Was Jesus was a socialist
Socialism becomes the majority trend to the naïve youth being educated in the new America. Even some inside the church have accepted this premise of Jesus being a socialist, who taught the principles of socialism.
The church needs to have some solid answers for this position that the early church practiced socialism.
First, socialism is a government run policy (it is soft communism which is anti-God) it is not something run by the church. On that alone we have a major divide that should prevent Christians from accepting it.
The claimed goal of “Socialism’ is to cure the unfairness that has taken place, to bring about economic equality. The belief is that wealth should be collected by the government and evenly distributed to members of society that are poor. What they do not tell you is that it keeps a major portion of the population on the lower end never to rise any further. It squashes anyone who wants more
The true facts are always ignored, Socialism depends on the rich and once the rich are gone, no more socialism, turmoil results.
The Book of Acts does describe believers helping their fellow believers which was always part of Judaism, this was not a new idea introduced by Jesus (James addresses this in those who are poor in the church):
Acts 2:44-46: “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.”
First, notice they had ALL things in common- their faith was their life. What it does not say is that those who were well to do gave it all so that they were now equal with those who were in need.
They shared freely among those who believed. This was a small group that sold what they could and gave to those in need among them. They did not make a law inside the church to take from one to give to another. The New Testament does not obligate believers like the Old Testament law of tithing that had 10% to support the Levitical priests who taught them.
Acts 4:32-37 “Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.
What they all had in common was the Lord. Rome was a central government; giving to others was not enforced as Roman law, Jesus never taught that one must give their money over to Caesar for him to decide to whom to distribute it to. He said to give Caser what is due him (taxes). He affirmed the church to help those among themselves in need. And it was done freely because they shared in their faith and trials together and looked to God as their source in all things.
The church is supposed to be self -sustaining entity, non dependent on those outside the household of faith, especially government.
The scripture does not make their selling their goods a requirement but was a reaction of love to their fellow believers in need in the church. Especially those who were put out of the synagogues or lost their jobs because of their Faith in Christ.
Barnabas did this by his own choice, as did others. The believers were not required to help those outside the church. It was an individual’s choice, your own prerogative. Individual responsibility is not the same as a government program that is taking from the rich and distributing money to help others. The principle they lived by is not to make equality as in socialism.
Did Jesus teach (or the early church model) principles of socialist thinking? Jesus’ gospel had absolutely nothing about the distribution of wealth, as stated in socialism “from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.” If you hear someone say this they are reinterpreting what Jesus says and removing it from the truth.
The gospel is about our forgiveness from Sin and living a new life in the image of Christ.
Promoters of Christianized Socialism often lift the Scriptures out of their context to validate their socialistic ideology. For example they use Mt.25 if you have done this to the least of my brethren where both the meaning and application are changed. They generalize the Scripture giving them a wider application to those outside the church, which is often a neglect to the church.
The Old Testament system under the law.
Israel is a theocracy, the only nation as such. The Old Testament taught on caring for the poor among them.
Israel was once under bondage and God has them remember where they came from so they can treat others with kindness. Exod. 22:21 "You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Deut. 14:28-29: “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates.” And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.”
Deut. 15:7-8: “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, “but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.
Deut. 26:12: “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year-- the year of tithing-- and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled.”
This was to those within the nation; and it was every 3 years not a continuous handout. We all know what happens when people are always given for their needs, they do not see the need to work.
God had fairness in mind for those who had abundance.
Lev. 19:10: “And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger.” Lev. 23:22: “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God.’”
God instructed the owner of the land leave portions of the produce. They didn’t pick it and then send the food to the people in need. Those who were hungry picked their own food just as the owner of the vineyard did.
This was Israel’s built in social program for the needy, but it was not anything like socialism.
The Bible speaks a lot on laziness. Prov. 21:25-26: “The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare.”
Prov. 13:4: “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” This is clearly capitalism, not socialism.
When we come to the New Testament Paul states 1 Thess. 4:11-12 “that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.”
In other words you can help others with what you have, not just by money.
2 Thess. 3:9-13 “make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work , neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.”
Paul instructed all to work that can, and not live off of others.
People work hard to have what they own, and those who are believers acknowledge it is all the Lord’s to do what He wants with it. So they submit themselves to be under the Lords instruction when and what to give being led by Bible principles and the Holy Spirit.
Is it fair to take from those who work to support those who will not work (not those who cannot work because of a situation that they cannot control”). It’s one thing to take care of those who are unable, the Bible makes it clear that we (as the church) are to do this. The Bible also calls this charity and it is to be done by individual choice. But when it involves the government there is no choice, it is just law, like taxes.
The apostles who represented what Jesus taught did not have socialism in mind when they taught the church. Let’s look at those who promised to be part of this giving for others and decided not to.
In Acts 5 Annaians and Sapphirra saw how people in the church were giving for the needs of others and volunteered to sell their land. Acts 5:1-5 “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? “While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Annaias and Saphirra lied. They were not required to give any amount, not 10% nor 100%, it was a freewill offering. But they withheld what they promised, they broke their agreement. Peter did not take it from them but only reminded them that they gave their word to God. We see that Peter believed in individual property, but that one also needs to keep their word, especially when it involves promises to others and to God.
John writes “if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” (1 Jn. 3:17). Gal. 2:10 Paul says, “they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
We remember the poor by giving when there is a need. Those who well to do give food, water or medicine when a large disaster happens. Those who have wealth, abundance of money help, and this comes from businesses, not government. The church does not amass wealth nor create wealth. Again we find it is those in the church who had lands and abundance of possessions were able to sell them to help others.
The Good Samaritan
The Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable found the man wounded and robbed by thieves along the road (Luke 10:30-37). He demonstrated compassion toward the victim of a crime, not because he was poor in his lifestyle, but because he was a “neighbor” in need.
The Good Samaritan didn’t collect money from the Roman government or the synagogue, he got involved himself. Charity has empathy for those in need and is willing to share, comfort and care for a person. It demonstrates God’s love from one person to another person. Thelaw of Christ is to carry one another's burdens, this is not the same as a distribution of their goods decided by a council or government. He didn’t go around looking for others in need, the need was presented before him and he met it.
The widow’s mite
The widow’s mite argues against socialism:
Mark 12:41-44 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;" for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."
Here we have someone who is very poor giving to the temple (not to Caesar or the government). The woman gave in support of God and His work. Jesus says she gave more than the rich men who were present because she had little and still gave. Her giving in proportion to their wealth was greater. The widow’s story refutes the idea that the Bible teaches socialism. For if it did, she would be the recipient, not a giver. And it would be her giving to the Roman government not the temple treasury.
This has everything to do with Israel as a theocracy. One cannot honestly apply these laws unless God is also involved.