All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
Acts 4:32 NIV
And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.
Acts 4:32 NASB
I imagine for many Christians, if not most, this is a very difficult verse to deal with today as well as in the past. After all, the idea of literally sharing everything one owns and has worked very hard to obtain is an ideal we do not easily wrap our heads around. Nonetheless, let’s take an in depth look at what this verse, and later verses, tells us.
First of all notice in the two different versions, one has were one in heart and mind while the other has were of one heart and soul. Clearly, here the better translation is heart and soul although heart and mind is acceptable. What is more important though is that All the believers or the congregation of those who believed were united, were one, in heart and mind/soul. This would not last, but at this place and in this time it was true.
A number of commentaries point out the right of possession was not abolished, but being one in heart and soul/mind they thought of themselves, not as possessors, but as stewards. And as stewards they looked upon their possessions or property as a trust from God to be used for their brothers and sisters.
What changed? I cannot say for sure, but Paul gives us a few clues in two different churches. Consider his rebuke of the church in 1 Corinthians 11:20-22
So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
1 Corinthians 11:20-22
This is a church that is NOT united as one in heart and mind/soul. They required instructions on the simple act of sharing.
Next consider Paul’s rebuke of those taking advantage of the church in Thessalonica, 2 Thessalonians 3:10
For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
2 Thessalonians 3:10
It should be clear that the instance of a group of believers being of one heart and mind/soul was relatively rare. Still it occurs from time to time. I have seen it come and go in a church when the members accomplished amazing things when they were united with each other in heart and mind/soul. Currently I know of four men who share all the tools they possess (a large number) with each other freely and openly to help one another and others as well. In them, I believe I see what was ongoing in this chapter of Acts.
I pray we would all be able to be part of such a group or church so we might experience what the believers in Acts 4 experienced.