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Ananias and Sapphira


But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; 2with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3“Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” 5Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it. 6The young men came and wrapped up his body, then carried him out and buried him.

7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.

The Apostles Heal Many

12 Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, 15so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. 16A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.

The Apostles Are Persecuted

17 Then the high priest took action; he and all who were with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), being filled with jealousy, 18arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said, 20“Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.” 21When they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and went on with their teaching.

When the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the council and the whole body of the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22But when the temple police went there, they did not find them in the prison; so they returned and reported, 23“We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were perplexed about them, wondering what might be going on. 25Then someone arrived and announced, “Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26Then the captain went with the temple police and brought them, but without violence, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

27 When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man’s blood on us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. 35Then he said to them, “Fellow Israelites, consider carefully what you propose to do to these men. 36For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and disappeared. 37After him Judas the Galilean rose up at the time of the census and got people to follow him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38So in the present case, I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; 39but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!”

They were convinced by him, 40and when they had called in the apostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. 42And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.


21. And when the chief priest came. The chief priest calleth all the council together now, lest, if giving the honor to his own sect, he omit others, and be not able to bear the burden; therefore, he is enforced by fear to call the multitude together, notwithstanding they observe diligently and straitly the form of law. The elders are called who did govern, that nothing may be done but according to the sentence and authority of the council. Who would not have hoped for a moderate end, seeing they began thus? and surely they pretend what color they can, lest they seem to oppress the truth violently and tyrannously; but when they hear that the apostles teach in the temple, howsoever they know that they came not out by deceit of man, but miraculously, yet they hold on still in their purpose; where appeareth, together with the ungodliness of behavior and contempt of God, horrible fury and want of reason. Therefore, the beautiful colors of right and equity 260260     “Speciosi juris praetextus,” the specious pretexts of law. do never so cover hypocrites, but that they do at length betray their wickedness. They must need certainly gather by all circumstances, that it is the work of God that the prison was opened, yet they do not doubt openly to rage against God.

These things are also meet for our time. We know how proudly the Papists boast of that maxim of theirs, that lawful councils must be obeyed, because they represent the Church. Moreover, they call those lawful councils, and they will have them so accounted, wherein nothing is wanting touching the external form, and such a council was this whereof Luke speaketh in this place; and yet, notwithstanding, we know that it was gathered to put out 261261     “Extinguendam,” to extinguish. the name of Christ; for although the priests did then creep in unto honor by subtlety, or by inordinate suit, 262262     “Ambitu,” by intrigue. to win the favor of men, or by other wicked policies, or whether they burst in unto the same by bribery, or murder, 263263     “Mutuis caedibus,” mutual slaughter. yet the dignity of the priesthood did continue as yet until Christ was revealed. There was in the assembly of the elders a representing of the Church; but where the truth of God is not sought, all outward appearance is nothing else but a mere visor. Therefore, it is in vain for the Papists to cover their abominations with the shadow of this buckler, because it is not sufficient for those to be gathered together who are rulers of the Church, unless they do this in the name of Christ, otherwise forasmuch as it is an usual policy of Satan to transform himself into an angel of light, (2 Corinthians 11:14,) we will grant him as fit a covert under the title of the Church as he can wish.

He brought them without violence. We have spoken somewhat before of the captain of the temple. For I do not think 264264     “Neque enim mihi probabile est,” for it does not seem to me probable. that it was lawful for the Jews to set and appoint whom they would to rule the temple, but that the president of the province did appoint one to have the government of the temple. And he saith, that they were brought without violence, that is, that they were not drawn violently, lest any tumult should arise, so that, whereas they neither fear nor reverence God, they are afraid of men. The apostles also do show their modesty in that, that whereas they are guided with a great number of men, yet do they suffer themselves to be led away by the officers, lest they should be authors of any tumult.

