Acts of the Apostles
11 - Acts 5:1-25
Acts of the Apostles: 11 - Acts 5:1-25
In this class we will discuss Acts 5:1-25 and look at the following: the story of Ananias and Sapphira and the importance of integrity; the excitement surrounding numerous healings; and the apostles being imprisoned, miraculously released and then teaching at the temple.
[Darris McNeely] What we have here in Acts 5 is the story begins of Ananias and Sapphira, two members of the Church who are struck down in the midst of the congregation, it appears, for a sin. And people look at this, they read it, and it strikes them as incongruous to the story of the New Testament of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, the love of God. It hearkens more back to something of the Old Testament in terms of judgment and actions that were taken in the Old Testament against individuals who sinned. And so it seems out of place, but it's really not.
And so as we look at it here, we have to understand it from the context of the story. If we can back up a few verses in Chapter 4, and remember that this is set in the context of the Church having gone through kind of an initial period of a time of persecution, an incident where John and Peter were arrested, brought before the governing body of the Jews, admonished to not preach in the name of Jesus. They went and they reported all of that. And then we are told at the very end of Chapter 4 of the unity of the Church, the love of the Church. How everyone was sharing what they had had among themselves. Some were selling goods and property and then donating to the Church. We're introduced at the end of Chapter 4 to a man named Barnabas, who was a Levite, we are told, of the country of Cyprus. And he had land, he sold it, and he brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.
So, he sold some land and he laid the money. And wasn't all of it. We can assume that it could be. Did he keep some back to pay his own bills? I think that's highly likely that he didn't put himself into penury or poverty as a result of what he did. I don't think…God's Word doesn't encourage us to give to the point where we then enter into a state of poverty. But he was honest and he was upfront. And the story of Barnabas, as we will see later in the Book of Acts, testifies to that type of integrity and character. And so when we then come to the first scene of Chapter 5, we also see a case of somebody giving a sum of money to the Church but there's a different effect. And so let's look at that here as we begin in Chapter 5, beginning with verse 1.
Acts 5:1-2 Acts 5:1-2  But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
American King James Version×Where it says that “A certain man named Ananias with his wife, Sapphira, sold property and kept back part of the price.” Alright? “And his wife, it says, also being aware of it and brought a portion and laid it at the apostles' feet.”
Now they're doing the same thing that had been done, it seems by Barnabas, the same type of situation here as they did this. And so they lay that before the apostles' feet.
Acts 5:3 Acts 5:3But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
American King James Version×“Now, Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the price of the land?’”
He lied to the Spirit of God. He was lying to God. God is Spirit. And the God's essence, His very nature is Spirit. We are in a few weeks when we begin the second semester, we will be going very thoroughly through the doctrine of the nature of God in Christ and the Holy Spirit to study that.
But one of the things you'll learn and should know as we look at what is said here in Acts 5, is that by lying...Peter says, he's lying to the Spirit, he's lying to God. He's not lying to a third person or a third being in a Trinitarian construct about the Godhead. But he is lying to God in this, and that becomes clear with what he says later. But to just understand that God is Spirit and that God dwells in us through His Spirit. But the focus is on the lying that he did, and that he kept it back and didn't give it all. But what he evidently did was indicate or pretend that he did give it all. And so there was a lie. There was a deceit. And so we have a problem here with integrity. And really that's at the heart of this story here, personal integrity, character.
And this is really what is being tried here, and it threatens to disrupt the Church. This is why Luke is led by God to put this story in. It's not a good story. Think about it. It doesn't necessarily speak well of all of that has been happening in the Church of people working together, powerfully preaching the gospel, and a very good, cohesive picture of the Church. Now we have a problem. Now we see that not everybody's on the up and up. Not everyone is there for the right reasons. That some are still acting from a lack of character. And in this case, there's an intent to deceive to appear to be somebody.
