Acts 5 Ananias and Sapphira; Apostles Arrested
Summary

The general benevolent spirit among the Christians was marred by Ananias and Sapphira who lied about their contribution. Both fell down dead when Peter confronted them with their sin. That caused all who heard it to be afraid. Nevertheless, the church continued to grow. As a result, the apostles were arrested and put in prison. At night, an angel opened the doors and let them out. He told them to go to the temple and to openly speak the words of life to the people. The Jewish council brought them in and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus; whereupon, they all refused. The council plotted to kill them, but a wise teacher named Gamaliel cautioned it to leave the fate of the apostles in the hands of God.

Ananias and Sapphira

5But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

Question 1

To whom did Peter say Ananias and Sapphira had lied? Why did he say that?

7After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you[1] sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, 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 breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

Many Signs and Wonders Done

12Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. 13None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

Question 2

What role did the miracles have in the growth of the church in Jerusalem?

The Apostles Arrested and Freed

17But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.

Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council and all the senate of the people of Israel and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22But when the officers came, 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 greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

27And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to 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.”

Question 3

What was the response of the apostles to the Council when they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus?

33When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too 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, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Question 4

What did Gamaliel say to the Council that made them agree with him?

Question 5

What did the apostles do after being cautioned by the Council?

People
  • Ananias and Sapphira
  • Lied about their gift

  • Peter
  • Rebuked them for their sin

  • The apostles
  • Did many miracles and were arrested by the high priest and those with him

  • The Jewish Council
  • Interrogated the apostles

  • Gamaliel
  • Advised caution in the Council

Places
  • Jerusalem

Ananias and Sapphira

5But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? 4While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.

Acts 5:1

The previous chapter (vss. 32-37) provide the background for the benevolence.


Acts 5:3

Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit. Vs. 4 says that he lied to God. The Holy Spirit is a Divine Person.One cannot lie to a thing. One lies to a person.


Acts 5:4

Deception was the sin. They had a right to keep part of the price as it was in their control. They did not have to give it all unless they declared that they were giving it all.

7After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you[1] sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, 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 breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

Acts 5:8

They lied by saying they had sold the land for “so much.”

Many Signs and Wonders Done

12Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. 13None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

Acts 5:14

The growth of the church had gone from 3000 (Acts 2:41), to 5000 (Acts 4:4), to multitudes (5:14).

The Apostles Arrested and Freed

17But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.

Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council and all the senate of the people of Israel and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22But when the officers came, 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 greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.

Acts 5:17

Notice the animosity was focused among the Sadducees who rejected the idea of resurrection.

27And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to 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.”

Acts 5:28

Their order here recalls the demand of Acts 4:17-18.


Acts 5:29

The apostles’ response recalls the answer of Peter and John in Acts 4:19.


Acts 5:32

The Holy Spirit is given as a witness; first to the apostles (Acts 4:17-18) and through them to all believers who obey the message He delivered through the gospel.

33When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too 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, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Acts 5:34

Gamaliel was the great teacher of the school of Hillel in his day. He upheld the traditions of the Pharisees. Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel. Paul was one of his students (Acts 22:3).


Acts 5:36

Theudas was a revolutionary who led a movement that failed.


Acts 5:37

Judas was another revolutionary who led a rebel group during a census. Josephus mentions a Judas who led such a revolt in A.D. 6 (Antiquities 18:1:1; 20:5:2).


Acts 5:40

It is amazing that the Council agreed, but they beat the apostles and renewed their restriction.


Acts 5:42

The apostles continued preaching in spite of the Council’s instructions.

Perspectives

The Lord requires honesty and integrity from his followers.

We must obey God rather than men.

We must not cease to preach Jesus whatever the circumstances.