One Heart and One Soul
"Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet" (Acts 4:32-37).

This section of text is similar in many ways to Acts 2:43-45 (cf. 10/14/10). It is wonderful that Luke was able to report some of the same wonderful sentiments continuing in the early church. Clearly, these Christians loved God and they showed it by loving each other. Indeed, they were of "one heart and one soul." They were united intellectually and emotionally, as a family should be (cf. John 17:20,21). This is quite an impressive description for such a large number of people. They were so filled with the desire to see souls saved that there was no room in their hearts for disharmony or dissension. They genuinely cared about each other and were willing to share unselfishly as anyone had need (which is different from a person's wants). If this type of generous care for the needy was still voluntarily practiced by those who claim to follow Jesus today and if the government stopped supporting those who could work but are simply too lazy (cf. II Thess. 3:10), there would be little need for welfare systems funded by taxes.

The apostles, with great power, continued working miracles and proclaiming the gospel of Christ. As a result of these two things (the generous liberality of the disciples and the mighty works of the apostles), "great grace was upon them all" (4:33). They were all being blessed richly by God's favor. Furthermore, many of Jerusalem's inhabitants viewed them favorably, being impressed with the words and actions of the early church (cf. 2:47). This type of benevolence was essentially unheard of prior to this time, and it made a great impression upon all for the church. Friends, what about the church today? Are we enjoying great grace as a result of our diligent labors in evangelism, edification, and benevolence?

In Acts 4:34, Luke details the extent of the sacrificial love these Christians possessed. Expensive items such as land and houses were sold by individuals that the proceeds might be given to the apostles to distribute to those who were needy. As a side note, these facts imply that the Jerusalem church had a "treasury" of some sort (cf. I Cor. 16:2). Although the apostles tended to it initially, the task would soon interfere too much with their preaching and praying. Thus, others would be chosen to have special responsibility for this distribution (cf. Acts 6).

One man, named Joses (who is better known as "Barnabas"), was among those who sold land in order to give the proceeds to the apostles for benevolent help to those in need (cf. Prov. 28:27). It is quite possible this was his entire estate. Since he had no family dependents (cf. I Cor. 9:6), this act of giving would help prepare him for missionary labor. His nickname as "Son of Encouragement" certainly wasn't derived exclusively from this act of love, but perhaps it played a small part. Luke will have much more to write about Barnabas as the history of the early church continues unfolding. He is likely mentioned here in order to draw a contrast between his selfless generosity and the wicked conduct of Ananias and Sapphira (cf. Acts 5:1ff).

Dear friends, how does our faith, love, and dedication measure up to these Christians? Are we willing to give sacrificially for the Lord's cause and our brethren? Are we of "one heart and one soul" with our fellow Christians?