Commentary on Acts of the Apostles Chapters 1-5
by Dave Brown
1:1 The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach,
2 until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
[How did Luke know that the commandment that Jesus gave was through the Holy Spirit? Critics of the bible think he just made that up. This is profound reasoning even for a physician. Why was the Holy Spirit given only to the apostles at this point? Who is being addressed by Jesus in this context is of great importance. We dare not neglect this little detail. The word "apostle" means messenger, but it is being used here in its official sense -- the 12 disciples, or, in this case, the remaining 11.]
3 To whom he also showed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking the things concerning the kingdom of God:
[What is the kingdom of God? -- do your not understand it? ... few scholars understand it. I will not be until Chapter 2 before we find this spelled out for us. If your concept of it is vague, don't feel bad. Even Jesus' disciples/apostles did not seem to understand what it was at this time. We surmise that they could not until their minds and hearts were opened by the truth given by the Holy Spirit.]
4 and, being assembled together with them, he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, (said he,) ye heard from me.:
5 For John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit not many days hence.
["Them" here is still the 11 apostles. So Jesus is telling them that when they go to Jerusalem and wait there that they will be baptized in the Holy Spirit shortly. What is the baptism in the Holy Spirit? Most Christians do not know ... they think that all Christians are baptized in the Holy Spirit. Well, let's take it one step at a time; the book of Acts will be very explicit in just what this baptism is. Recognize that at this time the gifts of the Holy Spirit has been promised only to the apostles. This will change, but not yet.]
6 They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?
[I would guess this would be a reasonable question. They were thinking like they had always thought -- that this was some worldly kingdom. Premillinialists still think the same way. I do not know why, but this seems to be a common flaw in mankind in general -- to think in purely worldly terms. They were quite anxious to cash in (so to speak) on the resurrection. After all, if this guy could come back from the dead, he could do anything, right? So, overthrowing the Romans -- no problem -- just as easy as Moses overthrew Egypt (maybe easier). So Lord, tell us when this is going to happen ... we really want to know.]
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority.
8 But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
[Now wait, that is not exactly what they had asked. Note that if Jesus had answered this as a simple "yes or no" question with a yes or a no he would have been misleading them. YES would have inferred to them that a worldly kingdom was about to appear (since this was the sense in which they were using the word "kingdom"). Of course, we know that Jesus never taught he would set up a worldly kingdom, but they just did not want to see that. On the other hand, if he had said NO, that would have been misleading as well, since, in fact, he was about to establish the beginning of a spiritual kingdom that had never existed before this time.]
[Note how often the term Holy Spirit appears in this first chapter. Certainly, God (the Father and the Son) both want to make sure that everyone reading knows of the Holy Spirit's involvement both in the events being recorded and in this document itself. We often neglect Him and call Him the "third person of the Godhead" (a term that is not in scripture either explicitly or by inference). The Holy Spirit is as much God as is the Father and Jesus Christ; He is not the third person of anything.]
9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
[This event is generally referenced as the ascension. We will learn more about just what happened in heaven as we go on with our study of Acts.]
10 And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.
[This is informative -- this and many other passages that tell of the "second coming" of Jesus into final judgment, indicate that it will be something that will be recognized. There is no implication as to when this would occur and all Christians of all ages have been given instructions to look for and expect it, since He will come "as a thief in the night." The bible contains no implication that Jesus is going to make some hidden appearance to a select few or that it will only be known of or able to be forecast by a select few. Those who teach this are obvious frauds and liars.]
12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is nigh unto Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey off.
13 And when they were come in, they went up into the upper chamber, where they were abiding; both Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James (the son) of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas (the son) of James.
14 These all with one accord continued stedfastly in prayer, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
[This nails down just who was involved above -- there is no doubt as to who the "apostles" are here. The word does have a generic meaning ("messengers"), and all Christians should be apostles in that general sense of the word. But to apply that interpretation here is extremely misleading. There were a very limited number of men that Jesus promised would be baptized in the Holy Spirit shortly, and their names are given in verse 13, along with Mathias, who was the replacement for Judas Iscariot.]
15 And in these days Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren, and said (and there was a multitude of persons (gathered) together, about a hundred and twenty),
16 Brethren, it was needful that the Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spake before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus.
[The subject was Judas and what to do with his vacant seat; the one who gave information on this subject, being inspired by the Holy Spirit, was David, an Old Testament king and prophet. Psalms 60:25, see verse 20.]
17 For he was numbered among us, and received his portion in this ministry.
18(Now this man obtained a field with the reward of his iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it became known to all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch that in their language that field was called Akeldama, that is, The field of blood.)
[Interesting parenthetical given in verses 18-19 that some want to make contradict with Matthew's account of Judas' death. The potters' field that was purchased with the money that Judas threw back at them was where the indigent were buried -- convenient since the clay had been removed leaving holes, some of the potentially quite deep. This says nothing about his fall causing his death -- I take it they took him down from his hanging himself and disposed of his body in his own field (the one that was purchased with his money, since no one else would take it), and this merely tells us what happened when they threw his body into one of the holes. I cannot state all of this as fact, obviously, but it is certainly a plausible explanation in harmony with Matthew.]
[Here is Matthew’s account Matthew 27:3-10: “Then Judas , who betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 saying, I have sinned in that I betrayed innocent blood. But they said, What is that to us? see thou (to it). 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver into the sanctuary, and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6 And the chief priests took the pieces of silver, and said, It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is the price of blood. 7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8 Wherefore that field was called, the field of blood, unto this day. 9 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was priced, whom (certain) of the children of Israel did price; 10 and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.”]
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be made desolate, And let no man dwell therein: and, His office let another take.
[We will not go into detail here, but it is interesting how they extract principles from the Old Testament and apply them to the current situation. There is no pretense that they original intent was that of establishing an exact directive for the current situation; only that the principle applies. This is an approved use of scripture, and there is no reason that we should not apply this example to our use of scripture today. It is a biblical principle that vacant positions should be filled, especially a vacancy of this nature caused by one such as Judas. Should his error continue to cause there to be an incomplete number of apostles?]
