The Sin and Punishment of Ananias and Sapphira.
SUMMARY.--The Deceit and Death of Ananias.
The Increase of the Church.
The Signs and Wonders.
The Rage of the High Priest and the Sadducees.
The Imprisonment of the Apostles.
The Prison Doors Opened.
Teaching in the Temple.
Again Arrested and Threatened.
Their Bold Answer.
The Resolve of the Sanhedrim to Slay Them.
The Wise Counsel of Gamaliel.
The Apostles Beaten and Let Go.
1. But. Amid the peace, grace and abounding liberality of the
church there was one dark spot. The sin and fate of Ananias and his
wife must be recorded.
2. Kept back part of the price. Like many others, of their own
accord they sold a possession for the benefit of the church. They were
not compelled to sell it, or when sold to give the money, or to give
all. Their sin was not withholding a part, but lying about it. (1)
They gave from the wrong motives, not
for the Lord, but for human praise. (2) There was hypocrisy and
His wife being privy to it. Hence equally guilty. There was a
guilty conspiracy between them.
Brought a certain part. Pretending it was all. His was a
deliberate, public lie.
3, 4. To lie to the Holy Ghost. The sin is here pointed out. The
lie was not to men, but to God. The apostles were moved by the Holy
Spirit. These verses show clearly that the sin was hypocrisy and
deception in the name of religion. These verses also show that the
gifts of goods were purely voluntary.
5. Ananias . . . gave up the ghost. Fell down and
expired. There was a visible judgment upon him for his great sin. It
was inflicted by the Holy Spirit through Peter, and shows how hypocrisy
is regarded by the Lord.
6. The young men arose, wound him up. Wrapped his mantle tightly
Carried him out. Of the place of meeting and out of the city for
burial. It was common, in the warm climate of Palestine, to bury on the
day of death. Severe examples occurred at the outset of both
Dispensations. Note the case of Nadab and Abihu
(Lev 10:1, 2)
and the sin of Achan
7. His wife . . . came in. To the place of assembly,
not having heard of her husband's fate, but full of his spirit.
8, 9. Whether ye sold the land for so much? Naming the amount
offered by Ananias. Instead of the confession that would have saved
her, she persisted in the lie agreed upon, died as he had died, and was
buried in the same tomb.
10. The young men came in. It had required three hours to carry
Ananias out of the city to the tomb and return. The gloomy incident
occurred and is recorded for a wise purpose: to teach the church in the
outset that even if we can deceive men, we cannot hope to deceive God.
It is an example.
11. Great fear came upon all the church. Not of outward enemies,
but of so sinning as to invoke the punishment of God. It was a salutary
12-14. By the hands of the apostles were many signs. Note that
no one thus far has miraculous power but the apostles. The gift of
miracles was not general. When it was imparted to others, we learn how
it was imparted.
All with one accord in Solomon's porch. The apostles, in order to
The brethren also with them.
13. Of the rest. Of their enemies. That the phrase does not
include all who were not Christians is shown by what follows in
Multitudes of converts were constantly made.
14. Both men and women. This is one of a number of instances in
which women are named in early church history. As remarked elsewhere,
at first the converts were mainly men.
Now there are also women.
15, 16. They brought forth the sick into the streets. The fame
of the miracles, and especially of Peter's, caused this to be done. It
is not said that the shadow of Peter falling on them did any good, but
the people supposed it might. The object is to show the great favor of
the apostles with the people. It was a time, however, when multitudes
of miracles were wrought.
17. Then the high priest rose up. Was stirred to action. Annas
is, no doubt, meant. See note on
His sect, the Sadducees, co-operated with him. They were determined to
stop the preaching of the resurrection. See note on
18. Put them in the common prison. In the city jail, among
malefactors. "The 'common prison,' corresponding to our jail, consists
of a single room in the governor's cellar, with a floor of earth, and
one small window, where all manner of people, from the murderer to the
insolent debtor, are promiscuously crowded together. The only furniture
consists of a bench, always occupied by the strongest; the rest lie on
the floor, or stand. We have visited prisons of this kind where we
could only stand a few moments upon the threshold on account of the
foul air. The keepers remain outside of the door
but the prisoners are not bound.--Van Lenneps.
19. The angel of the Lord . . . opened. The language
would apply, if the doors were opened by any providential agency, but
the messenger was probably a celestial one.
20. Go, stand and speak in the temple. They were to return at
once to their interrupted work.
It would give a powerful impulse for the imprisoned preachers to be at
their place and work the next morning.
This life. The eternal life denied by the Sadducees.
21. Called the council. The Sanhedrim, for the trial of the
apostles, supposing them still in prison.
All the senate. Many think that a body of elders and other
influential leaders were called to assist in the deliberations.
23. The prison truly found we shut. All was as usual and the
guards before the doors, but the prisoners gone.
25. Then came one and told them. The mystery was explained by
the word that, as usual, the apostles were preaching in the temple.
26. Brought them without violence. The favor of the people for
the apostles was so shown that they feared a tumult.
27, 28. The high priest asked them. As president. He charges (1)
that they had disregarded the authority of the Sanhedrim; (2) they had
filled Jerusalem with their doctrine; (3) they would work up the people
to indignation against the rulers for condemning Christ.
29-32. Peter's defence asserts (1) that God must be obeyed
rather than earthly rulers; (2) God raised up Jesus whom they hanged on
the cross; (3) exalted him to his right hand; (4) to be a Prince and
Savior, to grant Israel the opportunity to repent, and to obtain
forgiveness; (5) that they were witnesses of these
facts, and so was the Holy Spirit.
Given to them that obey Him. The Holy Spirit is given only
to those who have submitted to the Lord
(Acts 2:28 and John 7:38, 39).
It dwells only in the obedient heart.
33. Cut to the heart. Convulsed with rage, not sorrow.
Took counsel to slay them. Concerning the expediency of putting
them to death.
34. A Pharisee, named Gamaliel. Observe that it is a Pharisee
that opposes violence. Gamaliel was the most distinguished Jewish rabbi
of this time. His fame is preserved in the Talmud. He was a grandson of
Hillel, a still more famous teacher. Paul was his pupil
35-39. Ye men of Israel, take heed. Gamaliel's temperate and
wise speech advises (1) deliberation; (2) if they were impostors their
movement would come to nought like that of other impostors, if let
alone; (3) but if of God, it could not be overthrown.
Theudas. Some leader, only mentioned here, probably raising
a commotion in the disturbances that followed the death of Herod the
Judas of Galilee. A zealot who had opposed the payment of
tribute not many years before, in A. D. 8, and was overthrown and slain.
He is named by Josephus.
40. To him they agreed. He carried the Sanhedrim with him.
Called the apostles, and beaten them. While rejecting the
punishment of death, they decided to scourge them for disobedience.
Scourging was often inflicted even by the rulers of the synagogues. The
scourging was on the bare back, and bloody and cruel.
41. Rejoicing. This was their first experience of physical
torture for Christ, but not the last, and it gave them joy to suffer
for one who had suffered for them. One of the features of the early
church was the welcome given to shame, suffering and martyrdom endured
for Christ's sake.
42. Daily in the temple. Undeterred by suffering and threats,
they still preached the cross in the most public place in Jerusalem, as
well as from house to house.