The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 7:1-60 – Week 10 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 7:1-60

Week 10

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we cover Acts Chapter 7, and experience the trial of the Stephen the “crowned one”, as he is falsely accused before the Sanhedrin. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would empower His children with His words when they were brought before the authorities. See Matthew 10:19. Stephen being full of Holy Spirit will stand trial in front of the same authorities that condemned Jesus to death. Stephen was martyred in approximately AD35, about 2-3 years after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

Stephen’s testimony is the last appeal to the unbelieving religious of Israel from the Lord. From this point on they were considered enemies of God and enemies to the gospel because of their rejection of Jesus and the apostolic witness of the church in Jerusalem. After Stephen’s martyrdom we see that the Jerusalem Church is scattered by persecution, and the Lord is no longer outreaching the Sanhedrin to bring them into the New Covenant.

This is a heartbreaking reality that God’s elect rejected Him for a final last time.
Stephen’s testimony to the Sanhedrin recounted the sad state from Israel’s history that they had continually resisted the leading of the Lord, and they were repeating the same error now.

It is important to note that the New Covenant proclaimed Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophetic salvation narrative of the Law and the Prophets. From this point on it is abundantly clear that the message of the Messianic believers is contrary to the dead religion of the Law.

As we continue in Chapter 7, we see the fullness of the wicked fruit of the spirit of religion; which is death to believers by persecution and spiritual death to the unbelieving.
Since Chapter 7 is Stephen’s long and vast retelling of Israel’s salvation history and their continual resistance to God, we will cover Chapter 7 from a macro-view and move through this chapter quickly.

Acts 7:1-8 Abraham the man of faith

a) The high priest questions Stephen and asks if the false accusations are true. Stephen never enters in to debate with the Sanhedrin. Those under the spirit of religion are impossible to dialogue with. These men were not interested in the truth, but were motivated by jealousy and wanted to put Stephen to death for blasphemy.

b) Notice that Stephen shows them honor and appeals to their true identity as “brothers and fathers”.

c) Stephen begins his Spirit-filled witness by reminding them of the faith of Abraham. Abraham was called by the Lord to leave everything behind, and embrace a journey of trusting the Lord and being led by Him. In a similar way, the Sanhedrin and the priesthood were being called by the Lord into that same type of faith.

Acts 7:9-16 – Joseph the prophetic picture of Jesus Christ

a) In verse 9, Stephen begins to highlight the serial pattern of Israel resisting the leading of the Lord and not partnering with God’s good intentions and destiny for Israel.

b) Stephen recounts the sin of the patriarchs in selling Joseph into slavery in Egypt. Joseph is a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ, who, though rejected by His own, becomes their Savior and deliverer.

Acts 7:17-29 – Moses the man of God and the deliverer from Egypt

a) Stephen continues to testify by the Spirit and presents to them the history of Moses and their deliverance from Egypt.

b) Notice Stephen mentions that the Lord was beginning to fulfill His promise to Abraham. The interesting thing is that Abraham’s promise was for a child of promise, Isaac, and that his descendants would be as large in number as the stars in the sky and he would become a great nation. See Genesis 15:1-5. Many times prophetic promises are larger in scope than we realize. Abraham did not see the fullness in his lifetime, but God is faithful, and Abraham saw the fullness from a distance. See Galatians 3 for deep explanation of this concept.

c) Verse 25 – Moses thought that his people would realize and respond to God’s purpose in him. They resisted Moses. Stephen is keeping with theme of resistance to the plans and purposes of God.

Acts 7:30-36 Moses’ encounter with the Lord and Israel’s resistance

a) Moses 40 years in Midian teach us that God is committed to His plans and purposes for each of us. Moses may have been rejected by the people, and failed in his first attempt at destiny, but the Lord reengaged Moses at just the right time. 40 in Scripture is the number of breakthrough, testing and completing a season.

b) Verse 35 continues to highlight the salvation narrative of the Lord and His interactions with Israel.

Acts 7:37-43 Stephen shows them Jesus in the Law

a) Stephen reminds the Sanhedrin that Moses prophesied Jesus who would be like Moses in that He would introduce a New Covenant. The Law prophesied the Christ. John 5:39-40 – “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life”.

b) God’s Word is living word. Jesus was the living Torah and the word of God under inspiration of the Holy Spirit is living and active. See Hebrews 4:12

c) Verse 39 points the Sanhedrin to the fact that they were partnering with the same
unbelief that plagued Israel when Moses as on the mountain receiving the Law. Just as the prophets testified to their unbelief and backsliding, Stephen is standing in the place of a prophet as he is prophesying to the Sanhedrin. Just as Israel turned to idols, their religious system that was purposed to lead them to Messiah was about to become an idol.

