ACTS CHAPTER 5.
Ananias and Sapphira. Acts 5, 1-11.
The sin and death of Ananias: V.1. But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira, his wife, sold a possession, v.2. and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostlesí feet. V.3. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? V.4. Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. V.5. And Ananias, hearing these words, fell down, and gave up the ghost; and great fear came on all them that heard these things. V.6. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. Luke had just narrated an instance of true, charitable selflessness in the conduct of Barnabas of Cyprus. Unfortunately, however, the appreciation and praise accorded to people that have shown real benevolence often prompts hypocrites to make a pretense and show of great love, in order that they may also be given words that sound pleasant to their itching ears. Into the paradise of the early Church there entered the serpent of selfishness and corruption. Luke presents no reflections and affixes no moral, adhering to his practice of simply narrating the facts of history. There was a certain man, a member of the congregation at Jerusalem, by the name of Ananias (ďto whom Jehovah has been graciousĒ). The name of his wife, who also belonged to those that professed Christianity, was Sapphira (sapphire, ďthe beautifulĒ). To these two belonged a possession, some property, very likely a piece of improved real estate of some value, Now Ananias as well as his wife were eager to be accounted benefactors of their poorer brethren, and so they sold their property, probably with some ostentation. But their interest in the poor was only sham, and for the good will of God they cared nothing. They set apart, they appropriated for their own benefit, a certain part of the proceeds of the sale. It is expressly stated that Sapphira was fully aware of this arrangement, that it was done with her full knowledge and consent; she was just as guilty as her husband. ďIf we attempt to analyze the motive of the guilty pair, we shall find that their act was a compromise between two unholy desires. The desire to have the praise of men, such as had been bestowed upon Barnabas and some others, prompted the sale and the gift, while the love of money, which still held too strong a hold on them, prompted the retention of a part while they were pretending to give all.Ē15) Their course having been fully decided upon, Ananias took the sum of money which they decided should serve to establish their fame as dispensers of charity, brought it to the meeting-place of the apostles and the congregation, and deposited it in the customary place. The act which the guilty pair was committing was not simply their sin as individuals, but placed the whole church into great danger. For if others should learn of this subterfuge, they would be apt to practice the same hypocrisy. But if integrity and truth should disappear in the congregation, the Church of Christ would lose her brightest ornaments, and pharisaic hypocrisy would be substituted for Christian holiness. ďIt was, therefore, of vital importance to the Church that the introduction of an evil of such magnitude should meet with an immediate and effectual resistance.Ē Accordingly, Peter put the heart-searching question to Ananias: How is it that Satan has filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? As the devil is the author of every sin and transgression, so he here also gave the idea of wickedness and deceit into the heart of Ananias. For in pretending a benevolence which he was far from feeling, the man had lied, not so much to men, to Peter, the apostles, and the congregation, but to the Holy Ghost, who spoke and acted through the apostles, who lived and moved in the Christian congregation. He had tempted the Spirit of God, who tests heart and mind, who, as true God, knows the innermost thoughts of every manís heart. And Peter very properly reminded Ananias that the property had been his to keep, if he so chose; there was no compulsory communism in the congregation. And if he had chosen to sell his property and to keep all the money, it was entirely in his own power. It would even have been strictly his own business if he had frankly stated that he was bringing only a part of the proceeds, since he intended to use the rest himself. But his heart had been set upon getting credit for charity and benevolence which he did not possess. ďThe act of selling their possession for the ostensible purpose of bringing it into the common stock left them no further control over it nor property in it; and their pretense that the money which they brought was the whole produce of the sale was a direct lie in itself, and an attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit, under whose influence they pretended to act. This constituted the iniquity of their sin.Ē16) Note: The fact that Satan had filled the heart of Ananias, and that he had conceived this thing in his own heart, are placed on a level. The fact that Ananias had yielded to the devilís persuasion and temptation put the responsibility, the blame, upon him. The same holds true of every sinner in every sin which he commits, especially if it is done with such deliberate intent as in this case. Mark also: In lying to the Holy Ghost, Ananias had lied to God Himself, for the Holy Spirit is true God with the Father and the Son. Deceit and hypocrisy of every kind is open before His omniscience, as every one that is guilty of these sins will find out to his great sorrow sooner or later. The sin of Ananias received its condemnation at once, and a punishment which is intended to be a warning for all times. For no sooner had Peter finished his earnest rebuke, no sooner had the guilty man heard these words, than he fell down and breathed forth his soul; he died at once, struck by the wrath of the Holy Ghost. The execution was so obviously an act of God that a great fear fell upon all those that saw the punishment and heard the words by which it was accompanied. When God speaks, the heart of sinful man is filled with awe. And the young men of the congregation, not a special class or separate body, but the younger members of the audience, arose from their places. There was no time either for a lamentation or for an elaborate funeral ceremony, had the people present been so inclined; there was no weeping or delay. Wrapping the dead man up in his own mantle, the young men carried him out and buried him. Such is the end of those that abuse the grace of the Lord. Be not deceived, God is not mocked.
