ACTS OF THE APOSTLES CHAPTER 5
The previous chapter documented the first persecution of the Jewish believers in Christ. When the Lord Jesus Christ was on earth preaching the Kingdom to the children of Israel with signs and wonders attracting a huge following after Him, the religious authorities plotted to put Christ to death. They were fearful of a regime change without their participation.
Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. (John 11:47&48)
Having put Christ to death, they thought their political troubles would end there but the disciples of Christ went everywhere preaching the resurrection of the Lord performing miracles to prove their claims like the Lord Jesus Christ. The phenomenal increase in believers on Jesus as their Messiah since Pentecost was a hot political potato too hot for the religious leaders to ignore, especially when Peter and John confirmed their messages with signs and wonder right at the doorstep of their temple. Politicians being politicians were always worried about ruling over people and losing their sphere of influence.
With very little option on the table for this first political encounter where the miraculous healing of the lame man could not be denied, they had no choice but just threatened the apostles and forbade them not to preach in the name of Jesus. Nonetheless, the apostles and disciples committed their threats to the Lord and continued with their preaching of the risen Messiah of Israel ignoring the threats from the religious authorities. The church in Jerusalem grew. The expectation of those early disciples waiting for the soon return of the Messiah resulted in their selfless living with the redistribution of wealth practiced by the church. With such wonderful loving fellowship between the saints in the church, troubles soon raised its ugly head in the church. When persecution from outside could not hurt the church, Satan would stir up trouble from within the church to hinder the progress of the church.
Acts 5:1: But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
Acts 5:2: And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Everyone would like to talk about redistribution of wealth. The rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer would be a nice promotional theme to induce people to join some get-rich-quick MLM schemes. However, for the church, the believers’ motives were exactly opposite where such redistribution of wealth scheme to help the poor and needy was genuine and sincere in which no one used such a noble scheme to enrich himself. Such a sincere and God honouring scheme of helping the poor was not supposed to be institutionalized by the State such as those Communist States to enslave the people to become equally poor. When sin first entered into the world, poverty of course followed men born dead in trespasses and sin. Poverty is a fact and the Lord gave instructions to the nation of Israel to take care of the poor and needy among their midst.
For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. (Deuteronomy 15:11)
For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. (Matthew 26:11)
The way to help the poor was not to sell away all of one’s possessions and give them to the poor. Instead, the rich were told to help the poor in a way that did not encourage a crutch mentality where the able-bodied refused to work but depended on handouts leeching on the labours of others.
And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 23:22)
Under the Law, charity was required of the children of Israel to help the poor in a meaningful way. The poor had to help themselves with the deliberate kindness given by those who were better off living under the Kingdom of Israel. With the dawning of the New Testament era where the Kingdom was at hand, such charity required of them began to change when the Lord told the rich to give up their riches for the poor and follow the Lord.
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (Matthew 19:21)
Hence, the early believers in Christ were practicing what the Lord exhorted them while He was on earth. Notwithstanding, such voluntary giving up of one’s wealth to help the poor was meant for that extraordinary times where the Kingdom was still at hand with the risen Messiah waiting to come back anytime soon. So when the believers were practicing this selfless giving to help the poorer brethren some with ulterior motives would take this opportunity to participate for personal gain. Recorded here was the first case of church discipline concerning a case of lying to the Holy Ghost not for cheating other people’s money but giving money to the church with false declaration.
The motive of this couple was called into question concerning their donations. Giving money to help the poorer brethren was not a sin but giving with ungodly motives was a sin in the sight of God. This would be the beginning of corruption within the church if such a practice was not exposed and dealt with accordingly. The wealthier brethren who gave voluntarily did not boast about their giving. They were not compelled to give either. There was no reason for anyone to give to the church to show off his spirituality or spirit of charity.
