Acts Chapter 10
Jesus is Lord and Shows Himself Strong by the Power of the Holy Spirit
Color Code: The Ongoing Ministry of Jesus in around and through the Church
Yellow/gold = Seeing Jesus continued ministry
Teal/blue = Seeing the action of the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus
Burgundy/red = Seeing the ongoing and evolving mission/witness of the Church to the Testimony of Jesus
Acts Chapter 9
The powerful encounter with Jesus and conversion of Saul and demonstration of God's increasing power in the lives of those who are in daily Communion with Him.
Color Code: The Ongoing Ministry of Jesus in around and through the Church
yellow/gold = Seeing Jesus continued ministry
teal/blue = Seeing the action of the Holy Spirit working with Jesus
burgundy/red = Seeing the ongoing and evolving mission/witness of the Church to the Testimony of Jesus
Igniting the fulfilment of Acts 1:8 in Acts Chapter 8
Acts 7:1-60 New American Standard Bible
Stephen’s Witness (Acts 1:8, Revelation 19:10)
The following message was delivered by Stephen after his face shown with God’s glory in chapter 6. Now he draws out the message, the Sword of the Spirit, to his persecutors. As he creates a head on collision with the “religion of the Jewish people” He solidly confirms their identity as rebels of the Lord, like the rebels in the wilderness who worshipped the golden calf. This comparison led to his martyrdom and the seed of the Church, the blood of martyrs, now began to be spilled and planted! That same day 200 more would release the seed of their blood to quicken the pace of those who would believe and Acts 1:8 began to be fulfilled!
The Holy Spirit gave them power to become Witnesses = "Martus" = Martyrs!
Saint Stephen, the model witness and pattern of heaven
for the grace and blessedness of holy martyrdom.
ACTS 7 The Crown Template for Martyrdom
1 The high priest said, “Are these things so?”
2 And Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit began to preach:
“Hear me, brethren and fathers!
The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham
when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran,
3 and said to him,
‘LEAVE YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR RELATIVES, AND
COME INTO THE LAND THAT I WILL SHOW YOU.’
4 “Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. 5 “But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM AS A POSSESSION, AND TO HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM.
6 “But God spoke to this effect, that his DESCENDANTS WOULD BE ALIENS IN A FOREIGN LAND, AND THAT THEY WOULD BE ENSLAVED AND MISTREATED FOR FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. 7 “‘AND WHATEVER NATION TO WHICH THEY WILL BE IN BONDAGE I MYSELF WILL JUDGE,’ said God, ‘AND AFTER THAT THEY WILL COME OUT AND SERVE ME IN THIS PLACE.’
8 “And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. 9 “The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him, 10 and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household.
11“Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food. 12 “But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. 13 “On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was disclosed to Pharaoh. 14 “Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all.
15 “And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. 16 “From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
17 “But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, 18 until THERE AROSE ANOTHER KING OVER EGYPT WHO KNEW NOTHING ABOUT JOSEPH.
19 “It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. (NIV He dealt treacherously with our people and oppressed our ancestors by forcing them to throw out their newborn babies so that they would die.)
20 “It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. 21 “And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son.
22 “Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. 23 “But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. 24 “And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. 25 “And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. (Why? Because Moses thought to do this in his own strategy, wit and strength)
26 “On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’
27 “But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND JUDGE OVER US? 28 ‘YOU DO NOT MEAN TO KILL ME AS YOU KILLED THE EGYPTIAN YESTERDAY, DO YOU?’ 29 At this remark, MOSES FLED AND BECAME AN ALIEN IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN, where he became the father of two sons.
30 “After forty years had passed (Moses now 80 Years old), AN ANGEL APPEARED TO HIM IN THE WILDERNESS OF MOUNT Sinai, IN THE FLAME OF A BURNING THORN BUSH. 31 “When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord:
32 ‘I AM THE GOD OF YOUR FATHERS, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC AND JACOB.’ Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. 33 “BUT THE LORD SAID TO HIM, ‘TAKE OFF THE SANDALS FROM YOUR FEET, FOR THE PLACE ON WHICH YOU ARE STANDING IS HOLY GROUND. 34 ‘I HAVE CERTAINLY SEEN THE OPPRESSION OF MY PEOPLE IN EGYPT AND HAVE HEARD THEIR GROANS, AND I HAVE COME DOWN TO RESCUE THEM; COME NOW, AND I WILL SEND YOU TO EGYPT.’