Acts 7:44-50 – The Temple was only a prophetic symbol

a) Now Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit continues to testify about the Temple. The Temple/Tabernacle was patterned after a heavenly reality.

b) The Sadducees, Pharisees and the Sanhedrin were all clinging to a covenant that was intended to be a transitional prophetic picture and a temple that was pointing to the greater reality of Jesus and the true temple.

c) In a very basic explanation the temple represented God dwelling with people, and the temple was His meeting place to resolve the issues of broken relationship and a place to meet with Him in worship. The temple pointed to the New Covenant reality that the people are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:19 – “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;”.

Acts 7:51-53 – Stephen brings heaven’s charge against the Sanhedrin

a) Circumcision was the prophetic picture of having the dead and dull carnal nature of man removed, and the reality that one was in covenant with God in a state of purity and obedience to Him. See Galatians 5:6

b) This charge was an arrow of truth that pierced their hearts. Stephen was comparing the to the disobedient and unfaithful of Israel. Jeremiah 31:31-33 – “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

c) The Sanhedrin had become the pinnacle of religious hypocrisy and resisted the Lord Jesus to the point that their decisions had determined their destiny as enemies to the gospel and the Church.

Acts 7:54-60 Stephen Stoned

a) Stephen’s testimony climaxed to the full demonic manifestation of the spirit of religion in the Sanhedrin.

b) The Lord encourages Stephen with a vision to strengthen him. Stephen testifies to the vision in the same language that Jesus testified to this Sanhedrin. See Matthew 26:64 – ““You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

c) Just as Jesus was killed outside the city, Stephen suffered and was killed outside the city. They covered their ears! The truth had become unbearable. The
religious spirit is deaf to truth.

d) We are introduced to Saul, who would later be the Apostle Paul. Listen to what Paul testified about himself. See 1 Timothy 12-17 and Philippians 3:4-9. We will spend much more time studying this man, but let’s recognize the extent to which he persecuted the Church of Jesus Christ.

e) Stephen models the same intercession of love, courage and faithfulness as Jesus did. Stephen would have been very familiar with the account of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Stephen being full of the Holy Spirit was still under the anointing until the time of his death.

f) The Scriptures present death as sleep for the body. See 1Corinthians 15:42-54. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 – “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

g) Finally, Stephen becomes the first martyr to take his place under the altar in heaven. Revelation 6:9 – “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained.”

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Esther – Finding Jesus in Purim

Purim – Esther

Rob Covell

Introduction:

This evening we will be learning about and celebrating the Jewish Holiday of Purim, or the Celebration of the Casting of the Lots. This holiday revolves around the book of Esther and the deliverance that her destiny brought to the Jewish people living in the diaspora of the Babylonian/Medio-Persian Empire. This a joyous celebration, and is observed by feasting (eating amazing jam filled treats), singing, costume dress, play and theater reenactments the Esther narrative, gift giving and generosity to the poor. It is celebrated on the 14th of Adar according to the Jewish calendar. It is the Twelfth month and means Glorious! 14 is the number of generations, and 12 is the number of the rule of God and when He rules it is Glorious.

Purim is not a commanded feast as prescribed in the Torah, but it is a celebration that flowed from relationship with God’s Covenant people recognizing that the Lord was still delivering His people and working in them during the exile.

Esther is a very interesting book in that the Covenant Name of God is not used in this book. That fact should cause us to pause and consider the theological reasons why the Lord would include a book in His Word that does not mention His Name. The Lord is communicating the following truths in the Book of Esther.

a) The Lord is revealing His Providence in the lives of His people.

b) God co-labors with people and moves in the midst of their life paths and brings about His purposes.

c) The Lord has destiny for people and brings about moments of convergence where time (KAIROS) and opportunity kiss and birth the fullest purposes for us.

d) The Lord loves celebration and will bring about beauty from ashes.

e) Esther is a prototype of the Church and Mordecai is a prototype of the anointed messiah of his people modeling the mission of Jesus as the true Anointed Messiah and Deliverer of His people.

Jesus celebrated Purim in John 5, even though the feast is not mentioned by name the chronology of John and the corresponding mention of the Sabbath would have placed Purim (Purim AD28) as the feast where Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethesda.

Movements in the Book of Esther as told in the Oral Tradition

Esther Chapter 1

Esther 1:1-3 – Xerxes 1

a) Xerxes – Xerxes I is the same Xerxes as the Persian king that fought King Leonidas and the Spartans at the pass of Thermopylae. 480BC

b) The Persian Empire stretched from India, Egypt, Israel, and to the edges of Greece.