The trouble with this couple was they were giving to the church with a deceptive heart. They were giving only a portion of what they sold but they declared they had given everything. The ultimate objective was to deceive the apostles and the church. Perhaps they were hoping for personal advancement in the sight of the brethren. In the world of politics, this would be tantamount to buying votes or gaining popularity. But the Church of the living God was not a political machinery for the rich and famous to promote their own agenda. This couple were aligning themselves with those religious rulers of Israel where it was acceptable to practise worldly wisdom where the end justified the means. Indeed, the Church of the living God was not a platform for politics and personal gain. The previous chapters ended with Barnabas whose selfless giving was much praised where even his name was surnamed by the apostles. So this couple might be thinking of getting something out of this scheme in the redistribution of wealth. They might be trying to chart out a career path for themselves within the church. There might be much to gain in the long run. Unfortunately their ungodly scheming would not go unnoticed by the apostles of Christ.
Acts 5:3: But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Acts 5:4: Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
At this time, only the man was present who tried to deceive Peter and others regarding his selfless giving to the church. He tried to be another Barnabas but his spirituality was anything close to Barnabas. Was he trying to be surnamed by the apostles like Barnabas? He was soundly rebuked by none other than the person whom the Lord while on earth rebuked and called him Satan.
But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:23)
Now Peter who was rebuked by the Lord calling him Satan was accusing Ananias for allowing Satan to fill his heart to lie to the Holy Ghost. Can a believer be filled with Satan? The apostles and disciples were baptized by the Holy Ghost on Pentecost and recorded to be filled with the Holy Ghost after praying to the Lord concerning threats from the religious leaders in the previous chapter. Now we have a character coming to the church supposedly a believer in Christ trying to pretend to be charitable like the rest of the believers had allowed Satan to fill his heart. Was Peter mistaken and wrong to make such strong allegation against Ananias? Unlikely he was wrong as he himself was once called Satan by the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter knew exactly what it was like from experience and he did not accuse Ananias lightly on what he said to him. Can Satan fill a believer?
Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. (Luke 22:3)
Judas Iscariot was one such disciple of Christ whom the Lord also called a devil.
Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve. (John 6:70&71)
Both Judas Iscariot and Ananias bore some similarities in been filled with Satan. Both were involved in charity work. Both handled money. Both wanted to help the poor with Judas Iscariot complaining about wasteful use of resources. Both wanted to appear spiritual to others but they were up to no good.
Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (John 12:4-6)
Judas was a thief and should Ananias become successful in gaining the trust of the apostles, he would probably plunder the donations which were supposed to be given to the poorer brethren. The apostles did not benefit from this redistribution of wealth scheme by enriching themselves but Ananias very likely would. The circumstance in which Satan entered Judas was over money. He went to the priests to betray Christ for thirty pieces of silver.
When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. (John 13:21-29)
The disciples thought that Judas Iscariot, the Satan filled man, was involved in charity work. Here Ananias was trying to fake to be charitable and he was filled by Satan in his heart to lie to the Holy Ghost. No one could fake it until he made it in the spiritual work of the Lord. His real motives would soon be revealed and judgment from heaven would fall quickly on such people. Satan filling men was not restricted to wicked men with ulterior motives in serving the Lord. Satan would have Peter for lunch had he been given a freehand.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (Luke 22:31&32)
Sinning believers refusing to repent could become candidates for Satan’s pleasures for extreme cases of unrepentant sin.
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:5)
Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:20)
It may not necessarily be a one-way street for Satan taking possession of believers. It could be believers going after Satan as well.
For some are already turned aside after Satan. (1 Timothy 5:15)
As such, believers in Christ must take heed to the exhortation given to Christians in Ephesus.
Neither give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27)
In the spiritual battle, believers in the Lord must not yield to the devil but resist him and lose no grounds to him. The consequence of giving in to the devil could result in severe trouble. The devil knows what he wants and he ultimately would want to take over the child of God and Satan filling the hearts of believers would simply be a matter of time. For the wiles of the devil are real and believers can be taken advantage of by Satan due to negligence on the part of the believers in Christ.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11)
When Peter exposed Ananias for what he did, he also revealed how this redistribution of wealth program was practiced by the church. No one was compelled to give. The owners had absolute control over their own properties. Even after the owners sold their properties, the proceeds still belonged to the owners. They were not commanded to give any or even all their monies to the church to help the poor. There was absolutely nothing wrong to donate part of what the owners had. The sin here was false declaration of donations. What was Ananias trying to achieve by doing this? Did any other donors receive any rewards or positions in the church? Peter questioned why Ananias conceived this scheme in his heart to lie. Ananias thought he was only lying to men but he was actually lying to God. For the case of Ananias trying to pretend to be spiritual by getting involved in giving to the poor with a wrong motive, his judgment was immediate.
