Is God a Socialist in the New Testament?

We know the first Christians were, of course, Jews. So they held the values we have discussed founded in the Jewish culture that are more capitalistic in nature. In the New Testament we also see these values reflected.

In Acts we read how the new believers living in Jerusalem sold their possessions and then gave the proceeds to help other believers. Based on this account, some people have said that we should all sell everything we own and have everything in common. Some even say that God is a socialist in the New Testament. A closer reading of this passage shows us something different. The early believers did sell their possessions:

and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Acts 2:45

It says that they “began” selling…so apparently they did not sell everything. If they would have sold all their houses, they could have not met from house to house as the next verse says:

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread [a]from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and [c]sincerity of heart, Acts 2:46

These early believers had a high degree of love and a social value, which motivated them to care for each other. What we see is their love for God and each other was a higher value than the accumulation of material goods. But we must note that these early believers were still living the Old Testament taught principles of accumulating wealth, including houses for themselves, and possibly extra houses to sell. It would appear they were financially prosperous enough to sell properties, use the proceeds however they wanted and not go hungry.

Now I want to quote directly from Harold Eberle. “It is important to understand the historical setting in which those first century believers were living. During those first few years many Christians were driven out of Jerusalem due to tremendous persecution. Worse yet, Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, so all of the believers were going to lose their properties anyway. A modern capitalist will point out that God inspired those Christians to sell these homes right before the market collapsed (or they would have lost them anyway – BS note).

The fact that the early Christians sold their possessions does not tell us they were socialists. To the contrary, they were capitalists motivated by love and led by the Spirit of God.”


Compassionate Capitalism – A Judeo-Christian Value by Harold Eberle, 2010, Worldcast Publishing. Pg. 35-36

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