Did The First Christians Practice Communism?

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Hi G____,

I am pleased to see that you are at least questioning the need to “put the body of Christ back together.” The body of Christ is doing quite well as it is. As a matter of fact it is exactly where Christ wants it.

What your friend is espousing is to be found nowhere in the scriptures. Never did the followers of Christ live a communal life. This experience in Acts shows that that is what some wanted to do because they still at this time thought that the gospel was to go only to the Jews. “Go ye into all the world…” to the 12 apostles meant ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to all Jews in all the nations they’ve been scattered into.’ Peter at this time had not even been to Cornelius’ home. It is clear from Gal 2 that many years after Peter’s experience at Cornelius’ home, he still had a hard time accepting the fact that ‘we are no longer under the schoolmaster.’

Gal 2:11 But when Peter [ who supervised the communal movement] was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Gal 2:12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
Gal 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation [ hypocrisy].
Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

Does this sound like the Spirit wanted everyone to go to Jerusalem and live a communal life?

What I am pointing out to you, is that this entire period was colored with the belief that Christ was about to return to set up a physical kingdom with physical Israel at the head of that kingdom. Your friend is mistaking immaturity for maturity. This is not to deny that it is good if we realize that we really don’t own anything, but we are mere tenants on God’s land. As David said, ‘Of thine own give we to thee…’ The ‘communal movement’ actually restricted the spreading of the gospel even to the scattered Jews. It took severe persecution to scatter the disciples before the gospel began to spread.

Act 11:19 Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.

Do you see how spiritually immature the whole church was at this point? The 12 apostles themselves were yet unaware that physical birth as a Jew was about as important to God as is “dung.” The fact that there were so many signs and wonders is just testimony to the lack of maturity at this point. Read ‘The Best Gifts Versus Tongues,’ in the ‘Tongues’ section of the ‘You Asked’ letters for a better understanding of Christ’s words “Blessed are they who believe even though they have not seen.” What your friend is advocating is taking the ‘salt out of the earth’ and doing what the Catholics do in their monasteries and convents. What they are doing is they are putting all the salt in one salt shaker with no holes in the lid.

Here, on the other hand is what Christ had to say to His Father about this subject:

Joh 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world [ in a commune], but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil [ so prevalent in the world outside of a commune].

It is very instructive to notice that Phillip and Peter both had houses that they were living in.

Act 21:8 And the next [ day] we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
Mat 8:14 And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.

There is no indication that either of these great men of God had ‘fallen away from the faith’ as your friend intimates is the case with anyone owning his house.

Here is what Christ said of his apostles of this very period of transition from the old covenant to the new which we are discussing:

Joh 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

I am not trying to offend you, but nothing demonstrates this more than the desire to live in a communal setting. Pay close attention to the wording of this next verse, and ask yourself what this verse has in common with your friend’s theory:

1Ti 5:8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

I am encouraged by the way you have couched this question:

I think God’ spirit is showing you that “the True Church has been scattered by design.” You could not be more accurate. You are equally right about the meaning of the word ‘few.’ When asked about how things would be at the time of His coming, Christ mentioned these two things: 1) “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man,” and 2) Remember Lot.” I have been accused on more than one occasion of being a pessimist in my teachings. My answer to my detractors is that if Christ had said ‘Remember Nineveh,’ then I too, would say ‘Remember Nineveh.’ But that is not what He said. What He did say was “Remember Lot.” Sodom is a type of this world. Lot, in this case, is a type of the elect. If there is anything that gives us even a hint of what percent of the called are chosen, it is Gideon’s call for Israel to come to the battle against the Midianites. Out of over thirty two thousand who responded to his call only 300 were chosen [ elected] to be used in Israel’s deliverance. That is less than one percent. And from where I stand that seems way too optimistic.

I hope this is of some value to you. When haven’t touched on the significance of Christ’s Words to the rich young ruler. He obviously typifies the called but not chosen. His ‘riches’ came before the things of the spirit. Therein lies the answer to this story. HIS riches.


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