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Acts Chapter 5
An Understandable Version of ACTS
Translation by William E. Paul
by Charles Dailey

(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
  The church was enjoying a time of harmony and a sense of sharing seldom equaled on earth. Barnabas had shared generously and others knew it. One couple wanted a short-cut to participate in his good reputation.
1) Now a certain married couple named Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property – This Christian couple were equally involved in selling their property. Notice the lady's involvement in business.
2) and brought [only] a part of the selling price and gave it to the apostles; but the man and his wife had kept this a secret. – Ananias knew the correct procedure. 4:35,37.
3) But Peter said to Ananias, "Why has Satan filled your heart [causing you] to deceive the Holy Spirit by keeping back part of the selling price of the land [while representing it as the full price]? – Peter had the discerning of spirits, and detected that he was filled with the wrong spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:10. The other brethren were filled with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18.
- Asking why shows that Ananias was in final control of what was in his own heart.
- The Holy Spirit is clearly a personality, not a force.
4) While you owned it, was it not yours? Then after you sold it, did you not [still] have control over [what you did with] the money? Why did you decide in your heart to do such a thing? You [really] have not lied to men, but to God [about this matter]." – This was voluntary giving.
- The believers had private property and private capital. This was not an ancient form of communism.
- He could have kept part or all of the money.
- The overriding sin is that he lied to God by lying to God's man about the gift so he could be admired.
5) When Ananias heard these words he fell dead [instantly] and his spirit left his body, [causing] everyone who heard [about it] to be gripped with fear. – The last words he heard was that he was a liar. Such a send-off to enter eternity!
- There was much soul-searching going on.
6) Then young men wrapped up his body and took him out and buried him. – Did they bury him near Judas in the Potter's Field?
- The next of kin was not notified.
- The usual tears and mourning are absent.
7) About three hours later Sapphira came in, not knowing what had happened [to her husband]. – Her name meant beautiful or jewel, but she lacked the inner beauty of honesty.
8) And Peter said to her, "Tell me, did you sell the land for such and such a price?" She answered, "Yes, we did." – Though as a Christian wife, she was expected to obey her husband, yet not to agree in sin.
9) Then Peter said to her, "Why did you agree together [with your husband] to put the Holy Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the ones who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out [to bury you, too]." – She could have saved her husband's life if she had refused to participate in this lie. He would not have been able to do it without her agreement.
- Lying tested the Lord and He passed with flying colors.
- Perhaps the young men were just returning from burying Ananias.
10) And instantly she fell dead right in front of him, and her spirit left her body. [Just then the] young men came in and found her dead. They carried her out and buried her with her husband. – Peter was not charged with any crime.
- There was no funeral, no mourning.
11) So, the whole church and everyone else who heard about these things were filled with great fear. – This first church discipline case was very public.
- This is the first time Luke uses the word church to describe this highly-regarded group of believers. (The King James Version usage in Acts 2:47 is not correct.)
- The fear of verse 5 was also spreading to the community.
12) And many [miraculous] signs and wonders were performed through the apostles' hands in front of the people. And all [the disciples] were united together in "Solomon's Portico" [See 3:11]. – Only the apostles were performing signs and wonders. A wonder refers to the way a sign is received by the observer. Some signs are ignored and did not create wonder.
- The heartwarming harmony lingered on.
13) But none [of the outsiders] dared to associate with the disciples, yet the [majority of the] people commended them. – The church was still well-liked by the common Israelite in the streets of Jerusalem, but no one just pretended to be a member. The distinction was clear.
14) And more and more believers in the Lord, both men and women, were [being] added to the [people of the] Lord. – The case of Church discipline may have actually accelerated growth. Their decisions added them to the Body of the Lord. Ephesians 1:22-23.
- women were added. Luke is preparing his readers for a problem involving women in Chapter 6.
15) [One of the miracles performed was that] sick people were even carried into the streets on beds and couches so that, as he passed them, Peter's shadow would fall on someone [in hope of it producing a miraculous healing]. – The town's people were especially attracted to the healing aspect of the new Faith.
- They had some level of faith in Peter's healing power.
16) Large crowds also came from the towns surrounding Jerusalem, bringing people who were sick and those troubled by evil spirits, and all of them were [miraculously] healed. – Crowds came from neighboring towns.
- Besides the sick being healed, evil spirits fled.
- The doctor reports that all were healed and there were no failures. This fulfills Mark 16:17.
17) But the head priest and the Jewish sect of the Sadducees became very jealous, – The leaders had felt jealousy before. Matthew 27:18.
18) and arrested the apostles and put them in jail. – This time they jailed all of the officials of the dynamic group of believers. Based on verse 26, this arrest came when others were not around.
19) But an angel from the Lord one night [miraculously] opened the jail doors and released them, saying, – The Sadducees deny that angels exist. Acts 23:8.
20) "You men, go and stand in the Temple and speak to all the people words about this Life [i.e., about Jesus]." [See John 14:6]. – God wanted the momentum to continue, so He intervened and endorsed civil disobedience in this case.
- This was a tremendous sign directed to the Council.