I think we have to ask ourselves, did they want to be like Barnabas and appear to be like Barnabas? And as I said, we're going to see that Barnabas becomes a minister. He goes out with the Apostle Paul on the very first missionary or baptizing trip we would call it, or an evangelization trip later on in the story. He is a person of encouragement. The name Barnabas means son of encouragement. And so he is a man of integrity as the Biblical picture will show. And so did they want to appear to be like him, but not going through with everything that he did? Most importantly, the honesty and the internal character that he had.
He said Ananias and Sapphira sold some property, but they kept back part of it, but they indicated that they were giving it all. And they were just dishonest in their reporting. They brought a portion of it. And God allowed Peter to discern and to understand what was going on. Was there more to the backstory? Did he know this couple and other things about them? We don't know. We could read that into it, but it would be just that. You know, it's plausible that there were certain other aspects that would've led Peter to question this. But ultimately, as we are told here, it is God who is revealing this to Peter, and he gets very direct.
Acts 5:3-4 Acts 5:3-4  But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
 Whiles it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? you have not lied to men, but to God.
American King James Version×Peter said "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it remained, was it not your own?"
It was his own. The answer to that question is rhetorical is yes. And therefore, Ananias and Sapphira had the right to do with it as they pleased. It was theirs. And it wasn't anyone else's. And so they made a decision as to how they were going to do it. They just were not honest in this.
Acts 5:4 Acts 5:4Whiles it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? you have not lied to men, but to God.
American King James Version×“After it was sold,” he says, "Was it not in your own power? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart?"
And that, again, is another telling phrase in your heart. The essence of the new covenant that God is creating with His people, the relationship that we have through the Spirit is a relationship of the heart. God's law is being written on our heart. That is the essence of the new covenant. The law is spiritual, it's holy, it's just and good, Paul says. It's never been done away with, but God through the relationship we now have, He's writing it on our heart. And part of that law wasn't being written on the heart of these two individuals and they have conceived something. They conceived deceit and a fraud.
Acts 5:4-5 Acts 5:4-5  Whiles it remained, was it not your own? and after it was sold, was it not in your own power? why have you conceived this thing in your heart? you have not lied to men, but to God.
 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
American King James Version×So, he said, "You have not lied to men, but to God." You've lied to God. "And Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came on all those who heard these things."
It sent a shock through the Church, a member in a sense, collapsing. Now, sometimes commentators will look at this and they'll try to come up with a purely rational explanation that the shock of such a pronouncement by Peter was enough to put him into cardiac arrest. Well, there are certainly instances where people have been surprised in a good way. I've heard of people who were surprised at, let's say, a birthday party or an anniversary party, you know, walked into a room and, surprise, everybody jumps out and they have a heart attack. Well, it was meant for a good thing.
And so surprises can have an adverse effect physiologically on us. And so, again, sometimes people try to explain this that way, and certainly, I'm sure Ananias was frozen in the reality that he had been found out. "How did you know?" he might have been saying to Peter. And palpitations and disturbances of the heart took place with Ananias, but bottom line, to look at this, this is a judgment that's being rendered and you cannot discount the hand of God on this. There's no way to try to make this...you know, sweeten it up a little bit. God leads Peter to discern something and he nails it and he does it publicly.
And, you know, this is room for a lot of other discussion. Paul, the Apostle, will later tell Timothy in one of the pastoral letters that an elder rebuked publicly. Now, that's pretty hard. And, you know, we typically don't do these things. When a person has to be disciplined in the Church, whether it's an elder or a member, it's usually handled discreetly and in private. Although, you know, I've known of some cases where it wasn't always that way, but typically, we handle that in private for any number of reasons appropriate and otherwise, but this one was done public. And people saw it, and they heard, and they feared.
Now, certainly, when it comes to a judgment that might be made even today in the church about sin in some cases, where we may not publicly and even announce it, much less take care of it, you know, initially in public, we don't call people out in services, and we don't always expose it publicly. I'm not saying we should. But there is a proper fear that comes when people do understand that sin is not tolerated and that it is at least recognized, understood to exist and/or the Church in the ministry is dealing with it. And that dealing with it may be certain punishments such as suspension or even disfellowship as the New Testament shows.