Esther 1:4-8 – Xerxes displays his wealth

a) Xerxes displayed his royal wealth to build the case for war against Greece. Xerxes was building confidence so sell the idea of Empire to his subjects.

b) Historical Note – Xerxes broke his empire and wasted the lives of approximately 1.1 million soldiers fighting Greece.

Esther 1:10-21 – Vashti disobedient to Xerxes

Esther Chapter 2

Esther 2:1-4 – Xerxes searches for new Queen

Esther 2:5-9 – Mordecai and Esther (Hadassah) revealed a) Mordecai – “little man” b) Hadassah/Esther – “star”

Esther 2:10-14 – Xerxes’ Harem

Esther 2:15-18 – Esther is made Queen – Historical note Cyrus was her son. See Isaiah 44:28, Isaiah 45:1, and Isaiah 45:13

Esther 2:19-23 – Mordecai saves Xerxes’ life

Esther Chapter 3

Esther 3:1-7 – Introduction to vile Haman

a) Haman the Agagite – Haman means “magnificent”

b) Agagite – Agag was the Amalekite King who was spared by Saul that led to his rejection of Saul as King. See Samuel 15. Agagite means “I will overtop”. Saul should have obeyed God fully, because Haman would have never had the opportunity to commit genocide against the Jews at this time.

c) Adar – 12th month meaning “glorious”

Esther 3:8-14 – Haman plots the genocide of the Jews – Royal decree – Haman’s plot appealed Xerxes because he was financially damaged from the war with Greece. The plundering of the Jews would have increased his wealth because the Jews were prosperous people.

Esther 3:15 – Haman and Xerxes drink wine and the city of Susa is confused

Esther Chapter 4

Esther 4:1-8 – Mordecai Fasts

a) Even though the Name of God is not mentioned, Mordecai is seeking the Lord, because one never fasts for breakthrough without petitioning the Lord.

Esther 4:9-10 – Esther is swayed by fear

Esther 4:11-17 – For such a time as this! Esther has a destiny convergence.

Esther Chapter 5

Esther 5:1-8 – Esther is received by Xerxes a) Esther plans a banquet to accuse Haman

Esther 5:9-13 – Haman’s anger rages and he complains to his friends and wife Zeresh (gold)

Esther 5:14 – Zeresh advises Haman to build the 75’ tall gallows

Esther Chapter 6

Esther 6:1-9 – Mordecai is exalted by Xerxes a) The Lord moves providentially and intervenes in the situation by granting sleeplessness to Xerxes.

Esther 6:10-13 – Haman is demoralized by Xerxes command

Esther Chapter 7

Esther 7:1-10 – Haman is hanged on his own gallows

Esther Chapter 8

Esther 8:1-4 – Esther pleads for her people

Esther 8:5-14 – Xerxes issues a decree of Freedom to Fight

Esther 8:15-17 – Mordecai is honored

Esther Chapter 9

Esther 9:1-17 – The Jews triumph over their enemies

Esther 9:18-28 – Purim is celebrated by the Jews

Esther 9:29-32 – Mordecai and Esther rise to the place of the highest influence in the Medio-Persian Empire

a) Esther is a prophetic symbol of the Church of Jesus Christ

b) Mordecai is a prophetic symbol of Jesus the Anointed Deliverer

Esther Chapter 10

Esther 10:1-3 – Xerxes re-establishes the kingdom’s wealth

a) Mordecai is presented as a prototype anointed one and is a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ.

The Actsof the Apostles – Acts 6:1-15 – Week 9 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 6:1-15

Week 9

Rob Covell

Introduction –

In this Session we will look at Acts Chapter 6, and learn how the Church in Jerusalem handled division in the Church, which had its genesis from the affair of Ananias and Sapphira. The Church never recovered the Spirit filled purity of Community that present before that incident. We can see that Jerusalem Church was not only attacked from the outside, but from within as well.

We will also be introduced to Stephen, the first martyr of the Church, and beginning of the Jewish persecution of the Church that lasted to about AD70.

