Short answer: Communistic living is not a model for churches. The early church practiced generous sharing not communal living.
Explanation: Acts 2:42-46 (NIV) reads, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts…”
The early church did not sell all their possessions and live communally. Essentially, they shared their possessions and distributed food to those believers who were in need. They still had their own homes as shown in verse 46. Believers went to each others’ homes to eat together.
A similar passage is found in Acts 4:32-35 (NIV), “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…And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
These beautiful accounts reveal the great love and thankfulness early Christians had for each other. It is a wonderful testament. Certainly their tender generosity is an example for all of us.
However, the sale of possessions was not demanded of believers. In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira sold land but lied about the sale price. The sin was the lie – not the withholding of some of the money from the sale. As Peter said to Ananias in verse 4, “Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
People have different concepts as to how to exercise stewardship. Working is healthy. Adults reap feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction from work. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV), “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” Individual stewardship requires people to work to support themselves and then to spend their resources wisely. Personal stewardship and sharing should serve as a model for local churches.