28. The chief priest layeth two crimes to the charge of the apostles, for he accuseth them of contumacy or stubbornness, 265265     “Inobedientiae et contumaciae,” of contumacy and disobedience. because they obeyed not the decree of the council. In the second member he betrayeth an evil conscience, or, at least, he showeth that he handled rather a private business than any public cause, for he complaineth that the apostles will cause the priests and the scribes to be hated for the death of Christ. Behold, therefore, what that is which nettleth them, because they fear the revenge and punishment of wicked murder. He pretendeth, at the first, doctrine; but we may gather out of the end that he was not so careful for doctrine. In the mean season, he accuseth the apostles of sedition; for he taketh that for a thing which all men, for the most part, did grant, 266266     “Pro confesso sumit,” he takes for granted. that Christ was put to death justly. Notwithstanding this is the principal point of the accusation, that they did not obey the commandment of the priests. It was an heinous offense not to obey the chief priest; how much more heinous was it, then, to despise the whole order? But the chief priest doth not consider what is his duty towards God and the Church; 267267     “Vicissim,” in his turn, is omitted in the translation. he abuseth his authority tyrannously, as if the same were not under any laws, as the Pope dealeth with us at this day; for seeing that he taketh to himself an unbridled authority and government, he feareth not to condemn us for schismatics, so soon as he seeth us refuse his decrees; for he catcheth at these sentences: “He which despiseth you despiseth me,” (Luke 10:16;) and thereupon he concludeth that we will rebel 268268     “Esse rebelles,” are rebels. against God. But if he will be heard as the ambassador of Christ, he must speak out of the mouth of Christ.

Now, forasmuch as he doth manifestly play the minister of Satan, he borroweth authority, without shame and color, of the name of Christ; yea, the very form of speech which the chief priest useth doth prove how carelessly spiritual tyrants who usurp such authority and lordship as is not subject to the word of God, dare grant liberty to themselves to attempt whatsoever pleaseth them. With a commandment (saith he) have we commanded. Whence cometh such strait rigor, save only because they think that all that must be received without exception which they shall command?

29. This is the sum of their answer, It is lawful for them, nay, they ought to prefer God before men. God commandeth us to bear witness of Christ; therefore it is in vain for you to command us to keep silence. But I have declared before in the third chapter, when this sentence taketh place, that we ought rather to obey God than men. God doth set men over us in such sort with power, that he keepeth still his own authority safe and sound. Therefore, we must obey rulers so far, that the commandment of God be not broken. Whereas power and authority is lawfully used, then it is out of season to make comparison between God and man. If a faithful pastor do command or forbid out of the Word of God, it shall be in vain for men which are stubborn to object that we ought to obey God; for God will be heard by man. Yea, man is nothing else but an instrument of God. If a magistrate do his duty as he ought, a man shall in vain say that he is contrary to God, seeing that he dissenteth in nothing; yea, rather the contrary rule is then in force. We must obey God’s ministers and officers if we will obey him. 269269     “Eadem in parentibus et dominis ratio,” the same holds in parents and masters, omitted in the translation. But so soon as rulers do lead us away from the obedience of God, because they strive against God with sacrilegious boldness, their pride must be abated, that God may be above all in authority. Then all smokes of honor vanish away. For God doth not vouchsafe to bestow honorable titles upon men, to the end they may darken his glory. Therefore, if a father, being not content with his own estate, do essay to take from God the chief honor of a father, he is nothing else but a man. If a king, or ruler, or magistrate, do become so lofty that he diminisheth the honor and authority of God, he is but a man. We must thus think also of pastors. For he which goeth beyond his bounds in his office, (because he setteth himself against God:) must be despoiled of his honor, lest, under a color or visor, he deceive. The office of a pastor is very excellent, the authority of the Church is great, yet so that no part of God’s power and Christ’s mastership be diminished. Whence we may easily gather that the pride of the Pope is ridiculous, who, when as he treadeth under foot the whole kingdom of Christ, and doth set himself openly against God, will yet, nevertheless, lie hid under the name of Christ. 270270     “Dei,” of God.

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