Acts 2:44-45:

And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.

My question is about the bit in bold, above. Who were the all? Was it just the church or also non-believers in need?

It seems to be kept within the church, based on three texts:

  1. The "all" at the start of that quote is clearly referring to the church.
  2. Acts 4:32-37 also seems to be about sharing specifically within the church because, as above, it refers to things in common rather than given away.
  3. Acts 6:1 also seems to imply the sharing was specially within the church.

Is that correct? Or did the church, even then, also distribute to non-believers in need?

  • 1
    The greatest gift the nascent church in Jerusalem had to offer non-believers in need was healing, both spiritual and physical. A classic verse in this regard contains Peter's words to a man crippled from birth: "Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk'" (Acts 3:6 KJV). I'm sure that church members did share their wealth with unbelievers, but their priority was, rightly, meeting each others' needs first. "Do good unto all men," Paul said, "but especially to the household of faith"(Galatians 6:10). Aug 28, 2014 at 0:05
  • @rhetorician: why should their priority be people inside the church? Giving to those outside is great for evangelism! Aug 28, 2014 at 4:53
  • It ain't either/or, man; it's both/and. Our brothers and sisters in Christ are family, and family comes first. Does that mean God doesn't care about non-family members? Of course not! God is no respecter of persons, and one of the best ways for Christians to evangelize is to earn the right to be heard, especially through good deeds, good examples, and sacrificial love. How is a baby in Christ going to learn how to earn the right to be heard? By being discipled by older, gifted, and more-mature family members within the church. The main verb in the Great Commission is "making disciples." Aug 28, 2014 at 5:51
  • As important as preaching is in reaching the lost for Christ (through the demonstration of God's love AND the proclamation of God's love), discipling is also important. The local churches in which converts are discipled within the welcoming, accepting, and loving atmosphere of a family-type community are in the best position to be used of God to reach out to "non-family members" as ambassadors for the foreign policy of the kingdom of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ. Don Aug 28, 2014 at 6:00

1 Answer 1


The book of Acts is a historical description of the formation of the church (called out assembly (ἐκκλησία)), who were mostly Gentiles, but were also Jews who were convicted and believed, like those in the day of Pentecost. The book of Acts describes how the church demonstrated their coping with the persecution and perseverance in the newly found faith. The words in English "to all" are actually one in the Greek (πᾶσιν), which is the dative masculine plural, which technically means that it was given to all men. Contextually, there is no indication that anyone referred to in the paragraph was an unbeliever, but rather believers who were in the close fellowship described in verse 46.

  • Side note:
    While Christians ought to bless those outside of the church, we are called to do so especially unto those of the faith (Galatians 6:10).

In those days, the church was being established and therefore, the practice would have been for those who were added unto the church by the Lord. Contextually, it will be describing how the 3000 souls were added and how they (v.42)"continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (V.43) And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles."

  • Conclusion: So, since there is no further mention of how that act would have affected the unbelievers who received anything from these believers, we can safely conclude that the comments are to describe the methodology the church members used to deal with the needs of that time; and therefore believers are those who received/shared goods among themselves, as any of the believers representing their families had need.

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