New Testament giving – Acts 2 and 4

The first few chapters in Acts are very well known for the sharing they demonstrate among the believers. Here are some parts:


Acts 2:42-45
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.


And Acts 4:32-35
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.


We have dealt extensively with these references of Acts in our study on material possessions. Here are some points from that study:


i) What happened in Acts 2 and 4 was voluntary, not mandatory. People didn’t have to sell their possessions nor is this a prerequisite to be a Christian. They did it by their own free will. Proof? What Peter said to Ananias, the man that sold a possession and brought part of the proceeds to the apostles presenting it like it was the full price (i.e. he lied). As Peter told him: “While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control?” If Ananias had kept his property and hadn’t sold it, it would NOT have been a sin. Ananias’ sin was not that he owned land but that he brought part of the price to the apostles, presenting it as the whole price. It was lawful to have land and it was lawful to keep the full proceedings from its sale. What was not right however was to present these proceedings to God and the church as the full price of the land, when he only offered part of it. This was a lie to God and this was what Peter condemned. From this we can deduct that it is not a sin to own material possessions nor that in the 1st century church everybody had to sell his possessions after he became a Christian.

ii) What happened in Acts 2 and 4 was unique and was not the general practice of the New Testament church. In fact we do not find this practice anywhere outside Jerusalem. What we just saw from 1 Corinthians is that everyone was to put aside on a regular basis what he might prosper so that when Paul would come, it would be put together and taken to the poor saints in Jerusalem.

iii) Though it is not a sin to have material possessions there must be a right attitude towards them. And this attitude is to actively consider everything as belonging to the Lord and not to you, His steward. It is to actively seek the will of the Lord about everything including your possessions. It is to be ready to sell everything, if you are called to do so. We are of course not speaking here about a desire to be rich, a desire to get more and more possessions. Such a desire has one name in the Word of God and this is greed, love of money, the root of all evil (I Timothy 6:10). Such a desire has no place in the life of a genuine Christian.


Tassos Kioulachoglou






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