Introduction: This week we start our study with a report on what the
very early Christians did with their property. Nothing like it is
reported in the Old Testament, and nothing like it is ever reported
again in the New Testament. Why is that? Let’s plunge into our study
of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Pentecost Commune

    1. Read Acts 2:5-11. Why do we have people from all over the
      known world in Jerusalem? (It is to celebrate the
      “Festival of Weeks” ( Deuteronomy 16:10), which we now call

    2. If you do not know the Pentecost story, read Acts 2:1-40.
      If you know it already, read Acts 2:41. What is the result
      of the gospel message being given with the power of the
      Holy Spirit? (Three thousand people were baptized into the
      church that day.)

    3. Read Acts 2:42. Who is the “they” referred to in “they
      devoted themselves?” (The three thousand who were

      1. What were the three thousand doing? (The apostles
        were teaching these new believers. They were eating,
        praying and enjoying being together.)

    4. Read Acts 2:43-46. What is the practical problem? (They
      are travelers, they are staying in Jerusalem longer than
      they anticipated, they are in school and not working – how
      do they live? How do they get food?)

      1. When you consider the circumstances, is this a unique
        situation, or is this how Christians normally should
        live? (This is a unique situation. If you have ever
        attended a “camp meeting,” imagine that it
        unexpectedly lasts months, not a week or two. To make
        sure everyone was fed, you would need to sell what
        you had with you that was of value to help feed the

      2. When you consider that this approach to living is not
        reported anywhere else in the Bible, what does this
        say about living communally? (Normally, Christians
        enjoy the dignity and discipline of work. This is a
        special instructional period. I expect that after
        adequate teaching, these new converts returned home
        to share the gospel where they lived.)

    5. Read Acts 2:47. Is the problem of feeding the group
      getting better or getting worse? (The good news is that
      more are being saved. The bad news is that the new
      converts also need to be fed, although these converts are
      likely already living in Jerusalem.)

    6. Read Acts 4:4. We are now two chapters into the growth of
      the church. We don’t know how much time has passed since
      Pentecost. How many believers do we now have in Jerusalem?
      (The complete number of men, women, and children is
      unknown, but we know there were five thousand men.)

    7. Read Acts 4:32-35. Is this still the emergency situation
      that existed immediately after Pentecost? (The answer
      seems to be “no.”)

      1. Why do these early believers have the attitude that
        none of “the things [were their] own?” (It cured the
        problem of the needy for the moment.)

      2. Acts 4:34 says that house and land owners sold them
        and brought the proceeds to the disciples to be
        redistributed. This argues against this being an
        emergency situation. How long could the commune go on
        with this funding?

    8. Read Acts 4:36-37. What do we know about Barnabas? (He
      later becomes a famous leader in the early church. Note
      that this says that he is a “Levite.”)

      1. Read Numbers 18:20-21. What is Barnabas doing owning
        property? (Some commentaries suggest the restriction
        on Levites owning property was no longer practiced.)

      2. How much of Barnabas’ property did he sell?

    9. Read Acts 5:1-4. Let’s discuss the questions that Peter
      asks of Ananias. What obligation does Ananias have to sell
      his property and give it to the church? (The implication
      is that Ananias had no obligation to either sell his land
      or give the proceeds of the sale.)

      1. What light does this shed on the communal property
        situation we have been discussing? (It was not
        required by God or the early church leaders. However,
        by living this way no one went hungry.)

    10. Read Acts 5:5. What is the problem? (Lying!)

      1. Isn’t this an extreme punishment for lying?

      2. Let’s drill down on this. What motivated Ananias to
        lie? (Recall the account of Barnabas? Ananias and his
        wife wanted to be considered as righteous as Barnabas
        and everyone else who was sharing.)

      3. What would happen in your church, what would happen
        to you, if the death penalty was imposed for everyone
        who tried to look more righteous than they really

    11. Let’s skip ahead and read Acts 5:9 and compare it with
      Acts 5:3. Why does Peter inject the Holy Spirit into this
      matter? (We have now hit upon the true problem – believing
      that the Holy Spirit was so powerless He would not know
      the truth.)

    12. Read Acts 5:11. What were the new members fearing?
      Selfishly keeping their stuff? (It was respect for the
      power of the Holy Spirit. The church was in the middle of
      an extraordinary time of the working of the Holy Spirit.)

      1. What does this teach us about aiding the least of
        these? (This gets back to something we have been
        discussing. Why give a poor person a temporary fix if
        you can “do better” by having the Holy Spirit heal
        whatever is the root of their problem?)

        1. Could there be a selfish motive behind “doing
          better” – you don’t have to share your stuff if
          the Holy Spirit does the heavy work?

  2. A Test

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 8:7. Paul is writing to the believers
      in Corinth. What about the Corinthians does Paul
      compliment? (Faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness, and

      1. What does Paul suggest needs improvement? (“This
        grace of giving.”)

    2. Read 2 Corinthians 8:1 and 8:3-4. Whose example does Paul
      point out? (The Macedonians who were generously helping in
      the relief program.)

    3. Read 2 Corinthians 8:8. Wait a minute. How can Paul say
      giving to others is not “a command,” but giving proves
      your love is “sincere?”

      1. Isn’t faking your love a sin? (Think again about
        Ananias and his wife.)

    4. Read 2 Corinthians 8:9. What example does Jesus provide?
      (Extreme selflessness.)

  3. The Blessing

    1. Read 2 Corinthians 8:10. Paul gives us his “judgment” that
      being generous will benefit the giver. What is your
      judgment on this? (Read Malachi 3:10-12. This is a thread
      that runs throughout the Bible. If you are generous with
      God, He is generous with you.)

    2. Read Acts 4:34. Consider this in a new light. Instead of
      thinking about how difficult it would be to give away your
      property, focus on the fact that no one ended up being
      “needy.” Do you recall that we discussed whether this
      communal giving could last? What is the correct answer?
      (If God keeps blessing it can!)

    3. Read Acts 9:36-38. What do you think the disciples thought
      that Peter could do about the death of Dorcas?

    4. Read Acts 9:39-40. If Dorcas was just a regular member
      sitting in the pew each week, do you think Peter would
      have been called? (No. Dorcas would have been buried.)

      1. What point is the Bible making in this story? (If you
        are generous with others, you will be blessed. This
        is yet another example of the thread running through
        the Bible that obeying God, and loving your neighbor,
        makes your life better. The reverse is also true,
        disobedience and selfishness makes your life worse.)

    5. Read Proverbs 11:24. Friend, which would you prefer – to
      prosper or come to poverty? Why not ask the Holy Spirit to
      show you how to be a blessing to others?

  4. Next week: Living the Gospel.