[Psalms 69:20-26: “Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. 21 They gave me also gall for my food; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. 22 Let their table before them become a snare; and when they are in peace, (let it become) a trap. 23 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see; and make their loins continually to shake. 24 Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let the fierceness of thine anger overtake them. 25 Let their habitation be desolate; let none dwell in their tents. 26 For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they tell of the sorrow of those whom thou hast wounded.]
21 Of the men therefore that have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us,
22 beginning from the baptism of John, unto the day that he was received up from us, of these must one become a witness with us of his resurrection.
[This defined what is meant by a "witness" in the Acts' sense of the word. When we encounter this word we will make reference to this definition, and we will see that this is the way that the word is generally used, i.e., an eye witness. ONLY the apostles were witnesses in this sense. With one exception -- it is interesting to note that in Acts 13:31, Paul is careful NOT to include himself as a witness in this sense of the word. No one qualifies to be a witness in this sense today.]
23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show of these two the one whom thou hast chosen,
25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place.
26 And they gave lots for them; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
[This was a common way of resolving such matters, and there would certainly be no reason for us not to use it today if something came up that was totally unresolvable in any other way.]
[Recall that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was promised to the apostles in Acts 1. Chapter 2 is the fulfillment of that promise. The deeper (more complex) part of this chapter will come with the preaching of the apostles, and most specifically Peter.]
2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place.
[This was certainly specifically in reference to the apostles (see last verse of Chapter 1), but there were no doubt many of the 120 with them in observance of Pentecost, so we are not going to say that it was only the apostles assembled at this time. However, we shall see that verse 14 makes it clear that it was only the apostles who received the baptism in the Holy Spirit at this point. Notice that what they were doing was the same thing that they had done for years, and some of them for decades -- keeping Pentecost -- nothing more and nothing less. They had no expectation whatsoever of what was to follow.]
2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
[It was not fire and it was not wind; these are similes used to describe what occurred to the best of the writer's abilities. For sure there was nothing at all hidden or covert about it -- it was quite clear to all, as will be the fact that they were speaking in languages that they had obviously never learned. This defines what the New Testament means by "speaking in tongues" and unless it is superseded with another definition later on, we should recognize that these words were understandable, and understood by at least some of the people who heard. We shall see that the work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal the truth and to confirm the truth. This miracle facilitated both the revelation of the truth and its confirmation in that by hearing in their own tongues there was no language translation problem, and by recognized the miraculous nature of what was happening, the truth was validated.]
5 Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
6 And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speaking in his own language.
[So, added to the apostles and whoever may have been keeping Pentecost with them, now is a great multitude of people who are astounded by what they see and hear.]
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying, Behold, are not all these that speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we, every man in our own language wherein we were born?
9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Judaea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia,
10 in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretans and Arabians, we hear them speaking in our tongues the mighty works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were perplexed, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
13 But others mocking said, They are filled with new wine.
[The various languages are given (in my opinion) to demonstrate the breadth of the miracle -- in fact, this could just be examples representative of many more languages that are not mentioned. We can be assured that if someone needed the truth translated into their language, for sure that translation would have taken place. Some might be able to pull off a deception if it were only one or two other languages, but it would be very hard to believe that they could have learned all of these languages. Do we find the mockery surprising? Not at all. There will always be this element, so this just demonstrate the reality of Luke's testimony. It also provides Peter with a jumping off point, so to speak.]
[This is the beginning of a rather long, complex and extended sermon that Peter takes the opportunity to preach (along with the eleven other apostles, who were in a sense "translating" what he said to the various nationalities).]
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spake forth unto them, (saying), Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and give ear unto my words.
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose; seeing it is (but) the third hour of the day.
[Not the most effective argument against the apostles sobriety, but his intent here was to deflect the malicious criticism -- all who knew the apostles knew they were not drunkards. Verse 14 states definitively that the ones who were speaking here (as influenced by the Holy Spirit) were the apostles. The alternative would be for everyone to be speaking at once; surely this alternative can be readily discounted as being absurd.]
16 but this is that which hath been spoken through the prophet Joel:
[The following is a prophesy from Joel 2:28-32. It is very interesting throughout the book of Acts to see the amount of Old Testament scripture that is used as opposed to using miracles for proof. It is reasonable to suppose that once God reveals something He expects us to use that which has been revealed -- He (generally) does not reveal the same thing over and over again. Test that out as we continue. And especially to the Jews who for sure knew the Old Testament, albeit, much of it they refused to understand. The following are the words of Joel.]
17a And it shall be in the last days, saith God, I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh:
[If this is the fulfillment, then they were in the last days (which I believe to be the final dispensation), and if THEY were in the last days, then for certain WE are in the last days. What is being observed here in the Holy Spirit coming upon the apostles is the beginning of this fulfillment -- it will not get to "all flesh" until it gets to the Samaritans in Acts 8 and the Gentiles in Acts 10. The essence of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the truth that was revealed, not the mechanism by which it was revealed and confirmed. It is the truth that saves -- the gospel (Rom. 1:16), not the ability to perform a miracle.]
17b And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams.
[Peter explains in terms of something that they knew -- these were all either Jews by nationality or proselytes, so they knew the Old Testament. It is a fairly long passage he quotes -- Joel 2:28-32. Lets look at this first verse of it and parse it out ...
- Last days -- This must mean that they were in the last days or the latter days (as opposed to the former days). Because Peter said "this is what Joel was talking about" and Joel said that this would not happen until the last days. If they were in the last days, then WE are in the last days. The significance of this is that God spoke through the fathers and Moses in the former days -- it is talking about revelation. Now these men are speaking something new and different; and yet, not really since it all had be prophesied in the Old Testament.
