Acts Chapter Five
I. Content of the Chapter
The Church Overcame the Enemy’s Attacks in Two Aspects
I. The enemy’s first attack------corrupt internally (v.1-10):
A. The means of the enemy------lie to the Holy Spirit in the donation.
B. The countermeasure of the church------look through the device, execute the judgment and carry him out and bury him.
II. The result of overcoming:
A. Great fear came upon all the church (v.11).
B. The Gentiles esteemed them highly and believers were increasingly added to the Lord (v.12-16).
III. The enemy’s second attack------persecute them externally:
A. The council put the apostles in the prison (v.17-18).
B. The apostles were brought out by an angel and they entered the temple and taught as usual (v.19-26).
C. The apostles were brought to the council and were judged (v.27-28).
D. The testimony of the apostles (v.29-32).
E. Gamaliel persuaded the council to let the apostles alone (v.33-39).
IV. The result of overcoming:
A. The apostles were released (v.40).
B. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (v.41).
C. The apostles did not cease teaching daily (v.42).
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Acts. 5:1 “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.”
YLT: “And a certain man, Ananias by name, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,”
Meaning of Words: “Ananias”: the one Jehovah protects, the Lord is kind, the mercy of Jehovah, the favor of Jehovah; “Sapphira”: beautiful, handsome, sapphire.
Literal Meaning: “But a certain man named Ananias” The word “but” shows the strong contrast between the following case and what Barnabas had done that was recorded previously (Acts. 4:36-37).
“Sold a possession” It shows that they were inclined to join the corporate life that “they had all things in common” (Acts. 2:44-45; 4:34-35).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) When the blessing of the Lord bestows, the carnal ones will be always lured into pay excessive attention to the outward states and the idea of copying will come into being.
2) “Ananias” means that “God is kind”. However, he did not know that God is also righteous (v.4). “Sapphira” means “beauty”. However, her intention was ugly (v.2, 8).
Acts. 5:2 “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.”
YLT: “and did keep back of the price -- his wife also knowing -- and having brought a certain part, at the feet of the apostles he laid [it].”
Literal Meaning: “And he kept back part of the proceeds” “kept back” indicates that he did it secretly and did not let others know. Believers had the right to keep any part according to their willingness (v.4). However, if they were wiling to receive others’ praise and purposely showed that they had already donated all the proceeds and secretly kept back part of the proceeds, they committed the sin of lying to both men and God (v.3-4).
“His wife also being aware of it” It shows that she also partook in this matter or she connived at what her husband had done.
“A certain part” They donated a certain part of the money and let the church divide them among all, as anyone had need (Acts. 2:45; 4:35).
Please note that probably the life style of “having all things in common” (Acts. 2:44) was only applied to believers who were in utter destitution and donated all they had. Ananias and his wife probably attempt to keep the benefits of “the private possessions” on the hand and on the other share “the common possessions”.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Ananias and his wife imitated others’ donation with the purpose of “the greed for reputation”. They sought for the vainglory in the church. They “kept back part of the proceeds” with the intention of “covetousness”. “The greed for reputation” and “covetousness” are two stumbling-blocks for common Christians.
2) “He kept back part of the proceeds.” If men keep some part of “their selves”, they are unwilling to give up their benefits, reputations, interests and belongings.
3) If we donate with any motive for “self” or have the attitude of utilizing donation to gain others’ admiration, we indeed “keep back part of the proceeds” and we donate dishonestly.
4) What’s important in donation is not the amount of money but our motives and how much we keep for ourselves. We should not be dishonest in donation or receive fame or others’ praise through the donation.
5) The donation is of gladness instead of
reluctance or compulsion. However, Satan always stirs up men’s flesh and makes
them to strive for reputation through the spiritual things. Actually these
things harm the
6) Between husband and wife, if one makes a mistake and the other “is also aware of it” and does not admonish it or even approves it, the other cannot be counted as innocent (See v.9).
7) “Hypocrisy” is the sin that the Lord Jesus blamed many times (Matt. 6:1-6, 16-18; 15:7; 22:18; 23:13-26).
Acts. 5:3 “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?”
YLT: “And Peter said, `Ananias, wherefore did the Adversary fill thy heart, for thee to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back of the price of the place?”
Meaning of Words: “Satan”: the enemy, the accuser; “lie”: deceive, utter an untruth.
