Ananias and Sapphira.
"The first trace of a shade upon the bright form of
the young Church. Probably among the new Christians a kind of holy
rivalry had sprung up, every one eager to place his means at the
disposal of the apostles" [Olshausen].
Thus might the new-born zeal of some outrun their abiding principle,
while others might be tempted to seek credit for a liberality which was
not in their character.
2. kept back part of the price, his wife also
being privy to it—The coolness with which they planned the
deception aggravated the guilt of this couple.
brought a certain part—pretending it
to be the whole proceeds of the sale.
3-6. why hath Satan filled—"why …
fill—"why hast thou suffered him to fill"
thine heart—so criminally entertaining
his suggestion? Compare Ac 5:4, "why
hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart?" And see Joh 13:2, 27.
to lie to the Holy Ghost—to men under
His supernatural illumination.
4. While it remained, was it not thine own? and
after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?—from which
we see how purely voluntary were all these sacrifices for the support
of the infant community.
not lied to men but God—to men so
entirely the instruments of the directing Spirit that the lie was
rather told to Him: language clearly implying both the distinct
personality and the proper divinity of the Holy
5. Ananias … gave up the ghost … great
fear came on all that heard these things—on those without the
Christian circle; who, instead of disparaging the followers of the Lord
Jesus, as they might otherwise have done on the discovery of such
hypocrisy, were awed at the manifest presence of Divinity among them,
and the mysterious power of throwing off such corrupt matter which
rested upon the young Church.
6. the young men—some of the younger and
more active members of the church, not as office-bearers, nor coming
forward now for the first time, but who probably had already
volunteered their services in making subordinate arrangements. In every
thriving Christian community such volunteers may be expected, and will
be found eminently useful.
7-11. Tell me whether ye sold the land for so
much—naming the sum.
9. How is it that ye have agreed
together—(See on Ac 5:2).
to tempt the Spirit—try whether
they could escape detection by that omniscient Spirit of whose
supernatural presence with the apostles they had had such full
feet of them that buried thy husband are at the
door—How awfully graphic!
10. buried her by her husband—The later
Jews buried before sunset of the day of death.
11. And great fear came upon all the church,
&c.—This effect on the Christian community itself was the
chief design of so startling a judgment; which had its counterpart, as
the sin itself had, in Achan (Jos 7:1-26), while the time—at the
commencement of a new career—was similar.
Ac 5:12-26. The Progress of
the New Cause Leads to the Arrest of the Apostles—They Are Miraculously Delivered from Prison,
Resume Their Teaching, but Allow Themselves to
Be Conducted before the Sanhedrin.
12. Solomon's Porch—(See on Joh 10:23).
13-16. of the rest durst no man join himself,
&c.—Of the unconverted none ventured, after what had taken
place, to profess discipleship; but yet their number continually
15. into the streets—"in every
on beds and couches—The words denote
the softer couches of the rich and the meaner cribs of the poor [Bengel].
shadow of Peter … might overshadow some of
them—Compare Ac 19:12; Lu 8:46. So Elisha. Now the predicted greatness
of Peter (Mt 16:18),
as the directing spirit of the early Church, was at its height.
17-23. sect of the Sadducees—See on Ac 4:1 for the reason why this is specified.
19. by night—the same night.
20. all the words of this life—beautiful
expression for that Life in the Risen One which was the burden of their
21. entered into the temple, &c.—How
self-possessed! the indwelling Spirit raising them above fear.
called … all the senate,
&c.—an unusually general convention, though hastily
23. the prison … shut … keepers
… before the doors, but … no man within—the
reverse of the miracle in Ac 16:26; a
similar contrast to that of the nets at the miraculous draughts of
fishes (Lu 5:6; Joh 21:11).
24-26. they doubted—"were in
26. without violence, for they feared,
&c.—hardened ecclesiastics, all unawed by the miraculous
tokens of God's presence with the apostles, and the fear of the mob
only before their eyes!
Ac 5:27-42. Second
Appearance and Testimony before the Sanhedrin—Its Rage Calmed by Gamaliel—Being Dismissed, They Depart
Rejoicing, and Continue Their Preaching.
27, 28. ye have filled Jerusalem with your
doctrine—noble testimony to the success of their preaching,
and (for the reason mentioned on Ac 4:4) to the truth of their testimony, from
28. intend to bring this man's blood upon
us—They avoid naming Him whom Peter gloried in holding up
[Bengel]. In speaking thus, they seem to
betray a disagreeable recollection of their own recent imprecation, His
blood be upon us," &c. (Mt 27:25),
and of the traitor's words as he threw down the money, "I have sinned
in that I have betrayed innocent blood" (Mt 27:4).
29, 30. Then Peter, &c.—(See on Ac 2:22, and Ac 3:13,
31. Prince and a Saviour—the first word
expressing that Royalty which all Israel looked for in Messiah,
the second the Saving character of it which they had utterly
lost sight of. Each of these features in our Lord's work enters into
the other, and both make one glorious whole (compare Ac 3:15; Heb
to give—dispensing as a "Prince."
repentance and remission of sins—as a
"Saviour"; "repentance" embracing all that change which issues in the
faith which secures "forgiveness" (compare Ac 2:38;
20:21). How gloriously is
Christ here exhibited; not, as in other places, as the Medium,
but as the Dispenser of all spiritual blessings!
32, 33. we are his witnesses … and the Holy
Ghost—They as competent human witnesses to facts, and the
Holy Ghost as attesting them by undeniable miracles.
33. cut to the heart and took—"were
counsel to slay them—How different
this feeling and the effect of it from that "pricking of the heart"
which drew from the first converts on the day of Pentecost the cry,
"Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Ac 2:37). The words used in the two places are
34. Then stood up … Gamaliel—in
all probability one of that name celebrated in the Jewish writings for
his wisdom, the son of Simeon (possibly the same who took the infant
Saviour in his arms, Lu 2:25-35), and grandson of Hillel, another celebrated rabbi. He died eighteen
years before the destruction of Jerusalem [Lightfoot].
35-39. Theudas—not the same with a
deceiver of that name whom Josephus
mentions as heading an insurrection some twelve years after this
[Antiquities, 20.5.1], but some other of whom he makes no
mention. Such insurrections were frequent.
37. Judas of Galilee—(See on Lu 2:2, and Lu 13:1-3)
38. if … of men, it will come to
naught—This neutral policy was true wisdom, in the then
temper of the council. But individual neutrality is hostility to
Christ, as He Himself teaches (Lu 11:23).
40-42. beaten them—for disobeying their
orders (compare Lu 23:16).
41. departed … rejoicing that they were
counted worthy to suffer shame for his name—"thought worthy
by God to be dishonored by man" (Mt 5:12; 1Pe 4:14, 16) [Webster and Wilkinson]. This was their first taste of
persecution, and it felt sweet for His sake whose disciples they
42. in every house—in private. (See on
ceased not to preach Jesus Christ—that
is, Jesus (to be the) Christ.