Acts Chapter 5

February 18, 2011

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on the Book of Acts. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

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Acts Chapter 5 from Preaching In Shorts on Vimeo.

Acts 5:1-42 (NIV)
1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 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 to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. 12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed. 17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.” 21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin–the full assembly of the elders of Israel–and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. 25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. 27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” 40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

Acts 5:1-12

This is a hard chapter for a lot of people. I guess folks dropping dead in church is a tough issue to talk about. The events recorded in these first verses about Ananias and Sapphira raise some big questions. Why did they do it? How did Peter know? Why was the punishment so severe – and so swift? Why did God deem this sin so bad? “Did they go to heaven?”

There are no easy answers.

Luke sets the story up with a lot of contrasts. The end of chapter four talks about Barnabas selling a field and bringing the money the Apostles. In Acts 11:24 we see that Barnabas was a man filled with the Holy Spirit. Ananias, however, has his heart filled with Satan. Joseph is truthful, Ananias is a liar. Joseph demonstrates a trust in God, Ananias a trust in mammon.

Also, take notice of the idea in the early church of paradise regained. They had all things in common, real community: shared resources, sensitivity to others’ needs, security – not in material things, but in the risen Christ. It’s the closest to Utopia the world has ever seen. But in the midst of all this beauty and harmony, the serpent enters the garden again.

I think most of us can relate to Ananias and Sapphira in some ways. Who among us hasn’t engaged in some level of dishonesty? Falsified a tax return a little bit? Withheld the truth, or covered up with a “white lie”? The heart of the problem is more than just dishonesty. It has more to do with deception and hypocrisy. They wanted the same type of praise and recognition that Barnabas received, without the sacrifice. What takes it to an even deeper level, is that this occurred in an act of worship. Barnabas had laid his gift “at the apostles’ feet,” and this same expression is used of Ananias. Their offerings weren’t merely to the apostles, but to God. Here is the worst kind of hypocrisy – the sort that got Christ so angry – hypocrisy bordering on sacrilege. It wasn’t just a matter of pretending to be devout but really being a liar and a cheat; though they were that. Sacrilege goes a lot further; it’s robbing God of what is rightfully God’s, “stealing Divine glory,” withholding what we have professed as belonging to the Lord.

Interestingly, a similar thing had happened twice before. In Eden a man and a woman tried to deceive God, and the result was death. Then there was Achan “stealing” what rightfully was God’s: he and his whole family and possessions were destroyed. Joshua 7. Adam, Achan, Ananias – at the beginning of each “fresh start” God was making with God’s people, the same thing happened.

We are to learn from all these things the importance of living by trying to do the next right thing, and knowing that God loves us enough that we don’t have to pretend to be something we are aren’t. We have to understand the grace of God for us. Ananias and Sapphira just needed to say to the community “Here is where we would like to be – with Barnabas’ kind of trust and generosity. But we find we are not there yet …. All we can do now is give part of the proceeds. Would you help us grow toward what we would like to become?”’ Then there would have been healing and nurture and grace mediated through others in the caring fellowship.

Perhaps the biggest problem that Ananias and Sapphira had was this warped view of God and his amazing grace. He does not want us to pretend that we are something more than we are or further along on the journey than we have come.*

Acts 5:12-42

Revival is taking place and the religious leaders of Israel are jealous and have te Apostles arrested and thrown in jail. An angel turns them loose and they go back to preaching in the temple courts.
The leaders have them brought before them, threaten them, flog them, and they continue to preach the Gospel.

The response of the Twelve sets the pattern for our response to similar pressures. “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ”

*(Thanks to Rowland Croucher for his insight on Acts 5)

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