Literal Meaning: “Satan has filled your heart” It means that his intents were controlled or utilized by Satan. It shows that it is possible for believers to be utilized after they have been saved.
“To lie to the Holy Spirit” Ananias deceived the apostles and the church apparently. But actually he deceived the Holy Spirit because: 1) the apostles and the church are the channels through which the Holy Spirit works; 2) it is against the “oneness” that the Holy Spirit works in the church; 3) it is not the guidance of the Holy Spirit in men.
The Holy Spirit is deceived, showing that He is also a person. Lying to the Holy Spirit actually means lying to God (v.4).
Some Bible exegetes firmly believe that
Satan cannot dwell in believers and therefore Ananias and Sapphira must be false believers. However, the
view that beautifies Christians is not in agreement with the actual examples
that are recorded in the Bible: 1) the Lord Jesus blamed Peter that “Satan…”
for he said wrong after He had praised him that he had been revealed by the
Father in heaven (Matt. 16:16-23). It means that what he had said was of God in
a little while and was of Satan in another while. 2) Paul the apostle
instructed the church in
After a man has been saved, the Holy
Spirit dwells in his spirit (
In addition, whether one has been saved or not is completely the thing between him and God. The outsiders do not know whether his faith is true and therefore we should not regard the failing Christian as the false believer easily or attempt to root him out (Matt. 13:24-30, 37-39).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The reason why believers cannot donate completely is that their intentions are filled by Satan. What Satan fears most is men’s complete devotion because this behavior makes Satan lose its workshop.
2) Satan always agitates men to surpass their inner capacity of grace and outwardly pretend to have the falsely spiritual appearance. Consequently they commit the sin of “lying to the Holy Spirit” so that they suffer the judgment of death (both the body and the spirit) (See v.5).
3) Satan not only entices men to commit sins and do iniquity but also entices men to do the things that seem to be good apparently and actually are unacceptable to God.
4) If Satan cannot block the church through the outward persecution and threats (Acts. 4:21), it will change its crafts and corrupt the church internally and hold back the oneness of the church (Acts. 4:32).
5) Men’s every deed of deceit and sins deceives God and sins against Him.
6) Insincerity indeed means sinning against God. When we fall into hypocrisy unconsciously, we actually sin against the Holy Spirit who guides us within us.
7) All spiritual things are directly related to the Lord Himself. The Lord’s power is performed through men’s submission. And men’s disobedience and foolishness help Satan to deal with the Lord.
8) Jia Yuming said that since Peter pronounced that Ananias “lied to the Holy Spirit”, showing that Ananias must be a partaker of the Holy Spirit and unfortunately he did not obey the Holy Spirit and let his heart be hardened to the end and therefore his sin could not be remitted.
Acts. 5:4 “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 God.’”
YLT: “while it remained, did it not remain thine? and having been sold, in thy authority was it not? why [is] it that thou didst put in thy heart this thing? thou didst not lie to men, but to God;'”
Literal Meaning: “While it remained, was it not your own?” It shows that at that time believers still had the absolute right over their own possessions and they did not have the duty to sell their lands.
“Was it not in your own control?” “It” refers to the price that they sold the land. “In your own control” refers to having the right to dominate. After one has sold the possessions, he makes his own decision that he donates all or a part of the money to the church. It is not a compulsory demand.
“Why have you conceived this thing in your heart?” It is translated as “why is it that you do put in thy heart this thing?” in the original. The Jews used this grammar to express that, “this thing has been conceived in your heart for a period of time”. “This thing” does not refer to “keep” the price of the land but “keep back” the price secretly. They kept back part of the price and pretended that they had donated the entire price. They lied.
“You have not lied to men” He thought that the apostles could be deceived.
“But to God” It proves that the Holy Spirit in v.3 is God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Though God moved men to donate, He honored men’s right of “their own control”.
2) “You have not lied to men but to God.” Sinning against the church is sinning against God.
3) Though Peter spoke harsh words to Ananias, he did not get angry and he rationally criticized the fact. In the church, blaming men is more difficult than encouraging men because when one blames others, it is easy for him to lose the self-control so that he gets angry.
4) A weak one might scold someone, however, he cannot reprove someone. Scolding someone and reproving someone are two different things. As long as men see the abomination of sin in the light of God, they are able to reprove others, standing with God.