It may be just counseling and to help somebody work through a problem. But generally, that's best done discreetly and in private, but there's a benefit to the Church knowing that it is being addressed. Otherwise, people think, well, the Church is tolerant. We're tolerating sin. We're just like Corinth. And, you know, the minister knows about this or whatever, and it's not being dealt with. It's not always the case. Don't always jump to that conclusion. A lot of times the minister is the last one to know about it. And members typically will know things that the ministry doesn't know.
But if the ministry then addresses it in the right way, a Biblical scriptural way, then understand that more often than you might realize, those things are being dealt with. And don't jump to erroneous conclusions there. So, we're seeing a very public rebuke here with this story as Ananias is struck down.
Acts 5:6 Acts 5:6And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
American King James Version×It says "The young men arose, wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him."
I didn't put this particular picture in, but there are pictures that are graphically put into sarcophaguses we have from the ancient world showing people being carried to a burial and lifted and maybe even without being properly prepared, the body being prepared for that. But the idea of this being done, preparation, he's been carried out and buried very directly is typical of what was done then and even now in the Middle East. Burials didn't stretch out for days and days. They were typically put into the grave, usually within 24 hours. But the indication here is this was done, you know, certainly less than that because we're told in verse 7.
Acts 5:7-8 Acts 5:7-8  And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
 And Peter answered to her, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? And she said, Yes, for so much.
American King James Version×…about the space of 3 hours later when his wife, Sapphira, “…not knowing what had happened, came in and Peter answered her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for this amount.’”
And so he knows that she's complicit. She's a partner in the situation. And so he lays the question out there.
Acts 5:8 Acts 5:8And Peter answered to her, Tell me whether you sold the land for so much? And she said, Yes, for so much.
American King James Version×“And she says, yes for that amount.”
And so she implicates herself that she is a part of this deceit.
Acts 5:9 Acts 5:9Then Peter said to her, How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried your husband are at the door, and shall carry you out.
American King James Version× “And Peter then said to her, ‘How is it that you've conspired to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door and shall carry you out.’”
So, within 3 hours, it would seem, this disposal, burial of Ananias has occurred, and the same burial crew is going to carry her out.
Acts 5:10-11 Acts 5:10-11  Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
 And great fear came on all the church, and on as many as heard these things.
American King James Version×"She immediately fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in, found her dead, and carried her out and buried her by her husband. And great fear came upon the Church and upon as many as heard these things.”
And so it's a dramatic story of divine judgment is really what it is that we're talking about. It is a divine judgment of God on these individuals. And it's not a pretty picture of the Church. It indicates that there's problems. Let's say there's a cancer that has formed within a part of the Church. How widespread was it? Well, the text doesn't tell us. We could assume that there may have been other people that might have been inclined to join them in the same deceit, but probably then thought different about it when this happened. And so there are a number of things to draw from this as a result of looking at this.
Go back again to the context of what we've read in Chapter 3 and 4 of Peter and John being filled with God's Spirit, healing a lame man in the temple. And the Church rejoicing, even in the persecution that Peter and John had in what we read in Chapter 4. We see a picture of the Church being filled with the Spirit of God. As they are zealous, as they are at peace, as they are worshiping God, they're filled with the fruits of the Spirit. Now, we have an incident of two people who seem to be filled with a different spirit. Satan has filled their heart.
We're not saying that they were necessarily possessed, but they were influenced to a degree that their actions were out of Satan. And so there's a contrast to what has been happening before with the Church filled with the Spirit and a Church...or two people now, that are influenced very heavily by Satan. And this is a problem God is not going to tolerate. And He lays it down upon the Church at this particular time. We are told this in the flow of the Book of Acts, as the Church is beginning to gather momentum. It is preaching the gospel. There is growth.
