How did the early Christian communities operate? How did they live as one Body in Christ? The early Christian community was called The Way, a sect of Judaism. This community had Gentiles (few in number) in it even before Paul was sent out and were mostly Roman Soldier families and aristocrats who were transformed by Christ and the Apostles. This final part on the Way to Life talks about community living and the breaking of social status.
[My child, remember day and night him who speaks the word of God to you, and honor him as the Lord. For wherever his lordship is spoken of, there he is.]
Seek each day the faces of the saints, in order that you may be refreshed by their words. Do not initiate divisions, but rather bring peace to those who contend against one another. Judge righteously, and do not take social status into account when reproving for transgressions. Do not waver in your decisions. Do not be one who opens his hands to receive, or closes them when it is time to give. If you have anything, by your hands you should give ransom for your sins. Do not hesitate to give, and do not complain about it. You will know in time who is the good Rewarder. Do not turn away from one who is in want; rather, share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are your own. For if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more in things which perish! Do not remove your hand from your son or daughter; teach them the fear of God from their youth. Do not give orders to your servants when you are angry, for they hope in the same God, and they may lose the fear of God, who is over both of you. God is surely not coming to call on us according to our outward appearance or station in life, but to them whom the Spirit has prepared. And you, servants, be subject to your masters as to God’s image, in modesty and fear. You should hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord. Do not in any way neglect the commandments of the Lord, but keep what you have received, neither adding nor taking away anything. In your gatherings, confess your transgressions, and do not come for prayer with a guilty conscience. This is the way of life!
Notice that right away social status does not matter, a sin is a sin and all face the same consequences. Also, sharing in material needs, nourishment, and services is seen as a normal way of life. Little money changed hands between believers.
Does anyone see the Scripture in the next part? Proverbs 22: 6 anyone? This goes without saying. The parent is responsible for the child until he or she is old enough be on their own. This is true for today’s world because it is actually a basic rule of life. The problem is outside influences but if the parents do right by their children, the outside will not be the teacher.
The servant and master dialogue is also found to be spoken by Jesus. One of the Apostles, Thomas, was a servant. He was given up by his master to follow Jesus. The master understood that the Spiritual debt was more important than any earthly debt and let Thomas follow his heart.
You should hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord. Do not in any way neglect the commandments of the Lord, but keep what you have received, neither adding nor taking away anything.
This last part was held to a high standard in that there was always someone who tried to pervert the Word. This is a warning against False Teachers. These early Christians were still with Jesus and the Apostles teachings fresh in their minds so they could tell if there was hypocrisy being taught.
Look into the Old Testament and what Jesus reiterated of the Father and you will find what displeases them and what abhors them. We are to keep the Commandments they are God’s Law not recommendations. Also keep the Scriptures as they are without adding or taking away anything. Man’s thinking does not override God’s Word.
Brothers and sisters, this was not just a grouping of believers in a building, it was a community of believers that worshipped together daily. They shared meals and material goods. They prayed together, sang as one, took care of each other as family because they were the new definition of blood related (blood of Jesus). Each person had skill or trade to bring to the community that helped others. These were not communes, these were a people group that studied God’s Word and did their best to live a Christ-like life.