5) The common people may be deceived, however, the spiritual discerns all things (1Cor. 2:15). Men may be blinded, however, God is not blinded and He is the Lord who looks upon the heart of men (1Sam. 16:7).
Acts. 5:5 “Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.”
YLT: “and Ananias hearing these words, having fallen down, did expire, and great fear came upon all who heard these things,”
Meaning of Words: “fell down”: fail; “breathed his last”: give up the soul.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Behind the church there is the true head of the church and therefore the head is behind every faithful servant and supports him.
2) True believers may also commit a sin. There is sin not leading to death and there is sin leading to death (1John. 5:16-17).
3) When a believer commits a sin, he may not suffer the punishment of the fleshly death. However, if he does not deal with the sin completely, the sin will bring in the spiritual death.
4) Our covetousness, hypocrisy and lies should “fall down” and our old men, old selves, natural lives should “breath the last”.
Acts. 5:6 “And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.”
YLT: “and having risen, the younger men wound him up, and having carried forth, they buried [him].”
The Background: According to the Law of Moses, the one who is put to death by God should be buried that very day (Deut. 21:22-23).
Literal Meaning: “and the young men arose” “The young men” refers to the young and strong believers who are willing to do the service that costs physical strength.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The feature of the young men in the church is that they are strong and the word of God abides in them and they have overcome the wicked one (1John. 2:13-14).
2) In the church, more “young men”------strong overcomers-------should “arise”, “wrap up” all the dead things, “carry them out”------clear them up, and “bury” them------make them disappear forever.
Acts. 5:7 “Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.”
YLT: “And it came to pass, about three hours after, that his wife, not knowing what hath happened, came in,”
Literal Meaning: “not knowing what had happened” Please note that it had already been spread (v.5), however, she did not what had happened, showing that no one had told her this matter.
Acts. 5:8 “And Peter answered her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?’ She said, ‘Yes, for so much.’”
YLT: “and Peter answered her, `Tell me if for so much ye sold the place;' and she said, `Yes, for so much.'”
Literal Meaning: “Peter answered her” Here Peter intended to guide Sapphira to tell the fact and gave her a chance of repentance.
Acts. 5:9 “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.’”
YLT: “And Peter said unto her, `How was it agreed by you, to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? lo, the feet of those who did bury thy husband [are] at the door, and they shall carry thee forth;'”
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Believers are obliged to obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit “with one accord” and should not “agree together to test the Spirit of the Lord”.
2) Those who sin and who fall always get united as husband and wife and imitate each other------“agree together to test the Spirit of the Lord”.
3) Wives should be subject unto their own husbands (Eph. 5:24), however, they should not commit sins with their husbands.
Acts. 5:10 “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.”
YLT: “and she fell down presently at his feet, and expired, and the young men having come in, found her dead, and having carried forth, they buried [her] by her husband;”
Literal Meaning: Ananias and his wife died immediately one after another because of lie. Some Bible exegetes tried to use the medical principle to explain it and some held that God is too harsh, however, according to the condition at that time that the church was newly established, if the Holy Spirit was not extremely manifested holy in the church, the church may be in danger of being destroyed by Satan. The “signs and wonders” are needed in order to establish the authority and power of the apostles and spread the gospel to the whole land.
Acts. 5:11 “So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.”
YLT: “and great fear came upon all the assembly, and upon all who heard these things.”
Literal Meaning: “all the church” The noun “church” is recorded for the first time in the Acts of the Apostles. It could refer to the local church (Acts. 5:11; 8:1; 11:22; 13:1) and it also refers to the universal church (Acts. 20:28).
In the Bible, the word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklesia which is constituted of “out” and “calling”. The Greek word was mentioned for the first time by the Lord Jesus in the New Testament (Matt. 16:18) and it was commonly applied by the disciples in the Acts and epistles.
The Hebrew word qahal in Septuagint in the Old
Testament was previously translated into the Greek word ekklesia and it occurs
123 times in the Old Testament. Its root form means “gathering togther”. In the
English version, it is translated as congregation and assembly. This word is
specially used when God’s elect------the people of
Based on the Greek and Hebrew meaning and allusion in the Old and New Testament, we could, in a nutshell, give a definition of the church: the church is the total amount of God’s sons and daughters whom God has called out and gathered before Him to Hear Him respectfully, serve Him, pursue Him and prepare themselves for the second coming of the Lord.
