Evening Bible Study
The church was born on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples. Peter preached, 3,000 people responded, and
the church was born.
Peter and John then healed a man who had been born lame, and then got into
trouble because they were preaching about Jesus. They were put on trial
before the Jewish religious leaders and released with a stern warning not to
talk about Jesus anymore.
Last week we ended with a little peek into the workings of the early
church, and especially how many people had sold their possessions and were
meeting the needs of the poor.
One such fellow was Barnabas, who sold a piece of property and gave it to
the church to distribute among the poor.
Note: As we’ve been
talking about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit on Sunday, pay attention to how many
of the gifts are in operation in this particular chapter.
5:1-11 Ananias and Sapphira
:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.
:2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of
it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
:2 kept back part of the proceeds
Even though many of the people selling property gave their entire proceeds
to the church, there is never any record of a commandment to do such a thing.
These people had just giving willingly, apparently out of response of the
work of the Holy Spirit on their lives.
Last Sunday we talked about the “gift of giving”, and perhaps this might
have been an example of that spiritual gift at work.
The problem we’re going to see with Ananias and Sapphira is not that they kept back part of the proceeds of
their property sale, but that they pretended that they too were giving everything they had to the church when
The church was still all brand new and fresh. Things were going really, really well.
And then the first hypocrites raised their heads.
hypocrite – hupokrites – an interpreter; an actor, pretender, hypocrite
The ancient Greeks used this word to describe the actors performing on
stage in a play.
They were pretending to be something they actually weren’t.
In ancient Greek theater, the actors wore “masks” to
display their emotions.
The word began to evolve until it was used to describe all kinds of people
who pretended to be something they weren’t.
Jesus uses the word 20 times, such as:
6:5 NKJV) “And when you pray, you shall not
be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on
the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to
you, they have their reward.
Just like stage actors, the “hypocrite” plays to his
audience. Everything is
done for the show, for the outward appearance.
Pay attention to how God deals with the first instance of hypocrisy.
:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled
your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of
the land for yourself?
:3 why has Satan filled your heart
Some folks are quite shocked to find out that there are problems within the
We come to know Jesus and find His grace and mercy, and think that church
must be a place where everyone walks in the Spirit and always does the right
The truth is, that just ain’t
A woman in her eighties was determined she would keep driving. Naturally her family was concerned about her slower
reflexes. She would go out at night alone, so they were disturbed about her
safety. They told her about muggings, kidnappings, and carjackings.
They thought that it would keep her at home. But it
didn’t; Instead, she went out and bought a gun. She didn’t
know a thing about handling a gun, but she loaded it up and shoved it in her
purse. She decided she would use it if someone gave her problems; Well, she was walking out of this store during the Christmas
season with her packages. She looks over and sees these three guys in the car and they’re slammin’
the door. She thinks, “This is my moment:” So she reaches in her purse, pulls
out her gun, walks right up to the car window and says, “Get out of my car! Get
away from behind that steering wheel! You guys, move!” Three guys
got out and ran in three different directions; By now a crowd had gathered and
they were staring at her and smiling. She was feeling pretty
proud of herself. So she put her gun in her
purse and got her keys out and the keys didn’t fit. It wasn’t
I don’t know that Satan is always the one filling
our heart with bad stuff all the time, we make many of our own messes, but I do
know that we all make mistakes.
Whenever two humans get together, we can expect that there will be
problems. What’s surprising for some of us it to find
that sometimes the problem is with … ME.
:4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why
have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to
:3 keep back part of the price
How did Peter know this? We’ll be talking next Sunday about the gift called “the word
There are times when God may give a person a piece of information of
“knowledge” about something that they would have no other way of knowing.
:4 You have not lied to men but to God
The Deity of the Holy Spirit
This is an important verse in understand who the Holy Spirit is.
In verse 3, Peter says that Ananias has lied “to the Holy Spirit”.
In verse 4, he says that Ananias has “lied … to God”.
Peter is equating the Holy Spirit with God.
The Holy Spirit is not just God’s “force”, like an impersonal thing.
The Holy Spirit is not just one among many “spirits” out there.
He is God.
