Anabaptist Group Dynamics
Commands of Jesus
Difference between Anabaptists and Evangelicals
Hutterite Sermon Prefaces
Marriage (Ulrich Stadler)
Living Word (Ulrich Stadler)
Modern views of Anabaptists
Mysteries of the Kingdom of God
April 14, 05
Dec 28, 05
Apr 16, 08
Apr 23, 08
Apr 30, 08
May 07, 08
May 14, 08
June 18, 08
Secret of the Strength
Sermons by Eli Hofer
The Writings of Ulrich Stadler
The Church and
the Narrow Path
To Vote or not to Vote
Way of the Lord
The Christian Way of Life
Community of Goods
By Peter Riedemann (about 1545)
All believers have fellowship in holy things, that is, in God.
(1 John 1:1-3)
He has given them all things in his Son, Christ Jesus.
1:16-17) Just as Christ has nothing for
himself, since all he has is for us, so too, no members of Christ's body should
possess any gift for themselves or for their own sake. Instead, all should be
consecrated for the whole body, for all the members. (Phil.
2:1-8; 1 Cor. 12:12-27) This is so
because Christ also did not bring his gifts for one individual or the other, but
for everyone, for the whole body.
Community of goods applies to both spiritual and material gifts. All of
God's gifts, not only the spiritual but also the temporal, have been given so
that they not be kept but be shared with each other. Therefore, the fellowship
of believers should be visible not only in spiritual but also in temporal
things. (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37)
Paul says one person should not have an abundance, while another suffers want;
instead, there should be equality. (2 Cor.
8:7-15) This he shows by pointing to the
law about manna. According to that rule, the one who gathers much had nothing
extra and the one who gathered little had no lack, since each was given the
amount needed. (Exod. 16:16-18)
Furthermore, the Creation still testifies today that at the beginning God
ordained that people should own nothing individually but should have all things
in common with each other. (Gen. 1:26-29)
However, by taking what they should have left, and by leaving what they should
have taken, (Gen. 3:2-12)
people have gained possession of things and have become more accustomed to
accumulating things and hardened in doing so. Through such appropriating and
collecting of created things, people have been led so far from God that they
have forgotten the Creator. (Rom. 1:18-25)
They have even raised up and honored as gods the created things which had been
made subject to them. (Wisd. Of Sol
13:1-3; 15:14-19) That is still the case
for those who depart from God's order and forsake what God has ordained.
Now as has been said, however, created things which are too high for people
to grasp and collect such as the sun, the whole course of the heavens, day, air,
and so forth, show that not only they, but also all other created things, were
made common for all people. (Gen. 1:25-31)
Because they are too great to be brought under human control, they have
remained common, and humans have not possessed them. Otherwise, since people
had become so evil through wrongful acquisitions they would also have wrongfully
taken possession of such things and made them their own.
(Gen. 3:2-6; 2 Esd. 3:4-7; 7:12-15; Rom. 5:12-14)
It is therefore true that the rest is likewise not made by God for anyone's
private possession. This is shown in that people must forsake all other
created things as well as the high things when they die, and carry nothing with
them as their own. (1 Tim. 6:6-9)
For this reason Christ counts all temporal things as alien to people's true
nature and says, "If you have not been faithful with other people's property,
who will entrust you with property of your own?"
Because what is temporal is not ours but is alien to our true nature, the
law commands that no one should covet someone else's possessions,
(Exod. 20:17; Deut. 5:21)
that is, set his heart upon them or claim them as his own.
Therefore, whoever will adhere unwaveringly to Christ and follow Him must give
up acquiring things and holding property.
(Matt. 10:37-39; Mark 8:34-38; Luke 9:23-26)
Christ himself says, "None of you can become my
disciple if you do not give up all your possessions."
Whoever is to be renewed into the likeness of God must abandon what leads away
from God, that is grasping and collecting material possessions. Otherwise God's
likeness cannot be attained. (Eph.
4:20-32; Col. 3:1-11) That is why Christ
says, "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of
God as a
little child shall not enter it." (Mark
10:15; Luke 18:17) Christ also says,
"Unless you overcome yourselves and become as little children, you shall not
enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt.
Whoever has become free from created things can then grasp what is true and
divine. When the true and the divine become one’s treasure, the heart turns
toward that treasure, emptying itself from everything else
and regarding nothing any longer as its own but as belonging to all God’s
children. (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37)
Therefore, we say that as all believers share spiritual gifts,
(1 John 1:3)
still more should they express this in material things and not covet or claim
them for themselves, for they are not their own.
They will honor God, show that they partake in the fellowship of Christ,
(1 Cor 10:16)
and be renewed into God's likeness. (Eph.
4:22-24; Col. 3:1-10) The more a person
is attached to property and claims ownership of things, the further away he is
from the fellowship of Christ and from being in the image of God.
For this reason, when the church came into being, the Holy Spirit
reestablished such community in a wonderful way. "No one said any of the things
they possessed were their own, but they had all things in common." (Acts
2:44-45; 4:32-37) This admonition by the
Spirit is true for us even today. In the words of Paul, "Let each one look not
to your own interests but to the interests of others." In other words, "Let
each one look not to what benefits yourself, but to what benefits many.” (Phil.
2:2-4) Where this is not the case, it is
a blemish upon the church that should truly be corrected. Someone may say that
this only applies to what took place in Jerusalem and therefore does not apply
today. In reply, we say that even if it did only happen in Jerusalem,
(Acts 2:38-45; 4:32-37) it does not
follow that it should not happen now. The apostles and the churches were not at
fault, but the opportunity, the right means, and the right time were lacking.
This, therefore, should never be a reason for us to hesitate. Instead, it
should move us to greater and better effort, for the Lord now gives us both the
time and the occasion. It was not the fault of either the apostles or the
churches, as is shown by the ardent efforts of both. The apostles directed
people to the church with great diligence and spared no pains to teach them true
surrender, as all their epistles still prove today.
(Phil. 2:1-11; Rom. 14:7-8)
The people, especially those from Macedonia, obeyed with all their hearts,
as Paul bears witness saying, “I want to tell you of the grace given to the
churches in Macedonia. Their joy was most abundant since they had been
confirmed though much suffering, and their poverty, though it was great indeed,
overflowed as riches in simplicity. I can testify that they voluntarily gave
according to their means and beyond then means. They begged us earnestly and
insistently to allow them to share in the support of other believers. In this
they exceeded our hopes, giving themselves first to the Lord and then also to
us, by the will of God." (2 Cor. 8:1-5)
On the basis of this, we can recognize that the churches favorably inclined
their hearts to practice community and were willing and ready to do so, not only
in spiritual but also in material things. They wished to follow Christ their
Master, become like Him and be of one mind with Him.
( Phil. 2:5-8) He went before us in this
way and commanded us to follow him. (Matt.
10:22-25; Luke 14:33)
Psalm 133: "For there [in brotherly community] the Lord
has commanded the blessing, life for evermore."