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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Acts 5

Verses 1-11

  1. GREAT FEAR! (5:1-8)
    1. THE DECEPTION OF ANANIAS & SAPPHIRA! (1,2)
    2. No doubt they were glad to be apart of the movement & were serious about their involvement.
    3. They sought to go after both worlds: sell the property & make a show of giving it to the church, but keep part of the proceeds hidden. (Shepherd’s Notes; pg.18)
    4. HE DISCOVERY OF ANANIAS & SAPPHIRA! (3,4)
    5. The couple lied to the Holy Spirit, to God, to the Church, & to Peter; & it cost them their lives.
      1. Ananias had violated his own integrity, perjured the very spirit of God who now lived in his life. (yes, I believe they were believers)
    6. (4) This point is very important…this was entirely voluntary!!!
      1. It was completely in their control before the sale, & after the sale.
    7. Their sin was not taking money from God but in pretending to be something they were not. (Warren Wiersbe; With the Word; pg.709.)
      1. The kingdom principle is not to do without material goods. The principle is that we should not give material goods preeminence!
        1. It’s seek 1st His Kingdom, then we won’t lack material goods.
        2. In the Lord’s prayer, we 1st pray Your Kingdom come, then give us this day our daily bread. [the order is important, it indicates priority]
    8. THE DEATH OF ANANIAS & SAPPHIRA! (5-11)
    9. ANANIAS’ DEATH! (5,6)
      1. His sin was traced back to Satan(4) but the will of man yields, it isn’t overpowered. When Satan is resisted he will flee!
      2. He had the liberty to retain, the liberty to sell, the liberty to give only part, but not the liberty to lie!
        1. He was held personally accountable to this premeditated sin.
      3. He had no chance to react. Why so severe a punishment?
      4. Before you think the thought, “If I had extra land to sell I would give all, or tell the truth about what portion I gave”, consider hypocrisy comes in many shades of dark! {not only exaggerating gifts, or minimizing the means of giving, but boasting wrongly of worship, devotion, your use of time, etc.}
    10. The worse form of pretense is religious: (i.e.) Simulated holiness; virtual piety; veneer Christianity; fabricated devotion; or sham worship.
      1. “No chalk-line Christians!”
    11. Sad, the 1st burial in Christian community was that of a hypocrite.
      1. But my question isn’t why did he punish Ananias so swiftly, but why has he kept me alive knowing my heart, hearing my mind, & seeing my actions for the last 27 years!
    12. SAPPHIRA’S DEATH! (7-11)
      1. 3 hours later Sapphira arrives.
    13. Story: Couple in counseling many years ago(not from here) who didn’t do their homework (joint sin).
    14. Church – 1st time used in Acts.
      1. Ekklesia – a free assembly of people. (an idea that reaches back to the group in the Exodus from Egypt)
    15. The event had a powerful effect on the church! Uh Yaah!
      1. God’s quick & decisive punishment created great fear in the church.
      2. Its members were terrified – a natural response to witnessing the power of God.
      3. Such radical judgment is not the usual way God deals with believers today.
        1. We need to get the message we don’t get away with impunity(exemption from punishment). There are consequences to our decisions…& they come in all kinds of different ways.
    16. This event has little to do with the amount a person gives.
      1. The importance lies with one’s attitude!!!
        1. Outward & Inward attitudes are affected by Upward attitude!
      2. Their offering was to impress the congregation.
      3. The fact they held back the $, & claimed they had given the whole sale price, reflected a self-serving attitude, not one that served God.
