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5. Ananias and Sapphira

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3But 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? 4Whiles 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. 5And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. 7And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 9Then 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. 10Then 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. 11And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

12And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. 13And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. 14And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) 15Insomuch 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. 16There 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.

17Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. 19But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. 21And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. 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. 22But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told, 23Saying, 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. 24Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. 25Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. 26Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. 27And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28Saying, 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 man’s blood upon us.

29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. 30The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

33When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. 34Then 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; 35And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. 36For 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 nought. 37After 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. 38And 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 nought: 39But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. 40And 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.

41And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

20. Speak in the temple. This is the end of their deliverance, that they employ themselves stoutly in preaching the gospel, and provoke their enemies courageously, until they die valiantly. For they were put to death at length when the hand of God ceased, after that they had finished their course; but now the Lord openeth the prison for them, that they may be at liberty to fulfill their function. That is worth the marking, because we see many men, who, after they have escaped out of persecution, do afterwards keep silence, as if they had done their duty towards God, (and were no more to be troubled;) other some, also, do escape away by denying Christ; but the Lord doth deliver his children, not to the end they may cease off from the course which they have begun, but rather that they may be the more zealous afterward. The apostles might have objected, It is better to keep silence for a time, forasmuch as we cannot speak one word without danger; we are now apprehended for one only sermon, how much more shall the fury of our enemies be inflamed hereafter, if they shall see us make no end of speaking? But because they knew that they were to live and to die to the Lord, they do not refuse to do that which the Lord commanded; so we must always mark what function the Lord enjoineth us. There will many things meet us oftentimes, which may discourage us, unless being content with the commandment of God alone, we do our duty, committing the success to him.

The words of this life. A singular commendation of the gospel, that it is a lively doctrine, bringing salvation unto men; for the righteousness of God is revealed unto us in it, (Romans 1:17;) and in it Christ offereth himself unto us with the sacrifice of his death, with the Spirit of regeneration, with the earnest of our adoption. And this is spoken expressly to the apostles, to the end they may the more courageously enter all manner of combats for the gospel, forasmuch as they hear that they are ministers of eternal salvation. The demonstrative is added for the more certainty, as if the angel did point out life with his finger, as assuredly we need not to seek the same far, when we have the word in our mouth and in our heart; unless peradventure some man had rather take it by hypallage, the words of this life, for these words, which I do not reject, yet that former sense me thinks is better, for it was a new revelation of Christ wherein they had life present.


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