Sunday, January 29, 2017

A church: sharing what we have in common

I was all into chiasms when I was studying (part time) in a seminary. I would always try to see if there were chiastic structures in the bible passages I studied. A chiasm is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted parallelism. 

So when today's sermon by Matthew Bellville began with a look into the chiastic structure Acts 2:41-47, I was quite enthused. The passage is about the early believers forming a community, a church. And with the chiastic structure, the focus of the passage is in v.44.

Acts 2:41-47 NLT 
[41] Those who believed what Peter said 
were baptized and added to the church 
that day-about 3,000 in all.
      [42] All the believers devoted 
      themselves to the apostles' 
      teaching, and to fellowship, and 
      to sharing in meals (including the 
      Lord's Supper), and to prayer.
           [43] A deep sense of awe came over 
           them all, and the apostles 
           performed many miraculous signs 
           and wonders.
                  [44] And all the believers met 
                  together in one place and 
                  shared everything they had.
           [45] They sold their property and 
           possessions and shared the money 
           with those in need.
       [46] They worshiped together at the 
       Temple each day, met  in homes for 
       the Lord's Supper, and shared their 
       meals with great joy and generosity-
[47] all the while praising God and 
enjoying the goodwill of all the people. 
And each day the Lord added to their 
fellowship those who were being saved.

The speaker highlighted that there the original Greek in v.44 do not have the word "everything" in it and the more literal translation of "all in common" implies that they shared what they have in common, beyond the materialistic things. They shared what is common in their one faith, one Lord, one Ruler, one future, one hope, one law keeper.

Acts 2:44
πάντες δὲ οἱ         πιστεύσαντες     ἐπὶ
all        moreover   having believed (were) together 
τὸ  αὐτὸ  εἶχον   ἅπαντα κοινά.
the same having all          in common.

And what they had been doing and what we should be doing in church and out of church are the four devotions we have in common as listed in v.42:
1. Apostolic teaching
2. Fellowship
3. Sharing of meals
4. Prayer, in hope and in confession

And with this, it lessens the emphasis we usually pay to v.45, where according to the NIV Study Bible, it is "not communalism or communism since this giving is voluntary (5:4) and since people still retain personal possessions like homes (12:12; 17:5) and property (4:37). A better analogy is that the church views itself as a family, and healthy families take care of their own."

I like the what it says of the church, "a family, and healthy families take care of their own."


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