People are being called into the Church, the works of God through the apostles are being very strong and magnified there with that healing and others that we read about and we'll read about. And there is a cohesion within the Church, a unity. And they are poised to do what Jesus has commissioned them to do, which is to be a witness of Him in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria ultimately, and to the ends of the earth. And now a problem comes in that threatens that harmony and threatens to derail the work if it were to grow.
Satan is always hovering around the edges of the work of God and the Church of God is one important lesson that we should take from this. He was always around Christ. Look at Matthew 4, for instance, the beginning of Christ's ministry just as it began, Christ went out, fasted for 40 days, and then the devil came to him and tempted him on 3 different levels, 3 different methods. And He passed each one, but Satan was there. We are told in another passage in the gospels where Jesus turns to Peter himself and says, "Satan has desired to sift you, but I prayed for you." Christ knew how close Satan was to wanting to disrupt even among the 12, and he was aiming at Peter there. And Jesus tells Peter, "I prayed for you so it didn't happen."
Now, Peter made a mistake on the night Jesus was arrested. He was weak, but he didn't fold like Judas did. Satan entered into the heart of Judas to betray him. And so always Satan is working and seeking an entree to disrupt the work of the Church. That's a very important lesson that we cannot forget. We sometimes do in our busy technological, modern world, we forget the spirit world that does work around us. And we forget that there is an adversary. But he is still working to create problems of that would disrupt and derail the work of God. Deceit is something that is spiritually disastrous. It's a sin. It's lying. It breaks the commandment. And it sours every personal relationship.
Ananias and Sapphira were within their means to withhold something, but not to lie. When somebody lies, I mean, lying is obviously breaking one of the commandments, and we all know about all the other commandments. And, you know, study of each of the power of each of the commandments of God is a fascinating way to go. When you study lying and how deceit corrodes, corrupts relationships, you think about it. If somebody lies to you, trust is broken. I mean, I can tolerate a lot of sin against me, if you will, you know, but when somebody lies to me, and deliberately, that is hard to regain. That trust and loyalty and the ruptured relationship is hard to regain. You don't ever want to slip into that type of situation to where you become a liar and it becomes a part of your character. You can't afford that obviously obvious reasons, it violates the commandments of God.
It erodes our spiritual relationship with God. It is something that it will make a miserable life. No employer can deal with somebody that will lie. And so this was not going to be tolerated within the Church. And we see it as a pattern of God as we look throughout Scripture. If you were to look at the examples from the Old Testament, there are a number of examples that show the very same thing. If you go back to Leviticus 10, and were to look at that, you will see were two individuals named Nadab and Abihu offered profane fire upon the temple of God and the altar of God and they were struck dead there. Now, that's Old Testament, some would say. And that's the harsh God of the Old Testament, others would say.
And yet, what it really is is the judgment of God again, among his people. And it's in relationship to the tabernacle, the altar, and an offering and the work of holy things, which is what all of that was about. And it says they offered profane fire and God wouldn't tolerate it. Again, God knows the heart, and if there's indifference, a casual approach to holiness, to a holiness code, that's not good either. But that was an example of where that happened. There's another example from the Old Testament that no doubt members of the Church here would've looked at. And that is the example of Achan in Joshua 7. You remember the story. You've gone through Joshua here in class already. And so you remember what happened when they came to Jericho. The walls came tumbling down, right?
But God said, don't take anything from the city. And the next battle that they were going to fight was kind of up the hill from Jerich, a place called Ai. And instead of it being a cakewalk, people died and they were routed. And everybody couldn't figure out after the great victory at Jericho what happened, and a search was done of everybody, and they came to the tent of Achan, and they found that he had looted in the city against the commandment and the instruction, and he was the source of the problem. And God dealt with that there. And then they went on to take Ai.
But it's another example of deceit, theft in that particular case, of property. Material things always kind of work with us and become a temptation in that way. There'd be another example of the Old Testament of Aza who put out his hand to steady the Ark and he was struck down. And all of these seem to be unfair as we look at it from a modern point of view. And we have to be careful to not be judging these events of the Bible all the way up through Ananias and Sapphira here by secular standards of philosophy and logic that, you know, have derived from our Western tradition. This doesn't fit those, but it does fit God's pattern. It fits God's judgment.