35 “This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. 36 “This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years.
37 “This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’ (JESUS!) 38 “This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.
39 “Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, 40 SAYING TO AARON, ‘MAKE FOR US GODS WHO WILL GO BEFORE US; FOR THIS MOSES WHO LED US OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT—WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.’ 41 “At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands.
42 “But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘IT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL? 43 ‘YOU ALSO TOOK ALONG THE TABERNACLE OF MOLOCH AND THE STAR OF THE GOD ROMPHA, THE IMAGES WHICH YOU MADE TO WORSHIP. I ALSO WILL REMOVE YOU BEYOND BABYLON.’
44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen. 45 “And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. 46 “David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.
47 “But it was Solomon who built a house for Him.
48 “However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says:
49 ‘HEAVEN IS MY THRONE,
AND EARTH IS THE FOOTSTOOL OF MY FEET;
WHAT KIND OF HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD FOR ME?’ says the Lord,
‘OR WHAT PLACE IS THERE FOR MY REPOSE?
50 ‘WAS IT NOT MY HAND WHICH MADE ALL THESE THINGS?’
51 “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. 52 “Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53 you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”
Stephen Put to The Martyr’s Death
54 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him.
55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. 58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60 Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
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Another 200 martyred the same day as Stephen,
but Stephen was the first-fruit of the Church!
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Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:17, John 19:2 and 5,
"Crown" (Stephanos) of thorns made by Jesus' persecutors:
Revelation 4:4 and 4:10
The 24 thrones of elders and crowns of gold... Then they lay their crowns down before the throne of Jesus!
1 Corinthians 9:25 Imperishable Crown
1 Thessalonians: 2:19 for what is our hope, our joy, or the crown (Stephanos) in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
2 Timothy 4:8 Crown (Stephanos) of Righteousness
James 1:12, Revelation 2:10 Crown (Stephanos) of Life
1 Peter 5:4 Crown (Stephanos) of Glory
Revelation 12:1 “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown (Stephanos) of twelve stars on her head.” (Queen of Heaven)
The First 7 Christian Deacons
Acts 6:1-15 New American Standard Bible The Awakening Continues! The increasing Population of the Jesus people revealed new functions of how the King directs the developing His Kingdom. The Remarkable Witness of Stephen, the first deacon and martyr.
1 Now at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2 So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. 3 “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. 6 And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.
7 The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. 10 But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council. 13 They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; 14for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” 15 And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.
By Way of review let’s keep in mind the timeline of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
By Acts Chapter 6 the New Community is approaching 10,000 people strong.
There have been remarkable miracles, signs, wonders and super natural events that Jesus does to confirm the preaching of the Good News. House to house is the norm. They share meals and Communion, hear the Apostles’ share their witness from the days of walking with Jesus and His teachings. They also share their lives and livelihood. As daily distribution is made by the servers or waiters it becomes apparent to the Apostles that the widows were being overlooked. Peter and the Apostles needed to follow the leading of the Lord in the message, ministry and mission of the Gospel, providing orientation for new believers and in fanning the flames of daily Communion and prayers. So they met the need by having everyone consider the best 7 for the job so that no one’s needs got overlooked. Their first pick was young, passionate Stephen. He acted most like the Apostles. They became the first Deacons or the Church. Deacon means servant or waiter. Their primary job was to make sure everyone was being cared for properly.
The First Seven Deacons (May have been part of the 120 in the Upper Room on Pentecost.)
These were men filled with the Holy Spirit and all members of the first 70 sent by Jesus in Luke 10.
The meaning of their names:
This is an unusual group when you think that most were members of the original 70 that Jesus selected and from whom the 12 were chosen. These 7 went on to replicate the kinds of lives that we see in the 12. Many of the 70 were of high regard as well. (See the list that anchors this post.) We see that the presence of Jesus in the midst of the church rules His Kingdom with the same care and esteem for the overlooked as He does for the Apostles. The Apostles lay hands on “The Seven” to set them apart for the work of the ministry. Caring for the widows and the orphans is as important as sharing the Gospel. The Gospel’s relevance is that Jesus began His ministry casting out demons and healing the leper. The texture of the Kingdom of god is in the fabric of those with the greatest need. Jesus said and demonstrated that He didn’t come for those who have no need of a physician but for those who do. Those who wanted to follow Him were detached from the cares of this life by His love. It was so powerful that those who believed hung on his every word and followed every footstep.
