Acts 4:32-5:16 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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No One Else Dared to Join Them
Questions for Study 7

Acts 4:32-5:16
Memory Verse: 5:13


I. Barnabas, Son of Encouragement (4:32-37)

>1. What was the characteristics of the early believers? (32)

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. -Acts 4:32

* "all the believers" -A common phrase in the first chapters of Acts. There was no exception except believing. The unique unity of believers at the forming of the church has not been known since this time.

* "were one in heart and mind" -unity, complete accord.

* "claimed" -committed by words.

* "any of his possessions" -no exception.

* "they shared everything" -committed by actions.

* "they shared" -Some of these believers still kept goods as their own but let others borrow it or give it later as needed. Example: Some kept houses but used it as a church to meet in. No doubt they meet in more than one house in Jerusalem by now. The last count was five thousand believers in Jerusalem; more than just one house could hold. Therefore they were good stewards of the gifts God gave them.

* Basically they were not selfish.

* The community of goods was also stated in 2:44.

* Their hearts and mind being one lead them to voluntarily give to the brother in need.

* There was many first church poor in Jerusalem. This is true because there was many on the day of Pentecost who were from other towns and countries there. They did not go home and had come with little. So they had little. (35)

* They were the righteous remnant following Deuteronomy 15:4-5. "However, there should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. " They practiced greater than the law of God. They spirit of the law was now being practiced concerning loving others.

>What was the works of the apostles? (33)

"With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. -Acts 4:33

* "With great power" -Ever wonder why there is little power seen amongst many who confess the name of Jesus today? Its because many do not live by the Spirit; they do not live by faith.

* "the apostles" -The apostles were the main testifiers at this time. Others will follow in future chapters.

* "continued" -They did not stop or slow down.

* "to testify" -They were not a closed society. They did not testify in the comfort of their home alone. They went out into the public.

* "the resurrection" -The cross is not mentioned here, though in Peter's messages in earlier chapters we can see he did speak of it. The resurrection obviously was mentioned much more than the death of Jesus. Today how much is spoken of Jesus' resurrection? Even on Easter, the day the church is suppose to preach about Jesus' resurrection the message seems to be lost in ritual and Easter candy.

* "much grace" -God's hand.

>2. What was the effect of the sacrificial spirit of the believers? (34)

"There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales -Acts 4:34

* "no needy persons among them" -People gave and shared and everyone had what they needed. It does not say that everyone had what they wanted. Sometimes what we want is not what we need.

* "who owned lands or houses sold" -These were not needed for other's needs.

* At that time Rome control was tight so people suffered a lot. Famines and droughts were common in Palestine.

>How did people offer their offerings? (35)

"and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. -Acts 4:35

* "apostles feet" -spiritual order (apostles like giving to God).

* "and it was distributed" -organized way

* "anyone as he had need" -The criteria to recipients was need not want.

* Obviously these gifts were more than the tithe.

* Chapter 6 shows that a problem resulted from the distribution process. The number of believers was great and kept growing making this a full time job for seven.

* Inheritance was hard to sell for an Israelite. It was given down the line. By the law God had given it. The land was almost part of oneself.

* They had a transfer of hope. They did not hope in this world. Their hope was in the kingdom of God. Jesus said put your treasures in the kingdom of heaven. The impact of the gospel accepting into our hearts is an impact in all areas of our lives including material things.

>3. Who was Barnabas? (36; 9:27; 11:22-26; 15:37-39)

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), -Acts 4:36

* "But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. -Acts 9:27

* "News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. -Acts 11:22-26

* "Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, -Acts 15:37-39

* "Levite" -The priestly line.

* "Cyprus" -Island in the Mediterranean Sea.

* Maybe he was converted at Pentecost.

>What did he specifically do at this time? (37)

"sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet. -Acts 4:37

* "sold a field he owned" -Most likely the field was in Cyprus so he had to go there to sell it.

* The author, Luke knew of Barnabas because they traveled together with Paul.

II. No One Else Dared to Join Them (5:1-16)

>4. What did Ananias and Sapphira do? (1)

"Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. -Acts 5:1

* "Ananias" -A Jewish name. Many first believers after Jesus' ascension were Jews who lived near Jerusalem.

* "sold a piece of property" -No one was forcing anyone to sell their properties. Some, like Barnabas just started to do it by faith to help those among them who needed. This couple was a member of the newly formed congregation of Jesus but want to give up theirs and at the same time did not want to look bad amongst believers.

>Why did they change their minds? (2)

"With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet. -Acts 5:2

* "with his wife's full knowledge" -They confirmed together even though they knew it was not right.