“All who heard these things” indicate the people who heard these things after they had been gotten about.
“Great fear came upon all…” It shows that they had the hearts of fear of God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “Great fear came upon all the church” The church indeed fears, showing that the church is living and the church is absolutely not the dead architecture or organization.
2) If the church is willing to deal with sin severely and not over-tolerate sin, men both in and out of the church will have the hearts of fear and the power of the Holy Spirit will be greatly manifested.
3) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap (Gal. 6:7).
4) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10). Once Christians lose the hearts of fear of the Lord, it is their beginning of stagnation and fall.
Acts. 5:12 “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.”
YLT: “And through the hands of the apostles came many signs and wonders among the people, and they were with one accord all in the porch of Solomon;”
Literal Meaning: “And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people” “Many” shows that there were many times and the kinds differed. There were especially many “signs and wonders” in the time of the Acts. Maybe God purposely meant to prove that the message that the apostles preached was absolutely of God instead of men (Heb. 2:3-4). Please note that signs and wonders are not a part of the salvation but the way of God to preach the salvation.
“And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch.” It tells us that the early church was always assembled in visible place, i.e. the Solomon’s Porch which is one of the two porches surrounding the temple (See Acts. 3:11).
Enlightenment in the Word: unlike that time when signs and wonders were done “among the people”, today many signs and wonders are done in specific places and the film studios.
Acts. 5:13 “Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.”
YLT: “and of the rest no one was daring to join himself to them, but the people were magnifying them,”
Meaning of Words: “join”: get close to, stick, glue; “esteem”: magnify, enlarge, show great.
Literal Meaning: “the rest” refer to the hypocritical who had ulterior motives, i.e. those who pretended to be believers or half-believers. Some Bible exegetes held that “the rest” were contrast to the following “people” who esteemed them highly and they refer to their “Judaic leaders”.
“None of the rest dared join them” It can not mean that common people dare not join them, otherwise, there won’t be many new believers (See v.14).
Acts. 5:14 “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,”
YLT: “(and the more were believers added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women,)”
Literal Meaning: “multitudes of both men and women” It is mentioned for the first time in the book that women believe the Lord (See Acts. 2:41; 4:4).
Acts. 5:15 “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.”
YLT: “so as into the broad places to bring forth the ailing, and to lay [them] upon couches and mats, that at the coming of Peter, even [his] shadow might overshadow some one of them;”
Literal Meaning: “laid them on beds and couches” “beds” refer to small beds; “couches” are just like stretchers.
“That at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them” “shadow” represents the specific way that one contacts with Peter himself. Some Bible exegetes held that it was only the one-sided hope of the sick ones and their family members and actually the shadow of Peter did not have special function. Luke recorded this matter, merely showing the multitudes’ respect for apostles and their trust in them.
Enlightenment in the Word: “shadow” is of light. God is light (1John. 1:5). The more one draws near to God, the more abundant his life will be and the more power of life will be sent forth from him so that men will be healed.
Acts. 5:16 “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.”
YLT: “and there were
coming together also the people of the cities round about to
Literal Meaning: “they were all healed” It shows that the healing of God in early church is one hundred percent effective. However, concerning the healing of God today, its effect is not clear and contrarily it is greatly publicized.
Acts. 5:17 “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,”
YLT: “And having risen, the chief priest, and all those with him -- being the sect of the Sadducees -- were filled with zeal,”
Literal Meaning: “the high priest and all those who were with him” The official high priest of the Raman Government was Caiaphas, however, the Jews held that Annas (the farther-in-law to Caiaphas) was the actual high priest because the high priesthood should be one’s lifelong employment (See Acts. 4:6). “All those who were with him” refer to his family members.
“Which is the sect of the Sadducees” It shows that the majority of “the sect of the Sadducees” are of the class of priests (see the note in Acts 4:1).
Acts. 5:18 “and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.”
YLT: “and laid their hands upon the apostles, and did put them in a public prison;”
Literal Meaning: “and laid their hands on the apostles” The plural “apostles” refer to many apostles.
“And put them in the common prison” “The common prison” refers to the temporary house of detention which is used to imprison misdemeanants or detain the criminals who have not been condemned and wait to be on trial officially here.
Acts. 5:19 “But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,”
YLT: “and a messenger of the Lord through the night opened the doors of the prison, having also brought them forth, he said,”
Enlightenment in the Word: the gates of Hades shall not prevail against the church (Matt. 16:18). The witness that the church bears of the Lord cannot be closed by the power of darkness.