Now He was resident ‘in the midst’ wherever two or more were gathered in His name. He was back on earth in the flesh and blood He provided all who would respond to his invitation to sit at His Table. He wants every believer to be dependent upon Him. He is provider, protector and the one who prospers and authenticates the witness of any believer by confirming His presence in everyday activities and relationships. CommunionFire fueled the Communion-centric lifestyle of the increasing membership of the Jesus people in the early church.
Even Jewish priests were responding giving up their Judaism to be embraced by the King and his Kingdom indicated in the Law and spoken of by the Prophets. They were becoming obedient to the faith! This is a glimpse The Church community in Jerusalem was an everyday event that revealed Jesus at every turn. His presence was even more profound and His voice stronger than at any time He did the bidding of his Father and spoke his Word in his earthly body. In Heaven at the right hand of the Father He is seen and heard through the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in super natural signs, wonders, healing, deliverance and the miraculous.
When there is a full on awakening and the Holy Spirit is moving like a mighty wind in the lives of god’s people extraordinary events take place and extraordinary people emerge. As Stephen cared for the widows and served God’s people He grew in grace and power. We see this in CommunionFire. Paul reports that transformation of believers happens to those who encounter the Lord’s glory in Communion and by it they are transformed from glory to glory. Consider what the Apostle John reports in chapter One of his Gospel:
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Word (Logos) became flesh and made His dwelling among us. After the Ascension He sent the Holy Spirit and Jesus is “in the midst” physically through the blessed bread of His broken Flesh and blessed wine of His precious Blood in Communion. The meal is His reminder that He is here and will never leave. We eat and drink of Him until He returns. When He takes, blesses and gives us the bread torn and shared He opens our eyes removing the veil of our natural vision to let us see super naturally. He Holy Spirit conveys His presence and He shares with us in a technology we don’t understand. He can be both at the father’s right hand and sharing His presence with us at His Table. King David said, “I see the Lord always before me. You face Lord, do I look for. In your presence is life forever more.” We drink from the cup of the New Covenant and in the drinking our ears open to hear His voice. (See Psalm 29). This was the same for St. Stephen the first martyr. His relationship with Jesus was so intimate that he was described like John described Jesus.
“Stephen full of grace and power was performing great wonders and signs among the people.” Stephen was a in communion-with-Jesus every day who walked in the Spirit, was led by the Spirit and prayed in the Spirit constantly. He walked in the overflow of the light of Jesus from Communion. When he showed up Jesus confirmed his presence in the miraculous. When He spoke those he spoke to, heard the voice of Jesus. Representatives from around the world at the synagogue in Jerusalem came and argued with him but they couldn’t cope with the wisdom and the Spirit that came from him. Just like Jesus they conspired to bring persecution to Stephen. “The new wave of Pharisees” some who were there for the judgment, persecution, torture and Crucifixion of Jesus may have been among them. “They” stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes and literally confronted him and dragged him away to “the Council”. They paraded false witnesses to testify that Stephen spoke against the temple, the Law and that Jesus will destroy the temple and the altar and the customs that Moses handed down to us. Once again the demon of jealousy was outraged and spread the influence of lies and deception to try and diffuse the light of Christ seen upon and coming from Stephen.
Then the power of Jesus was so powerful that they stopped and gazed at Stephen. All of them saw his face shine like and angel. It was the supernatural presence of Jesus being revealed in the only supernatural manifestation they could relate to: an angel! Stephen looked ‘other worldly’! Those who had seen Jesus before knew full well that this was a manifestation of Jesus through Stephen.
Phase one of the persecution of Stephen ended as Jesus ‘knocked the teeth out of the lions’ mouths’. The beloved face Stephen encountered in Communion every day was now mirrored in his face. The light of glory that bathed Stephen in Communion stayed with him and was revealed in the face of His accusers. Clearly something very unusual was going on in the life of Stephen. Perhaps it was the intensity of his devotion at the Lord’s Table. As a ‘waiter’/deacon perhaps he had communion several times a day. Perhaps it was the focus and intensity had in the prayers. The early church prayed in the Spirit, prayed with the Spirit, sang in the Spirit and were constantly encountering the Lord one on one at the Table and then in their fellowship as they would exchange stories of their encounters with each other.
