But a man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold some land.
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.
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?
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!"
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.
About three hours later his wife came in, but she did not know what had happened.
Peter said to her, "Tell me, was the money you got for your field this much?" Sapphira answered, "Yes, that was the price."
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."
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.
The whole church and all the others who heard about these things were filled with fear.
The apostles did many signs and miracles among the people. And they would all meet together on Solomon's Porch.
None of the others dared to join them, but all the people respected them.
More and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to the group of believers.
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.
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.
The high priest and all his friends (a group called the Sadducees) became very jealous.
They took the apostles and put them in jail.
But during the night, an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and led the apostles outside. The angel said,
"Go stand in the Temple and tell the people everything about this new life."
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.
But, upon arriving, the officers could not find the apostles. So they went back and reported to the Jewish leaders.
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!"
Hearing this, the captain of the Temple guards and the leading priests were confused and wondered what was happening.
Then someone came and told them, "Listen! The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple teaching the people."
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.
The soldiers brought the apostles to the meeting and made them stand before the Jewish leaders. The high priest questioned them,
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."
Peter and the other apostles answered, "We must obey God, not human authority!
You killed Jesus by hanging him on a cross. But God, the God of our ancestors, raised Jesus up from the dead!
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.
We saw all these things happen. The Holy Spirit, whom God has given to all who obey him, also proves these things are true."
When the Jewish leaders heard this, they became angry and wanted to kill them.
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.
Then he said, "People of Israel, be careful what you are planning to do to these men.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The apostles left the meeting full of joy because they were given the honor of suffering disgrace for Jesus.
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.