  2. GREAT GIVING! (END)
    1. ​​​​​​​What example can we follow from the action of Barnabas? What danger can we avoid from the attitude of Ananias & Sapphira?Does the picture by our church today resemble that of the early Church shown here? [YES to any need!] [NO to regular giving]
    2. I would like to take the rest of our time & share my heart on having a giving heart!
      1. If you haven’t noticed it’s not my favorite subject:
      2. I fully understand & believe its importance, but talks on giving have been so abused in the church!
    3. Explain where we’re at right now:
    4. School great job (great tightening their belts in every area; but also have the ability to raise tuition)
    5. Church is different we can’t raise our price of admission.
      1. So, what we can do is trim as best we can.
      2. We’ve changed out much of our lighting(see gym) to save on elec.
      3. Men we’ve gone waterless on our urinals. (save 40,000 gallons per year, per urinal, plus they’re free & they install them)
      4. And we are continuing to save in different areas.
        1. We just saved approx 10,000 on Harvest.
        2. I just made the decision to redo our plans for X-mas ($30,000 down to $10,000).
        3. Like all families, sometimes you can afford the big vacations & other times its tent camping! (After seeing the sweet fellowship of Harvest, I’m not bummed about X-mas. We don’t need “fancy” at CCM. It’s nice, but we don’t always need it)
      5. Here’s where it hit me this week: At missions board meeting. Saying NO to a number of requests. Then hearing of the growing needs of our Feeding Ministry [from 4 families to almost 100 families, in 27 weeks](PTL someone stepped up & covered the finances on that)
    6. Now I challenge all of us. Our leadership, our staff (Wed), & you!
      1. What is your hearts attitude towards giving? (smile or frown?)
      2. Have you witnessed what we’re doing & where we are going?
      3. Are you comfortable in investing in the kingdom here? (if not why not?)
      4. What amount or percentage have you purposed in your giving?
    7. Cautions:
      1. ​​​​​​​Don’t think, “this church is big & someone else will do it”.
      2. Don’t think, “this church looks pretty well taken care of…I’ll designate my tithe over here.” (What if everyone did that?)
        1. Understand to do the feeding ministry we need: our parking lot, storage here, storage off site, electricity, phones, email, cell phones, someone to coordinate it, bathrooms, extra counseling.
      3. Don’t reduce giving into a “net or gross” question.
      4. Don’t make this automatically into a tithe/10% idea.
        1. Although, if the NT church simply started w/a tithe poverty would be obliterated.
        2. Our goal isn’t to be a good little Pharisee who ritualistically tithes from his salt & pepper shakers, but misses the more important matters (justice, & love of God).
      5. Be free from Law or Burden or yoke!
      6. Some who faithfully give 10% need to be freed from the 10%.
        1. I mean take the next step & move to a graduated tithe: increase the percentage each year that God blesses your increase.
    8. What was the OT tithe? Was it 10%? - No, it looked more like this:
      1. Every Jew was required by the Levitical law to pay 3 tithes of his property (1) 1 tithe for the Levites (2) 1 for the use of the temple & the great feasts (3) 1 for the poor of the land. (Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)
      2. 1st Mosaic Law regarding tithing was in - Lev.27:30-33.
      3. Listen to the heart of the 1st reformation of religion during Hezekiah’s reign - 2 Chron. 31:5,6.
      4. Pastors & church staff – when the Levites received the tithe they were to tithe from it. (Numb 18:26)
      5. Illustration: Go home & grab 10% of all you own: 10% of your can food; oatmeal; clothes in your closet; hair brushes; oil in your garage)
        1. Then, 10% of all your earnings.
        2. Then set aside all the edges of your fields for the poor to come & glean (that %?)
    9. What was the OT tithe? Well it was more like 30-40%?
    10. But instead:
      1. ​​​​​​​Most importantly 1st identify giving as “Worship!
      2. Ask God, “What’s Your heart on this for me, or our family”?
      3. Seek God to be a generous giver.
      4. Give regularly & cheerfully.
      5. Do it unto the glory of God!
      6. Realize it is better to give than to receive!
      7. Pray, pray, pray for our finances, that we might spend wisely & the body would give generously.
    11. I pray the response wouldn’t be a fat check in the tithe box.
      1. I pray the response is: Every family who is a part of our community here at CCM to go home, & purpose in their heart what the Lord would have them to do.

