The darker things get, the more clearly you can see the power of the Holy Spirit.
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Acts 5 (ESV)
1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira,
sold a piece of property,
2 and with his wife’s knowledge
he kept back for himself
some of the proceeds
brought only a part of it
and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
3 But Peter said,
“Ananias, why has
Satan filled your heart
to lie to the Holy Spirit
and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?
4 While it remained unsold,
did it not remain your own?
And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?
Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart?
You have not lied
but to God.”
5 When Ananias heard these words,
he fell down
and breathed his last.
And great fear came upon all who heard of it.
6 The young men rose
and wrapped him up
and carried him out
and buried him.
7 After an interval of about three hours
his wife came in,
not knowing what had happened.
8 And Peter said to her,
“Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.”
And she said, “Yes, for so much.”
9 But Peter said to her,
“How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?
Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
she fell down at his feet
and breathed her last.
When the young men came in
they found her dead,
carried her out
and buried her beside her husband.
11 And great fear came
upon the whole church
and upon all who heard of these things.
12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.
And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.
13 None of the rest dared join them,
but the people held them in high esteem.
14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord,
multitudes of both men and women,
15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats,
that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem,
bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits,
and they were all healed.
17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were
(that is, the party of the Sadducees),
and filled with jealousy 18 they
arrested the apostles
and put them in the public prison.
19 But during the night
an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors
and brought them out,
20 “Go and
stand in the temple
to the people
all the words of this Life.”
21 And when they heard this,
they entered the temple at daybreak
and began to teach.
Now when the high priest came,
and those who were with him,
they called together
all the senate of the people of Israel,
and sent to the prison to have them brought.
22 But when the officers came,
they did not find them in the prison,
so they returned and reported,
23 “We found the prison
and the guards standing at the doors,
when we opened them
we found no one inside.”
24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words,
they were greatly perplexed about them,
wondering what this would come to.
25 And someone came and told them,
“Look! The men
whom you put in prison
standing in the temple
and teaching the people.”
26 Then the captain with the officers went
and brought them,
but not by force,
for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
27 And when they had brought them,
they set them before the council.
And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying,
“We strictly charged you not to teach in this name,
you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching,
and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
29 But Peter and the apostles answered,
“We must obey God rather than men.
30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus,
whom you killed
by hanging him on a tree.
at his right hand
as Leader and Savior,
repentance to Israel
and forgiveness of sins.
32 And we are witnesses to these things,
and so is the Holy Spirit,
whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they
and wanted to kill them.
34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel,
a teacher of the law
held in honor by all the people,
and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while.
35 And he said to them,
“Men of Israel,
take care what you are about to do with these men.
36 For before these days Theudas rose up,
claiming to be somebody,
and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him.
He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.
37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census
and drew away some of the people after him.
He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered.
38 So in the present case I tell you,
keep away from these men and let them alone,
for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail;
39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!”
So they took his advice,
40 and when they had called in the apostles,
they beat them
and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus,
and let them go.
41 Then they left the presence of the council,
rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.
42 And every day,
in the temple
and from house to house,
they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.
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Acts 5 Summary
In a effort to make themselves look good, Ananias & his wife Sapphira appear to give every cent from some property they sold, but secretly held some back. As he calls them out, Peter explains they've lied not just to their fellow church members, but to God. Ananias immediately pays the penalty for doing so, and three hours later when his wife attempts the same ruse, she drops dead as well.
The theme moves from one core sin - lying - to another of the most common sins we fall prey to: the jealousy exhibited by the establishment because once again the people were enamored with the message of the apostles, and not them.
But jail is no match for the power of the Holy Spirit, and the incarcerated apostles are back in the temple courts preaching salvation in Christ before the sun comes up.
After being hauled back into court, Peter once again boldly proclaims the risen Christ and incites fury from the establishment who are ready to kill the apostles just like they killed Jesus.
Maybe you recognize the name of the wise Pharisee who talked some sense into the establishment: Gamaliel, who at that very time had a brilliant student named Saul, who you now know as the Apostle Paul.
The apostles certainly had lots to complain about at this point: hypocritical members, persecution from the establishment and even being unjustly imprisoned. Things don't appear to be going well for the new Church.
But through it all they rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, and the chapter ends with the Church continuing to grow simply because of their teaching and preaching (v42).
It may often appear to the world that things are not going well for the Church in the 21st century: hypocrisy is up, numbers are down and the establishment is against us. But know that as long as the Church faithfully relies on the preaching of the gospel we can count on the same power the Holy Spirit demonstrates in Acts 5.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The God of our fathers who raised Christ from the dead (v30)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray the patience and wisdom to rely on the Holy Spirit despite the problems of this world.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: