Vow of poverty

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All things common

In the Acts of the Apostles the following verses must refer to the apostles and not the general congregations of the people they served.

  • Acts 2:42 47 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common[1]; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

The word "had" is the word that means to have i.e. own, possess.

So, where else do we see the phrase "all things common"?

  • Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any [of them] that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had[2] all things common.

It is here they talk about Joses becoming one of them but Ananias failing the test of faith. That all has to do with apostles appointed by Jesus and not the people in general. Everyone was not required to give up all they had and give it to the poor to follow Jesus. This was a requirement for those who wanted to be disciples or student ministers. This has nothing to do with Jesus being a socialist but He was just the opposite and even condemned the Pharisees for their socialist system of Corban.

The Poor Princes of the kingdom

The princes of Israel were to serve only and be chosen as servants of servants to keep the people free souls under God. This is the essence of a good Church. This has been the nature of the Kingdom and government of God from the beginning. Other forms of government seen throughout the Bible, in opposition to God, give power to men to rule with authority. Both governments require support.

In the first, the people must choose to support those who fall upon need, finance the ministration of government, and provide the protection of the country locally and nationally by free contributions.

In the latter, the people are required by those in power to provide for the needs of the state by forced contributions that take both substance and choice from their neighbor.

The former depends on reciprocating charity, service, and freewill offerings.

The other has reciprocating entitlements where the people are under the exercising authority of the political benefactor. It does not matter if that benefactor is a despot or a democracy. In all cases men rule over men, choice is diminished, and God is rejected. The kingdom of heaven is within and if the choice is not made in the hearts and minds of men then the kingdom is abandoned.

This latter system of men is not instituted by God. It is a violation of God’s way which Christ spoke against.[3] Such systems often speak of faith in God, have their rituals and gatherings where they claim to pray to God but in fact their prayers and kings are not to Christ or the Father but to the Caesars of the world. Their ordinances and laws make the word of God to none effect, but what of the Church?

God’s congregation in the wilderness and in the first century Church were gathered together in free will fellowships. Since, the congregation are composed of free men and women, they must establish a titular body to represent them without giving it an exercising authority over their liberty. The called out ministers of the Church represent that servant body politic to the world.

Christians would not bind themselves to the Nicolaitan altars of power by oath, application or participation. Those offered entitlements were funded by agents with exercising authority over neighbors or by oppressing the stranger. Christians could not pray at such covetous altars, but put their faith in another king who preached a different kind of way and government with gregarious altars of charity.

They formed living altars of faithful men who received the freewill offerings of the people called sacrifice. They would redistribute those gifts through the living network of congregations and churches. There was no central store house, but a constant weekly and daily flow of that which made the body whole and healthy. The people retained their rights and responsibilities. Such volunteer system of living altars allowed the people to survive in hard times and could be called sacred purpose ministries. Such trust needs some form of protector or overseer or an authoritarian state will eventually assume that office.

The ordained ministers of the Church supplied both the representation and that position of servant overseer. They did not usurp or exercise authority over the people, but stood in appointed authority between the corpus of the people and the interlopers and usurpers of the other governments of the world.

The critical difference between a God inspired government and governments of the other nations is that no authority over the people is vested in that public office. Those who seek that office of service are subject to the job description given by Christ and by Moses. They could be in but not of the world.

Christ restricted them from owning property in their own name. This is a very controversial subject but it was key to the standing of the Church in the wilderness,[4] at the time of Christ and in the free Church today. The autonomy of the Church is not only dependent upon the Church rejecting benefits of the world, but the ordained ministers must also reject all benefits of the world that might ensnare them.

In those early days of Israel when there was no king the ministers of the government of liberty and charity had no inheritance in the land but holding all things in common they belonged to God.[5] They were foreign to the world and to the people.[6]

The apostles were appointed a kingdom, but told to not be like the the princes, rulers, or the kings of the Gentiles.[7] These men were princes of the kingdom, but unlike most every government today they did not exercise authority one over the other. In the early Church those ordained disciples of Christ had no inheritance in land because Christ ordered that they sell their property or they could not be His disciple, student ministers.[8] Those like Barnabas obeyed this command, but Ananias did not. Understanding Barnabas, who was Joses a Levite who owned property in Cyprus[9] was not allowed to by God according to Moses. In order to obey Jesus he had to sell it and give the money away. “But” Ananias failed to do so and died.

If the ministers of Christ are a part of the estate of Christ they can have no personal estate of their own. This is essential to the foreign nature of the Church to maintain true autonomy. This unique status of a ordained minister with no personal estate is important to mention, but we will have to deal with the detailed examination and explanation in another place.

Titular Servants | Minister
Elder | Deacon | Bishop | Overseer |
ordain | appoint | Orders | Monks |
Levites | Priests | Breeches | Tithe
Liturgy | Eucharist | Daily ministration |
The Blessed Strategy | Orders | The Way |
Christian conflict | Churches | Modern Christians |
All things common | Vow of poverty |
Was Jesus a socialist | Was Jesus rich |

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  1. An interesting observation is the word common is from 2839 ~κοινός~ koinos translated AV-common 7, unclean 3, defiled 1, unholy 1; 12 Defined 1) common 2) common i.e. ordinary, belonging to generality 2a) by the Jews, unhallowed, profane, Levitically unclean
  2. The phrase "had all things common" the word "had" is translated from a is a different word. 2258 ~ἦν~ en ; v AV-was 267, were 115, had been 12, had 11, taught + 1321 4, stood + 2476 4, misc 42, vr was 1; 457 1) I was, etc.
  3. Matthew 23:13 “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.”
  4. This status of an ordained minister is covered under the title of “Vow of Poverty”. It is often misunderstood but well documented in the biblical text and the law today. It may require some detailed study to overcome our misconceptions.
  5. Numbers 3:45 “... the Levites shall be mine: I [am] the LORD.”
  6. Numbers 8:14 Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine.”
  7. Matthew 20:25 “...princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them..., Mark 10:42... accounted to rule...” Luke 22:25 “...kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.”
  8. Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
  9. Individual Levites owning property was forbidden by Moses but allowed by the Hasmonean dynasty.