But a man named Ananias - his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him - sold a piece of land,
secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.
Peter said, "Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field?
Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn't lie to men but to God."
Ananias, when he heard those words, fell down dead. That put the fear of God into everyone who heard of it.
The younger men went right to work and wrapped him up, then carried him out and buried him.
Not more than three hours later, his wife, knowing nothing of what had happened, came in.
Peter said, "Tell me, were you given this price for your field?" "Yes," she said, "that price."
Peter responded, "What's going on here that you connived to conspire against the Spirit of the Master? The men who buried your husband are at the door, and you're next."
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than she also fell down, dead. When the young men returned they found her body. They carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God. They knew God was not to be trifled with.
Through the work of the apostles, many God-signs were set up among the people, many wonderful things done. They all met regularly and in remarkable harmony on the Temple porch named after Solomon.
But even though people admired them a lot, outsiders were wary about joining them.
On the other hand, those who put their trust in the Master were added right and left, men and women both.
They even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on stretchers and bedrolls, hoping they would be touched by Peter's shadow when he walked by.
They came from the villages surrounding Jerusalem, throngs of them, bringing the sick and bedeviled. And they all were healed. To Obey God Rather than Men
Provoked mightily by all this, the Chief Priest and those on his side, mainly the sect of Sadducees, went into action,
arrested the apostles, and put them in the town jail.
But during the night an angel of God opened the jailhouse door and led them out.
He said, "Go to the Temple and take your stand. Tell the people everything there is to say about this Life."
Promptly obedient, they entered the Temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.
When the police got there, they couldn't find them anywhere in the jail. They went back and reported,
"We found the jail locked tight as a drum and the guards posted at the doors, but when we went inside we didn't find a soul."
The chief of the Temple police and the high priests were puzzled. "What's going on here anyway?"
Just then someone showed up and said, "Did you know that the men you put in jail are back in the Temple teaching the people?"
The chief and his police went and got them, but they handled them gently, fearful that the people would riot and turn on them.
Bringing them back, they stood them before the High Council. The Chief Priest said,
"Didn't we give you strict orders not to teach in Jesus' name? And here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are trying your best to blame us for the death of this man."
Peter and the apostles answered, "It's necessary to obey God rather than men.
The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, the One you killed by hanging him on a cross.
God set him on high at his side, Prince and Savior, to give Israel the gift of a changed life and sins forgiven.
And we are witnesses to these things. The Holy Spirit, whom God gives to those who obey him, corroborates every detail."
When they heard that, they were furious and wanted to kill them on the spot.
But one of the council members stood up, a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel, a teacher of God's Law who was honored by everyone. He ordered the men taken out of the room for a short time,
then said, "Fellow Israelites, be careful what you do to these men.
Not long ago Theudas made something of a splash, claiming to be somebody, and got about four hundred men to join him. He was killed, his followers dispersed, and nothing came of it.
A little later, at the time of the census, Judas the Galilean appeared and acquired a following. He also fizzled out and the people following him were scattered to the four winds.
"So I am telling you: Hands off these men! Let them alone. If this program or this work is merely human, it will fall apart,
but if it is of God, there is nothing you can do about it - and you better not be found fighting against God!"
That convinced them. They called the apostles back in. After giving them a thorough whipping, they warned them not to speak in Jesus' name and sent them off.
The apostles went out of the High Council overjoyed because they had been given the honor of being dishonored on account of the Name.
Every day they were in the Temple and homes, teaching and preaching Christ Jesus, not letting up for a minute.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)