Updated: Feb 3
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. With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 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.
This is the Acts reading for the Second Sunday of Easter, Year B. It will next be read aloud by a reader on Sunday, April 8, 2018. During the seven Sundays of Easter, you will note that readings from the Acts of the Apostles replace those that would normally come from the Old Testament books. This reading, as all the others from the Book of Acts, is important because it shows that faith alone is not a guarantee to eternal life in Heaven. Works are required beyond faith; and here Christians are shown the importance of total commitment to those acts of faith.
The first part of verse 32, which is translated above to state, “Now the whole group of those who believed,” is an over-simplification of what was stated in the Greek. The Greek states, “Tou de plēthous tōn pisteusantōn.” Rather than saying “the whole group,” the implication is: “The [one] and the many the [one] having believed.”
This missing factor that identified each one of the many is how there is not some nebulous “group mentality” that generally guides belief. Instead, the fact is stated that each one (“Tou”) is replicated “many” times over into a “multitude” (“plēthous”), where all have become the same in their histories of “having believed.” This means the “congregation,” or the “assemblage” of believers, was not simply many lambs of ignorance who followed a few Apostle rams, doing as told. Thus, the “multitude having believed” must be firmly grasped as ALL “having believed” through personal experience causing that belief.
Belief comes from experience, such that one does not learn faith. One learns the foundations upon which faith is built … like the dogma of religion is learned. Knowledge then leads one to test the solidity and validity of those foundations learned. The experience of testing what teachers have taught becomes what one truly believes. Therefore, the “whole group of those who believed” had experienced the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ, which means all had gone far beyond being told the events of Easter Sunday. Their experience of “having believed” was more than having been taught that Jesus was dead and returned to life after three days dead.
When we then read how the group “were heart and soul one” (which is a segment of words separated by commas, so they stand alone as a statement that is relative to their belief), the Greek word “kardia” is translated as “heart.” “Heart” means more than a physical organ of the body. It implies “mind, character, inner self, will, intention, and center.” Further, when the Greek word “psychē” is translated simply as “soul,” one misses how that word has a greater depth of meaning. That meaning goes beyond: (a) “breath of life,” which is due to the presence in a body, or (b) “a human soul.” The word “psyche” also is a statement of “(c) the soul as the seat of affections and will, (d) the self, (e) a human person, or an individual.” By realizing those alternative implications, one can see how the unification of “heart and soul” is a statement of God’s presence within the spiritual self, beyond the emotional reactions that a body has in response to life events.
Heart and soul become one after the marriage of God within one’s heart (a soul in love with God), such that the self ego of a free soul has willfully decided to surrender its control over the body it has possessed. The marriage of the heart to God brings the union of the spiritual divine with the spiritual life force that inhabits a physical body. That marriage is then consummated through the offspring produced – Jesus reborn – such that the brain’s intellect becomes supplanted by the Christ Mind. The human brain is still capable of thought; but from a chosen role of subservience, as an obedient servant [wife – regardless of human gender], the human brain only listens, learns, and obeys.
This is then reflective of the true presence of the Trinity, where Father is in union with the Son, through the Holy Spirit becoming one with the soul. Heart and soul are one. It was the state of being that Jesus of Nazareth lived; and it is the state of being all apostles have lived, are living, and will live in the future, because all apostles are Jesus Christ resurrected. Every time God becomes one with a soul in a human body, the Trinity is present. Regardless of human gender, humans will always become the Son.
This becomes a statement that Free Will creates the illusion of two beings, rather than one. God union with a soul means Free Will dissolves, so the inner and the outer become one. It replaces sole focus on the physical by adding knowledge from the spiritual. The world tricks humanity into maintaining a separation between science and philosophy, where this duality keeps Man from entertaining any reason for ever being God – as His wife unified as one through heart and soul. However, through the deepest level of true belief, the reality of One comes forth.
See this mirror image as the normal dividing of cells as life that leads to mortal death. The reverse becomes the joining of all into one again, as eternal life.
This has just become the definition of a “Church” of Christians. The “assemblage” of those of “same mind” (“psychē”) means all have the same relationship with God (“kardia”). In the truest sense, a Church is the assembly of all God’s wives, married to Him through a deeply committed love. While there may be some who are “engaged” to marry God, whose lamps are lit but they are still awaiting the Holy Spirit to descend and unite their heart and soul to God, no one in a true Church of Christ is a casual bystander. A true Church of Christ can have no members who are only seeking to profit from being associated with the true “multitude” of believers. All must have true faith from personal commitment and experience with God and Christ.
This is then stated to be the “ALL IN” true Church of Christians. There are zero denominations that divide and subdivide this Church, where membership is ranked by how much one donates or gives. Rank is based on length of service, such that children and young adults are always learning to find their experience of belief. Leadership is not based on how much outside knowledge one has gained, in abundance over others. Instead, leaders are those seek to promote, maintain, and advance the presence of the Christ Mind in all believers. It is expressly defined as a Church where “no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common.”