Acts. 5:20 “‘Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.’”
YLT: “`Go on, and standing, speak in the temple to the people all the sayings of this life;'”
Literal Meaning: “Go, stand in the temple” This commandment almost “imposes a difficult task on them” because they probably were put in when they taught men in the temple (See v.12).
“The words of this life” “This life” means the sacred life that Peter preached, provided and manifested by life. “Words” refer to the words in season (rhema).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The words that the Lord speaks to us are spirit, and they are life (John. 6:63).
2) What the workers of the Lord should preach is not reasons but “the words of life”.
3) Life prevails over the imprisonment of the enemy. In the life circumstance, believers should manifest the testimony of God’s life at all times and places and not let the outer circumstances restrain the inner life.
4) If we are able to let the life of God be manifested in our daily life, our walking will become the testimony of the life of God which draws the world to seek the life.
5) Though the workers of God are bound, the word of God is not bound (2Tim. 2:9).
Acts. 5:21 “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
YLT: “and having heard,
they did enter at the dawn into the temple, and were teaching. And the chief
priest having come, and those with him, they called together the sanhedrim and
all the senate of the sons of
Literal Meaning: “they entered the temple early in the morning and taught” It shows that the apostles obeyed God absolutely. They will not grudge even if they run risks too overcome obstacles.
“Called the council together” “the council” is the supreme court of the Jews and it is constituted of the high priest, scribes and elders (see the note in Acts. 4:5).
Acts. 5:22 “But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported,”
YLT: “and the officers having come, did not find them in the prison, and having turned back, they told,”
Acts. 5:23 “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 inside!’”
YLT: “saying -- `The prison indeed we found shut in all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors, and having opened -- within we found no one.'”
Literal Meaning: “Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors” It shows that the guards did not neglect their duties.
Acts. 5:24 “Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be.”
YLT: “And as the priest, and the magistrate of the temple, and the chief priests, heard these words, they were doubting concerning them to what this would come;”
Literal Meaning: “wondered” indicates that they felt confused.
“What the outcome would be” It shows that the course and result of this event were hard to predict. And they did not know what to do.
Acts. 5:25 “So one came and told them, saying, ‘Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!’”
YLT: “and coming near, a certain one told them, saying -- `Lo, the men whom ye did put in the prison are in the temple standing and teaching the people;'”
Literal Meaning: “So one came and told them” This man must have seen that they put the apostles in (v.18) and therefore he recognized them.
Acts. 5:26 “Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.”
YLT: “then the magistrate having gone away with officers, brought them without violence, for they were fearing the people, lest they should be stoned;”
Acts. 5:27 “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,”
YLT: “and having brought them, they set [them] in the sanhedrim, and the chief priest questioned them,”
Acts. 5:28 “saying, ‘Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this
name? And look, you have filled
YLT: “saying, `Did not we
strictly command you not to teach in this name? and lo, ye have filled
Literal Meaning: “Did we not strictly command you” “strictly commanding’ means “commanding with commandment”.
“And intend to bring this Man's blood on us” “This Man” refers to the Lord Jesus. Please note that the high priest skirted round the name of the Lord Jesus. “Bring blood on us” because the apostles declared that the Jews killed the Lord Jesus through the hand of the Roman government (Acts. 2:23; 3:13-15; 4:10).
Enlightenment in the Word: those who rejected the Lord Jesus were of one voice and were willing to bear the sin of His blood (Matt. 27:25). However, today they withdrew their previous remark and tried to decline. It shows that the words of religious believers are untrustworthy.
Acts. 5:29 “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.”
YLT: “And Peter and the apostles answering, said, `To obey God it behoveth, rather than men;”
Literal Meaning: “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said” Please note that it is not only Peter who spoke, but all the apostles spoke. It is not a few of them were strong but all of them were strong.
“We ought to obey God rather than men” When men’s commandments conflict with that
of God, believers’ attitude should be: “obey God rather than men”. However,
when living in the world, Christians still have the responsibility to be
subject to the authorities (
Acts. 5:30 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.”
YLT: “and the God of our fathers did raise up Jesus, whom ye slew, having hanged upon a tree;”
Literal Meaning: “Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree” “a tree” refers to the cross (1Pet. 2:24).
