this they evinced what should be done in behalf of the poor in the church at all times.
4. If it be asked whether this was done commonly among the early Christians, it may be replied that there is no evidence that it was. It is mentioned here, and in Acts 4:32-37, and Acts 5:1-7. It does not appear that it was done even by all who were afterward converted in Judea; and there is no evidence that it was done in Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, Rome, etc. That the effect of religion was to make people liberal and willing to provide for the poor there can be no doubt. See 2 Corinthians 8:19; 2 Corinthians 9:2; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Galatians 2:10. But there is no proof that it was common to part with their possessions and to lay them at the feet of the apostles. Religion does not contemplate, evidently, that people should break up all the arrangements in society, but it contemplates that those who have property should be ready and willing to part with it for the help of the poor and needy.
5. If it be asked, then, whether all the arrangements of property should be broken up now, and believers have all things in common, we are prepared to answer "No." Because:
(1) This was an extraordinary case.
on Acts 2 :45
2:45 And sold their possessions - Their lands and houses; and goods - Their movables. And parted them to all as any one had need - To say the Christians did this only till the destruction of Jerusalem, is not true; for many did it long after. Not that there was any positive command for so doing: it needed not; for love constrained them. It was a natural fruit of that love wherewith each member of the community loved every other as his own soul. And if the whole Christian Church had continued in this spirit, this usage must have continued through all ages. To affirm therefore that Christ did not design it should continue, is neither more nor less than to affirm, that Christ did not design this measure of love should continue. I see no proof of this.