Lectionary Year B
April 27, 2003
Acts 4:32-35

Step IV: Broader Context


All three synoptics (Mt. 19; Mk 10; Lk 18) include the story of the man who in order to inherit eternal life is instructed to sell what he possesses and give to the poor. This story, along with a parallel passage in Acts 2, seems to indicate that certain persons, perhaps all persons, uniting with the apostles in Jerusalem were doing exactly that.

The idea of giving all and not being impoverished brings to mind for me the feeding stories of the gospels.

There is a tension here as regards the model of living which predominated in other NT stories. The Epistle to the Corinthians suggests that the rich being full and the poor being hungry within the community of faith is to the community's shame (I Cor. 11:17-22). Paul instructs in giving proportionally to what is received (II Cor. 8). It might also be noted that affliction has fallen upon those in Jerusalem and they are now in need (which is the reason for Paul's collection). II Cor. cites Exodus (regarding manna) that the one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little had enough.) This seems different than a common pot for all.

In the time of Christ, the Essenes were the only group, as far as I am aware, who maintained these communal tendencies. Does this suggest an Essene influence among the early converts?

Somewhat later, the monastic movement seems to take this model of community to heart.

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