The death of Sapphira: V.7. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. V.8. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much. And she said, Yea, for so much. V.9. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. V.10. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost. And the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. V.11. And great fear came upon all the Church, and upon as many as heard these things. Whether the information concerning the death of her husband had been withheld from Sapphira by the command of Peter, or whether the awe of the incident they had witnessed kept the members from spreading the story, is immaterial. After an interval of about three hours, Sapphira, who may have become concerned over the long absence of Ananias, came to the meeting-place of the congregation. She was fully prepared to keep her agreement with her husband relative to the money, not knowing that his fate had been sealed hours before. When Peter, therefore, put the question to her whether for just that sum which was still lying there they had sold their property, she unhesitatingly replied: Yes, for just so much. Peterís question had been a last appeal to her conscience, a last admonition to tell the truth and give all glory to God. But she disregarded the admonition, persevered in her sin, and seconded the base lie of her husband. It was a willful persistence in sin, in hypocrisy. Note the dramatic intensity of the narrative. Peter now, in the name of God, as a prophet of the Lord, pronounced the judgment upon her. For what reason, to what end, did you agree to tempt the Spirit of God, to see whether it would be possible to deceive Him as well as His Church? The feet of those that carried out thy husband are at the door, and will carry thee out. And no sooner had Peter uttered the Lordís judgment than Sapphira fell down, just as her husband had before her, and also breathed her last. And the young men coming in, found her dead, and buried her beside her husband, to be joined with him in death as she had been in life. That was a terrible, but just judgment which the Lord here executed in the midst of the first congregation. By this act God declared to the Church of all times that the hypocrites are an abomination in His sight. It is but seldom in our days that the Lord makes known His avenging power in the same manner as here, but His hand is not shortened even today when His honor is at stake. Note: There is a repetition of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira in modern church-life, also in connection with the Lordís treasury, namely, when members of congregations make exaggerated statements of the amounts they are giving or understate their income, in order to make their contribution for the Kingdom stand out above that of others. The result of this story should rather be, as it was in those days, that a great fear comes upon the people, both upon those that are members of the Church and those that are still outside, but hear of this manifestation of Godís power. The same God that sat in judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira will, in His own way and at the time appointed by Him, not fail to visit the sins upon those that follow the example of these two hypocrites.
The Prosperity of the Church. Acts 5, 12-16.