* "he kept back part of the money for himself" -He did not share with an honest and loving intention. He had mixing motives. He wanted to be praised for charity and he wanted goods so he gave a false impression; neither are from God.

* "put it at the apostles feet" -They followed other example without the same attitude. What people like Barnabas was doing was beyond giving of the tithe. They could have given a tithe and a normal offering and it would have been accepted as such.

>5. What was Peter's rebuke? (3)

"Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? -Acts 5:3

* "Then Peter said" -The Holy Spirit revealed it to Peter.

* The seriousness was that this stealing from God would have made the work of God through the Holy Spirit look weak.

* "Satan" -not of God. Satan is the father of all lies.

* "so filled your heart" -His heart didn't have just a little. It was filled with selfishness, falseness, deceit, and envy.

* "that you lies... and have kept" -The issue was that he acted as if he gave all the money to the common good. He was blind to the spirit behind the way of living being introduced by the Spirit.

>What was wrong with their actions? (4a)

Acts 5:4a "Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal?"

* Similar is the event in Moses' day. "Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord." (Leviticus 10:1-2)

* Another similar event was in Joshua's day. "But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord's anger burned against Israel... The Lord said to Joshua, "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions." (Joshua 7:1, 10-11)

* Another similar event was in David's day. "When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God." (2 Samuel 6:6-7)

>Why was it so serious? (4b)

Acts 5:4b "What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."

* The life of the first believers if they followed this example would have lead to a humanistic communion without God.

* The couple was living before men and the opinion of men, not the opinion of God who sees all.

* They were skilfully and wilfully living and introducing the hypocritical life into the church.

* They were not worshiping God in spirit and truth as Jesus taught. (John 4:23-24)

* The were saying they were living the repetitive life, but in their heart they had not repented of selfish greed and materialism.

>6. What happened to Ananias? (5)

Acts 5:5 "When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened."

* The Lord Jesus directly intervened on his church's behalf.

* His attitude was a cancer that needed to be removed.

* Ananias was not given by Peter a chance to repent during and after the rebuke because Ananias had been given a chance before it by the Holy Spirit.

* "he fell down and died" -No human laid a hand on them. No human caused the death.

>What was the end of Ananias' life? (6)

Acts 5:6 "Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him."

* No glory, only shame.

>7. What happened to Sapphira? (7,8)

Acts 5:7-8 ("About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?" "Yes," she said, "that is the price."

* "three hours later" -She had three hours to think about what they had done.

* "Tell me" -Peter gave her a chance to confess.

>How did Peter rebuke her? (9)

Acts 5:9 "Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also."

* "test" -Perhaps they did not feel like it was a test. Yet it was a test.

* "feet" -Could be seen at the crack at the bottom of the door. The question to her was behind a closed door.

>8. What was the outcome of this incident to people in the church? (10-11)

Acts 5:10-11 "At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events."

* "Great fear seized the whole church" -People realized that being in the church of Christ was not about getting and having a party. The body of Christ is not like a country club.

* "church" -This is the first time it is used in Acts. Church is "ekklesia" in Greek and is also translated assembly and congregation. Ekklesia was not a new word to Greek; it was already in use for political and other assemblies. When used here it refers to the collective body of believers in an area or in all the earth and heavens. The entirely Greek written Septuagint (old testament) used it for Israel when gathered in religious assembly.

* "and all who heard" -The event was heard of outside of the church.

* Satan can incite and use God's people against the Lord's work, 1 Chronicles 21:1 records of David, "Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel." And Mark 8:33 records Jesus rebuking Peter "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Satan can incite anyone to do his will. We should not be comfortable in the fact that we have confessed Jesus as our Lord and are even considered "a man after God's heart."

* Since Satan can tempt anyone and use anyone we should take Jesus' words to his disciples, "Watch and pray." (Mark 13:48, Luke 21:36) "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:36)

* When Peter was spiritually mature, through the Holy Spirit he wrote, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." (1 Peter 5:8-9)

* Since temptation is common to all (1 Cor. 10:13) we should turn to Jesus in prayer as it says, "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Hebrews 2:18) And as James wrote, "Resist the devil and he will flee you." (James 4:7)

>To the apostles? (12)

Acts 5:12 "The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade."

* "The apostles" -There were over five thousand believers. Only the apostles performed miracles because it testified that Jesus' called them and appointed them.

* "Solomon's Colonnade"

>To the unbelievers? (13-14)

Acts 5:13-14 "No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number."


>9. What was the work of God through Apostles? (15-16)

Acts 5:15-16 "As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed."