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Archive for November 3rd, 2014

ananiasandsapphirabiblestory1

There was some discussion on a friend’s blog responding to a nonbeliever’s assertion that Acts 5 demonstrate that the early Christians were Communists.  Acts 5:1-16 is the passage concerning Ananias and Sapphira.

I’ve reproduced my comment here with slight editorial change:

I think the fact that Acts 5 still acknowledged private property does not sit well with a Marxist reading of Acts 5.  Specifically, the Apostle Peter in verse four affirmed the right of private property when he asked Ananias: “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not [b]under your control?”

I would also add that the communal passages such as the one you mentioned here in Acts 5 and also Acts 2:44-45 must also be interpreted in the light of the larger flow of the book of Acts.
We must remember that Acts 1:8 is the “controlling” verse for the direction of the book of Acts. Acts 1:8 is the command Jesus gave the disciples: “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Note there is an emphasis by Jesus that the Gospel is to go outward that comport with Matthew 28:19-20 (what is commonly called the Great Commission).
It seems in light of Acts 1:8 that this gathering of an internal community sharing things in common is not the thing that Jesus or Acts want to stress as normative for the Christian, but it ought to be one of reaching out. In fact it took God bringing a persecution in Acts 8:1-5 that the Acts 1:8 plan gets unfolded (I think my interpretation is justified, note the echoes of Acts 1:8 in Acts 8:1-5 with the term “Jerusalem,” “Judea” and especially the multiple reference to “Samaria.” This point must not be missed).
Acts 8 onwards is more closer to us in terms of the Christian church era and I think Acts 2-7 with the believers gathering together fits in a specific context of Redemptive History in that it was the early Post-Pentecost age when believers from around the world was still getting to know the Gospel more deeply before eventually going back “home” to all the different parts of the Roman empire (see Acts 2 again) and beyond.

I think to pull these passages as supporting Communism does not take into account the immediate context within Acts 5 nor does it take into account the context of the uniqueness of the event in Redemptive History.  In other words, the case for communism from Acts 2 and 5 fail.

In my next post on Wednesday I will address the issue of the term communism, Marxism and the Soviet State.

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