21) And when the apostles heard this, they entered the Temple about dawn and began teaching [about Jesus]. [A little later] the head priest and the Sadducees [see verse 17] called the Council [i.e., the Sanhedrin] and all of the ruling body of Jewish leaders together and sent to the jail to have the apostles brought in to them [for further questioning]. – There were always worshipers coming before dawn for the ceremonies at the beginning of the day.
- While the Council included a number of Pharisees, it was the Sadducean head priest and his colleagues that took the lead in trying to silence the apostles.
22) But when the officers arrived at the jail the apostles were gone, so they returned to the Council and reported, – The officials' defiance of God had taken an eerie turn.
23) "We found the jail securely locked, with guards on duty at the doors, but when we went inside there was no one there!"  
24) Now when the captain of the Temple [guard] and the leading priests heard about this, they became frustrated over how far this [teaching] would [eventually] spread. – These leaders are clearly out of control. They cannot hold the prisoners despite their best efforts.
25) [Just then] someone came in and said, "Look, the men you put in jail are [now] standing in the Temple teaching people." – The teaching the rulers wanted to suppress was boiling over everywhere.
26) [Immediately] the captain, with his officers, went [to the Temple] and brought the apostles back again, but did not use any violence because they feared that the people might stone them. – The captain went personally this time.
- The earlier arrest was probably quiet and few knew about it, but this arrest was well known by the common people who feared God (vs. 11) even though they had not become Christians yet.
27) And so they brought them in [to their headquarters] to appear before the Council [for questioning]. The head priest spoke to them, [saying], – This was the third arrest for Peter and John.
28) "We strictly commanded you not to teach in this name [i.e., the name of Jesus] and look [what you have done]; you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to hold us responsible for this man's [i.e., Jesus'] death." – This refers to the event of 4:17,18,21.
- Few in our day could ever be charged with filling our town with the teaching of Jesus.
- Matt 27:25 "And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood {be} on us and on our children!'" They forgot so soon.
29) But Peter and the apostles answered them, "We must obey God instead of [you] men [in this situation]. – Peter answers the 1st charge - of teaching illegally. God's commands are greater than theirs.
30) The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus [from the dead], whom you put to death by hanging Him on a tree [i.e., the cross]. – They are the guilty culprits in the 2nd charge and at odds with the God of their forefather.
31) But God exalted Him at His right side to be a Prince and Savior and to give the people of Israel [an opportunity] to repent [i.e., change their hearts and lives] and [receive] forgiveness of [their] sins [through Him]. – Jesus is now a Prince in heaven. Daniel 9:25.
- Jesus is now the Savior of Israel. Isaiah 43:11.
- This is a window of time to repent. The window closed in a few years and Jerusalem was destroyed.
32) We apostles are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to every person who obeys Him." – Peter clinches the evidence nail with this claim to be an eye witness. The witness theme is developed in these notes at Acts 1:8.
- Every Christian receives the Holy Spirit when they obey God. The listeners could have Him, too.
33) But when the Jewish officials heard this, they were deeply convicted in their hearts and determined to kill the apostles. – Conviction is an emotion and their emotions were ratcheting upward into pure rage.
- Not having the Holy Spirit, they were angry enough to kill.
34) But [then] Gamaliel, a Council member, who was a Pharisee [i.e., a strict sect of the Jewish religion], and an expert in the law of Moses and highly regarded by all the people, stood up and ordered the apostles to step outside [of the Council meeting] briefly. – Gamaliel was popular with the multitudes in the streets. Many on the Council were not. He was from the opposition party and many young men came from abroad to study under him. Acts 22:3.
35) And he said [to the Council members], "Men of Israel, be careful how you deal with these men. – Paul may have been present to report this executive session to Luke at a later time.
36) For [remember that] some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone [important], and that about four hundred people rallied [to his cause], but he was killed and all his men left him and nothing ever came of it. – This event is not recorded in surviving history.
37) Later on another man, named Judas of Galilee, appeared during the census [Note: The time and circumstances of this census were probably known to the original readers], and led [a group of] people away after him, but he also was killed and all of his followers were scattered. – The historian Josephus records this in Antiquities XVII, 10.5 and XX, 5.2.
38) And so now I say, hold off your accusations and let these men alone, for if their planning and effort is [merely] of human origin, it will be defeated, – Gamaliel counseled them to give this Christian movement time.
- Not all bad movements have self-destructed.
39) but if [it happens to be] of God, you will not be able to defeat them. And [if you try to], you may [actually] be fighting against [the work of] God."
40) And so the Council agreed [with Gamaliel's advice] and when they called the apostles back in, they had them beaten and ordered them never to speak in the name of Jesus [again]; then they released them. – Though Gamaliel's advice does not pass the test of usage, yet God used him to preserve his apostles.
- They were probably beaten with the maximum 39 lashes. 2 Corinthians 11:24.
41) When the apostles left the Council meeting, they were rejoicing over being considered worthy to suffer [such] shame for the name [of Jesus]. – There is joy through suffering. Matthew 5:11,12.
- There was shame in a public beating.
42) So, every day, they never stopped teaching and preaching that Jesus was the Christ [i.e., God's specially chosen one], in the Temple and in private homes. – The apostles hardly "missed a lick" in preaching that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah of Israel.
- They conducted both large group and small group teaching. They taught right where the guards could see them.

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