Verses 12-42

  1. Intro:
    1. Last week: The contrast between Barnabas & Ananias & Sapphira.
      1. “We learned we make decisions, & then our decisions turn around & make us.” F.W. Boreham
      2. The early church needed a profound revelation of the nature of sin & the holiness of God.
    2. Intro: When it comes to navigation, some of us are map people, some are landmark people,…and some are hopeless!
      1. Map people like a nice visual representation, with street names and arrows.
      2. Landmark people want…“go to the McDonalds and turn left. Our house is green with purple windows, on the right hand side.”
    3. Now on Google Maps you can have both! [Both maps & satellite (called Hybrid)]
    4. And on the path of life…God gives both!
      1. We have His Written Word, which gives us clear directions.
      2. He also gives us Landmarks, signs that indicate which path we’re on.
  2. SANCTIFIED SHADOWS! (12-16)
    1. Read their prayer in 4:29,20 [12-16 is now that prayer answered]
    2. Dealing with sin in the church often results in new power for the church.
    3. (13) Can you imagine a church so spiritual that people were afraid to join them?
      1. The rest – probably referred to certain outsiders who were so impressed at the doings in the new infant church, as to fear to join such a body.
    4. (15) Shadow – Eastern thought: If there was an evil influence in a man, people would flee from his shadow; yet if they had an influence for good, they would try to come into his shadow. (G. Campbell Morgan)
    5. Wow! They thought even his shadow had power!
      1. I have a hard enough time being sanctified on the inside, let alone my shadow being sanctified for God to use!
    6. Turn to 2 Cor.4:6,7 – Treasure/earthen vessel.
      1. If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. (Message)
      2. The valuable & expensive Treasure is contained in weak, fragile, & valueless containers.
      3. I guess He wants people to see our cracks & flaws, instead of a new shiny container?
      4. Paul reminds us we have within us as believers “a great treasure” that is contained in common jars of clay. It’s a reminder of our own unworthiness, compared with the grandeur of HIM inside us.
      5. God 1st came covered in a cloud; then, covered in flesh (Incarnation); now, is covered in us…“Christ in you, the hope of glory”!
    7. God intended this sharp contrast so that no one would question the source of the healing, or the source of the gospel and its all-surpassing power.
      1. The bearer of the message, or the “healer” of the one healed, is a mere mortal person. (3:12)
      2. Healings are the work of God not men. Salvation is the work of God not men.
        1. Thus there was really no virtue in Peter’s shadow; Divine power alone, through faith, brought healing.
  3. HIM, GOD HAS EXALTED! (17-32)
    1. (17) 4 different reactions from the religious opposition:
      1. [1] They were filled w/indignation/jealousy (17).
      2. [2] They wondered what the outcome would be (24).
      3. [3] They feared the people lest they were stoned (26).
      4. [4] They were furious & plotted to kill them (33).
    2. (28) Interesting, the high priest didn’t say anything about the Apostles escape… Maybe out of embarrassment?
      1. Formal charges are brought this time.
      2. They were accused of disobeying the Sanhedrin’s specific orders.
    3. (29) 1st time only Peter & John, now all of them.
      1. In speech they were bold; in heart they were courageous; In soul they were trustful; in will they were determined. (Griffith Thomas; pg.115.)
    4. We ought to obey God rather than men…is the only position to hold when you have the Word of God on your side.
      1. Just be sure it is conviction & not just opinion!
    5. (30,31) What God thinks of Christ! – Him God has exalted.
      1. Prince – means ruler who also is a leader.
      2. Savior Saving us from our…
        1. Past (deliverance from penalty & guilt of sin, & is complete)
        2. Present (deliverance from power & love of sin & is a process, is gradual, & is continuous)
        3. Future (deliverance from the presence & the result of sin, & is a certain hope)
        4. My favorite verse this week: Heb.10:14 “For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
      3. Remember, this is what God thinks of Christ. Shouldn’t we think the same of Him? (Prince, Savior)
    6. God loves overruling sin, to His own glory!
    7. (32) We are His witnesses – to be “witnesses” we must Believe it. Live it. Say it.
