Week 5 of Reading The New Testament 5×5, Acts Chapter 5 – Acts Chapter 9
Acts 5:1-11 (NLT)
5 But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. 2 He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. 4 The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”5 As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. 6 Then some young men got up, wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him.7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?”“Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.”9 And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.”10 Instantly, she fell to the floor 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 Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened.
Commentary: Several people have asked about this passage and have been concerned that this couple were required to give all of the income from the sale of a piece of property. If you look closely you will see that it was never required. Evidently what is taking place here is that Ananias and his wife Sapphira had made a covenant or a promise to God that upon the sale of their property it would all be given to Him through the Apostles. It is also evident here that the couple decided to lie to the Apostles and tell them they were bringing it all when in fact they held some of the money back for themselves. This passage tells us it is a serious thing to make a bargain with God and then refuse to keep our end of the bargain up.
This passage makes me think of those who say something like this, “If the Lord would just let me win the lottery, I would give him half of it.” The fact is, most people who say such would forget about the Lord and giving him half.
This passage is about the heart. Where is your heart? Where is your heart when you give? Where is your heart when you decide how to use what God has already blessed you with?
Acts 5: 29-41 (NLT)
29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross.31 Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. 32 We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. 34 But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while. 35 Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! 36 Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing.37 After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered. 38 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” 40 The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. 41 The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.42 And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.”
Commentary: At this point the Apostles have come under attack because they are going every teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus Christ. They are healing people as well. The authorities have come and commanded them to stop and Peter’s response was, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”
In other words, Peter goes on to say in so many words, we have seen truth and when you have seen truth, you can’t un-see it. But then Gamaliel comes along and says, hey wait, if these guys are saying stuff that isn’t true, it will die out soon enough. They had seen things like this before and it had always died out after a short period of time. He went so far as to tell them if they continued to fight this movement they might just find themselves fighting the creator of the universe. Now, Gamaliel was a Pharisee, not a believer in Christ and we have no evidence that he ever became a believer but I like to imagine that he did after he witnessed this move grow stronger and stronger. We now have the awesome privilege to look back over 2000 years and see that there have been many attempts to squash Christianity but no one ever has and no one ever will be able to stop what Christ died for, the Church.
Something else that is interesting here is the Apostles counted themselves blessed to be able to suffer for Christ. This ought to be enough to stop prosperity preachers from preaching something that isn’t taught in the scripture. If you follow Christ, rest assured that trouble will come. Jesus himself said you will face many trials but it will be worth it all, so stand.
John 16:33 (NLT)
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Acts 6:1a (NLT)
6 But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent.
I highlight this verse just so you know there has never been much time in the history of the church where people didn’t have disagreements. I like how Luke says it here, “there were rumblings of discontent.” Luke is saying people were complaining, and the NCV says there was an argument.
Take joy in knowing that we are not much different than the early church, we are still having disagreements in 2013 and we will until Christ returns. Our relationship to each other as believers is a journey in learning to work together and work for the same cause.
Acts 6: 2-4 (NLT)
2 So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. 3 And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. 4 Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.”
One of the many things that I like about the United Methodist Church is that we are a church that believes the Laity (Non Clergy) are responsible for the church being the church. The Pastor is a minister but we also believe that all of the members are ministers as well. Scripture is clear, the people called to be pastors are called to equip the believers to do the work of the church.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NLT)
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
I would love to see the Church get back to an understanding of this truth and we are working to help make that happen.
Acts 6: 8-60
This passage is the account of Stephen being falsely accused and in turn Stephen gives a scorching sermon. It was so scorching that the people stoned him for it. He stood up for what was right and he died as Christ died, asking that God not hold this sin against them.
Also in this passage someone has asked how Jesus could sit at the “Right Hand Of God.”
56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
Does God the Father have a body? No
I know that many will point to references in scripture that refer to aspects of God that mention body parts, such as the Right Hand of God. However, God the Father is a Spirit. Jesus Christ is the physical representation of God. Maybe the following will help to explain this in more detail.
God’s Right Hand
New Living Translation (NLT)
24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
New Living Translation (NLT)
39 Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.”
Jesus is saying “spirit’s” do not have hands and feet or bodies. God is a spirit.
New Living Translation (NLT)
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation.
In scripture Christ is referred to as the right hand of God. The express image of God. “Jesus sat at the right hand of God” means He sat on the throne with the power & Authority of God the Father. This is because he is God the Father manifested in the flesh.
Acts 7:57 through Acts 9
In this passage we have the story of Saul. Saul is the man who eventually became known as Paul. Saul was a bad man, take a look at some of the passages mentioned above.
58b. His (Stephen’s) accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
8:1a. Saul was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Stephen.
8:3. Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them into prison.
9:1. 9 Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers.
Do you need any more proof that God uses people who repent and follow him? Saul became Paul and he repented of his sin. God used Paul to plant churches and to write much of the New Testament. God uses people who repent, God has a plan for all of us.
Acts 9:15 (NLT)
“Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.
Acts 9: 19b, 20 (NLT)
Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. 20 And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!”
I know we have hit very little, yet so much. I love getting your questions, keep them coming and keep up the READING. God is changing lives, one chapter at a time.
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