Whatever that special grace was, it came with the lightning and thunder of the truth of Christ’s presence. He anointed Stephen with such revelation it ignited him to become a light so bright that darkness had to flee. His cup overflowed. The goodness and mercy of Jesus was authenticated in Stephen’s witness. The entire “baby church” was growing in grace from glory to glory as they broke the bread of communion from house to house and shared their meals with gladness and singleness of heart.
Acts 4:30 continued to resonate, “By stretching forth your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of your holy child Jesus.” By stretching forth your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of your holy child Jesus. Holy child here comes from a word that means a male or female child. Jesus was just getting started. It seems the pattern was miracles, signs, wonders followed by persecution followed by individual and corporate transformation. The Church was young. If this level of awakening is child-like, what would the full measure of a mature believer look and sound like!
Galatians 4:19 “My children, I am suffering birth pains for you again until the Messiah is formed in you.”
The following hymn from Martin Luther expresses this miracle of (trans) formation. Joseph Prince says, "10,000 words in the Spirit, praying in tongues might produce 5 words to be expressed in understanding. Think of how much communion and praying in the Spirit were going on for Martin Luther to write a hymn of 15 verses! Or for the light of God's glory to be visible on the face of St. Stephen. Only He who came from heaven can return and make a way for us. His birth on earth in angels light, and star so bright and the heavens resounding with heaven's song demonstrates what happens when He is born into our hearts. From there He grows into his fullness within us.
"From Heaven Above to Earth I Come"
by Martin Luther, 1483-1546
1. "From heaven above to earth I come
To bear good news to every home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will say and sing:
2. "To you this night is born a child
Of Mary, chosen virgin mild;
This little child, of lowly birth,
Shall be the joy of all the earth.
3. "This is the Christ, our God and Lord,
Who in all need shall aid afford;
He will Himself your Savior be
From all your sins to set you free.
4. "He will on you the gifts bestow
Prepared by God for all below,
That in His kingdom, bright and fair,
You may with us His glory share.
5. "These are the tokens ye shall mark:
The swaddling-clothes and manger dark;
There ye shall find the Infant laid
By whom the heavens and earth were made."
6. Now let us all with gladsome cheer
Go with the shepherds and draw near
To see the precious gift of God,
Who hath His own dear Son bestowed.
7. Give heed, my heart, lift up thine eyes!
What is it in yon manger lies?
Who is this child, so young and fair?
The blessed Christ-child lieth there.
8. Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,
Through whom the sinful world is blest!
Thou com'st to share my misery;
What thanks shall I return to Thee?
9. Ah, Lord, who hast created all,
How weak art Thou, how poor and small,
That Thou dost choose Thine infant bed
Where humble cattle lately fed!
10. Were earth a thousand times as fair,
Beset with gold and jewels rare,
It yet were far too poor to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.
11. For velvets soft and silken stuff
Thou hast but hay and straw so rough,
Whereon Thou, King, so rich and great,
As 'twere Thy heaven, art throned in state.
12. And thus, dear Lord, it pleaseth Thee
To make this truth quite plain to me,
That all the world's wealth, honor, might,
Are naught and worthless in Thy sight.
13. Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
14. My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep;
I, too, must sing with joyful tongue
That sweetest ancient cradle-song:
15. Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto us His Son hath given!
While angels sing with pious mirth
A glad new year to all the earth.
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Luke 2: 1-18
Author: Martin Luther, 1535
Tune: Vom Himmel hoch, da komm' ich her
Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1855, alt.
1st published in: "Geistliche Lieder" Leipzig, 1539
It might be good here to review:
The 12 Apostles (Matthew 10:2-4)
Jesus’ Amazing Family Tree
The Grandchildren of Anna 5 of 6 cousins/ Jewish custom: “brothers” were of the original 12, one was of the 70 and John the Baptist (Son of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth who was daughter of Grandma Anna’s sister) Jesus called the greatest of all the prophets. All 8 “brothers had the same Grandmother, Anna. Anna was married 3 times and each marriage produced one daughter. All were named Mary. The first was Mary the Mother of Jesus and thereby, the Church. By virtue of Jewish custom when Jesus was anointed King in heaven, Mary became Queen of heaven. It was the mother of the king that always became queen. The second was Mary Cleophas (4 sons) and the third Mary Zebedee (2 sons).
