Life-Study of Actsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 4:32—5:11 we have the continuation of the church life, and in 5:17-42, the continuation of the persecution by the Jewish religionists. Concerning the continuation of the church life, there is a positive scene in 4:32-37 and a negative scene in 5:1-11. In this message we shall consider the church life as seen in 4:32—5:11.
Acts 4:32 says, “And the multitude of those who believed was of one heart and soul; and not one said that any of his possessions was his own, but all things were common to them.” As in 2:44, having all things common was a sign not of love but of Christ’s dynamic salvation that saved the believers from greed and selfishness. This was practiced for a short time at the initiation of God’s New Testament economy; it did not continue for the long run as a practice of legality in the church life during Paul’s ministry.
Verse 33 says, “And with great power the apostles gave testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.” The apostles were witnesses of the resurrected Christ not in word only, but also by their life and action. In particular, they bore witness of His resurrection.
According to 4:33, great grace was upon all the believers. The law makes demands upon man according to what God is, but grace supplies man with what God is to meet what God demands. Actually, grace is God Himself enjoyed by man. Grace is the resurrected Christ becoming the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) to bring the processed God in resurrection into us to be our life and life supply so that we may live in resurrection. Therefore, grace is the Triune God becoming life and everything to us.
Acts 4:34 and 35 say, “For neither was anyone among them in need; for as many as were owners of lands or of houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things which were sold and placed them at the feet of the apostles; and it was distributed to each according as anyone had need.” As in 2:45, the selling of lands and houses was an evidence of the Lord’s dynamic salvation. This salvation caused the believers to overcome their earthly possessions, which occupy, possess, and usurp fallen mankind (Matt. 19:21-24; Luke 12:13-19, 33-34; 14:33; 16:13-14; 1 Tim. 6:17).
In 4:36 and 37 Luke gives a positive example of one who sold his land and placed the proceeds at the feet of the apostles: “And Joseph, who was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles, which is translated son of encouragement, a Levite, a Cyprian by birth, possessing a field, having sold it, brought the sum of money and placed it at the feet of the apostles.” The Greek word rendered “encouragement” in verse 36 also means consolation. Barnabas, a Levite and a native of Cyprus, sold his property, brought the money from the sale, and placed it at the feet of the apostles for distribution among the saints according to need. This is part of the positive scene in 4:32-37.
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