He can do anything. And He’s in us.
The Spirit in me
(Jn 14:16–17 NKJV) —16 And I will
pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it
neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and
will be in you.
Jesus called the Holy Spirit “another Helper”, another who
was called alongside to help.
Up to this point in the gospel of John, Jesus has been
with the disciples for three years, at their side, helping, guiding, and
The Holy Spirit will take that role in their lives after
Jesus is in heaven.
Jesus said that it would be good that He went to heaven because then the
Father would send the Spirit.
(Jn 16:7 NKJV) Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage
that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but
if I depart, I will send Him to you.
We have lost a good man today.
Pastor Chuck went home to be with Jesus early this morning.
For years I used to worry about what would happen
to Calvary Chapel once Chuck was gone.
It really depends on whether or not we’ve
been trusting in Chuck, or trusting in God.
Chuck was just an ordinary human like all of us.
Chuck had the same Holy Spirit that is available to all of
I am thankful for a man who gave me a good example of what
it looked like to trust in the Holy Spirit’s work.
:5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down
and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who
heard these things.
:6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up,
carried him out, and buried him.
:7 Now it was about three hours later when his
wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
:8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you
sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.”
:8 Tell me whether you …
Tell the truth before you’re caught
Peter could have told her first about what had happened to her husband. It’s possible that she would have admitted her sin then.
But instead Peter leaves her in the dark to see if
she will on her own admit to what she had done.
Sometimes we are afraid of admitting the truth because of the consequences
and the truth doesn’t come out until we get caught in
God would prefer that we learn to live in truth.
Truth is the key to growing up.
(Eph 4:15 NKJV) but,
speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the
Telling the truth is the opposite of hypocrisy.
Fred Mitchell was chairman of the China Inland
Mission. At his funeral, one of the
speakers said this: “You never caught
Fred Mitchell off his guard because he never needed to be on it.” Duncan called that
statement “one of the most remarkable tributes I ever heard paid to any Christian.”
:9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test
the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are
at the door, and they will carry you out.”
:10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And
the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her
by her husband.
:10 she fell down at his feet and breathed her last
When giving is wrong
It’s not a good thing to be giving for the wrong reasons. Ananias and Sapphira
(Mt 6:1 NKJV) “Take heed that you do not do your charitable
deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your
Father in heaven.
:11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these
:11 great fear
I would imagine so.
How many of us would come to church if we died the moment we committed
Fear of hypocrisy
George MacDonald wrote, “Half of the misery in the world comes from trying
to look, instead of trying to be, what one is not.”
Yesterday a friend posted this on Facebook:
DEALBREAKER question for EVERYBODY... Let's say
you're single and meet a wonderful, spiritually mature, fun, incredibly
gorgeous potential spouse. One caveat: THIS PERSON CAN SUPERNATURALLY READ YOUR
MIND, ALL THE TIME. ALL of your thoughts, ALWAYS. Dealbreaker?
It was fun to see some of the comments. I don’t mean to get preachy and condemning
about any of the comments – but the point is this –
God CAN read your mind all the time. Our lives would do much, much better if we
lived in the light of realizing that we need to be open and honest.
Living openly and honestly is what it means to be “walking
in the light”. You have nothing to
hide. John wrote,
Jn 1:7 NKJV) But if we walk
in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and
the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
I understand how difficult it would be living with a
person who can read every thought, but it would certainly change a lot of
things. The truth is, you already do
live with someone like that. Stop pretending
you can hide your sin.
This would not be a usual occurrence in the early church – people dying
In fact, in a few years, Peter himself would be guilty of hypocrisy. Paul talks about a time when Peter went north
to visit the Gentile church at Antioch.
At first he hung out with the Gentiles, until some of the Jewish
brethren arrived from Jerusalem, then Peter stopped hanging out with the
(Ga 2:13 NLT) As a result, other Jewish
Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by
Paul would stand up and confront Peter face to face in front of the
church. Peter was rebuked, but he didn’t
I think there are certain times when God makes a statement at the “beginning”
Sometime similar took place when the Old Testament worship of Yahweh got
started in the days of Moses and the Tabernacle.