I once asked the leader of a Episcopalian church’s Sunday lectionary class, “Whatever happened to that “All In” Church?” That leader was a wealthy lawyer, and a man who donated much of his time and money to that Episcopalian church. He was a mentor for others who regularly attended that church. Needless to say, he was a respected member of that church’s congregation. Yet, his response to my question was, “That didn’t work out too well.”
I do not see his answer as blasphemy. I see it as a reflection of just how little faith is present in the masses who claim to be Christian today. Christianity long ago ceased being about “the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul.” Christianity stopped being about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and being about human things. It has degraded to a point now that leaders of Christian churches think being Jesus Christ doesn’t work out very well.
Christianity (be it Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, Anglican, or whatever names that genre can go by) has become a club of exclusivity, where wealth is the determining factor as to how much God loves His Christians. This club then elects leaders, based on the religious philosophies of the majority contributors of an individual church, parish, abbey or temple. A small group then becomes the dogma taught, with many in the United States regularly seeking to promote the welfare of everyone, everywhere, of every faith, while pointing fingers and speaking negatively about others supposedly Christians. A Church where everything is owned in common can never work very well in modern times, as my Episcopalian friend said.
If it wasn’t for the poor always being poor, touring popes would have no one paying to see them. Sadly, an Argentine socialist as pope merely reflects the failure of a Church to pass the torch of Apostlehood onto others, simply because it takes a true Apostle to do that.
The leaders of organizations calling their institutions “Christian” and “religious,” act as if they alone have been touched by God to speak for Jesus, while doing none of the other miraculous deeds (the Acts or the Works) of that historical figure. No one is led to becoming Christ reborn, thus all are kept prisoners of ignorance. Christians today are taught to idolize Jesus Christ, as a god equal to God, teaching that no man or woman can be a god like Jesus. Rather than millions of resurrected Jesus-Apostles, we worship cults of personality … human reproductions of gods to be worshipped like Jesus. American Christians love a holy man to follow, rather than being holy themselves.
This state, where heart and soul are clearly not of one mind, is a sign of denial. It is no different than seeing a mole on one’s skin change colors, signifying deeper issues of health that have been long ignored. That “mole” symbolizes a Church that has denied God its heart, thereby it has summarily rejected Christ over some lesser philosophy of man. Such a mole is a sign from God that death is surely coming … rather than eternal life.
Verse thirty-three begins with the separates segment that becomes a clear statement of those who claimed “all things are held commonly” (rather than proportionately accepted). The verse states, “And [with] power great.” That means all true Christians have the power of God available to them. God does not send Apostles [reproductions of the Jesus Spirit] to save the world by social changes in civil laws, where governments dictate the common sharing of taxed wealth. Instead, God saves Christians individually, through their personal sacrifices of faith. That commitment on an individual level is what leads God to give one the power to project his or her faith into the hearts and souls of others seeking salvation.
Every true Christian has no needs go unmet. Thus, true Christians do not flock to churches because of need. They congregate as those of unified hearts and souls, those of one Mind, as those who are at peace as they labor to bring others to their same state. True Apostles do this work with not one iota of monetary or material needs (they do not sell religion for profit), which means they do not offer such gains to others. True Apostles do not live in mansions or castles, as those material things prevent the seekers from having access to an Apostle. Their needs are easily met because the Christ Spirit has reduced their worldly expectations to only that which is truly a necessity.
True Christians all have the full support of all other Apostles, as they are all together in heart and soul, as One Church serving God in the name of Jesus Christ. This means they have all been reborn as Jesus Christ, and not simply tacked that name on a board nailed to a building. Being reborn as Jesus Christ, each individually, is their great power … not some mysterious ability to solve poverty, persecution, or inequalities that are ever-present in a world influenced by evil.
By separating “And power great” from the following words that have been translated above to say, “the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,” one is able to read those following words with a new perspective. First, it says all of the “assemblage” (i.e.: true Christians) are “Apostles” (“apostoloi”), which means they are “messengers, envoys, delegates,” or those “commissioned” by God, who is One within the hearts and souls of His believers. Second, one can see how those then “give testimony,” as messengers of faith. Still, a third awareness is how that testimony is not that Jesus died and came back to life. Their message is they have each become “the resurrection,” speaking as “the Lord Jesus Christ,” who has been reborn (come to life in human form again) in each of them.
One has to see the complete trust and confidence that comes from absolute faith. Someone who says he or she believes in something, but then never fully acts upon that foundation of trust, is either lying (never had faith) or is too fearful to totally commit (faith without acts). In my mind, most who claim to be Christians are claiming that belief through misguided sincerity. Christians today are exactly like the Jews of Judea and Galilee were, when Jesus walked the land. However, their failures to act as Apostles, being All In as this reading clearly states, are due to having never been presented with reason to believe, by having never encountered one who is clearly identified as the reborn Christ.