Acts. 5:31 “Him God has exalted to
His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to
YLT: “this one God, a
Prince and a Saviour, hath exalted with His right hand, to give reformation to
Meaning of Words: “Prince”: ruler, a chief leader, originator, forerunner.
Literal Meaning: “Him God has exalted to His right hand” “right hand” represents the greater and more important position. After the Lord was taken up into heaven, He is on the right hand of God (Acts. 7:56; Heb. 8:1). The Lord Jesus was exalted, showing that His great work of redemption on the cross has been fully acknowledged and approved by God.
“To be Prince and Savior” “Prince” stresses on authority and identity. “Savior” stresses on remission and giving men life.
“To give repentance and forgiveness of sins” “Repentance” is for remission of sins (Mark. 1:4). On the side of God, remission of sins is on the basis of His redemption (Eph. 1:7). On the side of men, remission of sins works through men’s repentance.
It shows us that not only the remission of sins is given by God but also the repentance is given by Him. Men always have a wrong idea that repentance is our work and the remission of sins is given by God. Unexpectedly, both repentance and remission of sins are given by God and nothing has been left for men to do. God gives you repentance just like He gives you the remission of sins. Remission of sins is done by God and repentance is also done by Him. Many times, men are unable to see their own sins and their need of salvation. It is God that enlightens men through His words so that men are picked in heart and repent. And therefore repentance is a part of faith and it is also a part of salvation and both of them are done by God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The reason why we have been saved is not that we are better than others but that God has chosen us so that we repent and believe the Lord marvelously.
2) God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace (2Tim. 1:9).
Acts. 5:32 “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.’”
YLT: “and we are His witnesses of these sayings, and the Holy Spirit also, whom God gave to those obeying him.'”
Literal Meaning: “and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him” Faith and obedience are the conditions to receive the Holy Spirit (John. 7:39).
“And we are His witnesses to these things” The Holy Spirit works with believers, guides them and proves the witnesses that they bear.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Obedience is an important factor to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
2) “God has given…the Holy Spirit…His witnesses” There are some important points concerning the gospel that we preach, such as: Jesus was born through the virgin, His blood is able to wash men’s sins and etc. These facts are hard for men to believe. However, the Holy Spirit works in men and moves them so that they have to believe.
Acts. 5:33 “When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them.”
YLT: “And they having heard, were cut [to the heart], and were taking counsel to slay them,”
Literal Meaning: “furious”: saw asunder (the strong allegoric way of saying that one is exasperated).
Enlightenment in the Word: One of the ways that Satan makes men fear is to kill. However, if the time of God has not come yet, no one is able to harm men of God. God is responsible for saving them and giving them a way out.
Acts. 5:34 “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.”
YLT: “but a certain one, having risen up in the sanhedrim -- a Pharisee, by name Gamaliel, a teacher of law honoured by all the people -- commanded to put the apostles forth a little,”
Meaning of Words: “Gamaliel”: whom God will reward.
Literal Meaning: “Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel” He was the grandson of the famous rabbi Hillel at that time. He was open-minded, his ideas were impartial, his deeds were upright and strict and he was greatly respected by people. The Jews called him “rabbi in the rabbis” and Saul (who became Paul the apostle later) was at his feet (Acts. 22:3).
Acts. 5:35 “And he said to them: ‘Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.”
YLT: “and said unto them, `Men, Israelites, take heed to yourselves about these men, what ye are about to do,”
Acts. 5:36 “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.”
YLT: “for before these days rose up Theudas, saying, that himself was some one, to whom a number of men did join themselves, as it were four hundred, who was slain, and all, as many as were obeying him, were scattered, and came to nought.”
Meaning of Words: “Theudas”: given by God.
Literal Meaning: “For some time ago
Theudas rose up” Concerning the deeds of this man, there isn’t any historical
material for reference. Undoubtedly, he was a leader who rebelled against the
Acts. 5:37 “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 dispersed.”
YLT: “`After this one rose up, Judas the Galilean, in the days of the enrollment, and drew away much people after him, and that one perished, and all, as many as were obeying him, were scattered;”
Literal Meaning: “in the days of the census” It is not the first census of Cyrenius in the book of Luke (Luke. 2:2) and it happened about in A.D. 6.
“Judas of Galilee rose up, and drew away many people after him.” According to the textual research of the Jewish historian Joseph, this man refused to pay taxes to Caesar and rose up to rebel against the government and was brought to an end quickly.