- Upon all flesh -- does this literally mean all flesh? If it did it would include animals and fish. Well, we know that is not the case, but does it mean all humans? If it did, then it would include believers and unbelievers alike. So, most believe that it is not talking about everyone everywhere. How about all believers? Well, all believers will certainly get the benefit of what is happening at Pentecost and subsequent to it, but this does not mean that every believer will be baptized in the Holy Spirit and be able to work miracles. We see that as we continue studying the book of Acts. So "all flesh" is not to be interpreted literally. Rather, it means to all types of flesh -- all types of humans -- all races, all nations, all economic classes, all mental capabilities, men and women alike. This is illustrated in the subsequent verses.
- Prophesy, visions, dreams --again, this is not promised to everyone, but everyone who is a believer will reap the benefits of it, and that is much more important to merely performing miracles and mouthing the truth. It is far more important to believe the truth than to merely say the truth. Many people say the truth but they do not live it. The most important thing is that we know it to live it. These were just the mechanisms for bringing this about.
18 Yea and on my servants and on my handmaidens in those days Will I pour forth of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
[This was to illustrate the breadth of it -- all encompassing -- no age limitation, no gender limitation, and no economic limitation. All would be included in this blessing, one way or another.]
19 And I will show wonders in the heaven above, And signs on the earth beneath; Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the day of the Lord come, That great and notable (day).
21 And it shall be, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
[These metaphors are often used to signify major changes in the way that God would deal with mankind ... often major changes in political powers and structure, e.g., the stars falling. We might speculate on their specific meaning but anyone who teaches it as anything but speculation should be watched very carefully. That great and notable day would seem to me to be the second coming of Jesus in judgment. "Calling on the name of the Lord" is also a figure of speech -- think about what it would mean if it were taken literally. It is a common Old Testament idiom that refers to taking refuge in something, or appealing to its authority. If someone called on the name of Caesar over a point of law, that would be a similar use of this idiom. It has much more content than just making a verbal statement. It demonstrates allegiance to the person, and thus a willingness to obey.]
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know;
23 him, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay:
24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
[This is the same Peter who denied Jesus less then two months before this. The power of his accusations demonstrates the confidence with which he now spoke. His reasoning here is that Jesus rose from the dead because it was impossible for him not to. This follows from the fact that once God makes a statement that something is going to happen, it will happen, and there is no way to reverse it.]
25 For David saith concerning him, I beheld the Lord always before my face; For he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26 Therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; Moreover my flesh also shall dwell in hope:
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul unto Hades, Neither wilt thou give thy Holy One to see corruption.
28 Thou madest known unto me the ways of life; Thou shalt make me full of gladness with thy countenance.
29 Brethren, I may say unto you freely of the patriarch David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us unto this day.
[Ps. 16:8-11 -- since David was obviously not talking about himself, Peter concludes that he is talking about someone whose flesh did not see corruption after physical death -- Jesus.]
30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins he would set (one) upon his throne;
[2 Samuel 7:12 “When thy days are fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, that shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.”]
31 he foreseeing (this) spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
32 This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses.
["We all" here is strictly the apostles -- they were the ones speaking (see verse 14) and check back to chapter 1 to see how the word "witness" is defined in the book of Acts when it comes to the eye-witnesses of what Christ did from the first. But, the apostles clearly were NOT witnesses of his resurrection ... they saw Jesus after he was resurrected and from that they inferred that he was resurrected, but they did not witness the resurrecting of Jesus itself (no one did). What they DID witness (recorded in Acts 1) was the ascension of Jesus into heaven, and this is what is being referenced here ("This Jesus did God raise up"). It was at this point that Jesus took the throne of David and sat down at the right hand of God. Verses 30 and 31 define this to be the case. The resurrection was the point at which his body did not see corruption, the ascension was when he sat on the throne of David ... now a spiritual throne in heaven.]
[Once Jesus took this throne we have all of the elements of a kingdom -- a king (Jesus), subjects (Christians) and a domain (the world). From this point forward we never again hear of the kingdom being "at hand" -- something that both John the Baptism and Jesus taught. The kingdom is not "at hand" at this point, it is a reality.]
[Verses 30-31 are packed with ramifications. Let's take them one at a time:
- Prophet -- David is talked about as being a prophet. Many of the Psalms that he wrote directly tell of things to come and are inspired doctrine; no doubt David was inspired by the Holy Spirit and could tell us about things to take place in the last days.
- "Sworn with an oath ..." I would be very interested to know just how Jews view these promises of God. Are they still given consideration? Examples are in Ps. 89:3-4; Ps. 132:11; Ps. 89:35-36 and the original promise: 2 Sam. 7:11-16. God swore with an oath to David that at some time in the future someone of his seed would sit on "David's throne." I would expect that the Jews then and now view this to be a physical throne, and as such they cannot begin to understand what is being stated here.
- "he forseeing (this)" -- the word "this" was inserted by the translators ... if we read it without the "this" in there it just says that David was forseeing ... no real change in meaning. But I believe the translators were right ... David was not just forseeing a whole lot of things -- he was forseeing the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- "... spake of the resurrection of the Christ" -- there are really two things in play here and both are included ... please consider ...
- First that he foresaw the resurrection of Jesus as fulfilling the oath made to David that one of David's ancestors would sit upon David's throne. Jesus was of the tribe of Judah and thus was an decendant of David. What this means is that Jesus has taken the spiritual throne now in heaven and has fulfilled this prophecy. Look above and read verses 30-31 again and see if that is not what this says to you. Why is this important? It all gets down to when the kingdom was "established." The gospel writers (other than John) really stressed Jesus and John the Baptist making the big point that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." This is NEVER stated again after Pentecost (Acts 2). Instead, the kingdom is stated to be a reality. Think about it -- how could Jesus be sitting on the throne (of David) and there NOT be a kingdom. Can you have a king without a kingdom? Such would be a farce and Jesus is not presiding over a farce.