The 70/72 apostles/disciples sent out by Jesus in Luke 10 from who the Lord picked the original 12 Apostles (There are other lists of the 70/72 which vary a bit)
CHAPTER FIVE PART FOUR Rejoicing That They Were
Worthy To Suffer for his Name, They Kept On Preaching
Acts 5:33-42 Part Four New American Standard Bible
You may find yourselves fighting against God
33 But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 “After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
The burning jealousy kindled murder in their hearts. Jealous became the volcanic command in their heart to destroy God, His presence and His people.
But a Pharisee named Gamaliel! To me his name makes me immediately think of Gabriel. He was one of the most respected teachers of the Law in Israel. Whether it was seeing the lame man leaping, remembering the impact of Jesus message and ministry or the death of Ananias and Sapphira – Gamaliel realized that “God just might be in this!” One of his top students was a fellow named Saul who was in no doubt still Saul’s Rabbi at the time of this event. Gamaliel coerced the Sanhedrin to reconsider their murderous plans. He brought two previous stories to bear upon them:
So the wise Gamaliel made the point that whether a false messiah or a political insurrectionist the effect of killing them to stop their small band of followers that was ‘politically correct’ for the way to deal with such bands of people. He also then pointed out that if the followers of Jesus were born of God then putting them to death would only fuel Christ’s claims. They had already heard that Jesus rose from the dead. They already imprisoned Peter and John for healing a man crippled from birth. Then they jailed them again only to find out an angel set them free. They had already heard of the death of Ananias and Sapphira and saw the multitudes being healed in the shadow of Peter. So, the words of Gamaliel persuaded them to back off from their plans to kill the Jesus followers just in case they might be fighting God.
The story of Gamaliel is very interesting. He was compatriot to Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (who both carried the body of Jesus to the tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea). He became president of the Sanhedrin and may have provided the burial place for the first martyr Stephen and Nicodemus. As mentioned he was a primary influence of Saul who became the mighty Apostle Paul. So we see further reason by nature of the company Gamaliel kept and the fruit of his influence.
The demon of jealousy does not rest. It must be requited. It will not stop until it demonstrates itself to appear as though it has the upper hand. So after Gamaliel’s council the Sanhedrin still had the Apostles brought in and beaten again. Flogging can be done with whips, branches or any type of device that pounds upon the victim. In so doing the Sanhedrin is simply confirming the power of the Gospel.
The violence done against the believer’s causes their praises to Jesus to rise higher. They proclaim the glory of the Gospel not just with lightening but now with thunder. They have become partakers of His sufferings and thereby enter into the Communion of suffering. Like Communion with Jesus by His flesh and blood they now find Communion by sharing in His sufferings. Their response: “What? We get to suffer with Him? We are so fortunate! Thank you Lord for allowing us to know how real your love, goodness, life and love are.”
The fuel of suffering intensified the breaking of bread from house to house and the Lord continued to add to their numbers! The resurrection of Jesus was demonstrated on every level and those that believed were of one heart and mind. Jesus was in their midst. Wherever they were and wherever they went people saw Jesus among them and heard His voice. Jesus confirmed it was Him by healing, delivering and showing compassion. He rescued all who called upon His name and gave them new life.
The devotion of the believers lifted up Jesus and almost without their being aware of it this is how they were revealing Jesus to the rest of the world around them. Even to us today!
CHAPTER FIVE PART THREE
We Must Obey God Rather than Men
Acts 5:21-32 Part Three New American Standard Bible We Must Obey God rather than Men; We are His Witnesses with the Holy Spirit! The Revival Continues at Solomon’s Porch!
21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. 22 But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back, 23 saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. 25 But someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned).
27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council (persecution). The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. 31“He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
“We must obey God rather than men!” Upon this statement the evolution of the Church began to take root as a way of life rather than a way of death. Loving God and your neighbor, praying and fasting for your persecutors and those that hate you, abstaining from fleshly and bodily lusts, turning the other cheek and going the extra mile were all conditional elements that identified those that were of the true faith. This new way of life had clear markings that became day to day culture. These are all taught in what may be considered the first ‘catechism’ called “The Didache” = The Teaching as a way to apply the lifestyle that grew from the Early Church confession of new believers being prepared for John’s baptism or Believer’s Baptism, The Apostle’s Creed. “Go, Stand, Speak the Whole Message of This Life” Acts 5:20.