Acts 5:5: And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Acts 5:6: And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
It must be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Ananias was not given a chance to defend himself. He had no chance to argue with the apostles. He was not given time to present his mitigating plea why he tried to lie to God. No alibi was entertained that day. He was not given a chance to repent. He dropped dead straightaway. God was not interested in his repentance. God was not mocked by such a character trying to fake it until he made it in the church. That early church took no chance with such schemers masquerading as God honouring and saints loving disciples. The Lord tolerated no nonsense from His people in the founding church. The Church must remain pure for the soon coming of the Messiah from heaven to bring in the Kingdom.
Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. (1 Timothy 5:20)
This was the practice of the early church. Church discipline was not to look good on paper but having no bite in practice. This first case of church discipline administered by the apostle Peter had a long lasting effect on the saints.
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:19)
So great fear came upon all the believers after this incident. No one dared to raise an issue with Peter for being so harsh with Ananias. In fact Peter did not pronounce any judgment on Ananias. He just exposed him for what he did and showed who Ananias really was. Peter did not kill Ananias but God did. If Ananias dared to lie to the apostles who performed signs and wonders to get people saved and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, this character was coming into the church to undermine and corrupt the church by his wiles. This showed that Ananias did not fear God. Nonetheless, those who witnessed what happened feared God and of course they should.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:9)
The fear of God is clean indeed. God’s judgments are true and righteous in cutting off those who would trouble the church. That unclean man who dropped dead was buried. He was not given a chance to infect the church with his schemes.
Acts 5:7: And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
Acts 5:8: And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
While Anaias was being buried, his wife, the co-conspirator came to church. She was not aware of what happened earlier to her husband. Perhaps she was very pleased and was looking forward to some commendation and praise from the apostles and brethren for being so large-hearted for their donations to the church. The praise of men would have made her day. She might even be dreaming of some positions in church. However, what she least expected was verification from the apostle Peter concerning their donations.
Peter did not greet her or tried to be friendly with her for what had happened to her husband earlier. Peter was in a way responsible for the death of Ananias but he did not show the least regret over the death of her husband. He did not even break this bad news to her. He was not interested in trying to comfort the deceased wife during this time of sorrow. Breaking this bad news to her was the least of his concern. He wanted to find out whether Ananias’ wife had a hand in this fraudulent declaration of their donations.
How did Peter know Ananias wife have a hand in this scheme trying to deceive the church and lie to God? Peter being a straightforward man did not leave room for this woman to maneuver her way out of this scam. He went straight to the point seeking a confirmation from this woman on the exact amount they sold their property. The answer required was a simple yes or no. There was no gray area in the matter where the answer would be subject to question or open to interpretation. Peter was very objective in trying to get to the bottom of the whole matter.
As it turned out, this woman was part of this whole scheme of trying to deceive the church with their donations. The declaration of the wrong amount was not an innocent mistake and everyone should move on. They did not try to cheat the church of money. They tried to cheat the church with false charity instead. It was a sin severe enough if left unchecked would bring in people with questionable character into the church and soon the church would become a place of business and social networking instead of testifying of the resurrection of Christ and His soon coming back to earth.
Acts 5:9: Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Acts 5:10: Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
Here is another stinging rebuke from the apostle Peter. The wife had agreed with her husband not just trying to deceive the apostles and impress everyone but to tempt the Lord. These believers obviously thought they could get away with lying about their good work. They did not think that God would expose them. They thought they were only dealing with mere mortals like themselves. Such deception practiced by people claiming to be believers of the true and living God had severely underestimated the resolve of the Holy God who would jealously guard His honour and holiness.
Peter did not pronounce the death sentence on Ananias earlier. It was God who killed Ananias for what he did. Peter simply told this woman that those who went to bury her husband were ready to bury her as well. That was the moment of revelation to her. She learned that her scam had been exposed. She also learned that her husband had died. These were her last lessons on planet earth before she departed to join her husband having been cut off from the church and prevented from polluting the church.
