Daily Word

Koinonia, not communism | Acts 4:32-37

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 4:32-37 (ESV) 中文

Don’t use that name

After a night in prison, Peter and John were tried by the religious leaders for preaching Jesus and healing a man. Peter preaches Jesus to them as the only way of salvation. Fearing a riot, the Jewish religious leaders released them with a command not to preach about Jesus. After their release, they shared with the others what happened, then together they started their prayer to God for boldness. Now we see how they lived in community with one another.

Koinonia living

What we’re seeing in this passage is called Koinonia. It is fellowship, sharing in common, communion – both physically and emotionally or spiritually. “This unity was a wonderful evidence of the work of God’s Spirit among them. Because of their unity, they regarded people more important than things.” (enduringword.com)

They were living as God intended Israel to in the very beginning (Deut 15:4). They were also putting into practice what Jesus taught in the Sermon on Christian Living (Sermon on the Mount) about giving to those who ask (Matthew 5:42). It also upholds the “golden rule” of loving others as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

Not communism

We should be clear. Koinonia is not the same as communism. “It isn’t accurate to see this as an early form of communism. Communism is not koinonia. “Communism says, ‘What is yours is mine; I’ll take it.’ Koinonia says, ‘What is mine is yours, I’ll share it.’” (LaSor in enduringword.com) Unfortunately, as with communism, Koinonia was weakened by man’s sinful nature and people began to take advantage of the system. Paul addressed this in passages like, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, 1 Timothy 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:11.

Stellar example

Luke then points the spotlight at Barnabas (which means son of encouragement) for his example of sacrificial giving in the spirit of Koinonia. As we’ll see later, Luke traveled with Paul. Paul and Barnabas were ministry companions. So Luke seems to take this opportunity to give us a brief introduction to Barnabas here.


  • Should we be living in community as the early church did? Is that possible in today’s society? We can get small tastes of it in church food pantries and thrift stores. Medical share organizations have that flavor as well. What are your thoughts?
  • At a minimum, we need to have the right perspective on our “things” – especially money. Is it really “ours”? Or does it belong, does it ALL belong, to God – and He gives it to us to steward? Consider adopting this thinking toward money. It will require a deeper knowledge of God and trust in Him.
Kibbutz dancing. Image from www.timesofisrael.com *

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