- Second, David foresaw something else in his prophesying ... looking ahead in the verse as opposed to looking back: "he foreseeing (this) spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption." This refers back to the verse in Psalms that is quoted in verse 27. David foresaw that Jesus would not be left in the grave. This is not an either-or proposition -- both the first and the second are included. The first is the spriritual truth that was revealed -- the kingdom has been established and Jesus is sitting on the throne and presiding over it. The second is the proof of this fact -- Jesus has been resurrected from the dead.]
33 Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear.
[Notice how orderly this is. Jesus ascends to heaven. At that point, he receives from God "the promise of the Holy Spirit." This might well be the Holy Spirit Himself. Recall, it was Jesus who would send the Holy Spirit (stated by Jesus in the John 15:26 and 16:7). In this regard, the Father promised the Holy Spirit to Jesus and Jesus received this promise from the Father, and in turn baptized the apostles in the Holy Spirit (in fulfillment of the statement of John the Baptist: "He [Jesus] shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit" Mt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16).]
34 For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
35 Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet.
[Further confirmation of the above from Ps. 110:1. Again, the use of scripture to prove his point when he could have performed a miracle (had God willed it) demonstrates the superiority of the scriptures over the miraculous when it comes to already revealed and established truth. Of course, new revelation had to come by (and be validated by) the miraculous ... but this was established truth, not new truth.]
[We have come to the point in Peter's sermon where the listeners have recognized their sin and ... in the Jewish tradition ... recognize that there is something they need to do. Of course, if there was NOTHING that they needed to do, then this would be an excellent time for Peter to tell them that. But he does not, and as we go through the book of Acts we will see these basic commands repeated over and over again as the gospel goes to all types and classes of people.]
36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.
[God "made him" when he ascended into heaven and sat down on the throne of David -- he became both Lord and Christ.]
37 Now when they heard (this,) they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?
38 And Peter (said) unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
[The gift here IS the Holy Spirit, who dwells in all Christians. This is validated in Acts 5:32. Romans 8 further explains what this means. It is a fairly deep subject that we will not jump on now except to say that those who obeyed Christ (through Peter) indeed received this gift. We know that it does not necessarily imply the ability to work miracles since we will see clearly that ALL Christians did not have the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit; but all Christians did and continue to have the Holy Spirit in them as long as it is their goal to do all of God's will. By studying God's word you are being filled with the Holy Spirit. That term ("filled with the Holy Spirit" will be used several times in the book of Acts, and we will note its every occurrence. One can be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak the truth of God without anything visibly supernatural occurring. Of course, all influences of God regardless of source or mode of conveyance involve God, who is Supernatural. But we make a distinction between things that are the invisible influences of God (i.e., Gods providence) and those things that are obviously and visibly supernatural performed in order to reveal and confirm the truth (which the New Testament calls signs, wonders, powers and miracles).]
39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, (even) as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.
[What promise is he talking about? Acts 2:33 "Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear." Jesus received the promise of the Holy Spirit when he ascended into heaven and he turned around and poured forth the Holy Spirit upon them. When did Jesus promise this? Several times ... here is one -- John 14:26: "But the Comforter, (even) the Holy Spirit , whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you."]
40 And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation.
[We do not have all of the words spoken by the apostles that day. I imagine there were many questions and lots of explanations. However, we do have what we need. In summary these words were to motivate them to obey not only the initial commands of conversion, but to remain a faithful servant of Christ throughout life. This statement goes without saying on the many other occasions when we have sermons and discussions of the apostles and Christians. This is not a word-for-word recounting of everything said; but it is a sufficient summary of the essence of what they said, and thus it provides all that we need to understand and act upon the events and statements revealed.]
[In once sense we CAN save ourselves -- by obeying the commands of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. But in another real sense, it is not we who are saving ourselves -- it is God who is saving us despite the fact that we do not deserve it in the least bit. This might seem to be a contradiction at this point, but it really is not. While we HAVE to realize that SOMETHING on our part is required, we also HAVE to realize that NOTHING that we can do in and of itself can save us -- only the blood of Christ can do that. Salvation is a free gift of God, but we have certain obligations that we have to meet in order to accept this gift. Receiving the word is one of them ...]
41 They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added (unto them) in that day about three thousand souls.
[Those who did not received his word were not baptized. That is a very important aspect of this verse. Those who receive the word of Jesus today will be baptized, not to earn their salvation, but out of a desire to serve their King in every way possible (and what could be easier than to subject ourselves to this simple ritual?).]
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.
[Of course, fellowship (sharing), the Lord's Supper and prayers were just some of the apostles teachings -- but here they are representative of them all.]
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
[All Christians had the Holy Spirit, but not all Christians had the power to work miracles. We can all see the wisdom of that. Later on other Christians will be given "spiritual gifts" or "gifts of the Holy Spirit" (notice plural as opposed to the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is singular). Gifts given by the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles (and later on others) to perform miracles to reveal and confirm the truth. Again, it is explicitly stated that the miracles were done through the apostles -- in the New Testament three words are used to refer to miracles -- signs, wonders and powers (dudamis -- the word from which we get our word dynamite). A sign is something obvious that points to something not-so-obvious. Wonders occur because the event cannot be explained by any natural cause. And, the use of the word power infers that it was the power of God that was being displayed.]
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need.
[Skeptics use this verse to criticize us when we say that we do all things as authorized in the Bible. When an approved example is given, it is binding -- but the questions are, what part of it? and to what extent is it binding? We have many, many other counterexamples where the early church did not do this, and so we can conclude that the full details of this are not binding. What is binding? The love that they had for each other, and their willingness to help each other out in times of need -- THAT is binding. Should this be facilitated in a church at some time, and under some conditions by having all things in common as they did here, then so be it. From the counterexamples that we have we will see that this was not just a total communal type of thing where people did not even own the shirts on their backs. There were two things in play here that do not exist today. First, the literally thousands who were converted were largely there for Pentecost, and so they had no way to sustain themselves. There was also need to train them and teach them before letting them go back home. All of these circumstances need to be taken into consideration before pulling a verse out of context and asking why we don't do that today. We will have much more to say on this as we go through the various counterexamples.]