Acts. 5:38 “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;”
YLT: “and now I say to you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone, because if this counsel or this work may be of men, it will be overthrown,”
Enlightenment in the Word: “for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing”; “if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it” (v.39). It is the reliable law in the spiritual realm.
Acts. 5:39 “but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it--lest you even be found to fight against God.’”
YLT: “and if it be of God, ye are not able to overthrow it, lest perhaps also ye be found fighting against God.'”
Literal Meaning: Gamaliel represents the faith of the Pharisees------they believe that all are in the hand of God, however, men should be responsible for their own behaviors.
Enlightenment in the Word: the view of Gamaliel was not wrong, however, he had not received the salvation because of it. It shows that the fear of God is not enough and one has to know God’s will in the age.
Acts. 5:40 “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.”
YLT: “And to him they agreed, and having called near the apostles, having beaten [them], they commanded [them] not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go;”
Literal Meaning: “beaten them” The Jews used whip to punish, however, they shall not beat one more than forty times (Deut. 25:3). And therefore their tradition was “forty, save one” (2Cor. 11:24). They would rather reduce one, lest they exceed forty heedlessly.
Acts. 5:41 “So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”
YLT: “they, indeed, then, departed from the presence of the sanhedrim, rejoicing that for his name they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour,”
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If we suffer shame for the name of Jesus that men despise and God values, it is indeed honorable.
2) The enemy could injure the Lord’s workers, however, the enemy cannot soften their hearts towards the Lord. Scars on the body are not their shame but their glory and joy.
3) If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter (1Pet. 4:16).
4) When believers live in the world, the more tribulations one suffers, the more joy will always be added to him.
Acts. 5:42 “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
YLT: “every day also in the temple, and in every house, they were not ceasing teaching and proclaiming good news -- Jesus the Christ.”
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
Several Comparisons in the Fifth Chapter of the Acts
I. The inner corruption (v.1-10)------the outer persecution (v.17-40).
II. Satan filled men’s hearts (v.3)------
III. Lie to the Holy Spirit (v.3), lie to God (v.4)------lie to men (v.4).
IV. He fell down and breathed his last (v.5, 10)------carried him out, and buried him (v.6, 10).
V. Fear (v.5, 11)------esteemed them highly (v.13).
VI. Have agreed together to test the Holy Spirit (v.9)------with one accord (v.12).
VII. Through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done (v.12)------laid their hands on, put them in prison (v.18), beaten (v.40).
VIII. Being filled with indignation (v.17), wondered (v.24)------rejoicing (v.41).
IX. The words of this life (v.20)------men’s commandment (v.28 the original word of “strictly command”).
X. Obey God (v.29)------obey men (v.29).
XI. God has exalted Him (v.31)------claiming to be somebody (v.36).
XII. The apostles bore witness (v.32)------the Holy Spirit bears witness (v.32).
XIII. It is of men (v.38)------it is of God (v.39).
Signs and Wonders in the Fifth Chapter of the Acts
I. Knowing the hidden facts of Ananias (v.1-4).
II. Ananias, hearing the words of Peter, fell down and breathed his last (v.5).
III. Knowing that Sapphira and her husband have agreed together to test the Spirit of God (v.9a).
IV. Knowing the end of Sapphira (v.9b).
V. Through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done (v.12).
VI. Healing diseases (v.15-16).
VII. Releasing the apostles out of the prison (v.19).
VIII. Arranging Gamaliel to prevent the council from killing the apostles (v.33-40).
The Hand of Satan and the Hand of God
I. The hand of Satan:
A. It worked in weak believers (v.3).
B. It laid its hands on the apostles (v.18).
C. It whipped the Lord’s witnesses (v.40).
II. The hand of God:
A. He cleansed all passive things (v.6, 10).
B. He did many signs and wonders through the hands of the apostles (v.12).
C. He led the Lord’s workers out of the prison (v.19).
D. He exalted Jesus Christ with His right hand (v.31).
The Knowledge of the Holy Spirit
I. The Holy Spirit is against Satan (v.3).
II. Lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God (v.3-4).
III. The Holy Spirit is not mocked or tempted (v.5, 9-10).
IV. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Him (v.32).
V. The Holy Spirit bears witness of Christ with believers (v.32).
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Sharon Ren