Moses had set up the Tabernacle and was performing the very first
sacrifices. In response to following
God’s directions in worship, God had sent fire down from heaven to consume the
initial sacrifices. We know from the record
(Lev. 10:8) that two of Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, had been off drinking somewhere and when the fire
came down, they thought they had better do something. They rushed in to offer incense when there
was no order to offer incense.
What happened to them?
They died (Lev. 10:1-3)
God made a clear statement that He wanted things done right.
You see similar things happening when Israel came into the
Promised Land and Achan died. You see it when David brought the Ark into
Jerusalem and Uzzah died.
The event with Ananias and Sapphira is exactly
the same. God wanted the church to get
off to a good start, without hypocrisy.
:12 And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done
among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch.
:13 Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them
Sounds as if it was dangerous to be a Christian.
Not dangerous yet in terms of persecution, but dangerous to those who
wanted to just “fake it”.
:14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both
men and women,
:14 believers were increasingly added
On one hand, there was a general reluctance among the unbelievers to get
too close to the Christians (vs.13). And yet there more and more people coming
to the Lord (vs.14).
:15 so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them
on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on
some of them.
:15 the shadow of Peter
A strange thing. We aren’t told if
anyone was actually healed (they may have been) but people wanted to at least
have Peter’s shadow fall on them.
With Jesus, people often wanted to touch the hem
of His garment.
(Mt 14:36 NKJV) and begged Him that they might only touch the
hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.
With Paul, people would be healed from the sweat bands he wore while he was
(Ac 19:12 NKJV) so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were
brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil
spirits went out of them.
:16 Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem,
bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they
were all healed.
:16 they were all healed
We’ve seen several gifts of the Spirit at work in this paragraph.
Gifts of miracles
Gifts of healings
Discerning of spirits
5:17-21 Prison and freedom
:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him
(which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,
:18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.
:17 the Sadducees
The priests tended to be from the sect of the Sadducees, who did not
believe in angels or the resurrection from the dead.
They didn’t like the message that the apostles had been preaching,
especially about the resurrection. After
the last time Peter was arrested, they decided …
(Ac 4:17 NKJV) But so that it spreads no further among the
people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in
:19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought
them out, and said,
:20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this
:20 the words of this life
I wonder if there isn’t a hint of a jab at the Sadducees. Not only was the message from an “angel”, but
he tells them to go back and stick with the message, that Jesus rose from the
dead, the message of “life”.
:21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the
morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the
council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to
the prison to have them brought.
While the apostles go back to preach in the temple, the Sanhedrin is called
together and sends guards to bring the apostles out of prison to put them on
5:22-32 Sanhedrin Trial
:22 But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they
returned and reported,
:23 saying, “Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards
standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one
:24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief
priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be.
:25 So one came and told them, saying, “Look, the men whom you put in
prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!”
:26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without
violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.
The temple police treat the apostles with kid gloves because they don’t
want to start a riot.
:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the
council. And the high priest asked them,
:28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And
look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this
Man’s blood on us!”
:28 Did we not strictly command you
The last time they were on trial for talking about Jesus after Peter and
John had healed the lame man…
(Ac 4:18–21 NKJV) —18 So they called them and commanded them not to
speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and
said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more
than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when
they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing
them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been
They had commanded them not to talk in the name of Jesus, but the apostles
never agreed to do that. They told them
that they would continue to speak about the things they knew and had
:28 bring this Man’s blood on us
The apostles had been very clear about the death of Jesus.
To the crowd they had said:
(Ac 3:14–15 NKJV) —14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and
asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life,
whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
To the Sanhedrin they had said:
(Ac 4:10 NKJV) let it be known to you all, and to all the
people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you
crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before
Now the Sanhedrin wants them to stop reminding everyone of what had
happened and that they had all been responsible for the death of Jesus (both
the crowd and the Sanhedrin).
:29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to
obey God rather than men.
:29 We ought to obey God rather than men
Most of the time, our obligation is to do what our government or those in
authority ask of us.