V.12. And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people, (and they were all with one accord in Solomonís Porch. V.13. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them; but the people magnified them. V.14. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women,) v.15. insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. V.16. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits; and they were healed, every one. The activity of the apostles, and of the congregation with them, manifested itself in two ways, by the preaching of the Word and by the performing of miracles. The prestige of the apostles was naturally increased greatly by the obvious fact that the Lord was with them in all their doing. The congregation, therefore, at least for some time, was unhindered in its public assemblies which were held in the beautiful portico on the east side of the Temple, known as Solomonís Porch. In these public meetings the main object was to give testimony of the Gospel, to gain new adherents for the Lord. There was great unanimity both in meeting and in testifying at these regular assemblies. Incidentally, the authority of the apostles was now so great that no one ventured upon familiar intercourse with them. All the people that in any way came into contact with the congregation kept a respectful distance from the men in whom the Spirit of God lived with such manifestations of power; and they all esteemed them very highly. The veneration which they felt for God was in a measure transferred to these His servants and instruments and to the whole congregation. The natural result was that believers were added to the Lord, joined the ranks of those that put their trust in Jesus as their Savior, a multitude of both men and women; there was a steady growth in membership. Note the reference to woman disciples, which is characteristic of Lukeís writings; cp. Luke 8, 2. 3. It was God that wrought faith in all their hearts, and thus added them to the congregation. The apostlesí activity in preaching was supplemented by their activity in performing miracles, according to the measure of the power given to them in those days for the sake of magnifying the omnipotence of God. By their hands there were many signs and wonders performed, acts against the course of nature that incidentally expressed and emphasized Godís power. So great did the fame of the apostles become in this respect that the people even carried out their sick people to the open streets, all along the way on both sides, placing them on couches and beds, on pallets and litters. If but the shadow of Peter, as he came by, might fall upon them, they trusted that the sick would be made whole. So eager were the people that the apostles, who generally addressed the sick, prayed, and used imposition of hands, could not reach all those that were brought to them, as fast as the anxiety of their friends might wish. And the number was not confined to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but a multitude of people came from the towns near by, bringing both such as were afflicted with ordinary diseases, and such as were vexed with unclean spirits; and they all were healed, no matter whether their illness had the one form or the other. God gave such an exhibition of His power and glory in the work of the disciples as never before in the history of the world, since His object was the firm establishment of His Church. Note: If transgressions occur in a Christian congregation, it may harm the good name and hinder the growth of the Church. But here the sudden punishment of the Lord and the behavior of the disciples in burying the guilty ones without lamentation and funeral ceremony combined to produce the opposite effect. If the Christians in this way at all times check offenses and put out of their midst those whose open transgressions are causing offense, then the congregation will not be harmed. The judgment of the congregation upon incorrigible open sinners makes a good impression upon those that are without, and may tend to influence some of them in favor of the Church and the Word of the Lord.
The Imprisonment, Deliverance, and Defense of the Apostles. Acts 5, 17-42.
Arrest and deliverance: V.17. Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, v.18. and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. V.19. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison-doors, and brought them forth, and said, v.20. Go, stand and speak in the Temple to the people all the words of this life. V.21a. And when they heard that, they entered into the Temple early in the morning and taught. One storm had been safely weathered, chap. 4, but a second one was coming on which would prove a little severer than the previous one. The constant growth of the congregation and the enthusiastic praise which was given to the apostles on all sides was too much for the rulers of the Jews, especially for the Sadducees with their denial of the resurrection. To them it was an abomination that the entire preaching of the Gospel was based upon the miraculous rising of Jesus from the dead. And so their party, with the high priest at its head, who most likely also belonged to this school or party, made another formal descent upon the portico of Solomon. They were not merely filled with indignation because the disciples dared to continue their preaching in the name of Jesus, but they were literally filled with angry jealousy on account of the fact that the apostles were gaining in popular favor, that the people were giving them great awe and reverence. So these leaders laid angry, forcible hands upon the apostles and placed them into the public prison with the idea of publicly defaming and degrading them. But their triumph was of short duration. For during that very night an angel of the Lord, probably one of the highest order, like Gabriel, not only opened the doors of the Temple, but also led them forth and gave them the command to go to the Temple, to stand before the people, and to speak all the words of this life, to preach the Gospel of eternal salvation. Far from being discouraged by the treatment accorded them, the apostles were to proclaim the message entrusted to them not only boldly, but also in the most public spot in all Jerusalem. He who Himself is the Resurrection and the Life wanted the Word of this life to extend its influence not only in Jerusalem, but throughout Judea and to the end of the world. So about the time of daybreak, just as soon as the Temple-doors were opened for the bringing of the morning sacrifice, the apostles went to the Temple and resumed their teaching. The more the Word of God extends its power, the more the wrath of the world and of the prince of this world is enkindled. Many a disciple of Christ has been thrown into prison on account of the name which he believed in and confessed. But the Lord was with them and helped them according to His promise. And never in the history of the Church have the true confessors permitted themselves to be deterred, either by persecution or by imprisonment, from preaching the Word which God entrusted to them.
