Acts 5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira sold property in order to share the proceeds with the other disciples, but deceived by Satan, they listened and lied to the Holy Spirit by keeping a portion of the money for themselves. Peter exposed their sin, and the Lord struck them dead as an example to the early church. The result was a great fear fell upon the whole church.
Notes: The positive picture of the community’s sharing is marred by the account of a couple who abused the practice by holding back a portion of a gift while claiming to be giving it totally to the church. The context is important to note: the incident is bracketed by references to the Spirit’s power (4:31, 33; 5:12–16). The Spirit was closely linked to the unity of the fellowship manifested in their sharing. Ananias and Sapphira abused the fellowship through their deception and thereby threatened its unity. Ananias and Sapphira: Their outward sin was lying about how much they were giving to the church, but the deeper, more devastating sin was their spiritual hypocrisy based on selfishness. The fear instilled to the church is that death could be the result of serious sin in a Christian’s life.
Acts 5:12-16 The apostles continued performing miracles, and more believers were added daily. They were held in high esteem, but none dared join them. People came from towns around Jerusalem bringing their sick in the hopes of a healing and the apostles healed them all.
Notes: These unbelievers had respect for the followers of Jesus, but feared the deadly potential of joining the church.
Acts 5:17-26 The Sadducees were jealous of the apostles, so they arrested them and threw them in jail, but an angel appeared at night and released them, told them to go back to the temple and preach the words of Life. The next day, the High Priest ordered the apostles to appear before him and the council for judgment, but those they sent to fetch them from prison came back and said the apostles were gone. The strange thing was that the prison was securely locked and the guards were standing by the doors. As they were perplexed on how this could be, it was reported that the apostles were in the temple teaching again. Without force out of fear of the multitude, they brought the apostles before the High Priest for questioning.
Notes: These Sadducees were “jealous” not for God’s honor or for the advancement of his kingdom but for retaining their own influence and power.
Acts 5:27-32 The High Priest reprimanded the apostles and strictly charged them not to preach in Jesus’ name for fear that Rome would eventually punish Israel over these beliefs. The apostles responded that they should obey God over man’s laws, if man’s laws are contrary to God’s laws. They again testified that this Jesus they killed is the Messiah and God has exalted Him with great power as Leader and Savior, to give repentance and forgive sins, and that they were commanded to witness to these things, just as the Holy Spirit is doing and given to all who obey Him.
Acts 5:33-42 This speech made the High Priest and council very angry and wanted to kill them for saying these things, but Gamaliel, a respected teacher and Rabbi was the voice of reason who told the council not to do anything rash, for if it is of men, it will fade out like all the other false claims of Messiahship had done in the past, but if it is of God, they would not be able to overthrow them. They listened to Gamaliel's advice, and instead had the apostles whipped, charged them to not speak in Jesus’ name, and let them go. The apostles, after being whipped were let go, and they rejoiced that they had the opportunity to suffer dishonor for Jesus. They did not listen to the High Priest, but continued to preach that Jesus was the Messiah.
Notes: The apostles were unjustly flogged, probably with 39 lashes, the standard number given to avoid exceeding the OT legal limit of 40. Their suffering resulted in the growth of the church. Suffering for the name of Jesus is a characteristic theme in Acts.