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Bible Commentaries
Acts 5

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.

1. When good things begin to happen - there seems to always be a "but" - to show that Satan is still active.

2. As many were sharing, unselfishly - Greed would raise its ugly head.

3. Ananias and Sapphira will go throughout history as examples to all Christians. We must learn the lessons of pride, greed, and selfishness. Honor among men is short-lived. Honor with God is Eternal.

4. What sins would greed lead into? Gambling, stealing, cheating, lying, coveting, evil concupiscence (inordinate desire),

5. Think about how 1Ti_6:10 - "love of money is the root of all evil" - fits here.

Verse 2

2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles ' feet.

1. There was nothing wrong with keeping part of the money. (see verse 4) It was their money to do with as they pleased. Spend it, Save it, Give it away. It was their money.

2. They brought part of it to share with those in need. This was good thing. They should be praised for being willing to share.

3. At this point we are not told of the conversation - They must have said, "We sold some land for X amount and here is all the money from this sale."

Verse 3

3 But Peter said, " Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?

1. The lie was in making everyone think they gave ALL when they gave some.

2. Define - Lie - to speak a deliberate falsehood, to deceive. There is a difference in speaking something not true (a story, fiction, or mistaken information) and telling a lie.

3. Is there a difference in a lie and using "tact" to avoid the honest truth? Must we always tell the "whole truth" when asked a question?

4. The Bible has much to say about liars - none of it is good. Rev_21:8 puts all liars in the same eternal torment as murderers, idol worshipers, and fornicators.

5. Eph_4:25 - Put away lying, speak the truth with your neighbor.

Verse 4

4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God. "

1. This was your property. You can keep it, sell it, give it away, make it part of your estate.

2. This was a planned deception. It was first conceived in their heart.

3. When we lie to men - we also lie to God - and often to ourselves. Some will tell a lie so often that they deceive themselves into thinking it is true.

4. To whom had they lied? In verse 3 they lied to the Holy Spirit. In verse 4 they lied to God. The Holy Spirit is God. This passage indicates the trinity (one God manifested in 3 persons - Father, Son, Holy Spirit). All three are God (deity, godhead, posses the attributes of God).

Verse 5

5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.

1. Ananias - heard the words against him, fell down, and took his last breath.

2. Result - Great fear (wonder, awe) came upon all.

3. When ever there was a problem, trouble, persecution - the church grew as a result.

Verse 6

6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

1. Pallbearers - Wrapped him in a bed sheet, took him out and buried him. No funeral. No mourning period. No eulogy.

2. He was buried within minutes. There was no family notification. They did not wait for aunts, uncles, brothers, or even his wife to arrive.

Verse 7

7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.

1. 3 hours later - Sapphira arrives.

2. She does not know that her husband is dead. And the apostles don't tell her. One would think the first thing to say when you see her is to express sympathy for her loss, or at least let her know that he died.

Verse 8

8 And Peter answered her, " Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? " She said, " Yes, for so much. "

1. Peter is more concerned with getting to the truth. Did you sell for so much? She says, "Yes."

2. This proves that she and her husband conspired in this lie.

Verse 9

9 Then Peter said to her, " How is it that you have agreed together 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. "

1. Peter accused the husband of lying. He accuses Sapphira of conspiracy to lie.

2. He informs her that her husband is dead and buried. The same pallbearers are ready to bury her beside her husband.

Verse 10

10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.

1. She fell down, breathed her last. The pallbearers found her dead.

2. She was carried out and buried beside her husband.

Verse 11

11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

1. Great fear (both kinds) came up the church.

2. After seeing this - Would you walk up to Peter and lie?

3. There was fear (dread); and fear (awe).

4. Not just the Christians - all who heard about this event had fear.

Verse 12

12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon ' s Porch.

1. Many signs and wonders were performed.

1. Signs - identifying marks (street sign), that which distinguishes one the rest

2. Wonders - Miracles witnessed by many

2. It was this tragic event that brought the Christians into closer fellowship.

Verse 13

13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.

1. This event also stopped (or slowed down) the opposition.

2. If they spoke against the church or apostles - they might be struck dead.

3. But the people (common folks) held the apostles in high regard. While the enemies of the church were afriad they might die if they object; the people flocked all the more to become part of this movement - the church.

Verse 14

14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,

1. Increasingly - more were added - not by ones, or tens, or even hundreds. But multitudes. How many is a multitude?

2. First there were a few - 120 ( Act_1:1-26 ) to 500 ( 1Co_15:1-58 ). Then there were 3,000 added ( Act_2:1-47 ). The number became 5,000 men ( Act_4:1-37 ). Now multitudes (plural) are being added. The church is growing so rapidly that the numbers are now generic - thousands are added.

3. Men and women - In Act_4:4 the number is about 5,000 men. Now we are told that man and women are being added. It would appear that that the first converts were mostly men. Now women are being added in great numbers.

4. See also Act_8:3 ; Act_8:12 ; Act_9:2 ; Act_22:4 . We also need to study Gal_3:28 .

5. The attitude of the early church was very different from the prevailing thought of the religious community.

Verse 15

15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.

1. Many superstitions have arisen from this passage. Today, preachers are sending out prayer cloths, napkins, ashes, dust, olive oil, etc. Just send in a donation, get your prayer cloth, send it back (with another donation) and your prayers will be answered.

2. The faith healers of today use these superstitions to get money and a following.

3. They just wanted to have the shadow of Peter pass over them.

4. Beds and couches

1. Beds - soft pallets used by the rich

2. Couches - rough pallets used by the poor

3. These 2 terms show that both rich and poor were coming for healing

5. NOTE: There is no indication that the shadow of Peter healed anyone. There were just "grasping at straws" hoping that something might bring them healing and relief.