The Sadducees receive a surprise: V.21b. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the Council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. V.22. But when the officers came and found them not in the prison, they returned and told, v.23. saying, the prison, truly, found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors; but when we had opened, we found no man within. V.24. Now when the high priest and the captain of the Temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them where unto this would grow. V.25. Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the Temple and teaching the people. The next morning the high priest was stirring betimes. Having come to the place where the Sadducees met, he and his henchmen called a meeting, not only of the entire Sanhedrin, the highest ecclesiastical court of the Jews, but also the presbytery of the children of Israel, the old and experienced teachers of the nation that were no members of the Council.17) But when they now, after all this formal and impressive introduction, sent servants over to the prison to get the prisoners, the latter were not in evidence. The servants returned with the information that they had found the prison locked up and made secure in approved fashion, that the guards had been occupying their accustomed places, but when they had opened the doors, there had been no prisoners. The angel of the Lord had therefore not only smitten the keepers of the prison with temporary blindness, but he had also relocked the doors to remove all evidence of the miraculous deliverance of the apostles. This message produced a great deal of consternation in the Sanhedrin. And it perplexed not only the members of the Council themselves, but also the ďman of the Temple mount,Ē the chief of the Temple police. Clearly the hand of God had here intervened, as they admitted indirectly in their perplexity, not knowing whereunto this might grow, where it would all end at the present rate of progress. Meanwhile a man came and announced to them that the men whom they had thrown into prison were standing in the Temple, openly and boldly engaged in teaching the people. Thus many an enemy of the Lord and His Word has found himself baffled by the manner in which the Lord protects them that are His, and takes care of His own interests. It is a good plan, a safe plan, to put all trust in Him.
The arraignment of the apostles: V.26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence; for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. V.27. And when they had brought them, they set them before the Council; and the high priest asked them, v.28. saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Manís blood upon us. The chief of the Temple police acted upon the information which had been given to the Sanhedrin, Leaving the council-chamber, probably the Half of Polished Stones, he went over with the servants to get the apostles. But instead of making it appear at all like an arrest, the chief was very careful to escort the apostles most carefully and civilly. Not for a moment did he make use of force, for the whole band had a wholesome respect for, and fear of, the temper of the people, lest they should be stoned. It was not only that the apostles were held in high esteem by the people, but it had undoubtedly appeared by this time in what manner they had been liberated from prison. It was doubtless the mass of people that they feared, since the members of the congregation would hardly have become guilty of any act of violence. The apostles, on their part, accompanied the officers without hesitation or fear, trusting simply in the Lord. And so the servants brought them into the presence of the judges, who sat in the accustomed semicircle, while the accused stood before them. The high priest now put the question to them, not without some heat, whether the Council had not very earnestly and emphatically recommended to them and urged upon them not to teach in this name. Note that the enemy of Christ will not even mention the hated name. He charges them with disobedience to the Sanhedrin and complains that they have filled all Jerusalem with their doctrine. So much the high priest had to concede, that the success of the new teaching was marvelous. But his main charge is that they are attempting to bring upon the Jewish nation and their leaders the blood of Jesus. There seems to be here a reference to the terrible curse which the Jewish rulers had spoken on the day of the Lordís death, when they cried out: His blood be upon us and upon our children! Matt. 27, 25. The resurrection of Jesus being established and therefore His eternal Sonship, it would naturally follow that those who condemned Him were murderers, having shed innocent blood. They must either let the people make this accusation, or they must suppress every witness of the resurrection with ruthless violence. Should the common people once be stirred up against the murderers of the innocent Jesus, the chances are that the latter would pay very quickly for their crime, blood for blood and life for life. Instead of abandoning the way of hypocrisy and crime, therefore, the Jewish leaders decided to choose the bad alternative of plunging in still more deeply. Note: If a person has been given reasonable proofs of having been guilty and persists in his course, stifles the voice of his conscience, and adds additional crimes to the list already charged against him, he is hardening his heart and placing himself beyond the reach of mercy.
