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Chapter 5


An Attempt to Deceive the Holy Spirit

5:1-11 Now a man named Ananias, together with Sapphira his wife, sold a piece of property. He kept back for himself part of the proceeds with his wife's knowledge; he brought only part of it and placed it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back for yourself part of the proceeds from the sale of the land? Before it was sold, did it not belong to you? And when it was sold, was the money not at your disposal? How have you thought up this deed in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God!" When Ananias heard these words he collapsed and died, and great fear gripped all who heard about it. So the young men came, wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. After an interval of about three hours, his wife came in, but she did not know what had happened. Peter said to her, "Tell me, were the two of you paid this amount for the land?" Sapphira said, "Yes, that much." Peter then told her, "Why have you agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out!" At once she collapsed at his feet and died. So when the young men came in, they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear gripped the whole church and all who heard about these things.


We are told right at the beginning of this incident that both party's were involved and that they intended to pretend that they were giving the full amount of the proceeds from the sale of their possession, so it was a conspiracy, a plot, to deceive.   It looked as if they were doing exactly the same as the others.   'V3"   But through the Spiritual Gift of a Word of Knowledge it is made known to Peter.  Satan had tempted Ananias and Sapphira and they had given in to him '"Go on no one will ever know if you only give a part and make out it is all that you got""  He ever goes around as a roaring lion seeking who he may destroy therefore we should always be on our guard (1 Pet. 5: 8).  The thing was that there was no need of it as Peter tells him, what belonged to him was his own to do as he liked with.   He was under no obligation to give any of it away but it was the fact that he tried to deceive, not men, but  the Holy Spirit who is co-equal with God.   'V5 - 6"   It was not Peter that struck Ananias dead.   We are told that it was when he heard the words, the judgement of God fell upon him for his unconfessed, unrepentent sin of lying and trying to deceive the Holy Spirit (1 John 1: 9).  Because of this a great dread and terror came upon all of them.   'V7 - 10"   When Sapphira comes in three hours later and Peter questions her, the full extend of the plot is uncovered.   They had conspired together to tempt/test the Holy Spirit.   That is they challenged God to expose their deception.   When Satan tempted Jesus to throw himself off the Temple He replied '"It is written . . You shall not tempt/test the Lord your God" " (Math. 4: 5 - 7)   This is what is meant here in Acts.   Thus judgment fell on Sapphira as on her husband.   'V11"   It is said by commentators that the severity of the punishment on these two were in order to establish the authority of the apostles and to keep the church pure.   However I would say it was rather to establish the power and authority to the church of the Holy Spirit, that He is equal with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

WHAT DOES THIS SAY TO YOU ?                                                                                                              


Continuing in Power

5:12-16 Now many miraculous signs and wonders came about among the people through the hands of the apostles. By common consent they were all meeting together in Solomon's Portico. None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high honor. More and more believers in the Lord were added to their number, crowds of both men and women. Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets, and put them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow would fall on some of them. A crowd of people from the towns around Jerusalem also came together, bringing the sick and those troubled by unclean spirits. They were all being healed.


Up to this time it was still through the apostles (the twelve disciples) that the power of God was manifest by many signs and wonders as they worked together.   'V13 - 14"   Because of what had happened to Ananias and Sapphira many disassociated themselves from the believers, but the people held them with great respect and regard.  And souls were continually being saved and, note, not added to the church, although they were, but to the Lord.  So much so that many brought their sick ones out into the streets in the hope that as Peter went by even his shadow falling on them would bring healing (see Acts 19: 12).   It was not the shadow or the objects brought to Paul that held any magic formula but they were points of contact for faith.   As word spread of what was happening in Jerusalem so people came from all the surrounding places bringing their sick and those who were tormented with unclean spirits and they were all healed.

'WHAT DOES THIS SAY TO YOU ?                                                                                                              



Suffering for Christ's sake

5:17 Now the high priest rose up, and all those with him (that is, the religious party of the Sadducees ), and they were filled with jealousy.


The reason given here why the apostles and Christians are persecuted is first of all that the high priests and Sadduccees, in this instance, were jealous (indignation)of them, and secondly because they were teaching the resurrection.   '


5:18 They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.


They were prepared to go to any length to stop them bearing witness to Jesus Christ, so the second time they are arrested and thrown into the "common prison" that is, the place where thieves, murderers etc. were put (Luke 21: 12).   '


5:19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said,


This time God took a supernatural hand in delivering them by sending an angel to set them free.  


5:20 "Go and stand in the temple courts and proclaim to the people all the words of this life."


The purpose in this was to give them the command to go to none other place than the centre of Jerusalem and most public place, the Temple, to proclaim the way of salvation in Christ.   The very reason they had been thrown into prison for !  When they heard this, they entered the temple courts at daybreak and began teaching.


5:21 Now when the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they summoned the Sanhedrin — that is, the whole high council of the Israelites — and sent to the jail to have the apostles brought before them.


