Sharing Love

Acts 4:32-37; 5:1-11 I. Motivated by Love

(Acts 4:32-35) The expression “and the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul:” is symbolic of love, harmony and fellowship. For none took a selfish view of their property; all was common. The apostles fulfilled their commission of bearing witness to the Resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1:22, 2:32) with great emphasis, and the community afforded an attractive spectacle. The prophecy of Deuteronomy 15:4 was fulfilled to them; this was the secret of their attractiveness; it was attained by the voluntary generosity of the rich members (Acts 2:44-45), who sold their goods and made over to the apostles the price obtained, they dividing the proceeds to the needy.

II. A Heart of Love Touched by the Spirit of God (Acts 4:36-37) Interestingly, Joses is not again heard of in the New Testament under this name, but always under his other name, Barnabas, a translation of which is offered, but one with which scholars are not satisfied. It connects him with prophetic functions (Nabi, a prophet) and consolation is one of these. He is Paul’s companion in his first journey, but Paul excels him as a speaker (Acts 14:12); and he is a person whom the Galatians and Corinthians know well (Galatians 2:13, 1 Corinthians 9:6). The apostle’s connection with Cyprus enabled Paul’s first journey without financial hindrance. Barnabas had property, whether in his native country of Cyprus, in and around Jerusalem or both remains to be seen. What we do know is that he afterwards worked for his living (1 Corinthians 9:6) and may have parted with all his property at that time. (Peake)

III. The Challenge of Possessions (Acts 5:1-6) Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sold a piece of land, but decided to only lay a portion of the proceeds at the feet of the apostles. One Bible teacher noted that the same word translated “kept back,” is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament in Joshua 7:1 when describing the sin of Achan in taking of the accursed thing. Both instances seem to have arisen because of greed. Peter said Satan had filled their hearts to lie to the Holy Spirit. Because the apostles were inspired by the Holy Spirit, pretending to give all the money from the sale of the land to the apostles was tantamount to lying to the Spirit. Bible scholar James Burton Coffman actually says this event threatened the credibility of the apostles’ speech. Since they claimed to be speaking through the Spirit, failure to see through this ruse would have brought their word into question. The amount of the gift was not the problem, as Peter said, the land was theirs to do with as they pleased.The problem arose when they tried to deceive God as to the size of the gift. Ananias, upon hearing Peter’s words, fell down dead.

IV. The Consequences of Deceit (Acts 5:7-11) Three hours later, an unsuspecting Sapphira also came before Peter. He asked her if they had sold the land for the amount Ananias had laid at the apostles’ feet. When she said that the amount named was correct, Peter knew they had conspired to deceive or, as he said, test the “Spirit of the Lord,” who is also described in this story as the Holy Spirit and God (see Acts 5:3-4). He asked her why they had taken this action and told her the men who had buried her husband’s body would also bury her. Sapphira fell down at Peter’s feet, died and was carried out by the same young men to be buried beside her husband. This awe inspiring event moved the church, or called out, and any others who heard the report to fear. Not only the deaths, but also God’s ability to know the intents of the hearts of the conspiring couple ought to cause anyone to think twice before trying to deceive God (Acts 5:7-11). (Hampton)

Central Text: And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: Neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. — Acts 4:32

Church Supply Pastor and Christian columnist, Dr. Wayne M. Williams, presently resides in Athens with his wife of 39 years, Lita. For additional study notes, see the Facebook page International Sunday School Lessons.

Church Supply Pastor and Christian columnist, Dr. Wayne M. Williams, presently resides in Athens with his wife of 39 years, Lita. For additional study notes, see the Facebook page International Sunday School Lessons.

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