The Redemptive Fellowship

MEMORY VERSE: “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.” —Romans 15:7

ACTS 4:32-37

THE fellowship of the first Christians, beginning with Pentecost, must have been blessed indeed. Many of these men and women had known Jesus, and knew of his crucifixion. Some of them had been heartbroken over this sad turn of events. But now they knew that he had been raised from the dead, and had “shed forth” the Holy Spirit upon his dedicated followers.

This had given them new hope and new inspiration, and it is little wonder that under the influence of this they brought all their possessions to the apostles, who used them to establish a common treasury. They had all things in common. However, it is one thing to share a common hope in the Gospel, and quite another to share the material things of life, as those early believers discovered.

Very soon, it would seem, unscrupulous persons attempted to use this wonderful arrangement dishonestly. These were Ananias and Sapphira his wife. These sold “a possession,” the record states, but kept part of the proceeds back, while pretending to turn all into the common treasury. Peter, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, detected this fraud, with the result that both of these offenders lost their lives.—Acts 5:1-11

Later another difficulty arose. Luke tells us about it: “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration [of the common fund].” (Acts 6:1) Then the apostles, in cooperation with the “multitude of the disciples,” arranged for the appointment of certain ones to serve tables, and to make sure that all in the company received equal treatment. These were called deacons. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was one of these.

Luke records nothing further in connection with the disciples’ having all things in common, so we assume that this arrangement came gradually to an end. It was a noble experiment which did not work.

ROMANS 15:1-7

One of the main themes in the first eight chapters of Romans is Christian justification. Chapters nine through eleven discuss the place of natural Israel in the plan of God, and beginning with the twelfth chapter we are presented with the practical meaning of the Gospel in our individual lives, and in our associations with the Lord’s people. In 15:1 Paul writes, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” It is a temptation always to associate with those who are strong in the faith, but in the church there are those who by comparison are “weak,” and these need our help, and we should be more than willing to assist these in their Christian growth.

“Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.” (vs. 2) In the next verse Paul cites Jesus as an example of the operation of this principle: “For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell upon me.” (vs. 3) Had Jesus acted according to the natural desires of his flesh he might have refrained from bearing witness to the truth, and thus avoided persecution. But Jesus did not please himself; he was guided by the Lord’s will.

In this context the reminder that the Scriptures which were written by the holy prophets for our learning is surely timely. The Old Testament Scriptures foretold the persecution and death of Jesus, and we have the privilege of suffering and dying with him. Since this is the Lord’s will, let us rejoice in it!

How wonderful it is to know that our loving Heavenly Father is a “God of patience and consolation.” It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit through the promises of the Word that we are able “to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus.” The Revised Standard Version reads “in accord with Christ Jesus.”

What a sweet fellowship there is in Christ Jesus when we attain to “one mind and one mouth” in glorifying God! “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.”


Did the total sharing of earthly goods continue in the Early Church?

What are some of the aspects of spiritual fellowship?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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