They did not stop to count the cost of doing this but went straight to the Temple, although it was very early in the morning and began to teach the people.   Being unaware of what had happened the high priest and those with him call the Sanhedrin together in order to deal with the apostles.   '


5:22-23 But the officers who came for them did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, "We found the jail locked securely and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside."


But when the officers went to get them from prison, behold, there was no trace of them.   The prison doors were still securely shut, the guards were still standing outside but the prisoners were nowhere to be found!


5:24-25 Now when the commander of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, they were greatly puzzled concerning it, wondering what this could be. But someone came and reported to them, "Look! The men you put in prison are standing in the temple courts and teaching the people!"


When this was told to the chief priests and the military leader they could not understand it and began to wonder what all this was leading up to.  Until someone came and told them that the very men they were looking for were  in the Temple doing the very thing they had been put into prison for !  Can you imagine how silly this made those in authority look ?


5:26 Then the commander of the temple guard went with the officers and brought the apostles without the use of force (for they were afraid of being stoned by the people).


So once again the captain with his men went to arrest the apostles but this time they played it safe and asked them to accompany them to the Sanhedrin for they feared the people would come to their rescue by using violence.


5:27-28 When they had brought them, they stood them before the council, and the high priest questioned them, saying, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood on us!"


Being brought before the council they were first of all charged with what would be called today "contempt of court" because they had dared to disobey their order not to speak in the name of Jesus.   The other accusation was that they had filled the whole city with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and also of blaming them for His death (Acts 2: 23).   In fact when Pontuis Pilate symbolically washed his hands before the people and said that he was innocent of the blood, that is the death, of Jesus, the people cried '"His blood be upon us and on our children"" (Math. 27: 25). Are we similarly prepared to suffer for Christ?


Obedience to God above all else

5:29 But Peter and the apostles replied, "We must obey God rather than people.


Peter with the others, again with Holy Ghost boldness, tell them that they refused to obey the authorities because they were under orders from an higher Authority, God.  The apostles realised that they were no longer their own for they had been bought with a price, the life of Christ, and that He was now their Lord and Master (1 Cor. 6: 20).   They were fully committed and had dedicate their lives to obeying and serving Him even if it cost them their lives.


5:30-31 The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you seized and killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.


Apart from the fact that He had given His life a ransom for theirs  here we have six other reasons for obedience  1. they were serving a 'Risen Saviour !" not someone who was rotting in the grave.   2. God had exalted Him to His own right hand (Phil. 2: 9)   3. He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9: 6) the one who made peace possible between God and the sinner (Eph. 2: 15 - 17)   4. The Saviour who has saved us from our sins and the penalty of them.  5. He had given them repentance.  For although all men everywhere all called to repent it is given by the grace of God (2 Tim. 2: 25). 6. Forgiveness of sins had been obtained through Jesus Christ.


5:32 And we are witnesses of these events, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."


The apostles were a living testament to all this as the Holy Spirit gave them power to bear witness (Acts 1:8). Note the Holy Spirit is only given to those who are obedient.


5:33-34 Now when they heard this, they became furious and wanted to execute them. But a Pharisee whose name was Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the council and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time.


The members of the Sanhedrin became furious because they had accused them of murdering the Lord Jesus Christ (V30) and were set to do the same to the apostles until a Pharisee named Gamaliel who was an highly respected teacher intervened.   This is the same Gamaliel whom Paul said he was taught by (Acts 22: 3).   The Lord used him to deliver His people from the hands of the enemy although as far as we know he never came to accept Jesus as his Saviour.   '


5:35 Then he said to the council, "Men of Israel, pay close attention to what you are about to do to these men.


First of all he warns them to be careful as to what they do to the disciples.   '


5:36-37 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it. After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census, and incited people to follow him in revolt. He too was killed, and all who followed him were scattered.


In support of his argument he uses two previous incidents when two men, one  called Theudas and another called Judas had raised themselves up claiming to be  leaders who would deliver the country from the hand of Israel's enemies whom many had followed.  But as soon as they had been killed it all fell apart and those who had obeyed them were scattered.  Nearly two thousand years later the Church of Jesus Christ is still growing!


5:38 So in this case I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, because if this plan or this undertaking originates with people, it will come to nothing,


His second warning was,  that they should withdraw from the apostles and leave them alone.  '


5:39 but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found fighting against God." He convinced them,


The reason for this was that if their teaching was of men then it will fail and come to nothing but if it was of God, then there was nothing at all they could do about (Luke 21:15).   For if they resist it then they could find themselves fighting against God whom they professed to worship.  


5:40 and they summoned the apostles and had them beaten. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.


Although they agreed with Gamaliel they still could not resist beating the apostles and ordering them not to continue to speak in the name of Jesus.  '


5:41 So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.


And what did the disciples do ?   They rejoiced in that they had been counted worthy to suffer for the sake of their Lord and Saviour (Math. 5: 10 - 12).   They were able to rejoice because of their obedience to God rather than men.


5:42 And every day both in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the Christ.


And did they stop preaching the Gospel message ?  No they went straight back to the Temple and taught and preached every day ! How obedient are we to our Lord and Saviour ?'



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