46 And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.
[They initially met in a part of the temple complex. At this point they were pretty much tolerated as being a Jewish sect -- like the Pharisees and Sadducees, although they probably subsumed some or both of these sects as well as others. There is another argument that skeptics often make -- why don't you meet in upper rooms? (I did not bring this up in Acts 1 because we had too many other more important things to cover, but as we encounter examples in the book of Acts we need to evaluate all of them and determine the extent that they apply to us.) Clearly here meeting in the temple as it says is a counterexample to meeting in an upper room. We will see that they also met in synagogues and in a school facility. The conclusion we draw from this is that we can meet in any place that facilitates our meeting and the activities that accompany it.] [It is interesting that he talks about "breaking bread at home" -- these were common meals as opposed to the Lord's supper. I believe this is inserted here to make it clear that they did not have common meals in the context of the church meetings -- in fact, the only time we find this occurring as a practice of the church seems to be in 1 Corinthians 11 in which case it is condemned and Paul makes the rhetorical question: "don't you people have homes to eat and to drink in? This statement that they took their meals at home further qualifies the statement "they had all things in common" statement made in the previous verse. If they had homes, then obviously they all did not sell their homes.]
47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.
[Some Greek manuscripts have "the church (ekklesia)" in place of "them." It is good when you see the word church in scriptures to think "called out." It was not necessarily a religious word in the first century, as it has become exclusively such today. So "having favor with all the people" indicates that they were not being persecuted at this point ... this was about to change quickly. I would guess one reason that they were not persecuted was that no one was willing to confront the obvious miracles that occurred. However, miracles have always been temporary in nature. God created the universe miraculously, but He sustains it by natural laws. God created the church miraculously, but it will be sustained by men following God's commands ... continuous miracles forever are not necessary, and if we contemplate that, we can clearly see their counterproductive nature (see First Corinthians). So, those who were saved were added to this group of disciples and they grew dramatically in the early few days and weeks of the preaching of the gospel. I think we can feel why this ideal situation is going to change rapidly ... people will be people.]
[Just one more thought to bring closure to this amazing chapter. We have been emphasizing that it was ONLY the apostles who had the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit at this point. The term "poured out" or "received" is use of the Holy Spirit in a special sense to them. We have to realize that it was not the miracles per se that was important -- it was what the miracles did; they (1) revealed the truth, and (2) confirmed that what was being spoken was the truth -- confirmed the truth. BUT ... the gift and the promise are not the miracles -- they are in the truth that was revealed by the miracles. This is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). And, as such, we are as much recipients of the promise of the Holy Spirit and the gift of the Holy Spirit as the apostles were. In fact, it they disobeyed and fell away like Judas did, we who obey those words could get more out of the promise/gift than they did. I doubt any of them (except Judas) fell away, so I am just speaking theoretically. The point is that if we have the word of God that was revealed by the Holy Spirit, then we have the promise and the gift, all of which leads to eternal life. Those who insist that we must have miracles today miss the whole point. The power of God is in the truth, not in the ability to perform miracles. The role of miracles will become clearer as we continue our study of the Book of Acts.]
3:1 Now Peter and John were going up into the temple at the hour of prayer, (being) the ninth (hour).
[What we are going to see going throughout the book of Acts is a general holding on to the Jewish traditions by Jewish Christians. I will be about ten years before any Gentiles are converted to Christ, so for the most part the church was made up of converted Jews and Jewish proselytes. There is nothing wrong with their holding onto their Jewish traditions, but later we will see that they had no right to bind these traditions on Gentiles. This is analogous to our keeping some of the non-religious aspects of Christmas, but NOT under any circumstances attempting to bind them in any way upon our fellow Christians. When a church practices something, it is bound on all of their members ... they cannot refuse to participate in its practices and still be in good standing. This example of Peter and John going into the temple (probably the temple complex) to pray at a specific hour is an individual action on their part -- it is not seen to be in any way binding upon us today. We are to "pray without ceasing" in every appropriate place and at any time.]
2 And a certain man that was lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the door of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
3 who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked to receive an alms.
4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said, Look on us.
5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something from them.
6 But Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.
7 And he took him by the right hand, and raised him up: and immediately his feet and his ankle-bones received strength.
8 And leaping up, he stood, and began to walk; and he entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
10 and they took knowledge of him, that it was he that sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
11 And as he held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.
[Remember the three words for miracle in the new testament -- signs, wonders and powers. This incident fits that definition -- an unquestionable super-natural event. As we go through the book of Acts we will consider all of the miracles that are recorded and find that they are quite definitive.]
[The following is the second recorded sermon of Peter (the first was with the other disciples on Pentecost). Please recognize that weeks could have intervened between these events, although probably not a great amount of time. The book of Acts itself does not give us too much to gauge the time that elapses between its various events. We will comment on this as it becomes important.]
12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this man? or why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him to walk?
[Peter does not try to take the credit, which is to his credit.]
13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Servant Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied before the face of Pilate, when he had determined to release him.
[Once again, he has not problem pointing the finger at those responsible. The "ye" here is quite generic -- no doubt some of them had little to do with it; others were probably directly responsible.]
14 But ye denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you,
15 and killed the Prince of life; whom God raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
[The "witnesses" here are Peter and John -- recall when this word was define "in the Acts sense" in Chapter 1 to be the apostles.]
16 And by faith in his name hath his name made this man strong, whom ye behold and know: yea, the faith which is through him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
[Kind of an interesting verse. "His name" is given the credit to have caused the miracle. But prior to that it says that it was "faith in His name." If we look back the statement was: (Acts 3:6) "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." This indicates that Peter was "calling on the name" or in other words appealing to the authority of the one who owns that name. The faith was not the man's who was healed; it was Peter's. The nature of all of the healing miracles in the book of Acts is reiterated: they were immediate and they were complete, and this fact was obvious to all (not hidden in any way).]
