The Book of Acts describes the first-century Jewish Christ-followers in a way unexpected to most modern believers. They are described in terms reminiscent of Utopian society, where believers held all things in common and none had need (Acts 2:42-45). This was the ultimate expression of the Jewish concept of Ahavat Yisrael – the Love of Israel held among the Jewish followers of Jesus in the first century.

But how did this practice begin? In other words, based on what did they conduct this communal lifestyle in Christ Jesus? The Torah, with all its care for the poor and needy (Lev.23:22), does not ever talk about shared property. In fact it emphasizes God-given right to private property (Ex. 20:17)! Neither prophets nor Yeshua himself taught that all the faithful must abandon everything they ever owned. Yet these believers unapologetically lived the way they did.

Our best available reconstruction links this group of Christ-followers with Essene communities that – according to Josephus Flavius – practiced just this kind of lifestyle. In describing them, the Jewish historian writes: “…one cannot find a person among them who has more in terms of possessions… those coming into the community must yield up their funds to the order …assets of each one have been mixed in together, as if they were brothers, to create one fund for all.” (Wars, II, 8, 3).

If this was a community rooted in the Essene movement that now allied itself with the Messiah Jesus, then their continuation of this centuries-long communal practice would make perfect sense.

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  1. A very likely but not a very popular reason would be their belief in the coming Messiah when "all things will be made new". They were very aware of, and it was growing in importance to them as they realized that this would be the "at that time' of prophesy. The old things would pass away, there would be a "new covenant" and the "old things will not be remembered". God bless your studies.
  2. The "all things common" must be tied to the aftermath of Pentecost. Thousands were converted who had come from 16 different nations for this special occasion. It is only natural that some stayed in Jerusalem for a time to be taught and grounded in their new faith. in time they would have maxed out their credit cards and spent all their money, with no funds to buy food or pay the rent at their inns, so the Christian converts that lived in Jerusalem took matters in hand and did what they could to provide the needs for their brethren in Christ.
    • Jews were not Christian converts .This is false theology .The Jews were then as many are today Messianic Believers in Y'Shua .Constantine started the Christian movement in 313 CE /AD .All the Jews gathered together together in Yerushalayim for the Day of Shavu'ot /Pentecost came from different regions when the Ruach HaKodesh /Holy Spirit was poured out on them .Kefa /Peter and Sha'ul /Paul began reaching out to the gentiles in Acts 10 and on .When Constantine rose to power he persecuted the Jews .

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    • I agree. The practice of communal living came from the necessity of visitors in Jerusalem not from the Torah tradition or from the Essenes, although their practice may have suggested the solution to the problem of want for some and surplus for others.
    • They were all Jews who came from the surrounding nations up to Yerushalayim when the Ruach HaKodesh was poured out on them .Constantine began Christianity in 313 AD/CE and this is when he began to pass edicts /laws to forbid Jews to worship on Shabbat and this is when Jews were being burned alive and persecuted .Kefa /Peter and Sha'ul /Paul began reaching out to the Gentiles /Goyim in Acts 10 .The Messianic Congregations grew exponentially .Both Jews and Gentiles were being filled with the Ruach HaKodesh /Holy Spirit .

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  3. The way this makes sense to me is because of the hard times and dangers every believer faced on a daily basis. We are One Body in YESHUA. Each Body part functions according to its purpose, therefore each member of that body has to be functional to its calling! All assets given up at that time was to advance the KINGDOM of GOD. Followers of that day had their eyes on the ultimate Prize and they took ministry Work very serious bc they were a selfless people not one for personal gain. I believe it was very necessary especially because they had to depend on one another with of course YESHUA as their Center point!
  4. Jesus teachings and life style also must have profound influence on them. For instance, birds have nests and foxes have holes but the son of man has no where to put his head, or , put your earthly resources where moths cannot reach etc. seem to discourage property acquisition. Likewise are His teachings in giving to your neighbours whatsoever they ask of thee. A giver always make friends, infact trustworthy friends, which makes communal living easy.
    • This seems to me one of the very things that could have influenced the communal living of the 1st century Christians in Jerusalem: the teachings of The Lord Jesus portrayed in His lifestyle. This defined His attitude to wealth, money, pomp and glory. His followers in Jerusalem tried to live simply like He did; and to put into practice John 13: 34-25 “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” In real life, sharing is a powerful statement of love and care for those with whom we share.

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  5. One teaching is that after they had been warned that armies would surround Jerusalem, and Jesus told them to flee the City and leave. So what good it property when you are fleeing military conquest? They knew they would be leaving soon. Either the kingdom coming or the military conquest.
    • Thomas, Jesus gave those prophetic words roughly forty years before they occurred. It wasn't Jewish persecution or the threat of Roman destruction that encouraged communal giving. The early church in Jerusalem was inspired by God's love, filled with his Holy Spirit, and proved to be evidence of the risen Christ that ruled their hearts and lives. Over time, the harsh reality of persecution drove the communal Christians to share the Word outside of Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, to the uttermost parts of the world. Jesus is truly consistent: seek first the kingdom and all will be added unto you.
  6. Jesus told the rich man: sell all you have and come and follow Me. Jesus said, My sheep know My voice and they follow Me. The Lord emphasized, Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you. To follow Jesus as Lord, He said, If a man will come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Guide into all truth. If we live after the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus we will be set free.
    • It is the LOVE of money, that is the root of all evil..not money. This young ruler had all his stock of life in his riches, so Yeshua was testing him to see how much his confidence was in money. He did not ask anyone else to do that.
    • I think that Eric came closest to the reason. Jesus' closest disciples left their homes, jobs, and everything else to follow Him. They brought little with them and all, therefore, were forced to share what they had with the community.
  7. If it was a community I true believers it would work for a while. However communism preaches this communal sharing but eventually everything ends up in the hands of the ruling minority and everyone else ends up with nothing and hungry. I wonder how long that communal sharing lasted. Nice pretty concept of communal sharing but it doesn’t work taking account human sinful nature. If I’m not mistaken I read somewhere in Acts or one f the epistles about some contention between different Christian groups where some were getting left out or put at the end of food distribution.
    • Hi Marta, thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Russian history and I know where communism leads. The passage that I think you're referring to is Acts 6 where the Hellenists' widows were overlooked.
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