Acts 4; Acts 5; Acts 6

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Acts 4

1 While Peter and John were speaking to the peo- ple, Jewish priests, the captain of the soldiers that guarded the Temple, and Sadducees came up to them.
2 They were upset because the two apostles were teaching the people and were preaching that people will rise from the dead through the power of Jesus.
3 The Jewish leaders grabbed Peter and John and put them in jail. Since it was already night, they kept them in jail until the next day.
4 But many of those who had heard Peter and John preach believed the things they said. There were now about five thousand in the group of believers.
5 The next day the Jewish rulers, the older Jewish leaders, and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.
6 Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander were there, as well as everyone from the high priest's family.
7 They made Peter and John stand before them and then asked them, "By what power or authority did you do this?"
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and you older leaders,
9 are you questioning us about a good thing that was done to a crippled man? Are you asking us who made him well?
10 We want all of you and all the Jewish people to know that this man was made well by the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You crucified him, but God raised him from the dead. This man was crippled, but he is now well and able to stand here before you because of the power of Jesus.
11 Jesus is 'the stonen that you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.'
12 Jesus is the only One who can save people. His name is the only power in the world that has been given to save people. We must be saved through him."
13 The Jewish leaders saw that Peter and John were not afraid to speak, and they understood that these men had no special training or education. So they were amazed. Then they realized that Peter and John had been with Jesus.
14 Because they saw the healed man standing there beside the two apostles, they could say nothing against them.
15 After the Jewish leaders ordered them to leave the meeting, they began to talk to each other.
16 They said, "What shall we do with these men? Everyone in Jerusalem knows they have done a great miracle, and we cannot say it is not true.
17 But to keep it from spreading among the people, we must warn them not to talk to people anymore using that name."
18 So they called Peter and John in again and told them not to speak or to teach at all in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John answered them, "You decide what God would want. Should we obey you or God?
20 We cannot keep quiet. We must speak about what we have seen and heard."
21 The Jewish leaders warned the apostles again and let them go free. They could not find a way to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had been done.
22 The man who received the miracle of healing was more than forty years old.
23 After Peter and John left the meeting of Jewish leaders, they went to their own group and told them everything the leading priests and the older Jewish leaders had said to them.
24 When the believers heard this, they prayed to God together, "Lord, you are the One who made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything in them.
25 By the Holy Spirit, through our father David your servant, you said: 'Why are the nations so angry? Why are the people making useless plans?
26 The kings of the earth prepare to fight, and their leaders make plans together against the Lord and his Christ.'
27 These things really happened when Herod, Pontius Pilate, those who are not Jews, and the Jewish people all came together against Jesus here in Jerusalem. Jesus is your holy servant, the One you made to be the Christ.
28 These people made your plan happen because of your power and your will.
29 And now, Lord, listen to their threats. Lord, help us, your servants, to speak your word without fear.
30 Help us to be brave by showing us your power to heal. Give proofs and make miracles happen by the power of Jesus, your holy servant."
31 After they had prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke God's word without fear.
32 The group of believers were united in their hearts and spirit. All those in the group acted as though their private property belonged to everyone in the group. In fact, they shared everything.
33 With great power the apostles were telling people that the Lord Jesus was truly raised from the dead. And God blessed all the believers very much.
34 No one in the group needed anything. From time to time those who owned fields or houses sold them, brought the money,
35 and gave it to the apostles. Then the money was given to anyone who needed it.
36 One of the believers was named Joseph, a Levite born in Cyprus. The apostles called him Barnabas (which means "one who encourages").
37 Joseph owned a field, sold it, brought the money, and gave it to the apostles.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Acts 5