Only then can one fully understand how it was written: “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.” My Episcopalian friend who saw change as the natural decay to be expected over two thousand years of trying to believe without a true union of heart and soul with God means “what didn’t work out very well” was that Christianity now equates to everyone is needy.
Today, “believers” are blinded to a communal existence, where Christians live together and support one another totally, as a light that draws the needy to them. Rather than Christians offering the lesson that total commitment to God is the answer to all one’s needs, they now seek the right for personal possessions (inequalities of wealth), under governments that are expected to eliminate all the woes of the needy. Many churches raise funds for the purpose of sending a select few thousands of mile to help strangers, while leaving behind thousands of poor neighbors. It is a repeating of the blind leading the blind.
Brother can you spare a hundred bucks so I can buy lottery tickets for the Mega-Millions drawing?
Since land ownership is an ancient practice of humanity, where legal deeds have long been how one can rightfully claim a place to call home, it is important to grasp the depth of meaning that comes from verse thirty-four. In the Gospels, we know Joseph owned a home in Nazareth; but Joseph also had family who owned homes in Judea (such as the one Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived in at Bethany, plus the one Cleopas had in Emmaus – all relatives of Joseph). The point of verse thirty-four is the consolidation of lands and houses, such that an Apostle was found “needing” the fellowship of other Apostles in Christ. Because the first Christians lived scattered, here and there, in pockets amid Jews who did not believe in Jesus as the Christ, they needed to sell in order to buy elsewhere, so all could live together. Therefore, the sales of lands and houses, with the profits “laid it at the apostles’ feet,” was for those proceeds to be “distributed to each as any had need” in this manner.
That would have meant the purchase of large tracts of land, where new homes could be erected for all the true Christians of one geographic area to settle in. This would be meager homes, where tools and supplies for farming would provide for them. This would also allow them to support evangelism to spread the Gospel, as well as welcome those seeking Christ into their midst. This is a “need” for a community of Christians, which was similar to the necessity of Jews to live separately from Gentiles.
This was the model that existed prior to someone getting the ideal that the spread of Christianity, through true Apostles, was bringing in so much wealth that someone had to rise to an elite status who would oversee all that wealth. Rather than focusing on securing lands and building houses for concentrations of Apostles, the focus would shift to building large buildings (like castles and cathedrals), while all the common Apostles lived on the lands surrounding those large building (like models of Jerusalem and its Temple). It then became necessary for some higher-ranking Apostles being needed to maintain the needs of the buildings.
The people worked to support one another, while the fortress surrounded the religious buildings, offering refuge at times of need.
From those changes popes and cardinals rose to prominence, as overlords of the bishops and the assembly of Apostles. After a few hundred years, the spread of true Apostles had slowed, with the new Church (as a model of the Temple) persecuting the true Apostles, even murdering them for challenging those changes that the new leaders imposed. This slow devolution has left us with too many denominations to count today, as protesters resisted decrees without divine explanation. Sadly, with few true Apostles left to spread the truth of total commitment to God, the hierarchies of churches gained full power and control, to tend the flocks under them merely for the wool they produce.
A church in ruins.
All of this is the natural overgrowth that occurs wherever buildings cease to be alive with owners who care for them. The Church of Christ was never about buying lands and building large monuments of stone, where people would fight over ownership and who got to be employed to maintain them. It was and will always be about the unification of one’s heart and soul to God, which brings about the complete willingness to serve God (a marriage to Him) as His Apostles, ALL in the name of Jesus Christ (as Jesus Christ resurrected).
With that known, one only “needs” access to a Holy Bible (with the Greek text and a Strong’s Concordance), a devotion to prayer, and a willingness to become a new bride of God (human gender is meaningless). If others are not leading you to total commitment in God, then open yourself up to guidance. Find the Word and pray for understanding. Find understanding and then give that to others. The Holy Spirit will defend you as you defend what it tells you to tell others. A big brain of limited intelligence becomes one with the Christ Mind and God’s knowledge. That is the lost Holy Grail, which disciples should seek. Then, the lost art of Apostlehood can be rekindled through the the same belief that led to the Acts of the Apostles.
That realization of “need” then relates this to the Second Sunday of Easter’s Gospel reading from John (John 20:19-31), where Jesus said to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” A true Apostle is blessed by God with the ability to see the truth of Jesus as Christ, as a reproduction of Jesus Christ, such that belief does not come from placing one’s fingers in a freshly opened wound in our Savior’s body of flesh, but from having our Savior’s Spirit within our own bodies of flesh, where our opened wound is the loss of one’s ego and selfishness. That is the only way belief leads to total commitment and being All In.