Acts 5

Listen to Acts 5

Ananias and Sapphira

1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,
2 and with his wife's knowledge 1he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and 2laid it at the apostles' feet.
3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has 3Satan filled your heart to lie 4to the Holy Spirit and 5to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?
4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but 6to God."
5 When Ananias heard these words, he 7fell down and breathed his last. And 8great fear came upon all who heard of it.
6 The young men rose and 9wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
8 And Peter said to her, "Tell me whether you[a] sold the land for so much." And she said, "Yes, for so much."
9 But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together 10to test 11the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out."
10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
11 And 12great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

Many Signs and Wonders Done

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people 13by the hands of the apostles. And they were all 14together in 15Solomon's Portico.
13 None of the rest dared join them, but 16the people held them in high esteem.
14 And 17more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,
15 18so that they even 19carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by 20at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, 21bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

The Apostles Arrested and Freed

17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of 22the Sadducees), and filled with 23jealousy
18 they arrested the apostles and 24put them in the public prison.
19 But during the night 25an angel of the Lord 26opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,
20 "Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all 27the words of 28this 29Life."
21 And when they heard this, 30they entered the temple 31at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council and all the senate of the people of Israel and sent to the prison to have them brought.
22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported,
23 "We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside."
24 Now when 32the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to.
25 And someone came and told them, "Look! The men whom you put in prison 33are standing in the temple and teaching the people."
26 Then 34the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for 35they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them,
28 saying, 36"We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you 37intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
29 But Peter and the apostles answered, 38"We must obey God rather than men.
30 39The God of our fathers 40raised Jesus, 41whom you killed by hanging him on 42a tree.
31 God exalted 43him at his right hand as 44Leader and 45Savior, 46to give 47repentance to Israel and 48forgiveness of sins.
32 And 49we are witnesses to these things, and 50so is the Holy Spirit, 51whom God has given to those who obey him."
33 When they heard this, they 52were enraged and wanted to kill them.
34 But a Pharisee in the council named 53Gamaliel, 54a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while.
35 And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men.
36 For 55before these days Theudas rose up, 56claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.
37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of 57the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered.
38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for 58if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail;
39 but 59if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You 60might even be found opposing God!" So they took his advice,
40 and 61when they had called in the apostles, 62they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 Then they left the presence of the council, 63rejoicing that they were counted worthy 64to suffer dishonor for 65the name.
42 And every day, 66in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and 67preaching 68Jesus as the Christ.

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.

Cross References 68

  • 1. ver. 3
  • 2. Acts 4:35, 37
  • 3. [Luke 22:3; John 13:2, 27]
  • 4. [ver. 4, 9]
  • 5. ver. 2
  • 6. [ver. 3, 9]
  • 7. [Ezekiel 11:13]
  • 8. ver. 11
  • 9. [Acts 8:2; Ezekiel 29:5; John 19:40]
  • 10. [Acts 15:10; 1 Corinthians 10:9]
  • 11. [ver. 3, 4]
  • 12. ver. 5
  • 13. Acts 2:43; Acts 4:30; Acts 14:3; Acts 19:11; Mark 16:20; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4
  • 14. See Acts 1:14
  • 15. Acts 3:11; John 10:23
  • 16. ver. 26; Acts 2:47; Acts 4:21
  • 17. [Acts 6:1, 2]
  • 18. [Acts 19:12]
  • 19. Mark 6:55, 56
  • 20. [2 Kings 4:29; Matthew 14:36]
  • 21. Mark 16:17, 18
  • 22. See Matthew 22:23
  • 23. Acts 13:45; James 3:14, 16; [Acts 7:9; Acts 17:5]
  • 24. See Luke 21:12
  • 25. See Acts 8:26
  • 26. Acts 12:10; Acts 16:26
  • 27. [John 6:63, 68; Philippians 2:16]
  • 28. [Acts 13:46; Acts 22:4; Acts 28:28]
  • 29. Acts 3:15; Acts 11:18
  • 30. ver. 25, 42
  • 31. [John 8:2]
  • 32. ver. 26; See Acts 4:1
  • 33. ver. 21
  • 34. ver. 24
  • 35. ver. 13; See Acts 4:21
  • 36. Acts 4:18
  • 37. Acts 2:23, 36; Acts 3:15; Acts 4:10; Acts 7:52; Matthew 27:25
  • 38. [Acts 4:19, 20]
  • 39. See Acts 3:13
  • 40. See Acts 2:24
  • 41. Acts 10:39; Galatians 3:13; See Luke 24:20
  • 42. Acts 13:29; 1 Peter 2:24
  • 43. See Acts 2:33
  • 44. See Acts 3:15
  • 45. See Luke 2:11
  • 46. Luke 24:47; See Luke 5:32
  • 47. Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25; [Romans 2:4]
  • 48. Luke 24:47; See Luke 5:32
  • 49. See Luke 24:48
  • 50. [Acts 15:28; John 15:26, 27; Hebrews 2:4; 1 John 5:7]
  • 51. See Acts 2:4
  • 52. Acts 7:54; [Acts 2:37]
  • 53. Acts 22:3
  • 54. See Luke 5:17
  • 55. [Acts 21:38]
  • 56. Acts 8:9; [Galatians 2:6; Galatians 6:3]
  • 57. [Luke 2:2]
  • 58. Lamentations 3:37
  • 59. Proverbs 21:30; Isaiah 8:9, 10; Nahum 1:9
  • 60. 2 Chronicles 13:12; [Acts 11:17]
  • 61. Acts 4:18
  • 62. [Acts 22:19; Mark 13:9; Luke 23:16]
  • 63. 1 Pet. 4:13, 14, 16; See Matthew 5:12
  • 64. Acts 9:16; Acts 21:13; [Romans 1:5]; See John 15:21
  • 65. Leviticus 24:11, 16; Philippians 2:9; 3 John 7
  • 66. Acts 2:46
  • 67. Acts 8:35; Acts 11:20; Acts 17:18
  • 68. See Acts 18:5

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. The Greek for you is plural here

Acts 5 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.