The defense of Peter: V.29. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. V.30. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. V.31. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. V.32. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him. While Peter was the chief spokesman upon this occasion, the other apostles gave a good account of themselves, and he but voiced the conviction of their hearts. The very first words in the defense of the apostles established a great principle in the Christian Church: To obey God rather than men is the obligation resting upon us. If the rulers wanted to charge them with disobedience, that charge might well stand, and they would cheerfully plead guilty, just as they told the Jewish leaders in advance that they would not and could not obey, chap. 4, 19. 20. Where matters of the kingdom of God are concerned, the preaching of the Gospel, no prohibiting, threatening, mocking, or abuse would be of any avail. In these matters the government has no jurisdiction. Wherever there is a clear statement of Scriptures, there the Christians will hold fast the truth and the protection of the Lord, and were the whole world to condemn them. And so far as the second part of the high priestís charge was concerned, that the continued preaching of the risen Christ might cause insurrection and tumult, the apostles boldly repeat what they had witnessed to before. It was not a strange and foreign God, but the God of their fathers whom they proclaimed, the God of Israel, who had raised Jesus from the dead, that same Jesus upon whom the rulers had laid unholy hands in killing Him by hanging Him to the tree of the cross. This testifying of God to the person and the work of Jesus not only proved that it was innocent blood which they had shed, but it also received further confirmation by the fact that God had exalted Him to His right hand in heaven, to the full and continual use of His divine majesty and glory. In this way the Lord has made the despised Jesus a Leader or Prince and a Savior, And Jesus was now exercising the power of His office and the duties of His ministry in the effort to give repentance to Israel and the forgiveness of sins. It is His earnest, good, and gracious will to have the people turn from their evil ways and from the hardness of their hearts and to accept the forgiveness of sins which has been merited and is ready for all men. Both repentance and forgiveness of sins are free gifts of mercy on the part of the exalted Christ.18) And of all these things the apostles are witnesses, of the death, of the resurrection, of the ascension of Christ. This testimony is moreover corroborated and confirmed by the Holy Ghost, who testifies in and with the apostles, who makes their testimony effective. This Spirit God has given to them that have the obedience of faith. On Pentecost Day the apostles had received an extraordinary demonstration of His power, but the same Spirit is ever given through the Word, by the acceptance of the great facts of our salvation, as taught by the apostles. It is this Spirit that testifies through the mouth of the Christians when they boldly give an account of their faith. This brief speech of defense here made by the apostles was in itself a gift of the Holy Spirit and a striking fulfillment of the Lordís promise, Matt. 11, 19.
The counsel of Gamaliel: V.33. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. V.34. Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the Law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; v.35. and said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. V.36. For before these days rose Up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves; who was slain, and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered and brought to naught. V.37. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him; he also perished, and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. The address of Peter, in which he and also the other apostles defended themselves against the attacks of the Jewish leaders, was characterized by the candor and fearlessness which should ever mark the proclamation of the truth. But the members of the Sanhedrin, instead of giving heed to the truth and permitting repentance unto the forgiveness of sins to be worked in them, were, literally, sawed asunder to the heart, they were filled with the most violent indignation. One thought and one object therefore filled the minds of most of them, namely, to rid themselves of the disciples as they had done of the Master, to put the apostles to death. But at this crisis the calmer counsel of one of the members prevailed. For in his place in the Council arose a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel, a learned teacher of the Law, highly respected and esteemed by all the people, whose word therefore had considerable influence, and commanded, first of all, that the accused men should be put out for a little while, since he wanted to speak in a confidential matter. Having held the floor until this was done, Gamaliel then addressed the Sanhedrin, giving them the honoring appellation of ďmen of Jerusalem.Ē He cautioned his fellow counselors to exercise all care with respect to these men, and to weigh every act with great deliberation before putting it into execution. He substantiates his caution with a reference to historical facts, especially as to seditions and insurrections in their country. There had been one Theudas not long before this, not the one mentioned by Josephus as having found his end in 44 A.D., but another man by the same name, probably the father or some other kinsman of this later Theudas. This man had advertised himself as a somebody, as a great man, and thus managed to get a following of some four hundred men, just as any demagog may count upon some adherents. But this man had been promptly put to death, his followers had been scattered to the four winds, and the entire movement had fallen flat, without result. After this, in the days of the great census, which Luke distinguishes in this way (6-8 A.D.),19) another rebel, Judas of Galilee, arose, so called after the scene of his chief exploits, or Judas of Gaulanitis, after the place of his birth. Since this great census, under Quirinius's second Roman administration, involved not only numbering and valuation of property, but the imposition of a tax as well, it is not surprising that Judas easily drew away much people, quickly gained a following. But his fate was the same as that of Theudas. He had also perished, he soon had found his end, and all those that had put any obedience and trust in him had been dispersed by the authorities. Gamaliel might have multiplied the number of examples, because, as Josephus reports, there were minor revolts and attempts at insurrection almost continually in some parts of Palestine, but he had said enough to make his point.
