Ananias and Sapphira: Acts 5:1-11.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira is one of the most disturbing accounts in the New Testament. They sold their property and brought only a part of the money before the apostles. They were attempting to deceive God himself (5:3, 9). It reveals the seriousness of deception in the Christian life. Their desire for recognition among people led to sin. They thought that they can make others to think that they are spiritual. They sought the praises of men rather than the glory of God. They forgot that there is no such thing as secret sin before God. They were motivated by pride to sin against God. God is more concerned about our character than our reputation. When their lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin eventually produced death (James 1:15). Pride goes before fall (Isaiah 14:12-15). Their sin was not robbing God of money but lying to God (5:4). Lying to a servant of God is tantamount to lying to God. They were not required to sell their property and give the money to the church. Satan was using them to accomplish in the church what he could not do from outside. Thankfully most of us do not receive immediate judgment for our sins now. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God (Hebrews 10:30-31). If we judge ourselves, God would not have to judge us (1 Cor 11:31). By confessing our sins we judge ourselves. The wages of sin is always death (Rom 6:23). God’s punishment of Ananias and Sapphira brought great fear in the church (5:11). Pray that God would help us to live a life of integrity before God who sees all things.
The Healing Ministry of the Apostles: Acts 5:12-16.
Many miraculous signs and wonders were done by the apostles. These miracles were God’s way of authenticating the ministry of apostles. Jesus used miracles to prove that He is the Son of God. One of the qualifications of apostle was that he could perform miracles (2 Cor 12:12). Satan can counterfeit miracles to deceive people (2 Thess 2:9). It is significant that all those who came to Jesus were healed immediately and completely. Jews sought sign to believe in Christ (1 Cor 1:22). Jesus said “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Only the gospel can save sinners. The miracle of all miracles is the transformation of a lost sinner into a child of God. The Bible tells us to test the spirit whether they are from God (1 John 4:1). It is a reference to motivations behind the false teaching. Does our teaching is centered on Jesus Christ? Does it agree with rest of the scriptures? Does the miracle bring glory to God or to man? The more we study the scriptures, the more quickly we will be able to identify the counterfeit doctrines (1 John 4:4). God uses even the most painful experiences to accomplish His purposes in the church. Trust that God always knows what is best for you and ask him to help you through your difficulties.
The Apostles facing Opposition: Acts 5:17-32.
The growth of the church had provoked the Jewish leaders to arrest Peter and John. They were accused of not obeying the law and preaching that Jesus is alive. The apostles did not resist arrest. They were released from the prison by the angels. The angels are sent to minister the servants of God (Hebrews 1:14). While angels play a significant role in the lives of believers, our praise and honor should be reserved for God only. Our religious zeal should not be hidden under the disguise of spirituality. Despite the suffering, the apostles continued to proclaim the gospel in the temple. The officers were sent to arrest Peter and John. But they could not arrest them because they were afraid the people would stone them. Apostles were accused of filling Jerusalem with their doctrines. They said that “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (4:20). Once we have experienced the goodness of the grace of God, we are empowered by the same grace to share the gospel. The high priest questioned the apostles. They were told not to teach in the name of Christ. Their jealousy and hatred were so strong against the apostles that they wanted to kill them (5:33). The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection from the dead. The apostles obeyed God rather than men (5:29). Pray for boldness to witness Christ and ask God to give you confidence in his power over his enemies.
The Conviction of the Apostles: Acts 5:33-42.
Despite the suffering, the apostles affirmed that Christ had been raised from the dead and exalted at the right hand of God as Lord and Savior. The right hand is the place of power, honor and authority (Psalm 110:1; Acts 7:55). Only Christ gives repentance and forgiveness of sins (5:31). He is the captain or pioneer of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). Every time the gospel meets with opposition, God finds a way to advance his message. Luke shows that God stands behind the gospel as it advanced and no one is able to stop it. Gamaliel was a Pharisee highly esteemed among the Jews. He was the leader of the famous school of Hillel (22:3). He used his logic to conclude that if the movement of Jesus is not of God, it will come to nothing. But on the other hand, if it is of God, the Sanhedrin should not fight against it. He counseled the Sanhedrin that trouble makers like Theudas and Judas will come and go. The council hated the movement of Jesus, but accepted the reasoning of Gamaliel. They released the apostles and ordered them not to preach in the name of Jesus. They had been beaten before they were released. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the gospel (Phil. 1:29). They witnessed Christ daily in the temple and from house to house. The disciples took every opportunity to reach people with gospel. History shows that the persecutions of the church led the expansion of the gospel (8:1). Gospel can’t be stopped, because it is the power of God for salvation to all (Rom 1:16). Pray for boldness to live for Christ and for his gospel. Ask God to triumph over those who resist Christ so that they willingly embrace Christ before it is too late.