Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263-339) lived 200+ years after Acts 4:34-35 and gives this account in his famous work The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine drawing from the work of Philo (20 BCE – 50 AD) lived at the time of the early church.
“Wherefore, as it is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, a book well authenticated, that all the associates of the apostles, after selling their possessions and substance, distributed to all according to the necessity of each one, so that there was none in want among them. “For as many as had lands and houses,” as this account says, “selling them, brought the value of the property sold, and laid it at the apostles’ feet, so as to distribute to each one according to his necessity.”
Philo giving his testimony to facts very much like these, in the same description adds the following statement: “This kind of men is every where scattered over the world, for both Greeks and barbarians should share in so permanent a benefit. They abound, however, in Egypt, in each of its districts, and particularly about Alexandria. But the principal men among them from every quarter emigrate to a place situated on a moderate elevation of land beyond the lake Maria, very advantageously located both for safety and temperature of the air, as if it were the native country of the Therapeutoe.”
After thus describing what kind of habitations they have, he speaks thus of the churches in the place: “In every house there is a sacred apartment, which they call the Semnseum, or Monasterium, where, retired from men, they perform the mysteries of a pious life. Hither they bring nothing with them, neither drink nor food, nor any thing else requisite to the necessities of the body; they only bring the law and the inspired declarations of the prophets, and hymns, and such things by which knowledge and piety may be augmented and perfected.” Translated by C.F. Cruse (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1851), p. 55.
After reading this, let us each ponder these things over the next three days:
(1) As “associates of the Apostles” 2,000+ years later, do we radically handle our riches like this? LORD, what should we sell and distribute to fellow believers in need today?
(2) What would it look like if we as Christians lived together in community today? Do we need to move to a desert place? Could we do it in the city? How about the suburbs?
(3) As our LORD’s presence is always with us, what does He see in our houses today? Do they have a Semnseum or Monasterium, literally translated: a chapel. Do we have dedicated space for study and spending time with Him?