And this is what God is doing in these examples from the Old Testament of Aza, of Achan, and of Nadab and Abihu, whereas God was working with a nation and a people that were to be holy priesthood that were to be His and there was to be a standard met by those responsible and at every level. And when it wasn't, God was showing them that there's a judgment to that. Now in the Church, He's building a spiritual body. It's not a nation, but it is a spiritual body, the Church, but the same principle, the same teaching, the same law, if you will, that applies here as well.
And so what we have with Ananias and Sapphira is a very powerful story that when taken in the context of the entire Bible, helps us to appreciate an understanding of what God is doing and what is happening here. “And so fear fell upon the church”, it says in verse 11. Now, verse 11 is the first instance in the Book of Acts where the term “church” is used. Might note that. And it's the word Ekklesia. I think I will spell it right, or somewhat right here, the Greek word Ekklesia or "Ekkl-EE-sia," some will say.
But this is the first time in the Book of Acts. It's not the first time in the New Testament, but the first time in Acts where Luke uses the term “church” to describe the body that is being formed. We'll see another name that the Church is going to be called "The Way" as we look at that later. But at this point, it is where we have that word used here. And so as we move on here, we see what happened beginning in verse 12.
Acts 5:12 Acts 5:12And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders worked among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
American King James Version×"By the hands of the apostles where many signs and wonders worked among the people." Luke kind of moves to a transition from one story to another story. And he does so by talking about additional signs and wonders worked among the people, “and they were all of one mind.” So, the unity of the Church hasn't been shattered, they're still a unity, “and they are in Solomon's Porch” there.
This is within the temple's confines. We've talked about this previously. And I don't have a slide on the board. But if we're to look at the temple structure here, Solomon's Porch is this on the eastern end of the temple complex. The area there with a number of very tall columns creating a space, shaded space and a place where people can meet. And we find that that's where they are and meeting there, gathering there at various times. It's not that that's likely the only place where the Church met, but as we're going to see, it was a very public place. And signs and wonders were done.
Acts 5:13 Acts 5:13And of the rest dared no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
American King James Version×It says, "And of the rest, no man dared joined himself to them, but the people praised them."
And so there was a great deal of excitement and people were taking notice of what was being said.
Acts 5:14 Acts 5:14And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
American King James Version×“Even more believers were added to the Lord.” in verse 14, “Great numbers, both men and women.”
And so the healings that take place here, the unity that is taking place within the Church is quite unique. And it's, again, one of those moments where things are working quite well. People were healed of various physical illnesses. And the indication here is even of mental illness and that is healed as well. And the different sicknesses that were prevalent among the people and not always able to be adequately treated by the medical science of the day.
The study of the medical science of the ancient world, and particularly at this point in the Roman Empire, is quite interesting. It is a mixture of quackery and myth and pagan ritual and religion and outright actual science. I mean, a very rudimentary science compared to our modern technology, but it was not enough to keep up with everybody. And so this is why we see that there were people who suffered, Jesus healed them. The apostles are healing many at this time. It is drawing attention to the Church. It is serving a dual purpose. It is providing aid and comfort on a physical level to a lot of people. It is also bringing attention to the church and to the ministry and actually to the power of God, and as these healings are taking place in the name of Jesus, and people are being added to the Church.
Acts 5:15-16 Acts 5:15-16  So that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about to Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
American King James Version×Says, "So many that they brought out the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and couches so that at least Peter's shadow might pass over some of them. And there also came a crowd out of the cities all around Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were troubled with unclean spirits. And they were healed.”
And so there's a ministry going on. It's even to a large degree, what we would call even, let's say, a medical ministry as these dramatic healings are taking place. They're doing it again. And just as it happened in Chapter 3 in the name of Jesus that they're doing it, not the name of Peter, not the name of John, not the name of the church, but it's being done in the name of Jesus. And it is miraculous. It is there in the moment. And it is dramatic. And it's bringing attention to the gospel.