17 And now, brethren, I know that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
[Now this IS a twist from Acts 2 -- Peter did not cut them any slack back then. Ignorance is not an excuse, but it certainly is a mitigating circumstance. What he is saying is that the need for guilt is in the past -- so let's move on.]
18 But the things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.
19 Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord;
20 and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, (even) Jesus:
21 whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old.
[While there were many abuses at the time, this Jewish audience had a respect for the scriptures and a general knowledge of it. Peter is drawing upon this to make his case.]
22 Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you.
23 And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.
24 Yea and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days.
25 Ye are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.
[Peter was interrupted at this point ... remember that there were no verse and chapter divisions in the original.]
4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,
2 being sore troubled because they taught the people, and proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
[Their power depended on people disbelieving that there was a resurrection. Perhaps they were sincere in their beliefs and they thought they could prove it from the Old Testament ... perhaps, but I doubt it. When people resort to force, their ability to prove their case in any other way is questionable.]
3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in ward unto the morrow: for it was now eventide.
[Did Jesus or any of the apostles EVER use physical force to promote the gospel? I am sure that some will cite the casting out of the money-changers, but that is really the exception that proves the rule. What Jesus didto cleanse the temple was nothing like this. Jesus might have struck a few animals in the process, but he did not physically strike any human. It is wrong for Christians (or for that matter, any religion) today to even use political power (much less physical force) to achieve their cause -- it only does the exact of that they want.]
4 But many of them that heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
[This was part of God's providence for protecting the Apostles and the early Christians in general. However, we will see that once the gospel was well established in Jerusalem, God used the sins of the Jews (and especially the Sadducees) to further the cause of taking the gospel, not just to Jerusalem, but to the whole world.]
5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem;
6 and Annas the high priest (was there), and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest.
7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, By what power, or in what name, have ye done this?
[Perhaps they felt that Peter and John would back down after being in prison over night. Annas was considered to be the high priest at this time in an administrative sense. Annas was the son-in-law of Caiaphas, who also served as the high priest during the time of Jesus' crucifixion.]
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders,
9 if we this day are examined concerning a good deed done to an impotent man, by what means this man is made whole;
10 be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, (even) in him doth this man stand here before you whole.
["Filled with the Holy Spirit" as in Acts 2:4, but this time with no signs. Miracles were no longer needed for this event -- Peter knew the truth, and the accusers were familiar with the Old Testament. The usage of the term "filled with the Holy Spirit" here demonstrates that one can be filled with the Holy Spirit without having to demonstrate miraculous capabilities. In fact, all Christians are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit today (Ephesians 5:18-19): "And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. ..." This also demonstrates that this is something well within every Christian's capabilities. Also, notice Acts 5:32: "And we are witnesses of these things; and (so is) the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him." The Holy Spirit is a gift to each one who obeys the LORD.]
[Essentially Peter stated that the question was out of order -- why should they be examined for healing someone? This established them as being wrong per se. How could such an act be wrong? But if they had to ask, it was by the power and in the name of Jesus. It is interesting that there is no challenge as to whether it was a legitimate miracle or not. That seems to be an accepted and unarguable fact..]
11 He is the stone which was set at naught of you the builders, which was made the head of the corner.
[Most of them were probably familiar with Psalms 118:22, "The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner," which Peter is paraphrasing to them. The builders (Jewish religious leaders) set this stone at naught as if it were nothing. But now this stone is the head of the corner -- the integrity of which all of the rest of the building depends.]
12 And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved.
[Not part of the Old Testament quote, Peter here speaks by the authority of the Holy Spirit. The authority is not only to perform a miracle, it is also the authority to preach the gospel, which leads to salvation. "Any other name" reference back to verse 10: "... in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth ..." Jesus provided the authority for Peter to perform this miracle, so in essence the mention of Jesus' name is effectively the same as referring to His person.]
13 Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
[Christians often hear: "Oh, are you one of those Jesus people. You don't believe all that stuff do you?" I doubt that this was what this last clause is trying to infer, but that is what came to my mind. At that time having fishermen talking to them like this would be surprising. This type of questioning puts the Christian on the defensive. The implication is that you could not possibly have come to this conclusion on your own, You must just be a blind follower of Jesus -- "one of them types or people." Yes, we know this ploy well -- it is an attempt to stampede others to be mindless. In fact, true Christians have had to give due consideration to the gospel since is it not just a belief system, the gospel is a way of life.]
14 And seeing the man that was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
16 saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been wrought through them, is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
[Shades of the reaction to the raising of Lazarus in John 11. They could not argue that the miracle was not legitimately from God, because they knew that it was. Miracles are of little use to people who do not want to believe something. God will not strip us of our free will, and thus many today reject the resurrection of Jesus despite the overwhelming evidence supporting it. This has nothing to do with logic -- it has everything to do with prejudice (what a terrible thing!), and an unwillingness to change our minds to conform to the ways of Jesus.]
17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
18 And they called them, and charged them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
[Why didn't they want it to spread? It has to do with their losing their power and positions (staus).]
19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye:
20 for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard.
[Peter and John would agree that they should abide by their judgments and edicts as long as they did not conflict with the will of God. But if God gives a command that is contradicted by human law, then we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29.]
21 And they, when they had further threatened them, let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people; for all men glorified God for that which was done.
22 For the man was more than forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was wrought.
[The problem they saw in punishing the apostles had nothing to do with doctrine or law. It had to do with the people generally accepting and supporting the apostles at this point. They saw it with their own eyes and the average person had every reason (including eternal life) to believe, This protection of all believers will be a temporary thing, but it seems quite likely that God's providence was protecting the preachers of the gospel at this point.]
23 And being let go, they came to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said unto them.
24 And they, when they heard it, lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, O Lord, thou that didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is:
25 who by the Holy Spirit, (by) the mouth of our father David thy servant, didst say, Why did the Gentiles rage, And the peoples imagine vain things?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves in array, And the rulers were gathered together, Against the Lord, and against his Anointed:
27 for of a truth in this city against thy holy Servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together,
28 to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council foreordained to come to pass.