Gamaliel's suggestion and the result: V.38. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught; v.39. but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. V.40. And to him they agreed; and when they had called the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. V.41. And they departed from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. V.42. And daily in the Temple and in every house they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Whether Gamaliel secretly favored the cause of Christ, but for various reasons did not join the congregation, or whether he spoke his opinion out of a natural sense of expediency and justice, cannot be decided from the Biblical account. But his purpose in adducing the examples to which he refers, the point that he wishes to make, is this, that the movement which the Sanhedrin was combating must not be suppressed with violence; in fact, there was some doubt as to the wisdom of opposing it at all. His proposition, as he stated it very clearly and emphatically, was that they should stand back from these men, the apostles, and leave them alone. And here Gamaliel adds a proverbial saying or axiom which has not lost its force to this day: If of men this counsel or this work is, it will be utterly destroyed; but if it be of God, ye can destroy neither. ďIf manís it be, ítis bound to die; if Godís it be, it cannot die.Ē Rightly understood, this rule finds its application at all times. It is true indeed that many a Christian congregation and national Church, which had been planted by God, as the Church of Asia Minor, has been destroyed, and that, on the other hand, many a citadel of Satan, as the kingdom of Antichrist, has continued to this day. But such conditions and circumstances are due to manís hardness of heart, and the fact that God permits their existing is His punishment upon a stiff-necked people that will not accept the truth. Gamaliel's advice was accepted as sound and good by all the judges, and they passed a resolution to that effect. The apostles were thereupon brought back into the council chamber, to receive, first of all, a scourging for having transgressed the former command of the Council. Cp. Deut. 25, 1-3; 2 Cor. 11, 24; 12, 10. Before they were released, they were then once more sternly bidden not to speak in the name of Jesus. Note: Those that refuse to accept the Gospel for the salvation of their souls are only embittered and hardened ever more and more with each proclamation of Godís mercy; for the Word of the Gospel becomes for them a savor of death unto death. Instead, however, of intimidating the apostles with this harsh treatment, the judges caused them to give a grand exhibition of faith and trust. Having received their scourging. the disciples left the council-chamber full of joy that they had been found worthy of bearing the reproach of Christ's name, of having some of the same shame and disgrace heaped upon them that had been laid upon their Lord. And just as openly they carried cut their intention not to obey the Sanhedrin in the matter of denying their Master. They ceased not, every day, in the Temple, as well as in the houses, both publicly and privately, to teach and to preach the name of Christ Jesus, the Savior. The public proclamation of the Word was supplemented by individual instruction, just as it should be in our days. Note: The Word of God cannot be hindered without Godís permission. He holds His sheltering hands over the Christians that proclaim to the world the Word of Life.
Summary. The hypocrites Ananias and Sapphira are struck by the judgment of God, after which the apostles are imprisoned by the Sadducees, delivered by the angel of the Lord, &fend themselves before the Sanhedrin, and are released after a scourging.