Acts 5:3 “…lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself”
End of the last chapter sets up this incident. Disciples are selling possessions and bringing the proceeds to the apostles for distribution as anyone has needs. They didn’t do it for praise, but I’m sure there was recognition for their gifts. Story reads as though there was something wrong with Ananias not giving all of the proceeds. But it wasn’t the fact that he kept back part of it. Apparently he sold it for a certain amount, kept some of the money for himself, then brought the rest to the apostles telling them he was bringing the whole amount so he would receive recognition for giving everything. Had he simply told the truth he would have been fine. There was nothing wrong with keeping back some of it as it was his to dispose of as he saw fit. The problem came from lying about the amount and claiming he had turned over all proceeds instead of just some.
5 “…great fear came upon all those who heard…”
Not fear as in being afraid of, but great awe and respect for the power of God. Knowledge that God does not take sin lightly. If Ananias was truly a believer, it might seem a bit harsh for the death penalty. We have to remember that God sees the heart of man, and it is His choice as to what happens. He is under no obligation to show mercy to anyone. In this case, He was able to take care of sin in the newly formed church bodies and teach a lesson to others. If Ananias was a true believer, he simply went home to be with Christ, and his death proved an advantage to others.
8 “…Yes, for so much”
Unfortunately his wife was in on it as well.
12 “…with one accord in Solomon’s Porch”
Commentary says this was an area on the east side of the temple. Jesus taught there at times. Must have been a large wide open area.
13 “Yet none of the rest dared join them…”
Apparently the non-believers were afraid to join with them although they thought highly of them. Not sure if they still feared the religious leaders or what they had heard had happened with Ananias and Sapphira. Still, some did become believers so the people were listening.
17 “…the sect of the Sadducees…”
Not surprising. The Sadducees said there was no resurrection. Peter and John’s message would have been especially distasteful to them.
19 “But at night an angel of the Lord…”
Man can make all the plans he wants, but God has the final say. As Jesus said, I am the truth.
28 “…Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?”
I’m beginning to believe the blindness of the religious leaders drove them insane. They couldn’t think rationally if their life depended on it. They witnessed a miracle of healing first hand and now have seen how the men who performed the miracle were taken out of a closed prison. Yet they still act against them. It’s almost as if they have left all semblance of working for God and are only in this for themselves.
28 “…intend to bring this Man’s blood on us”
Now they won’t even admit their part in Christ’s crucifixion. Denial of any wrong doing.
29 “…We ought to obey God rather than men”
The crux of the situation. It’s no longer simply about a difference in beliefs. The lines have now become clear. The religious leaders are not acting on God’s part but against Him. Peter and the apostles hold nothing back at this point. They lay it all out.
34 “…Pharisee named Gamaliel…”
First mention of this teacher of the law. At least he was a Pharisee. They seemed to be closer to the truth than the others.
39 “but if it is of God…”
At first glance, Gamaliel’s idea sounds reasonable, like an open minded test. However, it’s actually cowardice built on ignorance. Gamaliel was supposed to be one of their finest teachers, one who knew the law and prophets. Yet he could not or would not take an honest look at what was happening to determine if this was of God or not. With his supposed intelligence and learning he should have been able to know immediately. Sadly he did not.
39 “…lest you even be found to fight against God”
I get the impression they were so hard hearted in their actual beliefs, they never expected God to actually act. They had a narrow vision of how the Messiah was supposed to come and what He was to do. They would not accept anything that deviated from that idea, even if God Himself came to earth and confronted them. How sad.
42 “…they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ”
Too bad all the enemies of Christ can’t learn from history. The more they beat, abuse, and kill His followers, the more His name is preached and taught to the world. The only thing that seems to reduce the cause of Christ is prosperity. People get comfortable and complacent. Another example of why God cursed the ground for our sake.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.