Acts 6:1

a) For the second time we see the Church being attacked from within. This time by the spirit of division and social discrimination that came from the flesh. The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was the genesis that opened the door for the Church to be attacked from within. As the Church in Jerusalem was growing rapidly, the community of disciples grew, so did the need for the proper administration of the Church in way that reflects a culture of love and honor.

b) The text says the number of disciples was increasing. Greek – disciple – MATHĒTĒS – an avid learner, pupil, one committed to the process of learning. It is a compliment to be identified as a disciple of Jesus Christ. In our common culture the title Christian has lost its impact. I am in favor of redefining the terms used for followers of Christ. Being labeled a disciple implies our commitment to the process of journey with Jesus Christ throughout our whole life.

c) The Hellenistic Jews – These were Jews who originated from the first diaspora and were Greek speaking and had adopted the common culture of the Greeks. The Hebraic Jews were Hebrew/Aramaic speaking Jews who were native to Judea. The Church of Jerusalem was bi-lingual and the division originated in the distinction between them. The Hebrew Jews considered themselves purer than the Hellenistic Jews due to the culture difference. See Galatians 3:26-29 7 James 2:1-4

d) Being a widow in the First Century was a sentence of poverty and social struggle because women were in Judean culture women were not allowed to recite the daily SHEMA, participate in the synagogue, they could not be instructed in the Law, or have places of prominence. Jesus was so radical in His empowerment of women, teaching them, including them in His ministry, honoring women, raising their dead, and receiving them as friends.

e) The Church assumed responsibility for widows who became believers in Jesus and moved in a spirit of generosity. However, social status became a source of division and the complaint was made known to the leadership.

Acts 6:2-4

a) The 12 gathered the disciples to together. The Greek text says they gathered a multitude or whole community. This possibly could have been thousands of believers at this point in the Jerusalem Church. It was wisdom for the apostles to have the community take responsibility and find the solution for the division. Family takes care of family and the consensus shielded them from division and discord and invited the collective to become the solution. See Proverbs 11:14 & Proverbs 15:22

b) 7 – The number of completion, wholeness, and rest. God’s number.

c) Men full of the Spirit – When leaders are full of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit prevails in their lives. Their decisions are more consistent with the heart of God, and their decisions reflect His nature and character. See Galatians 5:22-25

d) Men full of wisdom – 1 Corinthians 12:8 tells us that there is a spiritual gift of wisdom. See Proverbs 2:6 & Proverbs 8:14 – Having a relationship with the Lord gives us access to the mind of Christ and the secrets of His heart.

e) The apostolic leadership is committed to prayer and the ministry of the Word. The highest goal of leadership should be the pursuit of God. We can only give what we have obtained in the secret place, and revelation comes through relationship. Godly leadership is less about principles and more about being sensitive to the Lord and obedient to His voice. Jesus reminded them that Holy Spirit would guide them, teach them and remind them of everything He said.

Acts 6:5-6

a) The whole group was unified by the suggestion and chose the 7. Again it is important to note that whole multitude decided and not the apostles themselves. This demonstrates the power of the community being responsible for the care of the community.

b) Let’s look at their names. Stephen – “Crowned”, Philip – Lover of horses, Procorus – Leader of the chorus, Nicanor – Conqueror, Timon – Honorable, Parmenas – Abiding, and Nicolas – Victor of the people. Names often contain hidden information that highlights the destiny and character of the person. Proverbs 22:1 – A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold. – The community recognized these men as being filled with the Spirit and wisdom.

c) The apostles laid their hands on them – We can see from Scripture that the laying on of hands corresponded to blessing, impartation of spiritual gifts, the baptism of the Spirit, and ordination of leaders. These 7 become empowered to fulfill their ministry with grace, love and power.

Acts 6:7

a) As the Word of God is preached with power we should expect the rapid growth of the community of believers. 2 Corinthians 2:4-5 – and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

b) Verse seven points our attention to the fact that many priests were becoming
believers in Messiah. Not only does this speak to the fact that multitudes were believers in Jerusalem, but also the priesthood. The Lord was saving a vast Remnant of His people and fulfilling His promises to Israel by establishing them in the true deliverance that is found only in Jesus Christ.

c) The fact that the Church in Jerusalem had grown to many thousands at this point and that a significant number of priests became believers would have put a tremendous strain on the Religious leaders and those that rejected Jesus as Messiah. We have the situation that the Old Covenant was ending and the New Covenant was being established. From this point on the struggle between the putting away of the Old Covenant and the establishment of the New Covenant becomes violent and the persecution from the disobedient ramps up to the level of murder, false accusation, the seizure of property and jail for the disciples of Jesus Christ. This lasted until AD70 when the Temple was destroyed and the Old Covenant put away and the New Covenant established without any further contest.

