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Ac 5:1-11. ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA.
"The first trace of a shade upon the bright form of the young Church. Probably among the new Christians a kind of holy rivalry had sprung up, every one eager to place his means at the disposal of the apostles" [OLSHAUSEN]. Thus might the new-born zeal of some outrun their abiding principle, while others might be tempted to seek credit for a liberality which was not in their character.
2. kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it--The
coolness with which they planned the deception aggravated the guilt of
3-6. why hath Satan filled--"why . . . fill--"why hast thou suffered
him to fill"
4. While it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was
it not in thine own power?--from which we see how purely voluntary
were all these sacrifices for the support of the infant community.
5. Ananias . . . gave up the ghost . . . great fear came on all that heard these things--on those without the Christian circle; who, instead of disparaging the followers of the Lord Jesus, as they might otherwise have done on the discovery of such hypocrisy, were awed at the manifest presence of Divinity among them, and the mysterious power of throwing off such corrupt matter which rested upon the young Church.
6. the young men--some of the younger and more active members of the church, not as office-bearers, nor coming forward now for the first time, but who probably had already volunteered their services in making subordinate arrangements. In every thriving Christian community such volunteers may be expected, and will be found eminently useful.
7-11. Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much--naming the sum.
9. How is it that ye have agreed together--(See on
10. buried her by her husband--The later Jews buried before sunset of the day of death.
11. And great fear came upon all the church, &c.--This effect on the Christian community itself was the chief design of so startling a judgment; which had its counterpart, as the sin itself had, in Achan (Jos 7:1-26), while the time--at the commencement of a new career--was similar.
Ac 5:12-26. THE PROGRESS OF THE NEW CAUSE LEADS TO THE ARREST OF THE APOSTLES--THEY ARE MIRACULOUSLY DELIVERED FROM PRISON, RESUME THEIR TEACHING, BUT ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE CONDUCTED BEFORE THE SAMHEDRIM.
12. Solomon's Porch--(See on Joh 10:23).
15. into the streets--"in every street."
17-23. sect of the Sadducees--See on Ac 4:1 for the reason why this is specified.
21. entered into the temple, &c.--How self-possessed! the indwelling
Spirit raising them above fear.
23. the prison . . . shut . . . keepers . . . before the doors, but . . . no man within--the reverse of the miracle in Ac 16:26; a similar contrast to that of the nets at the miraculous draughts of fishes (Lu 5:6; Joh 21:11).
24-26. they doubted--"were in perplexity."
Ac 5:27-42. SECOND APPEARANCE AND TESTIMONY BEFORE THE SAMHEDRIM--ITS RAGE CALMED BY GAMALIEL--BEING DISMISSED, THEY DEPART REJOICING, AND CONTINUE THEIR PREACHING.
27, 28. ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine--noble testimony to the success of their preaching, and (for the reason mentioned on Ac 4:4) to the truth of their testimony, from reluctant lips!
28. intend to bring this man's blood upon us--They avoid naming Him whom Peter gloried in holding up [BENGEL]. In speaking thus, they seem to betray a disagreeable recollection of their own recent imprecation, His blood be upon us," &c. (Mt 27:25), and of the traitor's words as he threw down the money, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood" (Mt 27:4).
31. Prince and a Saviour--the first word expressing that Royalty
which all Israel looked for in Messiah, the second the Saving
character of it which they had utterly lost sight of. Each of these
features in our Lord's work enters into the other, and both make one
glorious whole (compare
32, 33. we are his witnesses . . . and the Holy Ghost--They as competent human witnesses to facts, and the Holy Ghost as attesting them by undeniable miracles.
33. cut to the heart and took--"were taking."
34. Then stood up . . . Gamaliel--in all probability one of that name celebrated in the Jewish writings for his wisdom, the son of Simeon (possibly the same who took the infant Saviour in his arms, Lu 2:25-35), and grandson of HILLEL, another celebrated rabbi. He died eighteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem [LIGHTFOOT].
35-39. Theudas--not the same with a deceiver of that name whom JOSEPHUS mentions as heading an insurrection some twelve years after this [Antiquities, 20.5.1], but some other of whom he makes no mention. Such insurrections were frequent.
38. if . . . of men, it will come to naught--This neutral policy was true wisdom, in the then temper of the council. But individual neutrality is hostility to Christ, as He Himself teaches (Lu 11:23).
40-42. beaten them--for disobeying their orders (compare Lu 23:16).
41. departed . . . rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name--"thought worthy by God to be dishonored by man" (Mt 5:12; 1Pe 4:14, 16) [WEBSTER and WILKINSON]. This was their first taste of persecution, and it felt sweet for His sake whose disciples they were.
42. in every house--in private. (See on