Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ACTS - Chapter 5

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Acts 5

Supplemental Commentary:

I.  THE CHURCH IN PALESTINE AND SYRIA  2, 1 -- 12, 25 (continued)

1.  Growth of the Church in Jerusalem  2, 1 -- 8, 3 (continued)

5, 1-11:  Ananias and Sapphira.  Ananias need not have sold the land nor given the whole price to the common fund; he sinned by lying about the price and pretending to hand over all he had received.    3.  Tempted: i.e., successfully; why did you yield to temptation?  Cf. v.4.  The Holy Spirit is clearly spoken of as a divine Person, guiding and protecting the Church; cf. 11, 12; 13, 2; 16, 6 f.    11.  God's purpose in punishing this sin so directly is partly revealed; fear served to preserve discipline and respect for the authority of the Apostles.  It is not necessary to conclude that Ananias and his wife were eternally lost; they may have received the grace of repentance.  (Cf. Commentary on 1 Cor. 5, 5.)

5, 17-42:  Arrest of the Apostles.  A full assembly of the Sanhedrin is called for the trial of the Apostles.  After St. Peter's spirited defense, the council is ready to put them to death, but on the advice of Gamaliel they decide to let them off with a scourging and another warning.    28.  Bring this man's blood: to accuse us of killing Him and to stir up the people to seek our lives in revenge.    29.  St. Peter repeats the facts of our Lord's Passion and Glory and adds the testimony of the Holy Spirit as manifested on Pentecost and on other occasions.    34.  Gamaliel: grandson of Hillel and the leader of the more liberal party among the Pharisees.  He was the most prominent rabbi of that time and the teacher of St. Paul (Acts 22, 3).    36.  Rationalists think they find a contradiction here between St. Luke and Josephus in the dating of Theodas (Greek, Theudas), but without reason.  Revolts were frequent at that period, and Theudas was a common Jewish name.  Josephus speaks of a man of this name who led a revolt in A.D. 45, while Gamaliel refers to the leader of an earlier revolt.    37.  Judas rebelled against the Roman census of 6 A.D., and his party lived on in the "Zealots" and "Assassins" till the destruction of the nation in 70 A.D.  Josephus speaks of his exploits.    42.  As the Christ: i.e., the Messias.  Acceptance of our Lord by faith involved acceptance of all His teachings which, of course, included His divinity.

Confraternity Bible:

Ananias and Sapphira  1 A man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a piece of land 2 and by fraud kept back part of the price of the land, with the connivance of his wife, and bringing a part only, laid it at the feet of the apostles.  3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan tempted thy heart, that thou shouldst lie to the Holy Spirit and by fraud keep back part of the price of the land?  4 While it yet remained, did it not remain thine; and after it was sold, was not the money at thy disposal?  Why hast thou conceived this thing in thy heart?  Thou hast not lied to men, but to God."  5 And Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and expired.  And great fear came upon all who heard of it.  6 And the young men got up and removed him and, carrying him out, buried him.

7 About three hours later his wife, not knowing what had happened, came in.  8 And Peter said to her, "Tell me, did you sell the land for so much?"  And she said, "Yes, for so much."  9 And Peter said to her, "Why have you agreed to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?  Behold the feet of those who have buried thy husband are at the door, and they will carry thee out."  10 And she fell down immediately at his feet and expired.  And the young men, coming in, found her dead, and carrying her out they buried her beside her husband.  11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of this.

Miracles  12 Now by the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people.  And with one accord they all would meet in Solomon's portico; 13* but of the rest, no one dared to associate with them, yet the people made much of them.  14 And the multitude of men and women who believed in the Lord increased still more, 15 so that they carried the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and pallets that, when Peter passed, his shadow at least might fall on some of them.  16 And there came also multitudes from the towns near Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those troubled with unclean spirits, and they were all cured.

Arrest of the Apostles  17 But the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (that is the party of the Sadducees), and being filled with jealousy 18 seized the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison and led them out, and said, 20 "Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life."  21 And when they heard this, they went into the temple about daybreak and began to teach.

But the chief priests and his party came and they called together the Sanhedrin and all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.  22 But when the officers came and, opening the prison, did not find them there, they returned and reported, 23 saying, "The prison indeed we found securely locked, and the guards standing before the doors, but on opening it we found no one inside."  24 Now when the officer of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were much perplexed concerning them as to what might come of this.  25 But someone came and told them, "Behold, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people."  26 Then the captain went off with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people lest they should be stoned.

27 And having brought them, they set them before the Sanhedrin.  And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and want to bring this man's blood upon us."

29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men.  30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you put to death, hanging him on a tree.  31* Him God exalted with his right hand to be Prince and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.  32 And we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to all who obey him."

33 But they, when they heard this, were cut to the heart and wanted to slay them.

34 But there stood up one in the Sanhedrin, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law respected by all the people, and he ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.  35 And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do to these men.  36 For some time ago there rose up Theodas, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain, and all his followers were dispersed and he was brought to nothing.  37 After him rose up Judas the Galilean in the days of the census and drew some people after him; he too perished, and all his followers were scattered abroad.  38 So now I say to you, Keep away from these men and let them alone.  For if this plan or work is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it.  Else perhaps you may find yourselves fighting even against God."

And they agreed with him 40 and, calling in the apostles and having them scourged, they charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then let them go.  41 So they departed from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus.  42 And they did not for a single day cease teaching and preaching in the temple and from house to house the good news of Jesus as the Christ.


13: The rest, the people: refer to the same persons, i.e., those not converted.  They were afraid of the Jewish authorities.

31: Prince: Christ is the Author or Founder of salvation.