Private Property: The Basis of Social Order?

"Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.…There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles‘ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need." (Acts 4:32–35)


  1. Sheesh. And I thought 10 percent was tough.

    My only consolation is that it doesn't say that the ones who failed to do this were locked up. But I guess they would have been excluded from the Christian missionary community.

    1. Get a load of the next chapter. (Although the problem wasn't exactly withholding a portion so much as giving others to believe that they hadn't.)

  2. There's a blogger named Will Shetterly who posts a "socialist Bible verse of the day". I remember the cognitive dissonance I felt the first time I read that passage on my own. A good reminder of how far we are from home.

  3. Odd how transitory this situation was. It is even written in the past tense. If it is read as a proto-socialist text, well it sounds really lame because it doesn't even last a generation.
    If, instead, this is about a group of people who determine to sell everything they have in order that they can live and work together- i.e. using private property and freedom of association in order to put what they felt should be the basis of social order into effect, then it makes sense. In the first view Christianity is fundamentally a failure from the 1st gen onward; in the second we see the 1st gen's acts largely as separating themselves from the larger society, becoming a contrast society, and subsequent generations evolving and growing the new society.


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