The Table of the Lord began to turn over the tables of the world.
The declaration of the Apostles and followers of The Way (what early believers referred to when they talked about new Life in Christ (before they were ever called “Christians” – in Antioch) was the whole message of the Gospel. It included Jesus lineage, stories from His ministry and how Israel and the world responded to Him, how God responded to them and the Good News for all who believe. Day to day new stories were added to the Testimony of Jesus by the personal relationship people were experiencing in the practice of constant Communion. Those who turned away from self, the world and evil and believed the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection, were baptized in water and by Jesus in the Holy Spirit. By these blessings and gifts they entered a lifestyle of constant Communion with Jesus and the new humanity of the Christian Community. Jesus began to build His Church immediately and has been adding to it since the first day of Pentecost.
Now we inherit those same gifts and blessings and are ennobled by the Holy Spirit to partake of that heavenly royalty, robed in Christ’s righteousness and given the engagement ring of His promise of marriage for eternity. We are members of His heavenly bride-ship. So we go forth appearing to be beggars but members of His royal court to declare there is an open door of invitation provided by Jesus to become members of His Holy Family and to sit with Him in Communion now in preparation for the eternal Wedding Feast of The Lamb.
The governments of men may gather to take counsel against the Lord and His anointed. They may call for the prisoners of the Lord to be brought into the courtroom, but they will always and forever get this report: We found the prison house locked securely and our guards at the door but we found no one inside! The reponse will always be the same as well. “We are really perplexed! What does this mean and how should we react? There will always be a messenger between the reality of those functioning in the Kingdom of God who reports to those involved with the kingdoms and authorities of this world. “They are at it again right in the midst of the people!” Temple or wherever the Lord is demonstrating His ministry, mission and message! The opponents, persecutors, jailers will always be the same: “If we do this there will be problems and if we do that there will be problems. What shall we do?” In this situation the best they could come up with is, “Hey, you guys need to stop this. You are no longer allowed to talk about your friend Jesus. When you do you make it look like His blood is on our hands!”
In effect Peter said, “Hey! You are finally getting the message then! Jesus blood is for you too, but really guys, this Jesus who you already judged and tried to get rid of by crucifixion is more than just alive, He rules from heaven in the hearts of everyone who opens their hearts to Him! He is adding to His domain every minute of every day and this is going to keep happening every moment of every day until all authorities, kingdoms and nations come under His authority. When they do you better hope you are on His side because if you are not there is another prison reserved for you. His prison is one you can never escape. As long as you keep placing us into your prisons He will keep sending His angels to release us while you are not looking! We are now His witnesses and when we declare what He shares with us at His Table He sends confirmation in super natural ways to let you know who is really in charge!”
At this point all the Sanhedrin can do is regroup to scheme all over again. Within one generation there would be much bigger enemies but for the moment the Holy Spirit was giving them the tools they would need to share their witness with others around the world in new cultures and to new people groups. There are no short cuts or enemies that can side step the authentic work of Jesus as He builds for eternity. At His Table we are His earthly witnesses who are adding to His ever growing Testimony to all creation of the promise of eternal life to all who believe. All that is needed for any believer to enjoy His Kingdom personally, first hand, one-on-one with Him now only need to sit down at His Table to feed upon what He has prepared and provided. Your seat is by His invitation and He says that when we do this we have “Life” now, the promise of it being eternal and that he will raise us up on the last day! We sit at His Table dead to ourselves, this world and to all that is evil and made alive by His flesh and blood. His flesh and blood is what allows us the distinction to be His first hand witnesses and members of His royalty until the kingdoms of this world all become His.
“He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
ACTS FIVE PART TWO The Angel said, "Go Stand Speak"
Acts 5:17-21 Part Two New American Standard Bible Jailed again, an angel of the Lord comes to release them and says “GO; STAND; SPEAK!” The Revival Continues at Solomon’s Porch.
17 But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. 18 They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail (persecution). 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 20 “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” 21 Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach.
KEY to the Nature of Evil Persecuting Jesus and His Followers: “Filled with Jealousy” was the toxic drink of those that caused the Christ followers to be placed in jail. Led by the High Priest, the Sanhedrin was filled to the brim with volcanic jealousy. It was a seething jealousy that imprisoned their hearts and minds. It was a human induced communion of intoxicating self-righteousness, hatred, variance, anger and rebellion that flooded their ability to reason. This was a clear sign that persecution is rooted in hatred for God’s glory.
