Peter and John Arrested and Released – Acts 4-5

In chapter 4, Luke tells us that the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees “came upon them.” The “captain” of the temple was not a military figure , but someone in a supervisory role to the priests and Levites in the temple. The text says that they were greatly annoyed because Peter and John “were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” This would be particularly annoying to the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:8). So they arrested the two apostles, and kept them for the night, as it was already late in the day.

But it was too late to stop what had obviously been God’s purpose that day. Verse 4 makes it pretty clear that the two apostles had not simply drawn the attention of a couple of dozen of temple-goers. Luke says that many believed as a result of their preaching and the miracle, and that the number of men came to about five thousand. So we can assume that upwards of 10,000 men and women had been persuaded in the gospel by that incident. Jesus’ church was growing very quickly indeed.

 

Peter and John were arrested. When they were released by the council, they went to their friends and told them all that had happened. What followed was what had to have been an incredibly uplifting experience, to say the very least. They start by praising God in a beautiful prayer, much of which is a wonderful model of prayer for us today as well.

 

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When they finished, Luke tells us that the place where they were assembled actually shook! And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. God was giving His people everything they needed to move forward with the Lord’s church – knowledge, the Holy Spirit, and the confidence of knowing that He was with them.

 

In chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira were telling everyone that they were putting all of the proceeds of the sale of their property to use for the Lord’s church. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, knew what had actually transpired, and rebuked Ananias for the lie, pointing out that it was all unnecessary in the first place. It was his house and his money, and he could have done with it as he pleased. Ananias collapsed and breathed his last breath upon hearing Peter’s words.

It was about three hours later when his wife Sapphira arrived, and Peter asked her whether they had sold the house for “so much” (Luke uses those words there because the actual amount was not important to the scripture). When she lied, saying that was the case, Peter rebuked her as well, and she also breathed her last breath.

The problem was not just with the lie itself, but with the intent behind it that showed an insincere heart when it came to what they were doing. God would have no such hypocrisy tarnish the unity and momentum that the Lord’s church had at that time.

 

/Bob’s boy

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

 

Acts 3, Acts 4, Acts 5, Acts 6, Acts 7

 

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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

 

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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Dark Heart – Acts 5

The opening part of chapter 5 is difficult for many to understand in a proper manner. A man named Ananias, whose wife was named Sapphira, sold a piece of property. To understand the context, refer to the end of chapter 4. It was a time of great unity in the early New Testament church. The Christians of the day were of one mind and one purpose, and they were all helping each other, helping the needy, and helping the apostles advance the Lord’s kingdom.

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we mentioned in the last post, nobody was expected to sell all of their worldly possessions. Neither was anyone required to sell anything at all. It was something that a great many of them were doing, so that the proceeds could be used to help the needy and advance the church. Verse two tells us that with his wife’s knowledge, Ananias kept part of the proceeds of the sale for himself, and came and laid the rest “at the apostle’s feet.”

Although the text so far does not indicate explicitly, we know from the next few verses that Ananias and Sapphira were telling everyone that they were putting all of the proceeds of the sale to use for the Lord’s church. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, knew what had actually transpired, and rebuked him for the lie, pointing out that it was all unnecessary in the first place. It was his house and his money, and he could have done with it as he pleased. Ananias collapsed and breathed his last breath upon hearing Peter’s words.

It was about three hours later when his wife Sapphira arrived, and Peter asked her whether they had sold the house for “so much” (Luke uses those words there because the actual amount was not important to the scripture). When she lied, saying that was the case, Peter rebuked her as well, and she also breathed her last breath.

The problem was not just with the lie itself, but with the intent behind it that showed an insincere heart when it came to what they were doing. God would have no such hypocrisy tarnish the unity and momentum that the Lord’s church had at that time.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Please check out my Books and my Facebook Author’s Page. You will find the links at this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books“.

Acts 5 – Ananias and Sapphira

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As is often the case with Scripture, context is everything in this chapter.  As chapter 4 closes, the young church was growing with the Apostles leading them; and the unity among the believers was amazing.  People were selling their own possessions, and bringing the proceeds to the Apostles to help provide for others who were in need.  It was in that spirit that we were introduced to Barnabas of Cyprus in Acts 4:36 (we will read more about Barnabas in later chapters).  As Peter makes clear, the property that had belonged to Ananias and Sapphira was theirs to do as they wished.  Their sin was in trying to fraudulently claim that they had sold land and were giving the entire proceeds to the apostles to help those in need.  The lie would certainly be found out. The credibility of the Apostles would be harmed – how can they be said to be guided by the Holy Spirit and not know these people were perpetrating such fraud?  The unity of the believers would certainly suffer.  God would not allow this to happen.

Verse 12 lets us know that the Apostles had worked many signs and wonders.  Note that the verse does not refer to 120 people having done so, again affirming that it was the twelve who received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in chapter 2.  And despite Peter and John’s earlier arrest, they were all together in Solomon’s Portico again. Verse 13 simply means that even the non-believers that did not join them held them in high esteem.  But verse 14 declares that the church was growing faster than ever, with both men and women.  People were also bringing their loved ones from all around to be healed.

The high priest and the rest of the Sadducees were jealous of the attention and the esteem everyone had for the apostles, and had them arrested.  But in verse 19, an angel of the Lord let them out and told them to go teach – this time in the Temple.  They did exactly that at daybreak.  The words the angel used were “…speak to the people all the words of this Life”  – the eternal life that Jesus spoke of in John 17:1.  There are some who believe that early Christianity may have been referred to as both “the Life” and “the Way.”  The former is unsure, but we do know that the latter is true.  It is first mentioned in Acts 9:1-2.

Apostles Peter and John by Pieter Aertsen (157...

Apostles Peter and John by Pieter Aertsen (1575). Oil on wood, 55.5 76 cm. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the council sent men to bring the Apostles to them from prison, they returned to let them know that they not only were not in the prison – but they were teaching in the Temple.  When they brought them from the Temple, they did it quietly.  The popularity of the Apostles made the officers afraid of the people.  At the Sanhedrin, the high priest reminded them that they had been warned not to teach in the name of Jesus, saying “you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”   But Peter and the Apostles again boldly declare that they will obey God – that He raised Jesus, whom they had killed, and that they are witnesses, as is the Holy Spirit.  The council was furious, wanting to kill them all.  But Gamaliel, a Pharisee, reminded them that two others had gathered a following, but had died and the movement fizzled.  His argument was that they should let this one fizzle out as well – either it would do so, or it was indeed from God.

Gamaliel’s advice was taken, but the Apostles were beaten (verse 40) before they were released.  This would have been a brutal beating – probably less severe that the scourging Jesus had received, but likely would have been the traditional 39 stripes for each of them.  Upon release, the attitude of the Twelve was to rejoice.  Verse 42 confirms “…every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.