Acts 6:8

a) Stephen is an example of the naturally supernatural believer. Note that Stephen was a member of the Community. Today he would be itinerant, writing books, conference speaking and doing Periscope and YouTube videos. I firmly believe in the empowering and activation of every believer in Jesus Christ. We do not find any hints of jealousy in text in regards to Stephen’s anointing. He worked signs and wonders among the people showing that the Lord loves to showcase Himself to people because He loves people, not platforms. See 1 Corinthians 12:7

Acts 6:9-10

a) Synagogue of the Freedmen – In Jerusalem there were hundreds of synagogues even though the Temple was in Jerusalem. The synagogue was the focal point of the neighborhood and the local community.

b) Reputable scholars describe this synagogue being made up of the descendants of slaves that were taken from Jerusalem by Pompey in 63BC. They would have been Greek speaking and would have been “freed” contrasted to someone who was never descended from a slave. They probably were never slaves, but descended from slaves and were in that sense “freed”. They would have been Hellenized Jews from all the areas that are listed in verse 9.

c) Stephen was probably a Greek speaking Hellenized Jew and probably had attended this synagogue and taught them about Messiah from the Torah and the Prophets from the Septuagint translation of the Scriptures.

d) Spirit filled teaching, and dialogue will always be filled with truth, power and wisdom. Lies do not have power over truth and the spirit of religion cannot contest or overcome Spirit filled proclamations of Jesus.

Acts 6:11-12

a) The only tactic against truth is to undermine it with lies and deception. We are learning about the strategies of the spirit of religion. It is so vicious because it
attacks the true knowledge of God. The Freedmen who were disobedient to the gospel chose a conspiracy to accuse Stephen and put him to death.

b) To be accused of blasphemy was a death sentence. This is an example of spiritual warfare manifesting through people. Jesus said the devil was murderer from the beginning. See John 8:44. The spirit of religion in its worst manifestation seeks the death of those who are friends of Jesus Christ.

c) Deuteronomy 19:5 says that the accused must be accused by 2 or 3 witnesses. The Sanhedrin would have loved this opportunity to put a disciple of Jesus to death. Stephen was charged with the same crime as Jesus Christ in the same court that condemned Him.

Acts 6:13-14

a) The accusation is false. Stephen was teaching that Messiah fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. See Matthew 5:17 & Luke 24:45-49

b) The Messianic gospel of Jesus Christ was scandalous to the Old Covenant unbelievers. A cursory read of Galatians, Romans or Hebrews highlights the contrast of the Covenants. Let’s look at this contrast. People are now the dwelling place of God, Jesus fulfilled the Temple sacrificial system because He was the true sacrificial Lamb of God for sin, Jesus fulfilled the Law as the perfect Law Keeper, Eternal Life is by faith and not the Law, The Kingdom of God is displayed by the Church and not the Temple, Jesus is the true High Priest, and His believers are priests to God. We can see that this message is opposed to their religious system and the unbelieving Sanhedrin would have been enraged by the gospel of the Kingdom.

Acts 6:15

a) The Sanhedrin saw Stephen’s face was like an angel. Somehow Stephen was supernaturally manifesting the presence of God. Those who gaze on God have the glory of God in their countenance.

b) Stephen was like an angel in that his message was from heaven and was true revelation from God. Stephen, the “crowned one” was about to become the Church’s first faithful martyr for Jesus Christ. Revelation 12:11 – “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.”

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 5:17-41 – Week 8 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 5:17-41

Week 8

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will complete Acts 5. This chapter concludes with a showdown between the Sanhedrin and the Apostles in Jerusalem. We will learn from this account about how the Sanhedrin had become enemies of God and how the Apostles exercised boldness and faith and stood up to an extreme test by the religious spirit.

In this section of Scripture, we will learn about the historical context of the encounter; but we will also look at the spiritual warfare opposed to the Apostles message of Jesus Christ, and their attitude in defeating their enemies, and their rejoicing in the midst of persecution. The persecution becomes more aggressive and violent in this encounter than the previous encounter in Acts 4. But the boldness of the Apostles becomes fiercer and their faith rises to the occasion.

Acts 5:17-18 a) Sadducees – This was a group that arose during the Maccabean revolt in the Inter-Covenant period of history, between Malachi and Matthew. Their name derived from the Priest Zadok who was held up as the example of fidelity to the Lord. The Sadducees were made up of the prosperous merchant class and upper classes of Judean culture. Josephus mentions them along with the Pharisees and Essenes. Their movement was destroyed in AD70 when the Temple was destroyed. Because of their social status and wealth, they were charged with the financial care of the Temple, and they were associated with the political class. The Sadducees were very influential in regards to the operation of the Temple. They were charged with being International Ambassadors, Army Leaders, Collected the Temple Tax from all Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire, Administered Domestic Political Policies, Mediated Grievances of the Law and were widely represented in the Sanhedrin.