So when those young men who came back after burying Ananias found they had one more burial to make. It was a busy day of funeral with no sending off or remembrance service. It was not a day of glorious worship where the decease had been living a life of faith and now ushered into the welcomed presence of the Messiah. This woman was buried next to her husband. What did these young men write on the tombstones of these two persons trying to deceive the church concerning their giving? They gave money to the church and they were dead. Did this incident stop believers from donating to the church to help the poorer brethren? Of course not!
Acts 5:11: And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Acts 5:12: And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.
Acts 5:13: And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
This first incident of church discipline in that early church had a much far-reaching effect. The powers given to the apostles of Christ were not something to be underestimated in the formation of the Church.
Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction. (2 Corinthians 13:10)
It was utter folly to tempt the Holy Ghost in the presence of these apostles of Christ. Hence this incident cause great fear to come upon all the church. It was a learning point much needed for the early church. Even those outside the church also heard of this matter. Signs and wonders continued to be wrought by these apostles and they even brought the battle right to the place of dominion of the religious rulers. With the immediate judgment coming upon the couple who tried to deceive the apostles and the church, no one dared to join these believers where their hearts could be called into question by these apostles. It was dangerous to try to join these believers with ulterior motives. Notwithstanding, they magnified these apostles just like Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants, and in the sight of the people when signs and wonders were wrought by his hands.
Acts 5:14: And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
Acts 5:15: Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
Acts 5:16: There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
This was indeed an answer to prayers by the apostles in the previous chapter when those religious leaders threatened them not to preach again in the name of Jesus. Multitudes of believers continued to be added to the Lord. The church grew by leaps and bounds and the signs and wonders of the apostles were well known. The streets in Jerusalem were turned into hospital where healings were immediate and free. Even cases of unclean spirits victims were delivered. The fame of the apostles was spread far and wide to other cities. None was excluded from healing and believers continued to multiply to the dismay of the religious elites.
Acts 5:17: Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,
Acts 5:18: And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
This Jesus sect movement was really getting out of hand. The religious authorities truly felt threatened. Those in authorities could accommodate the sect of the liberal Sadducees but they could not share power with the sect of Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. These rulers were really mad with the apostles when they saw their powers and influence diminishing in the sight of the apostles of Christ. They had threatened the apostles in the past but their threats fell on deaf ears. This left them with no choice but to lay hands on the apostles. They were thrown into prison with the common prisoners. They were treated like criminals just for preaching in the name of Jesus and performing miracles in the name of Christ.
Acts 5:19: But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
Acts 5:20: Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
Acts 5:21: And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
Acts 5:22: But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told,
Acts 5:23: Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.
What those rulers did not know was that man-made prisons could not hold these apostles of Christ having been delivered from Satanic prisons where the devil had the power of death. Many sons of Adam were in fact in prisons without being physically locked up within a four-walled cell.
Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14&15)
What was imprisonment and death to these apostles of Christ who had seen the power of the resurrection having become partakers of Christ! So that night the darkness of the prison turned into the light of day where the apostles were given marching orders to get out of prison to preach the words of life in the temple. Of course, these apostles did not fail God but turned up at the temple testifying of the risen Messiah to those temple attending children of Israel.
However, the high priest and rulers were thinking of convening another court hearing for these defying members of the Jesus sect to take them to task. They thought by relying on human means and brute powers could subdue these Jesus sect leaders. But when they found that those sect leaders were nowhere to be found in prison and the prison was not broken into they were of course in for a shock. This council was again up to no good and with the religious rulers coming together with the senate, they were ready to do the apostles in. The religious and political powers were assembled together that day to deal with this upcoming threat from the apostles of Christ. These confident and arrogant rulers of Israel were yet to learn that the Lord had put them aside and had sent these apostles to prepare the nation for the Messiah to return to restore the Kingdom to Israel.
Acts 5:24: Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.
Acts 5:25: Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.
