And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul…
The chief way in which at that time a member of the Church could express his unshaken devotion to the common cause, or his willingness to sacrifice to the last penny for the common weal, was by placing his realized capital at the disposal of the brotherhood. The endangered position of the little community (through the enmity of the Sadducean party) thus tended to inflame the fervor of its charity, and gave a new impetus to that common relief fund which had been started at Pentecost. "There can be no question that an expectation of Christ's immediate return from heaven, acting along with the unity of thoughts and feelings, made these men willing to part with their possessions and goods." Such community of goods has always been part of theories of perfect commonwealths. In this case each member of the Church held his possessions only as a trust, and was prepared to yield them up, if the exigencies of the brotherhood demanded such a surrender. We have, then, in this picture of the early Church, a model of the spirit that should animate the members of Christ's Church in all ages. We do not say models of conduct, because the application of such models in changing generations becomes uncertain. Models of the essential principles, and of the spirit, which we should cherish, are both more helpful and of more constant application. The early Church expressed Christian feeling in outward forms, just as childhood gets impulsive and unrestrained expression for its sentiments . rod emotions. Their new faith in Christ suddenly brought them close together, and made them conscious of new and binding sympathies. There was at first a great gush of impulsive brotherhood. Compare the intense feelings animating, and the extraordinary sacrifices made, when the year A.D. drew near, because of the expectation that Jesus would return on the first day of that year. The feeling was so far right, but the mode of its expression did not gain permanence. Compare the impulse for missions so often strongly felt by young Christians. What these men actually did we may not make a model. The spirit which led them to do it, and the spirit in which they did it, are a model for us all. There are three sentiments that may be cherished concerning our earthly possessions.
I. WE MAY REGARD THEM AS OUR OWN. Illustrate by the parable of the rich fool, who says he will build greater barns, "where I may bestow all my fruit and my goods." This is both a false and an unworthy sentiment; for" what have we that we have not received?"
II. WE MAY REGARD THEM AS CHRIST'S. Compare the sentiment of St. Paul, who could say, "To me to live is Christ."
III. WE MAY REGARD THEM AS OURS IN TRUST. Then they become talents for whose use we are responsible. And we learn to feel that they are not to be spent for self, but used for others; and self-denial, charity, and self-sacrifice are recognized as the first of virtues. Put alongside this sentiment of the early disciples concerning their property, the sentiment of the apostles concerning the disciples themselves - " Ye are not your own;" and then we have the twofold feeling which Christians ought ever to cherish; and our anxiety concerns
(1) holding ourselves for the Lord, and
(2) holding our property at the service of others for Christ's sake. We are not our own. Nothing that we have is our own. All is Christ's. We are Christ's. And then St. Paul argues back, that 'rail thing are" really "ours" in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
WEB: The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and soul. Not one of them claimed that anything of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.