And all that believed were together, and had all things common;…
They were glad at heart because they were single in heart. Their hearts were not divided between God, or Christ, and the world, and, being wholly the Lord's, they rejoiced in the Lord.
I. Their gladness was the effect of their SINGLENESS OF HEART TOWARDS GOD, towards God in Christ, whom they called Lord and God, and into whose name they had been baptized for forgiveness of sins, with the promise of receiving from Him, if they repented, the gift or baptism of the Holy Ghost. It was the proper fruit, that is to say, of that awful fear of God, tempered and softened by filial confidence and grateful love, which we see characterised in the context as the habitual frame of mind in which these primitive disciples walked with God, in the exercise of living faith in Jesus Christ. In proportion as they knew God, or knew the gospel of Christ, they saw that He was all in all, that of Him, and through Him, and to Him were all things. They connected all things, little and great, with God. All things were thus to them full of God, and since they rejoiced in God, full of the joy of God. This was the secret of their happiness, this the source, this the sum. And in proportion to the singleness of their hearts towards God, so that He was all in all, and of Him, through Him, and to Him, all things, did the gladness of their hearts become more full and ecstatic, or rise nearer to the blessedness of saints in heaven. Their joy was, then, first of all the joy of godliness and gratitude.
II. Again, this gladness proceeded from the SINGLENESS OF THEIR HEARTS TOWARDS THE WORLD, from the victory over the world, to which they were crucified by the Cross of Christ. A half-hearted Christian, if such a man there be, a worldly-minded professor of Christianity whose heart is divided between God and the world, or rather is not yet given to God, is miserable when he is called to surrender his worldly possessions, and feels his happiness to consist in giving as little as possible to the cause of Christ. But not so the man who with singleness of heart has said, "I am not mine own; I am bought with a price," therefore must I glorify my Redeemer with all that is mine. The more he can do for God, the more he can contribute to the cause of Christ, the more is his joy made full. His heart being single, his final aim being one, in the fulfilment of that aim, in the extent to which he can contribute by his exertions or possessions to its fulfilment, he is glad.
III. There was, however, another element in the joy of these Christians, for there was another distinguishing feature of their character. Theirs was THE JOY OF MUTUAL LOVE — the sweetest joy which earth can boast. Their hearts were united in the bond of perfectness, charity, and therefore they were glad. That man might well consent to part with the world who, with the world as the price, could purchase a friend, could win to himself the pure love of one purified heart. No wonder they were glad at heart. They loved one another with a pure heart fervently. Their singleness of heart in their attachment to one another made them glad. Love is the proper fruit of the gospel, for faith, which is the reception of the gospel, worketh by love. Love is happiness; pure love is pure happiness; Christian love is Christian happiness, or life eternal in present possession, the life of heaven upon earth. Theirs was therefore the gladness of love free from selfishness, and as free from sectarianism.
IV. But there was one other characteristic of this gladness of heart which must not be omitted, since it points to its source, and is the thing by which it was distinguished from all other joy. This gladness was THE JOY OF FAITH IS JESUS CHRIST. In all its elements it was the fruit of that faith. Their godliness, their gratitude, was the godliness of faith and the gratitude of faith. Their victory over the world was also the victory of faith: "For this is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith." And their love to one another was love in the Lord, love of faith's producing, for "faith worketh by love," which is the believer's life. They were glad at heart, because they believed with all their heart. What, then, is the gladness of faith, as it is described here, compared with other joys? Need I show that it was a joy peculiar in its character, and pre-eminently pure and exalted? Need I show that it was an independent, and uniform, and habitual joy? not arising from circumstances of a variable kind, not like the joy of wealth, or of honour, or of pleasure, which may come in a night and depart in a night, which return only at intervals, and soon pall and cease to please, the sooner the oftener they return. Faith may flourish whatever fades; and this joy is as independent and as uniform as is the exercise of faith. Need I show that it is a perpetually increasing joy, a light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day? Every view of God increases it, if we see Him as He is in Jesus Christ. All our intercourse with the world calls it into exercise, and gives it, if we overcome the world, renewed strength. And love produces love. By loving we learn to love, as by walking we learn to walk.
Parallel VersesKJV: And all that believed were together, and had all things common;