Just when these religious rulers were bewildered and figuring out a way to cover up this yet another miracle, they were told those heretics they imprisoned were teaching the people in the temple. How could this be possible? Was it another conspiracy? Was there any traitors in their midst? Did anyone among them let these people out of jail? How could these wanted men leave the prison with the locks in place and yet they still went back to the temple to teach. They should have fled for their lives and never tried to challenge those in authority. But these men were witnesses of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. What else could frighten these men of God?
Acts 5:26: Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.
Acts 5:27: And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
Acts 5:28: Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.
This time while the apostles were teaching in the temple, the security brought them to the council peacefully. Those people indeed regarded these apostles of Christ as great men for they magnified them. The apostles’ power in signs and wonders were well known. These religious police dared not use force on the apostles fearing the people might stone them. The high priest who issued the threat to the apostles sometime ago demanded to know why the apostles did not take heed to their warnings. The high priest also accused the apostles for filling Jerusalem with their doctrines of the resurrection of Christ. He accused the apostles for bringing the blood of Christ upon them as well. The apostles did accuse the rulers of Israel for murdering their Messiah each time during their confrontation with these rulers. The high priest was indeed wasting his time asking such questions. The apostles had no intention to compromise with these apostates rejected by the Messiah.
Acts 5:29: Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Acts 5:30: The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
Acts 5:31: Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Acts 5:32: And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
This was not the first time Peter gave these religious rulers such answer. Peter had already told these religious leaders in the past they would be obeying God and not these powerless rejects of God. Once again, Peter was given another opportunity to tell these murderers in their face for crucifying Christ. Without fail Peter emphasized that God had raised up the Messiah and exalted Him to be a Prince and a Saviour to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sin. Peter confirmed that they were witnesses of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Another pertinent point of Peter’s testimony before this religious and political body was the gift of the Holy Ghost to those who obeyed the Lord Jesus Christ. Would these stiff-necked people repent and believe in the Lord and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost?
Acts 5:33: When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.
By now, these rulers were mad with rage. They were powerless in the face of the apostles. They could not match them in signs and wonders and they offered no hope to the people of Israel. Their influence and prestige had been declining with the passing of days since these apostles came unto the scene. These Jesus fanatics had been harassing those in power preaching to the people in their territory at the temple. The apostles ignored their orders and threats and continued to challenge these rulers to come to terms with what had happened to Jesus of Nazareth whom they crucified and the Lord’s subsequence resurrection. With the apostles’ unceasing activities in converting the Jews to the Messiah of Israel these rulers had to decide on the next course of action. This time they were ready to put the apostles of Christ to death just like they put Christ to death.
Acts 5:34: Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
Acts 5:35: And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
Acts 5:36: For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
Acts 5:37: After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
Acts 5:38: And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
Acts 5:39: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
Acts 5:40: And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
Here was an important man who had played a major role in bringing up another man who turned the world upside down for Christ. The counsel from this man Gamaliel was to leave the apostle alone for a while. Throughout the Jewish history, there had been rebellion against the foreign occupiers. All those involved in the insurrection were put down and such who claimed to be Messiahs came and went. However, these religious rulers remained in powers. These rulers of the people would wait and see when such rebellion took place and they thought they could play the role of king makers.
However when the King of the Jews showed up, they rejected Him and had Him put to death. As such, when these apostles were now drawing a huge following after them, they decided to see what would happen to the movement of this Jesus sect just in case they might be found fighting against God. This was the first time the apostles were beaten for practicing their faith. The last time they were only threatened but this time, these rulers wanted to show that they meant business. They did not imprison these apostles for the prison indeed could not keep these men of God. They could not risk another episode of prison break and be embarrassed for their incompetence. Having beaten the apostle they again commanded the apostles not to preach in the name of Jesus and let them go.
Acts 5:41: And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
Acts 5:42: And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
The threats and beatings were disregarded by these apostles. In fact they counted it an honour to suffer shame for their Lord. So they rejoiced instead and continued to teach in the name of Jesus everyday from house to house and even the temple was their open classroom for bible students seeking to know the Messiah of Israel. Persecution from without in fact united the church. With internal threat of deception by characters with ulterior motives cut off and external threat of violence ignored, the church in Jerusalem moved on in preparation for the coming of the Messiah to restore the Kingdom to Israel.
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