Verse 16

16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

1. The word is spreading rapidly. Now sick people from other cities are coming.

2. All were healed. This one event of a lame man has now exploded into the whole territory around Jerusalem.

3. All who were tormented - Thayer says this word means, "to be vexed, molested, troubled: by demons"

4. Unclean spirits - There are two possible explanations:

1. Demon possessed - Those who were controlled by Satan

2. Sinners doing immoral things - Adultery, incest, rape, etc. All who committed immoral acts were said to be unclean.

3. Unclean - in the Jewish use of the term, was anything that was ceremonially unclean. This would include touching a dead body, doing unclean (immoral) sins, and eating meat that was "unclean".

Verse 17

17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,

1. Now the Jewish leaders are really angry.

2. Filled with indignation - Thayer gives this definition to the word - "an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy"

Verse 18

18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.

1. Now ALL the apostles are in trouble. Before it was Peter and John. Now all the apostles are arrested and put into prison

2. Common prison - in the same place as other "criminals."

Verse 19

19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,

1. An interesting study can be done on the phrase - "angel of the Lord." In the Old Testament, this phrase often, if not always, refers to Jesus' activity on earth.

2. The angel of the Lord is more than a common angel. When important matters were to be done, the Father would send "the angel of the Lord" to carry the message or do the work.

3. The doors opened and the apostles were brought out of jail.

Verse 20

20 " Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life. "

1. Go stand in the temple. You would think after "escaping" from jail, they would go into hiding, travel to another country, or at least get out of town until this thing blows over.

2. No - They were right back where the problems started - in the Temple compound - where the lame man was healed. They returned to where many came to be healed.

Verse 21

21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

1. No argument. The next morning - they are right back at the Temple.

2. They are back preaching before it is discovered that they have escaped.

Verses 22-23

22 But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported,

23 saying, " Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside! "

1. The escape is discovered and reported.

2. Doors shut - all secured. Guards standing outside. No body in the cell.

Verse 24

24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be.

1. The Jewish leaders are really confused now. What is going to happen now?

2. Just as they were pondering what to do, they learn where the prisoners are located - in the Temple.

Verse 25

25 So one came and told them, saying, " Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people! "

1. They are back at the Temple - teaching the people.

2. The leaders did not stop them for a day. They just gave them a night's lodging.

Verse 26

26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.

1. Re-arrested them - with little show of force - so they would not stir up a riot.

2. The Jewish leaders feared the people. They were losing their base of support so quickly that they were in danger of being assassinated.

Verses 27-28

27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,

28 saying, " Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man ' s blood on us! "

1. You have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.

2. "Have filled" in the Greek is Perfect tense - An continuous action in the past with results that continue to the present.

3. Think of throwing a stone into a pond. The action was past - but the ripples continue.

4. The apostles are still saying that the death of Jesus was the result of the Jewish leaders. They are to blame.

Verse 29

29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: " We ought to obey God rather than men.

1. Obey God rather than men.

2. CAUTION : This applies - if the command of men violates the law of God.

1. It does not apply if we don't like the rulers, law, taxes or regulations.

2. It does not apply if the law if burdensome, complicated or confusing.

3. It does not apply if the law "allows" something we believe to be sinful. (drinking, gambling, divorce, etc.)

4. It does apply when the law "demands" of us something God has forbidden.

5. It does apply when the law "forbids" something God has required.

Verses 30-31

30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.

31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

1. Peter is preaching his same sermon - again.

1. God sent His Son, Jesus

2. You killed him - hung him on a tree (wood, that which is made from trees)

3. God raised Him from the dead

4. Jesus is waiting for you to repent

5. Jesus is now Lord, savior, and willing to forgive your sins.

Verse 32

32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him. "

1. This is not a story. We are witnesses.

2. The Law of Moses required 2 (or more) witnesses to prove something to be true. Here are 12 witnesses.

3. Also as a witness - the Holy Spirit.

4. God gives His Spirit to those who OBEY Him.

Verse 33

33 When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them.

1. This sermon did not go over well with the Jewish leaders.

2. They are now ready - not to threaten, not to arrest - but to kill the apostles.

Verse 34

34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.

1. Gamaliel - respected teacher, one who knew the law, a Pharisee, a council member

2. He makes a logical argument.

Verse 35

35 And he said to them: " Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.

1. Think about what you are wanting to do.

2. Think about the consequences of your actions.

Verse 36

36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.

1. Theudas -

1. Made claims to be some great spiritual leader

2. Numbers of people followed him - 400 joined him

3. He died and his followers were scattered

4. No long term harm was done

Verse 37

37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.

1. Judas of Galilee -

1. In the days of the census - the time Jesus was born

2. He drew away many followers

3. He died and the followers disappeared

Verse 38

38 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;

1. Conclusion -

1. Let nature run its course.

2. Jesus gathered a following

3. He died

4. The band of followers will soon vanish

5. There is no need for intervention - it will die on its own

Verse 39

39 but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it-lest you even be found to fight against God. "

1. BUT - If this IS from God -

1. You can't win the battle.

2. Killing them will not stop the will of God.

3. You will find yourselves fighting against God.

Verse 40

40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

1. The situation calmed down.

2. They beat the apostles, threatened them - let them go free.

Verse 41

41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

1. How would you react? What would you do?

2. They rejoiced. ( Php_4:4 ; 1Th_5:16 )

Verse 42

42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

1. They did not stop. They did not pause. They did not slow down. They just kept doing the will of God.

2. Daily - Combination of 2 words - All or every and day. Each and every day. Nothing would stop them. Weather, day of week, holidays. They just kept on.

3. Teaching - instruct, hold didactic discourse in order to instruct others

4. Preaching - to bring good news, glad tidings

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Acts 5". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/acts-5.html. 2021.
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