b) Their main theology revolved around fidelity to the Lord in this life and the mortality of the soul. That is why they denied the resurrection of the dead.

c) The religious spirit divides the people of God with pet doctrines and unscriptural interpretations of the Scriptures. The Sadducees confronted Jesus about the resurrection of the dead and Jesus corrected them in Matthew 22:23-33. Paul addressed this group and caused a religious uproar that delivered Paul from death. See Acts 23:6-11.

d) The religious spirit is the worst of demonic strongholds because it violently seeks to keep people from the true knowledge of God found in Jesus Christ, and uses lies about the Lord to deceive people unto eternal death in the worst of its manifestations. In its weakest manifestation it keeps people from the fullness of the Lord Jesus. Verse 17 shows us that jealousy is another manifestation of the spirit of religion.

e) Annas the High Priest was a politically appointed High Priest. Annas was the same High Priest that presided over Jesus’ trial and condemnation to death. A politically appointed High Priest was an abomination to the Law, as the High Priest was always to be a direct paternal descendent of Aaron. (See Exodus 29:29-30) Annas was appointed High Priest by the Roman Governor Quirinius in AD 6. Quirinius is mentioned in Luke 2:2.

f) Annas and the Sadducees were so blinded by the spirit of religion that they could not respond to the truth of Jesus being their Messiah. They were experts in the Scriptures. The religious spirit can so blind people that even their expert knowledge of the Scriptures does not lead them to life. John 5:39-40 – You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

g) These men jailed the Apostles, and so justified their wicked behavior by their position of religious influence.

Acts 5:19-20

a) The public jail was located in the complex of Herod’s palace known as the Citadel.

b) The angel opened the doors of the jail. As we travel through Acts we will see many interactions of Angels assisting the saints in the proclamation of the gospel. We should expect that at some level angels are still interacting with us as preach, proclaim and expand the Kingdom. The Apostles receive a directive from the angel to go the Temple Courts and preach. See Hebrews 1:14

c) The “full message”. Greek – PAS RHĒMA – whole – that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word – The whole living word – The temptation of the apostles facing persecution would be to alter the message to lessen the attack by the religious Sadducees and Pharisees. Any alteration of the Gospel removes the life of God from it. We must remember that the Apostles were preaching a New Covenant that was opposed to the Old Covenant.

Acts 5:21-24

a) The Sanhedrin was the high court of that ruled on all things in Jerusalem. They met in a place called the Hall of Hewn Stones located on the North wall of the Temple. Their origins are found Exodus 18:21-26.

b) The Apostles obey their directive from the angel and these men are confused because the Apostles are not in the jail having been supernaturally delivered. c) Obedience to the Lord is the avenue of proving our love, and devotion, and is the action by which we co-labor with God.

Acts 5:25-26

a) The apostles preaching in the Temple Court, most likely Solomon’s Colonnade, was a super bold faith action. One lesson we can learn from Acts, is to minister in boldness. Their confidence overflowed from their intimate knowledge of Jesus.

b) The captain and his officers did not use force because they feared the people. This tells us something about the mass influence of believers in Messiah. Earlier in Chapter 5, we see that fear fell on the people of Jerusalem after the Ananias and Sapphira affair. We see a similar fear falling on Ephesus in Acts 19:17. We will learn in more detail as we travel through Acts, that when the proclamation of the gospel is joined with power encounters, mass evangelism, healings, then a fear of the Church begins to become manifest. This is because the Church endued with power is enforcing the spiritual dominion of the kingdom of God and demanding recognition of its identity.

Acts 5:27-33

a) The Sanhedrin and the High Priest remind the apostles of their warning in Acts 4:17.

b) The apostles were not preaching the blood-guilt of Jesus in regards to the Sanhedrin, they were preaching the “full message of the New Life” to Jerusalem. These men were so blinded by the spirit of religion that could not hear the invitations of repentance, forgiveness and renewal offered to them by the apostles in Acts 4.

c) Peter and the apostles again defend their position by obeying God rather than men. This kind of obedience and boldness flow from the roar of the Holy Spirit inside the people of God.

d) The apostles testify to the very things that Jesus told the same Sanhedrin a few years previously. Matthew 26:64-66 – You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. This same sentence was considered to be applied to the apostles.

e) Verse 33 gives us an indication of the spiritual warfare aspect of this encounter in Acts 5:17-41. Jesus said the “devils comes to kill, steal and destroy”. Jesus also said that the devil was murderer and that those who opposed Him were acting like their father, the devil. See John 8:42-47. It is ironic that the people who were called to represent God and make Him known, were now His enemies. That is how great and deep their religious deception had taken them.

