JEHOVAH-ROI: THE GOD WHO SEES
Scripture: Acts 4: 32 – 5: 11.
THEME: There is a deliberate contrast in this passage.
The basic issue is not only mission, but also how the church will function together as contributors to the cause and as community.
God’s people are called to holiness and are accountable to God for it.
God knows the hearts of the individual members and what they are doing.
Accountability before God exists within the community.
NOTE ABOUT THE TITLE: This message parallels what happens to Hagar, the servant of Sarah and Abraham, in the wilderness and her “new” name for God.
(Genesis 16: 13) “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
It is especially appropriate to this passage in Acts, and reminds us that God sees all, especially the hearts of His creatures.
Read Acts 4: 32-35.
A further update on the inner operations of the new community (4: 32-35).
A. Luke gives us a further expansion on how the new community is operating.
It looks very much like the earlier church of Acts 2: 42-47, with greater emphasis on how the believers were actually relating to each other in the all-telling area of possessions and finances.
It is a perfect introduction to the contrasting descriptions of Barnabas and Ananias and Sapphira.
2. It also gives us a clear indication of the main component of the Apostles’ preaching: the Resurrection of Christ Jesus (His vindication by God).
3. One small point: this was not communal living, as many have suggested.
Rather, many of those with possessions (houses and land) sold them as needed, and gave the proceeds to the 12. From them, it went to those in need only.
For communal living, ALL outside property would be sold and the proceeds would be distributed among all the community, not just those in need.
This shows us there were several economic classes in fellowship: There seemed to have been no or minimal jealousy or covetousness among them, for any needs were taken care of by the 12.
B. Because of the care of the community for each other, there were no needy persons AS A CLASS.
There were obviously emergencies, and unusual needs from time to time, and those like widows and orphans who had no family to provide for them would have probably required constant care.
But, with the help provided by the community, those in need would have been a “temporary category.”
(Caring for neighbors as themselves: love in action).
This certainly refers back to a condition/promise from Moses: (Deuteronomy 15: 4-5) “However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you will fully obey the LORD your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today.”
2. The follow on to this promise is really fascinating: (Deuteronomy 15: 10-11) “Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
There will always be poor people in the land.
Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”
C. As the church grows, providing for the needy becomes too large a problem and too time consuming for the 12 to handle by themselves.
See chapter 6 for the new arrangements the church made.
At this point in time, the 12 were able to oversee the needy of the fellowship.
D. The underlying point to all this is: The church was obeying the 2nd great commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Matthew 22: 39).
The good example of how to operate in the community – Barnabas (4: 36-37).
A. Luke, using the previous paragraph describing the general operation of the community fellowship (koinonia), now gives us an example of the proper, good, righteous way to portray the 2nd great commandment: Barnabas.
Joseph Barnabas was born and raised in Cyprus (the Jews settled there around 330 BC and were evicted after a rebellion in 117 AD) and is of the family of Levi – but not a priest.
a. Levites were often wealthy and very well educated.
They served in the temple, keeping watch over the gates, policing the area, instructing and teaching, and copying the Scriptures.
2. Being given a “nickname” by the Apostles indicates that Joseph of Cyprus was held in very high esteem, and we can tell why they did so by a glance at his apostolic assignments in the future:
He cares for the poor.