1 But a man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold some land.
2 He kept back part of the money for himself; his wife knew about this and agreed to it. But he brought the rest of the money and gave it to the apostles.
3 Peter said, "Ananias, why did you let Satan rule your thoughts to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep for yourself part of the money you received for the land?
4 Before you sold the land, it belonged to you. And even after you sold it, you could have used the money any way you wanted. Why did you think of doing this? You lied to God, not to us!"
6 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. Some young men came in, wrapped up his body, carried it out, and buried it. And everyone who heard about this was filled with fear.
7 About three hours later his wife came in, but she did not know what had happened.
8 Peter said to her, "Tell me, was the money you got for your field this much?" Sapphira answered, "Yes, that was the price."
9 Peter said to her, "Why did you and your husband agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out."
10 At that moment Sapphira fell down by his feet and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
11 The whole church and all the others who heard about these things were filled with fear.
12 The apostles did many signs and miracles among the people. And they would all meet together on Solomon's Porch.
13 None of the others dared to join them, but all the people respected them.
14 More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to the group of believers.
15 The people placed their sick on beds and mats in the streets, hoping that when Peter passed by at least his shadow might fall on them.
16 Crowds came from all the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those who were bothered by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
17 The high priest and all his friends (a group called the Sadducees) became very jealous.
18 They took the apostles and put them in jail.
19 But during the night, an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and led the apostles outside. The angel said,
20 "Go stand in the Temple and tell the people everything about this new life."
21 When the apostles heard this, they obeyed and went into the Temple early in the morning and continued teaching. When the high priest and his friends arrived, they called a meeting of the Jewish leaders and all the important older Jewish men. They sent some men to the jail to bring the apostles to them.
22 But, upon arriving, the officers could not find the apostles. So they went back and reported to the Jewish leaders.
23 They said, "The jail was closed and locked, and the guards were standing at the doors. But when we opened the doors, the jail was empty!"
24 Hearing this, the captain of the Temple guards and the leading priests were confused and wondered what was happening.
25 Then someone came and told them, "Listen! The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple teaching the people."
26 Then the captain and his men went out and brought the apostles back. But the soldiers did not use force, because they were afraid the people would stone them to death.
27 The soldiers brought the apostles to the meeting and made them stand before the Jewish leaders. The high priest questioned them,
28 saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in that name. But look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are trying to make us responsible for this man's death."
29 Peter and the other apostles answered, "We must obey God, not human authority!
30 You killed Jesus by hanging him on a cross. But God, the God of our ancestors, raised Jesus up from the dead!
31 Jesus is the One whom God raised to be on his right side, as Leader and Savior. Through him, all Jewish people could change their hearts and lives and have their sins forgiven.
32 We saw all these things happen. The Holy Spirit, whom God has given to all who obey him, also proves these things are true."
33 When the Jewish leaders heard this, they became angry and wanted to kill them.
34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up in the meeting. He was a teacher of the law, and all the people respected him. He ordered the apostles to leave the meeting for a little while.
35 Then he said, "People of Israel, be careful what you are planning to do to these men.
36 Remember when Theudas appeared? He said he was a great man, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed, and all his followers were scattered; they were able to do nothing.
37 Later, a man named Judas came from Galilee at the time of the registration. He also led a group of followers and was killed, and all his followers were scattered.
38 And so now I tell you: Stay away from these men, and leave them alone. If their plan comes from human authority, it will fail.
39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them. You might even be fighting against God himself!" The Jewish leaders agreed with what Gamaliel said.
40 They called the apostles in, beat them, and told them not to speak in the name of Jesus again. Then they let them go free.
41 The apostles left the meeting full of joy because they were given the honor of suffering disgrace for Jesus.
42 Every day in the Temple and in people's homes they continued teaching the people and telling the Good News -- that Jesus is the Christ.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Acts 6

1 The number of followers was growing. But during this same time, the Greek-speaking followers had an argument with the other Jewish followers. The Greek-speaking widows were not getting their share of the food that was given out every day.
2 The twelve apostles called the whole group of followers together and said, "It is not right for us to stop our work of teaching God's word in order to serve tables.
3 So, brothers and sisters, choose seven of your own men who are good, full of the Spirit and full of wisdom. We will put them in charge of this work.
4 Then we can continue to pray and to teach the word of God."
5 The whole group liked the idea, so they chose these seven men: Stephen (a man with great faith and full of the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (a man from Antioch who had become a Jew).
6 Then they put these men before the apostles, who prayed and laid their handsn on them.
7 The word of God was continuing to spread. The group of followers in Jerusalem increased, and a great number of the Jewish priests believed and obeyed.
8 Stephen was richly blessed by God who gave him the power to do great miracles and signs among the people.
9 But some Jewish people were against him. They belonged to the synagogue of Free Menn (as it was called), which included Jewish people from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and Asia. They all came and argued with Stephen.
10 But the Spirit was helping him to speak with wisdom, and his words were so strong that they could not argue with him.
11 So they secretly urged some men to say, "We heard Stephen speak against Moses and against God."
12 This upset the people, the older Jewish leaders, and the teachers of the law. They came and grabbed Stephen and brought him to a meeting of the Jewish leaders.
13 They brought in some people to tell lies about Stephen, saying, "This man is always speaking against this holy place and the law of Moses.
14 We heard him say that Jesus from Nazareth will destroy this place and that Jesus will change the customs Moses gave us."
15 All the people in the meeting were watching Stephen closely and saw that his face looked like the face of an angel.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.