Acts 5:34-39

a) Gamaliel – This was the famous Rabban Gamaliel, The Elder whose Rabbinic School flourished from AD 1 to AD 49. Gamaliel led the Sanhedrin and had an authoritative voice in this Council. He is mentioned in the Talmud and the Mishna, and is held in high esteem even today. The Talmud says in regard to Gamaliel, “When Rabban Gamaliel the Elder died, regard for the Torah ceased, and purity and piety died.” Gamaliel was also a Pharisee. Christian tradition says that Gamaliel eventually became a believer in Messiah and was baptized by Peter and John along with his son and Nicodemus. Here is an interesting quote from Gamaliel; “one who has memorized everything by study, but has no understanding, and is the son of poor parents”

b) The Apostle Paul was formally trained by this man. See Acts 22:3 – “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today”.

c) Josephus mentions Judas the Galilean in his Wars of the Jews 7:8:1. This Judas was leading a tax revolt against the Roman authorities during the Census mentioned in Luke 2:1-3. The Theudas that is mentioned by Gamaliel must have been someone only locally known because he is not mentioned by Josephus.

d) Gamaliel pointed the attention of the Sanhedrin to these 2 rebels and proposed that if the movement of Christianity prospers it is God’s movement and they will find themselves enemies of God. In Romans 11:28, Paul calls those Jews who oppose the gospel enemies to the gospel.

Acts 5:40-42

a) Gamaliel’s advice saved the apostles from the death sentence. Gamaliel was present at the trail of Jesus that found Him guilty of death. He probably was considering the consequences of their actions thus far.

b) Flogging by the Jews: This was the most common punishment for religious crimes in Jerusalem. It would have been 39 lashes. It was called the 40 lashes minus 1 for the sake of mercy or miscount. Paul the Apostle was flogged 5 times by the Jews. See 2 Corinthians 11:24 – Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.

c) The Sanhedrin demanded that the apostles not mention Jesus anymore and released them. The Sanhedrin used fear and religious position to try to sow lies that would disrupt the message of Jesus Christ. This is a common tactic by the religious spirit that opposes the true gospel of Jesus.

d) The apostles rejoiced – Greek – CHAIRŌ – to rejoice, be glad, to rejoice exceedingly – Their rejoicing flowed from the power of God present in lives. The anointing of the Holy Spirit, gives us inner strength and is the Voice of God in us that witnesses to us that we can overcome all things.

e) Disgrace for the Name. This mention is another example showing the divinity of Jesus Christ. See Philippians 2:6-11.

f) The apostles never listened to lies and never compromised in their teaching and proclaiming Jesus Christ.

The Acts of the Apostles – Acts 5:1-16 – Week 7 – Rob Covell

The Acts of the Apostles

Acts 5:1-16

Week 7

Rob Covell

Introduction – In this Session we will come to the most challenging event in Church history, which is the judgment of Ananias and Sapphira. The position we will approach this section of Scripture will be to simply allow the text to speak for itself. Many theologians have struggled with this event in light of Holy Spirit judging Ananias and Sapphira for their sin of hypocrisy.

One of the best summaries of this event is from G. Campbell Morgan. “Self instead of love was the impulse. It was love that made men cease to say anything they had was their own; love that made them feel each other’s sorrows in a holy communism. In the midst of that atmosphere of love, Satan was allowed to enter the heart; and the choice made was that of selfishness instead of that love.”

Acts 5:1-2

a) We must first recognize that there was no Law of giving in the Jerusalem Church. All were free to give as the Lord led them. Their giving was founded in the atmosphere of Spirit-filled love for one another. This Church community had seized on the truth that the spiritual realm was the primary realm and the natural realm was subservient to the spiritual realm. 2 Corinthians 4:18 – So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary and what is not seen is eternal.

b) The affair of Ananias and Sapphira is a direct contrast to Barnabas who modeled the type of selflessness that was present in this Church. Ananias means “whom Jehovah graciously gives” and Sapphira means “sapphire/jewel”. Both of them were living out of their identities in Christ.

c) Their sin was not the sin of holding an amount back. Their sin was the sin of hypocrisy. Pretending to be something they are not. Jesus spoke the harshest words to the religious pretenders in His day. The Greek word Jesus used for hypocrite means, actor, pretender, stage player, and a dissembler. Jesus calls Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life; Jesus has never partnered with a lie.

d) The act of laying the amount at the apostle’s feet was the fullness of the lie. Others had done this very thing, but always being motivated by the love of God for one another.

e) This passage in Scripture contains the most challenging action of God the Holy Spirit, because we see Him moving in a way that is never seen again in Church history. If Holy Spirit still moved this way, there would be many dead people at the end of our worship gatherings and church communities. Peter was even guilty of hypocrisy – see Galatians 2:11-13. Given this truth, we are forced to consider that this situation was an isolated event for the express purpose of judging the first instance of darkness that entered into a church that was totally undefiled up to this point.

