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Acts 5

1-2 What was Ananias and Sapphira’s sin? They turned over part of the money from the sale of their land, saying it was the whole price. Their sin was to lie. They had a right to keep back as much of the money as they wanted; there was nothing wrong in that. They were not obligated to give any of it. What they did wrong was to lie about it. SATAN the liar had filled their hearts (verse 3).

27-28 The high priest accused the apostles not only of continuing to preach about Christ, but also of trying to blame the Jewish leaders for His death. The Jews thus had a double reason for being upset with the apostles.

29-32 Again Peter and the other apostles spoke boldly before the Sanhedrin. Indeed, Peter preached Christ right there in the assembly to the Jewish leaders themselves. The apostles called the Jewish leaders “murderers of Christ” right to their faces! “… you had [Christ] killed by hanging him on a tree35 (cross),” said Peter (verse 30). “But then,” says Peter in verse 31, “God raised Christ up and exalted him to his own right hand” (see Acts 2:23,32-33; 4:10; Ephesians 1:20-21).

We are witnesses of these things,” said Peter. “We cannot keep silent; we are commanded to tell these things to others. We must obey God rather than men!” (verse 29).

The apostles had already said this to the Jewish leaders once before (Acts 4:18-20). Not only were the apostles witnesses of these things, but the Holy Spirit Himself was also giving witness through the believers. When they spoke, the Holy Spirit was also speaking; because every believer—that is, everyone who obeys God—has been given the Holy Spirit (verse 32).

God exalted [Christ] … as Prince and Savior (verse 31). The word Prince used in this verse means “Lord.” If we do not accept Christ as our Prince or Lord, He cannot be our Savior. Jesus is both our Lord and our Savior (Acts 2:36). If we want Him to save us, we must be ready to obey Him.

God exalted Christ that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. Christ gives us a new heart; He gives us GRACE to repent. But we ourselves must do the repenting. Without repentance, there can be no forgiveness of sin.

33-34 The Jewish leaders, especially the chief priests and Sadducees, wanted to sentence the apostles to death. But they couldn’t do so without getting the agreement of those members of the Sanhedrin who were Pharisees.36 Gamaliel was a leader of the Pharisees; furthermore, as a teacher of the law, he was highly respected by all Jews.

35-37 Gamaliel gave the examples of two people, Theudas (verse 36) and Judas the Galilean (verse 37), who some time earlier had led revolts against the Roman Empire. These two men had been killed and their followers had scattered and disappeared. Gamaliel was suggesting that perhaps, with their leader Jesus dead, these apostles, too, would soon scatter and disappear.

38-39 Therefore, Gamaliel advised the Jewish leaders to let the apostles go. If their preaching was not from God, it would come to nothing. But if it was from God, then to oppose the apostles’ preaching would be to oppose God Himself. Besides, if this new religion was truly from God, it would be impossible to stamp out anyway! Such was Gamaliel’s wise advice.

40 The Jewish leaders heeded Gamaliel’s advice. They gave the apostles a small punishment, a flogging, and then let them go. The leaders also ordered the apostles one last time not to speak in the name of Jesus. But even as they gave the order, the leaders knew that the apostles would not obey it.

41-42 When we suffer for the Name—that is, for Jesus’ sake—then we are truly His disciples, His friends, His brothers. This was the apostles’ experience, and that is why they left the Sanhedrin rejoicing. If God appoints us to suffer disgrace for Christ’s sake, then we, too, should rejoice. To receive dishonor from the world for Christ’s sake is to receive honor from God (see Hebrews 11:24,26). The apostles rejoiced because they had been counted worthy to share in Christ’s sufferings. There is no greater honor than to suffer dishonor for Christ’s sake.

Jesus had warned His disciples that they would be called to suffer for His sake. He had told them: “You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues” (Mark 13:9). His words had now come true. Jesus had also said to them: “‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).

But Jesus also promised that those who suffer for Him would be abundantly rewarded. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:1112). And Christians have been holding on to that promise ever since (see Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 and comments).

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