Acts 5

Lying to the Holy Spirit

1 But a man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a piece of property.
2 However, he kept back part of the proceeds with his wife's knowledge, and brought a portion of it and laid it at the apostles' feet.
3 Then Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds from the field?
4 Wasn't it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn't it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God!"
5 When he heard these words, Ananias dropped dead, and a great fear came on all who heard.
6 The young men got up, wrapped [his body], carried him out, and buried him.
7 There was an interval of about three hours; then his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
8 "Tell me," Peter asked her, "did you sell the field for this price?" "Yes," she said, "for that price."
9 Then Peter said to her, "Why did you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out!"
10 Instantly she dropped dead at his feet. When the young men came in, they found her dead, carried her out, and buried her beside her husband.
11 Then great fear came on the whole church and on all who heard these things.

Apostolic Signs and Wonders

12 Many signs and wonders were being done among the people through the hands of the apostles. By common consent they would all meet in Solomon's Colonnade.
13 None of the rest dared to join them, but the people praised them highly.
14 Believers were added to the Lord in increasing numbers-crowds of both men and women.
15 As a result, they would carry the sick out into the streets and lay them on beds and pallets so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
16 In addition, a multitude came together from the towns surrounding Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

In and Out of Prison

17 Then the high priest took action. He and all his colleagues, those who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.
18 So they arrested[a] the apostles and put them in the city jail.
19 But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said,
20 "Go and stand in the temple complex, and tell the people all about this life."
21 In obedience to this, they entered the temple complex at daybreak and began to teach. When the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin-the full Senate of the sons of Israel-and sent [orders] to the jail to have them brought.

The Apostles on Trial Again

22 But when the temple police got there, they did not find them in the jail, so they returned and reported,
23 "We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing in front of the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!"
24 As[b] the captain of the temple police and the chief priests heard these things, they were baffled about them, as to what could come of this.
25 Someone came and reported to them, "Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple complex and teaching the people."
26 Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them in without force, because they were afraid the people might stone them.
27 When they had brought them in, they had them stand before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest asked,
28 "Didn't we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man's blood on us!"
29 But Peter and the apostles replied, "We must obey God rather than men.
30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree.
31 God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."

Gamaliel's Advice

33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.
34 A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men[c] to be taken outside for a little while.
35 He said to them, "Men of Israel, be careful about what you're going to do to these men.
36 Not long ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about 400 men rallied to him. He was killed, and all his partisans were dispersed and came to nothing.
37 After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and attracted a following.[d] That man also perished, and all his partisans were scattered.
38 And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown;
39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God." So they were persuaded by him.
40 After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.
41 Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the name.[e]
42 Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that the Messiah is Jesus.[f]

Acts 5 Commentary

Chapter 5

The death of Ananias and Sapphira. (1-11) The power which accompanied the preaching of the gospel. (12-16) The apostles imprisoned, but set free by an angel. (17-25) The apostles testify to Christ before the council. (26-33) The advice of Gamaliel, The council let the apostles go. (34-42)

Verses 1-11 The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was, that they were ambitious of being thought eminent disciples, when they were not true disciples. Hypocrites may deny themselves, may forego their worldly advantage in one instance, with a prospect of finding their account in something else. They were covetous of the wealth of the world, and distrustful of God and his providence. They thought they might serve both God and mammon. They thought to deceive the apostles. The Spirit of God in Peter discerned the principle of unbelief reigning in the heart of Ananias. But whatever Satan might suggest, he could not have filled the heart of Ananias with this wickedness had he not been consenting. The falsehood was an attempt to deceive the Spirit of truth, who so manifestly spoke and acted by the apostles. The crime of Ananias was not his retaining part of the price of the land; he might have kept it all, had he pleased; but his endeavouring to impose upon the apostles with an awful lie, from a desire to make a vain show, joined with covetousness. But if we think to put a cheat upon God, we shall put a fatal cheat upon our own souls. How sad to see those relations who should quicken one another to that which is good, hardening one another in that which is evil! And this punishment was in reality mercy to vast numbers. It would cause strict self-examination, prayer, and dread of hypocrisy, covetousness, and vain-glory, and it should still do so. It would prevent the increase of false professors. Let us learn hence how hateful falsehood is to the God of truth, and not only shun a direct lie, but all advantages from the use of doubtful expressions, and double meaning in our speech.

Verses 12-16 The separation of hypocrites by distinguishing judgments, should make the sincere cleave closer to each other and to the gospel ministry. Whatever tends to the purity and reputation of the church, promotes its enlargement; but that power alone which wrought such miracles by the apostles, can rescue sinners from the power of sin and Satan, and add believers to His worshippers. Christ will work by all his faithful servants; and every one who applies to him shall be healed.

Verses 17-25 There is no prison so dark, so strong, but God can visit his people in it, and, if he pleases, fetch them out. Recoveries from sickness, releases out of trouble, are granted, not that we may enjoy the comforts of life, but that God may be honoured with the services of our life. It is not for the preachers of Christ's gospel to retire into corners, as long as they can have any opportunity of preaching in the great congregation. They must preach to the lowest, whose souls are as precious to Christ as the souls of the greatest. Speak to all, for all are concerned. Speak as those who resolve to stand to it, to live and die by it. Speak all the words of this heavenly, divine life, in comparison with which the present earthly life does not deserve the name. These words of life, which the Holy Ghost puts into your mouth. The words of the gospel are the words of life; words whereby we may be saved. How wretched are those who are vexed at the success of the gospel! They cannot but see that the word and power of the Lord are against them; and they tremble for the consequences, yet they will go on.

Verses 26-33 Many will do an evil thing with daring, yet cannot bear to hear of it afterward, or to have it charged upon them. We cannot expect to be redeemed and healed by Christ, unless we give up ourselves to be ruled by him. Faith takes the Saviour in all his offices, who came, not to save us in our sins, but to save us from our sins. Had Christ been exalted to give dominion to Israel, the chief priests would have welcomed him. But repentance and remission of sins are blessings they neither valued nor saw their need of; therefore they, by no means, admitted his doctrine. Wherever repentance is wrought, remission is granted without fail. None are freed from the guilt and punishment of sin, but those who are freed from the power and dominion of sin; who are turned from it, and turned against it. Christ gives repentance, by his Spirit working with the word, to awaken the conscience, to work sorrow for sin, and an effectual change in the heart and life. The giving of the Holy Ghost, is plain evidence that it is the will of God that Christ should be obeyed. And He will surely destroy those who will not have Him to reign over them.

Verses 34-42 The Lord still has all hearts in his hands, and sometimes directs the prudence of the worldly wise, so as to restrain the persecutors. Common sense tells us to be cautious, while experience and observation show that the success of frauds in matters of religion has been very short. Reproach for Christ is true preferment, as it makes us conformable to his pattern, and serviceable to his interest. They rejoiced in it. If we suffer ill for doing well, provided we suffer it well, and as we should, we ought to rejoice in that grace which enabled us so to do. The apostles did not preach themselves, but Christ. This was the preaching that most offended the priests. But it ought to be the constant business of gospel ministers to preach Christ: Christ, and him crucified; Christ, and him glorified; nothing beside this, but what has reference to it. And whatever is our station or rank in life, we should seek to make Him known, and to glorify his name.

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Lit laid hands on
  • [b]. Other mss add the high priest and
  • [c]. Other mss read apostles
  • [d]. Lit and drew people after him
  • [e]. Other mss add of Jesus, or of Christ
  • [f]. Or that Jesus is the Messiah

Acts 5 Commentaries