Acts 5:3-4

a) Satan had filled Ananias’s heart. We can see that the influence of satan and demons is accessed by agreement.

b) Peter affirms that the sin was not withholding an amount, but was the hypocrisy of placing at the apostle’s feet pretending it to be the whole amount.

c) Verse 4 is one the proof texts that teaches us that Holy Spirit is God. While the words Trinity or Godhead are not in the Scriptures, the Scriptures teach us that God is a Trinity. We can also conclude that Holy spirit is the Person of the Trinity that is most active in New Covenant era.

d) Peter was activated in the spiritual gift of words of knowledge. See 1 Corinthians 12:7-11. This interaction in Acts 5:4, shows that spiritual gifts are practical in their use and we should expect to operate in them as we walk through our days.

Acts 5:5-6

a) The death of Ananias is described in the Greek as breathing out the last breath of life. We should not be confused if Ananias was a saved man. Clearly he and Sapphira were accepted members of the Jerusalem Church. His death was in an instant with no pain or suffering. Even in this judgment the Lord displayed mercy and grace.

b) Notice the cultural context of the preparation of the body for the grave.

c) Great fear – MEGAS PHOBEO – Mega fear, dread, terror, reverence for one’s husband. We can assume from the text that all who were present were shocked by this event. We must still consider the Sovereignty of God and trust that His ways are the best ways when looking at the Ananias and Sapphira incident. As we study this in the light of the purity of this Church, having been touched by corruption for the first time, we can begin to understand that God was making a statement that did not ever need to communicated again from this point on.

d) Paul seems to allude that sometimes the destruction of the flesh serves a higher divine purpose in extreme cases. See 1 Corinthians 5:5 – I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

e) My position is to recognize this event, learn from the witness of Scripture and rejoice and know that this is one isolated incident used to warn our church communities to be motivated by love and truth and not by outward appearances that flow from a darkened heart.

Acts 5:7-10

a) Unfortunately, Sapphira did not seize the opportunity to repent and be spared the same judgment as Ananias. The Lord is gracious and gives us time and opportunities to get our hearts right with Him.

b) Note that Judas was never able to spend his 30 pieces of silver, and that Ananias and Sapphira were able to spend the amount they held back. Satan always promises a payoff that will never manifest. He has no ability to bless or prosper us, nor does he ever want anything good for people.

Acts 5:11

a) Great fear seized the Church and everyone who heard about the event. We must never forget that God is mercy, love, grace and goodness. All of our views of God should be filtered through these truths. As we conclude this tragedy of the Jerusalem Church, that judgment is God’s strange work and is not His primary reaction to sin.

b) Psalm 9:8 – And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.

c) 2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Acts 5:12-14

a) The Ananias and Sapphira affair is again contrasted to the mercy of God and God proving their message with power.

b) Solomon’s Colonnade became the meeting place of the Believers. This place was located on the eastern wall of the court of the Gentiles. Josephus mentions it in his Histories, and Jesus taught there as well. See John 10:23. We should mention the symbolism of the placement of Solomon’s Colonnade/Porch. East – Symbolic of the place of where God dwells. Solomon – The man who had the wisdom of God – The Court of Gentiles – All nations would have access to the message of God.

c) There was a cost to join the Jerusalem Church. Many stayed away because of compromise, and many joined because of their authenticity of heart and purity of faith.

Acts 5:15

a) We miss the cultural context of verse 15 in our translations. A shadow in Ancient culture was symbolic of the presence or atmosphere of the person or thing that was casting the shadow. Greek – Shadow – SKIA – shade caused by the interception of light, an image cast by an object and representing the form of that object.

b) The people of Jerusalem recognized that Peter was representing Christ and the presence that Peter carried, accurately reflected his Master. We too can enter into this same flow as the “shadow of the Lord” overshadows our lives. Spending time in His presence, enables us the ability to take that heavenly atmosphere where we go.

Acts 5:16

a) As this section of Scripture ends, we can see that Ananias and Sapphira are contrasted by the love culture of this church and glory of this church in the healing of the masses.

b) When our churches begin to cultivate the spiritual atmosphere of the Kingdom of God, people will flock from all around to be touched by the love of God in Jesus Christ. The Jerusalem Church lived under an open heaven.