[The quotation of scripture in the context of a prayer is certainly not to tell God something that He does not already know. It was to give assurance to those who were gathered together and praying, and to provide context for their request. Here are the source passages:
24 -- Psalms 146:6: " ... God: Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is; who keepeth truth for ever; ..."
25-26 -- Psalms 2:1-2: "Why do the nations rage, and the peoples meditate a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Jehovah, and against his anointed, ..."]
29 And now, Lord, look upon their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness,
30 while thy stretchest forth thy hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of thy holy Servant Jesus.
[They request God's help as they are carrying out the Great Commission.]
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken wherein they were gathered together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
[Have you noticed the pattern that whenever it says someone is filled with the Holy Spirit that it immediately says: "and they spoke." It is impossible be filled with the Holy Spirit and not want to speak whatever truth you know. Being "filled with the Holy Spirit" is a term that does not necessarily imply any miraculous cause, nor does it have to produce some miraculous effect. Romans 8 indicates that all Christians are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and we will saw in Acts 5:32 that the Holy Spirit is a gift to all Christians. Clearly not all Christians had miraculous abilities. Luke is careful to indicate who does ... Acts 4:33 "And with great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all." The apostles were the only eye witnesses of these things. Other Christians will obtain help from gifts of the Holy Spirit as we move forward.]
[After relating the issues with Peter and John's persecution by the Sadducees, and the prayer that followed, Luke related (above) some very positive and some negative aspects of the early church at Jerusalem. It is important to recognize that these things did not just happen in a matter of hours or days. We are not given the timing, but we can conclude that Luke is picking out major events as opposed to giving us a day by day history. In what follows Luke stresses the general giving and benevolent nature of the early Christians. However, this was not without its problems, as we see both in Chapters 5 and 6. Luke does not cover up these issues, but presents them anticipating that there will be similar issues in local churches throughout the last days. I surmise that his emphasis on the sharing nature of the Christians might have been to demonstrate a contrast to what seems to have become an issue in the Synagogues ... rich vs. poor, and the conventional wisdom at that time that the rich are rich because their righteousness is being favored by God. Recall that after Jesus taught the difficulty of a rich man entering into the Kingdom (as a camel going through the eye of a needle) that his disciples asked him: "then, who CAN be saved?" Jesus gives them instruction into how God judges separate and apart from wealth. Note that the thoughts at the end of Chapter 4 go right into Chapter 5.]
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul: and not one (of them) said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
[This is an example that all churches should follow today. However, it must be viewed in light of all that the New Testament says on the subject and not just this one or two verses out of context. Just what does it mean: "they had all things common?" Could brother X take the shirt off of brother Y's back? Clearly more explanation of this is necessary in order for us to follow this example, and it will be provided shortly. This verse is not talking about mandates or taxation, confiscation of wealth or anything of the sort. It is talking about an ONGOING attitude that Christians have toward one another, and one that should be prevalent without any coercion from church leaders or the government today.]
33 And with great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
[It seems that there was a fairly protracted period of time in which the church could grow and prosper before it got hit with persecution. The persecution would be used by God for good, but in due time.]
34 For neither was there among them any that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35 and laid them at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need.
[There is a good chance that these were special needs -- that many had stayed from Pentecost anticipating the end, and had no source of income. This may well be, but it is no cause for us to consider verses 34 and 35 to be non-binding. If there are legitimate needs to be met, and they cannot be met (scripturally) in other ways, then they should be met in this way today. However, this is not talking about anything that is coerced -- all giving of this nature was strictly free will. (This is what made it so remarkable!) Later on Paul gives Timothy instructions to give to those who are rich in the church (1 Timothy 6:17), indicating that there was no abandonment of the concept of private property -- something that will also be seen shortly in Chapter 5.]
36 And Joseph, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, Son of exhortation), a Levite, a man of Cyprus by race,
37 having a field, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.
[Here we are introduced to Barnabas, and great model Christian. This is presented as an example of what is talked about in verses 34 and 35. The fact that it is singled out indicates that it was a special event and not one that would just be taken for granted, mandated or expected of all wealthy Christians. No doubt it was also pointed out as being special to all of the Christians there at Jerusalem, and that would lead us to understand the events that are described next. Again, recall that there were not chapter division in the original manuscripts.]
5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 and 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.
[When Luke says BUT you can be sure that there is something very much different from the action of Barnabas that is going to be described.]
3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back (part) of the price of the land?
["Satan filled thy heart" as opposed to being "filled with the Holy Spirit (see 4:31). Note that the major sin was not one of greed; it was one of lying. Why would they lie? It would seem that they wanted the glory that Barnabas got, but they did not really want to part with the entire amount that they received for their land. This is also made clear in the verses that follow.]
4 While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God.
[This makes it very clear that there was no confiscation of private property -- Peter makes it clear to them and to us that we have power over what we own and we are free to give as much or as little of it as we determine in our heart. The amount given may be an issue -- certainly we are to give freely -- but this is taught elsewhere and is not the lesson here. The lesson here has to do with lying about what good you have done. We would all be liars ourselves right now if we stated (or even thought) that we have never been guilty of exaggerating to others our own righteousness. So, this is a lesson that we all need to take to heart. Have we ever sold anything to help someone else out? What A&S did was a good thing; but the reason they did it made it evil.]
5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost: and great fear came upon all that heard it.
6 And the young men arose and wrapped him round, and they carried him out and buried him.
7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much. And she said, Yea, for so much.
9 But Peter (said) unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to try the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them that have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out.
10 And she fell down immediately at his feet, and gave up the ghost: and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband.
11 And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all that heard these things.
[If this does not produce fear in us then we just don't get it. We are all guilty of this same thing to some extent. We might ask then, why such an immediate and severe punishment? A legitimate question that will continue to be answered as we continue our study. For now, let me add my speculation. The church was growing dramatically, and it seems like it was almost becoming the "in thing" to become a Christian. Is this what God wants?]
