I am currently doing a complete Bible reading, a plan that was started by Grant Horner* (more information can be found by clicking on his name) which my friend Natasha suggested. Do not click on the link within the PDF as it has an error, the Facebook page is The 3650 Challenge, and I would highly suggest you go and read about it. However, it is only reading the Bible and you do not go into a study of any of the verses or chapters. For that I do a later study in my Bible using either the S.O.A.P method or the Inductive style used by Kay Arthur from Precepts Ministry.
During my fourth day of reading a certain passage in Acts got my attention, so I decided to delve into it a little bit more. In the fourth chapter Luke is telling us about Peter and John witnessing to the people and about 5,000 believed. Acts 4:32-35 speaks of the people as having one heart and soul. They were not only of like mind, but they also had everything in common, no one said anything belonged to them and no one was in need. As the apostles continued to give testimony about Jesus’ resurrection not a single person among them was in want of anything; the people who owned land or houses had sold them and laid the money at the apostles feet. Then they did the most amazing thing, “it was distributed to each as any had need,” Acts 4:35 (ESV).
This style of living is not new, as seen among the Essenes in their Manual of Discipline. When an initiate entered into the community, the community held all the initiates belongings. Once the initiate decided that he was going to stay within the community, then all his possessions became part of the community and the community in turn took care of him.1
Even though this eventually caused a problem, as Paul did need to admonish the church in 2 Thessalonians 3:10. However, this could only be a problem within a communal living arrangement where everyone shared their belongings, as some commentaries seem to suggest. Paul speaks about the busybodies who are living in idleness, that if they did not obey the warning, the community was to withdraw from them, however, this did not mean ex-communication.2 By withdrawing the hope was that the do-nothings would be ashamed of themselves. However, Paul continues and tells the community to warn these idlers as believers and do not regard them as enemies (2 Thess. 3:15 NRSV). In other words “do not shun him in contemptuous silence, but to tell him why he is being avoided, Matthew 18:15 and 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (Ibid). Paul is not speaking of heathens here but fellow Christians because of his use of brother in 2 Thess. 3:6.
I definitely like the understanding of the two verses (Acts and 2 Thess.) along with the comparison. One time I posted a picture on my Facebook feed of Jesus with the saying that he healed the sick, mingled with sinners and feed the poor, a commenter had this to say “in the Bible it does say that those not willing to work should starve.” I really found that a very interesting comment for a devout Christian to make. It also makes me think that they are looking at these people as freeloaders and if you want them to starve, perhaps even as enemies. So when I read Acts 4 it really made me sit up. Of course when they posted that comment I did reply back with verses that showed how Jesus feed the poor and what he said about taking care of each other, along with the actual correct quote in 2 Thessalonians 3:10.
Have you ever had a devout Christian say something to you that didn’t sit right? If so, what did you do about it? If it was against you did you follow Matthew 18:15? Did you do as 1 Thess. 5:14 suggests, admonish and be patient?
1Wright, Tom. Acts for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-12. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2008.
2Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.