I've made other comments earlier about healing that I won't go back over at this time. But you see the breadth of it says from the surrounding cities. Well, these would be places to the east up here, where there were small villages on the Mount of Olives, on the other side of the Mount of Olives, Bethany for one, where Jesus goes to where His friends, Martha and Lazarus and Mary live. Down here further south is the city of Bethlehem, where Jesus was actually born. It's just really a very few miles.
If you stood on the Temple Mount on a clear night, you would see whatever light there would've been in Bethlehem that far down. It's that close. That would've been one of the cities that from which people would've come. Up here to the north and a little bit to the west of Jerusalem, there's another village called Emmaus. And we know that village from Luke 24, where two disciples are on the road to Emmaus the day after Jesus is resurrected, they have an encounter with Christ. And so these are some of the names of the locations here of the cities around Jerusalem from which people who are sick are brought to be healed.
This brings the work of the Church now to the attention, again, of the Jews. Look at what happens in verse 17.
Acts 5:17 Acts 5:17Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,
American King James Version×"Then," so Luke makes a transition now to another story, another episode, but it's as a result of what's happening in the previous verses, "the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him, which is the sect of the Sadducees, and were filled with jealousy."
Now, we've already talked about the Pharisees and the Sadducees. We're still with them. The Sadducees were the high priest and the rulers of the governing Jewish bodies were largely taken from the sect of the Sadducees. They were the upper class, if you will, of all these different sects that sprung up in Judaism or Judea in this period since, let's say, the time of the Greek wars at Antiochus Epiphanes, the Maccabean period, which we're just about to get into when we go into Daniel 11. And at that period, what happens there.
But from about, you know, let's say, the late 2nd century BC to this period, you have the development of the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, the Zealots, we've talked about, and these various groupings within the Jewish community. So, now the high priest comes in, they're filled with jealousy. The people are talking about what's happening with the Church. This group that has come around, the name, and the mission, and the message of the man they killed, remember. That's what we learned back in Chapter 4 with the strong sermon that Peter gave to them. You murdered this man. And the people are now still flocking to them. And so there is jealousy or envy.
You know, I think most of you know that jealousy is another form of envy, and envy is something that we find in Galatians 5 as one of the works of the flesh, all right? It's a work of the flesh, and it's not good. And envy, jealousy in relationships just doesn't produce good fruit. It leads to pride. But their pride was punctured and they couldn't deal with it.
Acts 5:18 Acts 5:18And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
American King James Version×"They laid their hands," it says in verse 18, "on the apostles and put them in the public prison."
Now, what is the public prison? Looking again here at the temple, I've already talked to you a little bit about what is called the Antonia Fortress here on the northwest corner, which was a Roman fortress, the Antonia Fortress. There was always a Roman Garrison, small Roman Garrison station there to keep the peace in the temple. We'll see Paul there. Later in the Book of Acts, he's arrested and he is about to be taken there when we have an episode that takes place. But here in this public prison is probably something administered not by Rome, but probably by the temple guard of the Jews within the temple area. And, you know, some holding place in the environments of the temple.
It could be off the Temple Mount, a short distance, but it's not considered to be the Antonia Fortress. It would be something under the control of the Jewish guard, not the Roman guard, and is what we are talking about here. And so they're put there on hold.
Acts 5:19 Acts 5:19But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
American King James Version×Tells us, "The angel of the Lord opened the prison doors by night and brought them out."
This is first of others that we're going to see. We'll see Paul and Silas be released miraculously. But this is where God sends an angel to open the doors by night. So, whether there would've been a guard right there at the door, the cell they were in, is irrelevant that they still would've been released by God's supernatural intervention. They're brought out from this public prison.
And they're told, presumably by the angel here.
Acts 5:20 Acts 5:20Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
American King James Version×"Go stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life."