[We will see several punitive miracles throughout the book of Acts -- this is the first. There will be a pattern. Recognize that A&S were not just being greedy, and they were not JUST lying. They were lying with a purpose, and that was to take advantage of the church for their own self aggrandizement. This is something that God hates. He will not have His church (the body of Christ) corrupted by those who want to use it for their own gain or their own popularity and power. This is a warning to them immediately at the outset of the church in its infancy, but it is also a warning to us today, and especially to preachers. You might not get struck dead, but if this is what your service to the Lord is all about, it will cost you throughout eternity.]
[The death of Annanias and Sapphira had a dramatic effect. It is very possible that other punitive miracles might have been performed at this time and that this is just an example of one. It is certain that Luke is not reporting everything in his extremely concise treatment of this history.]
12 And 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.
[Why repeat what was already stated in 4:33? Luke seems to want to be very careful in stating just who performed the miracles at this point. Much false doctrine today would be avoided if all teachers would make this distinction. And, what is so important about the place they met? It is quite important that we recognize that the place where we meet is not to become a shrine. There were a variety of places where the disciples met -- upper rooms, in houses, at a school, in this case in a part of the temple. Is any one place mandated? Of course not? Why not? Because it is not important. A place is necessary -- the church can borrow it, rent it or own it. This choice should be based on expediency and not on doctrine because no such doctrine as to location exists as to the location of our worship..]
13 But of the rest durst no man join himself to them: howbeit the people magnified them;
[A complicated verse ... just who were the rest? Consider the alternatives: (1) the Christians; (2) the people who generally favored them but were not Christians; or (3) the people who opposed the apostles. "Them" here is the "they" in verse 12. These are they who were of one accord, so that would be the Christians. The people who were not Christians but who magnified them are mentioned in the second clause of the verse, so it would not be them. Thus, it must be the enemies who dared not to join themselves to them for whatever reason they imagined. I believe what makes the verse complex is the ordering, which often in the Greek is a bit difficult to parse. In this case, if the second part of the verse were to precede the first clause, the verse would be quite understandable to us. ("The people magnified them; howbeit, of the rest durst no man join himself to them") Now, if we think about it -- the enemies of the apostles might be tempted to join them for their own selfish reasons. The death of A&S would certainly have a chilling effect on anyone so inclined.]
14 and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of them and women;
15 insomuch that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that, as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some one of them.
16 And there also came together the multitudes from the cities round about Jerusalem, bringing sick folk, and them that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
17 But the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy,
[Note the contrast: filled with jealousy as opposed to filled with the Holy Spirit. There is similarity between the two in that what you are "filled with" is what you are allowing to control you. Jealousy differs from envy; the former being fear of a loss of something (power or a spouse or anything else), while envy is a desire for what someone else has. We will see where these evils will so control people as to make them totally irrational ... even to the point of insanity.]
18 and laid hands on the apostles, and put them in public ward.
19 But an angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them out, and said,
20 Go ye, and stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this Life.
[The "words of this life" are the words of the gospel of Jesus Christ.]
21 And when they heard (this), they entered into the temple about daybreak, 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-house to have them brought.
22 But the officers that came found them not in the prison; and they returned, and told,
23 saying, The prison-house we found shut in all safety, and the keepers standing at the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.
24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were much perplexed concerning them whereunto this would grow.
[You would think that they would be perplexed as to how the miracle could have been pulled off. Seems they did not even attempt to rationalize it ... their concern was with the growth of this new religion, which prior to this point was pretty much considered to be a sect within Judaism.]
25 And there came one and told them, Behold, the men whom ye put in the prison are in the temple standing and teaching the people.
26 Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them, (but) without violence; for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.
[We might consider that this could be the providence of God that even though a large proportion of the people were not converted for one reason or another, there was still a large proportion that were protective of the apostles.]
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,
28 saying, We strictly charged you not to teach in this name: and behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, We must obey God rather than men.
[This is the only exception to our obeying the established government (Romans 13) -- when such obedience keeps us from obeying God.]
30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, hanging him on a tree.
31 Him did God exalt with his right hand (to be) a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.
32 And we are witnesses of these things; and (so is) the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
[While all Christians did not have the ability to perform miracles, all Christians did have the gift of the Holy Spirit -- explaining Acts 2:38 "... and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." THE gift, just one, that being the Holy Spirit Himself. Acts 5:32: “And we are witnesses of these things; and (so is) the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” GIFT, not GIFTS. Luke 11:13: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall (your) heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?]
[“Gifts of the Holy Spirit” were miraculous capabilities that the Holy Spirit gave to certain Christians. Hebrews 2:4: “God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.” The will of the Holy Spirit.]
33 But they, when they heard this, were cut to the heart, and minded to slay them.
[When things get down to this being your only solution, you can be sure that you are in the “gall of bitterness and the bonds of iniquity (Acts 8:23).]
34 But there stood up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in honor of all the people, and commanded to put the men forth a little while.
[Later, Gamaliel is cited by Paul as being an instructor of great wisdom (Acts 22:3).]
35 And he said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves as touching these men, what ye are about to do.
36 For before these days rose up Theudas, giving himself out 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 dispersed, and came to naught.
37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the enrolment, and drew away (some of the) people after him: he also perished; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered abroad.
[Two examples that show the fate of false teachers. This should have been sufficient at this point.]
38 And 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 be overthrown:
39 but if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God.
[This is what they will be found guilty of.]
40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles unto them, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 They therefore departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name.
[So they did not completely agree with Gamaliel. They had to try out their idea first. And they will never be satisfied with “refraining from them (verse 38).” What would be our attitude after being beaten?]
42 And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus (as) the Christ.
[Wherever it was convenient (synecdoche, since only two examples are given and we know that there are many more).]
Go to Acts 6-10