(Ro 13:1–4 NLT)
—1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority
comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by
God. 2 So anyone
who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and
they will be punished. 3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing
right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of
the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. 4 The
authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong,
of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are
God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is
Now not every officer is this nice. But the truth is, most are there doing their
job, and their job is doing good.
Yet there comes a time when a person has to choose between doing what
someone asks of him and doing what God asks.
(Ac 5:29 NKJV) But Peter and the other apostles
answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.
It’s not just the government we ought to apply this to.
Sometimes it’s our friends, our neighbors, people we work with who put the
pressure on us to do the wrong thing.
We don’t always have those kinds of friends to influence us to the good.
Who is it that you “ought to obey”?
:30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on
:30 God … raised … you murdered
These are the exact things that the Sanhedrin doesn’t want to be reminded
The Sadducees in the Sanhedrin don’t want to hear about the resurrection.
The entire council doesn’t want to be reminded that they sent Jesus to
Pilate to be crucified.
:31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior,
to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
:32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is
the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
:32 we are His witnesses … the Holy Spirit
The apostles are being good witnesses to what God had done concerning Jesus
by telling people.
The Holy Spirit is being a witness by allowing miraculous things to take
place through the church.
:31 to give repentance
Even though the apostles are quite bold in reminding the Sanhedrin that
they had sentenced Jesus to death, they are also quite firm in sharing the
truth that God is giving them a chance to turn to Him and be forgiven.
Conviction and forgiveness
There are two parts to our message.
1) We are sinners
All of us. Isaiah recorded:
64:6 NKJV) But we are all like an unclean thing, And all
our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all
fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
2) There is forgiveness
Everyone had the ability to “repent” and turn to God. Anyone can be forgiven.
I think the apostles are extending this gracious invitation to the
2:32 NKJV) And it shall come to pass That whoever
calls on the name of the Lord Shall be
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you
be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
5:33-42 Gamaliel’s advice
:33 When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill
:34 Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel,
a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to
put the apostles outside for a little while.
:34 a Pharisee named Gamaliel
He was one of the great Jewish
religious scholars of all time.
Prior to the death of Gamaliel, when a teacher
taught, he taught standing up, and his students stood.
When Gamaliel died, they said, “the glory of the
law ceased, and purity and Pharisaism died”, and from
that time, students no longer stood while being taught the law.
One of his most famous students was the apostle Paul (Acts 22:3).
Gamaliel was a man who was so respected among his
peers that if he wasn’t already at this time, he would eventually become the
“president” of the Sanhedrin.
When Gamaliel speaks, people listen.
:35 And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you
intend to do regarding these men.
:36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming
to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain,
and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.
We don’t know much about Theudas.
:37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and
drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were
:37 Judas of Galilee
His revolt (about A.D. 6) is described by the Jewish historian Josephus
(“Antiquities of the Jews”, Book XVIII, 1:1); The followers of this Judas
became the “Zealots.” Judas too was killed, his followers were scattered.
:38 And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for
if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;
:39 but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to
fight against God.”
:38 is of men, it will come to nothing
Keep in mind, this is the Jewish Pharisee Gamaliel
speaking, not Jesus.
There is a kind of truth in what Gamaliel is
saying, but you need to be careful that you don’t extend it into all of your
life, or you’d not do anything at all.
Some people have the attitude, “If God wants something to happen, He will
make it happen”.
There is truth to that, but sometimes you are the person that God wants to
There’s an often quoted saying, attributed to Edmund Burke (though
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that
good men do nothing.”
Our world learned that lesson from World War II and the
rise of Adolf Hitler.
“Success” is not a test of the truth.
False cults rise up all the time and some prosper, despite having goofy teachings.
God will use Gamaliel’s advice to have the
apostles freed, but it’s not a principle we need to own.
:40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and
beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of
Jesus, and let them go.
Most likely this was a punishment of 39 lashes (Deut. 25:1-3)
:41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they
were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease
teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
:42 they did not cease
The apostles didn’t take their condemnation and beating as a sign that they
Instead, they went about their ministry even harder.
Jesus had taught them:
(Mt 5:10–12 NKJV) —10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for
righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile
and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice
and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they
persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The apostles are excited because they’re looking forward
to their reward.