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Summary: We have been considering the infant Church in the midst of hostile forces. We now come to a section of the book which gives us a glimpse of the internal conditions of the Church at that time, and particularly of the fellowship that existed around old....

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October 28, 2013

By: Tom Lowe

Title: The Continuing Unity of the Church (4.32-37)

Acts 4.32-37 (KJV)

32 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.

33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Introduction

We have been considering the infant Church in the midst of hostile forces. We now come to a section of the book which gives us a glimpse of the internal conditions of the Church at that time, and particularly of the fellowship that existed around old Jerusalem First Christian Church.

The believers had prayed and God’s Spirit had filled them and given them new power. The church that believes in the power of prayer will know the blessing of the Holy Spirit in its ministry. How can we tell when a church is really filled with the Spirit? When you go back to that first filling at Pentecost (Acts 2.44-47), you will discover three outstanding characteristics of a spirit filled church:

1. It is unified (vv. 2.44, 46).

2. A Spirit-filled church is active and well-known in the community, and will have “favor with all the people” (v. 2.47).

3. A Spirit-filled church is multiplied, because the Lord will add new believers to the church daily (v. 2.47).

Luke had two reasons for including this passage here. For one thing, he used it to introduce Barnabas to his readers. A common technique of Luke was to introduce a character quickly in a minor role and then later bring him on stage in a major role. This is what he did with Barnabas. Luke’s second purpose in these verses was to show how Barnabas and the rest of the Church contrasted with Ananias and Sapphira (chap. 5). The generosity of the Church and especially Barnabas differed markedly from the selfishness of that husband-wife team.

Commentary

32 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.

In verses 32 through 35 there is a general description of the condition of the church in Jerusalem. But it is not something new, because the same condition existed back at the beginning of the Christian Church, immediately after the giving of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. In chapter 2, verses 42 through 45 there are four things mentioned which characterize the infant Church.

FIRST, the believers “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine”—which does not mean that they simply listened to the apostles teaching, but that they accepted it and supported that teaching by the way they lived their daily lives.

SECOND, they continued steadfastly “in fellowship”—that is, all the believers were together (physically and spiritually), and “had all things in common.”

THIRD, they continued “breaking bread from house to house (and) did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”

Forth, they continued steadfastly “in prayers . . . praising God . . . and the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.”

The one hundred and twenty believers who went into the upper room on the Day of Pentecost were baptized into one body with the Lord Jesus as the head and every believer as a member of that body, the result being that they were united in heart and mind, and continued steadfastly in fellowship.

The Greek word “koinonia” has been translated here as “fellowship.” There may be no richer word in the New Testament, since there is no single word that can convey all of the meaning, depth, and richness implied by the Greek word; therefore, it has been translated in many ways—“fellowship . . . communion . . . communication . . . distribution . . . contribution . . . partakers . . . partners.” Our present verse contains the root from which “koinonia” comes; so we see that fellowship means “having all things in common.”

The deep and precious teaching here is that born again believers have fellowship with God—that is, we have “all things in common” with God. Now we are children of God—“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the SONS OF GOD: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3.1, 2). We are hid with Christ with God, now—“For ye are dead, and your life is HID WITH CHRIST IN GOD (Col. 3.3). We are heirs of God now—“And if children, then heirs; HEIRS OF GOD, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8.17). All the resources of God are at our disposal, and the resources of the child of God are entirely at God’s disposal.

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