And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning and taught. And so at some point in the night hours, we're not exactly told, we would probably put it...we're not exactly told...I'd put it post 3:00, let's say 3:00 a.m. because they come out early in the morning. We don't know what time of year this is. We don't know what time the sun's coming up. But it would've been at, you know, the early sunrise period and shortly thereafter when would've begun going into the temple. Just understand something about the ancient world.
The ancient world wasn't lit up with electricity. And so when it got dark, it got dark and everything was, you know, indoors. But when the sun came up, that's when the day began. That's when work began. That's when the streets would fill up. And in this case, going into the temple, they would be going in there. People would be there and so they're very early. We could make a big point, I guess, about rising early, getting things done, getting a good start to your day, but I won't go into that topic here, although it has great value and benefit to us, but let's just focus on what they're doing here.
Acts 5:21 Acts 5:21And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
American King James Version×"They entered into the temple early in the morning and they taught."
Now, let's just pause here for a moment. They are doing what they're told to do. They are told to go and stand in the temple. "Go, do something. This is your...you know, teach and stand in the temple." Now, we know where they are. You've got a picture here in your handout. And for those watching online, these handouts are online as well for you to access at least a picture of the temple complex from a model in Jerusalem. It's a scale model of what it looked like during the 1st century.
And so we would look at them as being there in the temple somewhere, maybe around Solomon's Porch, maybe some other portion we don't know, but people are beginning to come in. Now, the temple is the spiritual center of the nation for Jerusalem, Judea, the Jews at this time. It is where the priesthood functions, the Levites, the sacrifices, a lot is going on in the temple connected with all of that. It's a huge administrative complex that you have to understand. There are places of teaching no doubt. There are administrative places and offices, if you will, run by the priests and the Levites and the structure, not only on the Temple Mount and its buildings but that around it as well.
The archeological excavations that have been done over the years around the Temple Mount area show a large number of shops, commercial areas, right up against the walls of the temple, at least on the western side, on the southern side were a huge set of steps. The second picture, the last picture that you've got in your handout is a picture of the steps leading up to the Temple Mount from the south end, from this end right here. There's a double gate there, and that's what this particular picture shows. I like that picture because that reminds me of the work I did in 1971. I was on the group of students from Ambassador College that began to uncover those steps in 1971 in an archeological dig that we were involved with at that time with the Hebrew University and the Jewish people.
And I didn't realize fully all that I was involved in doing that. I years later recognized that this is probably, as I told you when we were dealing with Chapter 3 in the gate called Beautiful, this could very well be the site, there was a double gate there. And that may be where the lame man was laid and where Peter healed him right there on the southern wall. I've been more inclined to accept the scholarly consensus on that some have at least. And this is where we could find them even standing in this spot because it was a major thoroughfare of people coming into the temple area. That's why.
And so they're doing their job. They are standing in the center of what is not only the spiritual center of the Jews at this moment in time with the temple and everything else, but it's also the public center for Jerusalem. And in that, it is the central spot and the hub around which all the other activities of the city moved through and about and around. I mean, there were, you know, homes and shops and businesses all around the Temple Mount area, but this was the hub. And so, as I said, there were shops very close by there and things that brought people in.
And so to stand there would have put the apostles in the very center of the public space. And there what are they doing? They were to teach. And they're doing that when they are discovered by the high priests. When they come, they find them out there teaching. And people are around teaching the people, down in verse 25.
Acts 5:25 Acts 5:25Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.
American King James Version×“They came and they told the high priest saying, ‘Behold, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.’”
Standing in the temple teaching the people. Now I'm going to end this class session right there because I want to come back in the next session and I want to talk a little bit about what this means, especially for us today in the Church. And draw up a very important application from this instruction from the angel from God to go and stand in the temple and teach them the words of this life. And keep in mind that they are right in the center of the public of Jerusalem at that time.
What does that mean for us? What does that mean for the Church? What are the implications and what lessons can we learn from that? We'll talk about that in the next class and go further then into this story of what happens when they are brought before the Sanhedrin again, and the very wise words that are given by the teacher, the Rabbi, Gamaliel. So, we'll pick all that up in the next class then.