    8. Believe it – You must have a 1st hand experience of His saving power. And a sense of certainty about your salvation.
      1. “The Blood makes me safe; the Word makes me sure.”
    9. Live it Our words must be backed by our ways.
      1. Illustration: One morning centuries ago, the famous St. Francis of Assisi said to a brother monk, “Let us go down into the town & preach.” The 2 of them walked slowly along the road, & eventually reached the town. Francis, however, did not stop anywhere for a preaching appointment, but gradually guided the way back from town towards the monastery again. Presently his companion asked if he had forgotten the preaching. Francis replied, “My brother, it is no use walking to preach unless we preach as we walk.”
    10. Say it – don’t be limited by “living it”. Speak up when the chances arise. May there be an overflow of heart which unlooses the tongue in eager, earnest, discreet speech. Pray like the Psalmist, “O Lord, open my lips, & my mouth will declare forth your praise” (Ps.51:15)
      1. Message Bible Unbutton my lips, dear God; I’ll let loose with your praise
  4. A LAWYERS ADVICE! (33-42)
    1. (33) Some men even called for the death penalty.
    2. (34) Gamaliel, the voice of moderation explains: If it is just a human work, it would come to nothing anyway; If it was a God work, there would be no stopping it!
      1. Gamaliel – was Paul’s teacher(Acts 22:3); He was the grandson of the great Rabbi Hillel; He died about 52ad.
    3. He offers examples of 2 unsuccessful spiritual revolts in past days:
      1. [1] Theudas (35–36): Theudas pretended to be great, and 400 people followed him. After he was killed, his followers scattered.
      2. [2] Judas of Galilee (37): Remember in Lk.2 when the census was taken, you had to register in your birth city, & Joseph & Mary went to Bethlehem? Well, this is when this Judas of Galilee led a revolt against this registration & taxation. He was killed, and his followers also scattered (yet developed into the Zealot party which became a major provocation leading to the destruction of Jerusalem).
    4. He speaks of compromise:
      1. Time will tell! - Does it? Many religions have been around for centuries. That doesn’t mean they are of God!
        1. Eternity is at stake…can you wait to see?
      2. Indifference! - Is there really such thing as neutrality when it comes to Jesus?
      3. Cowardice! – Gamaliel should have felt bound to accept, not merely ignore.
    5. (41-42) The apostles rejoice that God has counted them worthy to suffer for Jesus, and they continue their witness for him!
      1. Q: Do you know something of the same constraint – to speak to others about Christ?
      2. Q: Can you be content to live unknown for a little while, and to walk your weary way through the fields of poverty, or up the hills of affliction? For we are heirs with Him!
      3. The apostles were men of courage (they went straight back & preached in the Temple)
      4. The apostles were men of principle (obed to God must come 1st. They never asked, “Is this course of action safe?” They asked, “Is this what God wants me to do?”)
      5. The apostles were men of purpose (They understood their main purpose was to be a witness w/their lips & their lives)
    6. What an unpopular cause, this cause of Christ! It costs you everything. You might find yourself jailed. Experience loss of all your goods. Maybe even die! They knew at any time they could just deny their faith, but they steadfastly refused to!
    7. Adoniram Judson, the renowned missionary to Burma, endured untold hardships trying to reach the lost for Christ. For 7 heartbreaking years he suffered hunger and privation. During this time he was thrown into Ava Prison, and for 17 months was subjected to almost incredible mistreatment. As a result, for the rest of his life he carried the ugly marks made by the chains and iron shackles which had cruelly bound him. Undaunted, upon his release he asked for permission to enter another province where he might resume preaching the Gospel. The godless ruler indignantly denied his request, saying "My people are not fools enough to listen to anything a missionary might SAY, but I fear they might be impressed by your SCARS and turn to your religion!"
      1. Another who understood, like the apostles, “those who share in cross-bearing will share in crown-wearing!”
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Acts 5". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/acts-5.html. 2017.