We’re told that Ananias and Sapphira sold their property and gave the proceeds to the apostles. But there was one difference in this case that was not present in the account of Barnabas. They sold the property for a certain amount and then tried to deceive the apostles by only giving a portion of the amount received. It was their money to use as they saw fit. There was no sin in keeping back a portion of the proceeds. The sin came when they tried to deceive. The sin was in lying to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. Peter tells us that it was Satan who. Filled Ananias’s heart. Peter had foreknowledge of this sin.
Verse 4 tells us that the practice of selling ones land and giving the proceeds to the church was voluntary. After Peter had told Ananias that he had not lied to man but unto God, he fell dead on the spot. We’re told that he was buried the same hour. Three hours later Sapphira came on the scene. Peter asked her if the price that Ananias had mentioned was the full amount received for the sale of the land. After she answered in the affirmative, she too was struck dead on the spot for lying to the Holy Spirit.
There is a questioned that needs to be considered. Were Ananias and Sapphira believers who sinned or were they hypocrites who never were saved? If they were Christians, were they lost because of their sin? It would seem that at one time they were Christians who let Satan tempt them to lie to the Holy Spirit. We’re not told the answer to the questions above in this text.
Trouble from Without-the Twelve Arrested. Acts 5:17-26
Again the persecution came from the High Priest and his Sadducean allies. This time they put the Twelve in jail. During the night God performed a miracle. They were released by an angel who told them to go to the temple and teach the people the old, old story of Jesus and His love.
At daybreak the apostles entered the temple to teach the people. When the Sanhedrin was called to order they sent word to have the Twelve brought before them. In verse 22-23 the officers found the cells locked, the guards at their posts, but when they opened the cell, no one was to be found. The Captain of the Temple guard and the chief priests could not figure what had happened. Then someone came and told them the Twelve were teaching in the temple.
The Captain if the Temple guard went to, personally arrest the apostles. They brought them back peaceably to the Sanhedrin because they were afraid of the multitudes.
The Twelve on Trial. Acts 5:27-40
The High Priest, who was a member of the Sadducees, presided over the Sanhedrin. He wanted to know why the apostles had defied his order not to speak about Jesus. He was also upset that the apostles were putting the blame for the death of Jesus on the Council. The apostles told him that they must obey God rather than men. The Bible teaches that when there is a conflict between God’s law and man’s laws, God’s must take precedence.
The apostles take the opportunity to testify of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Sanhedrin was told that it was “the God of our fathers” who raised Jesus from the depths of the grave. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Author of our salvation. (Heb. 12:2)
Again the Twelve testify of the resurrection of Jesus, of which, they were witnesses. They preached the same message. It is in this passage that the Word of God tells us that God gives the Holy Spirit to all who obey. This was more than the Sanhedrin could take. The High Priest and his allies were ready to condemn the Twelve to death.
In verse 24 the apostles found, somewhat of an unlikely ally in the person of the Pharisee, Gamaliel. This was not to say that he was on their side, but he seemed to be willing to let God judge the movement.
What are some of the facts about this man? He was a Pharisee, a teacher of the Law and was respected by the people. He was also the teacher of Saul of Tarsus, who later become Paul the Apostle. He ordered the Twelve out of the Council chambers while they decided what to do with them
In verse 35 he warns the Sanhedrin not to act in haste. In verse 36-37 he reminds them of two others who led revolts or claimed to be the Messiah or advocated new movements. He reminds them that the actions of these men were not rooted in God. They were killed and their followers scattered. It was only a passing fad. In verse 38 Gamaliel tells them that if Christianity is from men it will pass away. But if it is from God it will endure and we will be found fighting against God Himself.
Verse 40 tells us they ordered the apostles to be brought back into the room. They beat them and again ordered them not to teach and preach in the Name of Jesus. Then they released them.
The Twelve Released. Acts 5:41-42
The record tells us that the Twelve went away from the Council rejoicing in the fact that they had been worthy to suffer for Jesus’ sake. Verse 42 informs us that everyday they continued to uphold the Name of Jesus and preached His resurrection to the people.
Please read the 6th chapter of Acts in preparation for our next study. Some have said that the first church election is in this chapter. The lesson will be title “The Choosing of Fellow Workers.”