John 11:40 “Only believe and you will see the glory of God!” When the glory of God shows up, believing eyes are opened to see Jesus and to hear His voice. That is what Lucifer rebelled against. He hates God and wants to rob Him of glory. A moment later Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Some say that when Jesus said, “Lazarus, Come forth!” that He had to say ‘Lazarus’ or all the dead would have come forth! The power of God demonstrates the glory of God. His glory is the target of all persecution to this day and becomes the cause of evil to persecute to the death.
Jealousy is the root of the hatred, rebellious behavior, persecution and ultimately death of the martyrs. It was the reverse mirror image of passion and fire for sharing God’s love in the Gospel. The glory of God is the “fire” in CommunionFire. It is filled with the language and message of heaven. It reveals the eternal presence of Jesus and transforms lives from glory to glory. Jealousy is the exact and complete opposite – opposing and challenging God like Ananias & Sapphira.
In the Greek, the word is zḗlos (an omamopoeic term that mimics the sound of water bubbling over from heat and perhaps derived from 2204 /zéō, "to boil") – properly, burning emotion (inner feeling boiling over, "boiling from heat," J. Thayer); (figuratively) something very fervent ("red-hot") as with Spirit-fueled zeal to serve the Lord. This root (zē-) is used both negatively ("jealousy") and positively ("zeal") depending on the context. [The root (zē-, "zeal") literally means "hot enough to boil." It is metaphorically used of "burning anger, love, zeal" (A-S) – i.e. to burn (in spirit). It can refer to "boiling anger, love, zeal, for what is good or bad" (J. Thayer).]
King David knew this mindset and no doubt when events like this happened in the early church they would sing Psalm 27! Put yourself in the shoes of those you read about in the book of Acts. In this situation, thrown in jail again for the same crime of declaring the Good News, healing the lame man and as Jesus was lifted up He kept adding to His royal domain. They hated this and looked for every opportunity to express their hatred. So read this as you think of those that were persecuted face to face:
Psalm 27 A Psalm of David.
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? 2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident. 4 One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to meditate in His temple. 5 For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. 6 And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me, and I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD. 7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me. 8 When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.” (Peter preached this on the day of Pentecost). 9 Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; you have been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation! 10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me up. 11 Teach me Your way, O LORD (Teach comes from the word “Didache” the Foundations of Faith for New Believers in The Early Church – see Appendix One at the end of the commentary or use link http://www.paracletepress.com/didache.html), and lead me in a level path because of my foes. 12 Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. 13 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.
Just as Jesus said, “Go wait for the Promise of My Father in the Upper Room so that you may receive power to become my (first hand) witnesses!
Why this is so important to understand. The book of Acts reveals the ongoing ever present ministry of Jesus in the midst of the believers. The Table of the Lord is where there is ongoing encounters and experiences that take place in the glory of the presence of Jesus. He is the bread and wine of the believers’ new life.
Through their life the glory they encounter is seen and heard by others when they walk in concourse among those who are believers and non-believers. When non-believers are aligned with evil by the power of sin and deception of Satan they share Satan’s mission to persecute the righteous in their lifestyle, conversation and behavior. When possessed by this evil they may go so far as to call evil good and good evil. It is as blatant and passionate as the evangelization of the world by the believers. It is ‘reverse evangelism’ and it shows up in politics, social behavior and as corruption releasing its poisonous stream into all the world.
So how does heaven respond to the attempt of jealousy to imprison the believers?
During the night the angel of the Lord (apparently only one was needed)
The angel that set the Apostles free said Stand & Speak to The People in the Temple: “The Whole Message of this Life”. The Holy Spirit is involved here. There is a message delivered to the Apostles by an angel. Straight from the Thrones in heaven the encouragement is to GO, STAND and SPEAK to The People of the Temple – THE WHOLE MESSAGE OF THIS LIFE!
(Poreúomai - from poros, "passageway" ‘portal” walk from here to there in The Way of Life while you die to self; hence it may cost you ‘your’ life) travel journey, go, die ie., the life of a ‘martus’/’martyr’ (Acts 1:8 “power” = martus thus we are given power from the Holy Spirit to walk away from our life to walk in the path of eternal life, as if, led by the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the same thing in Mark 16. Like some parts of the church today Jesus first confronted their stubbornness for resisting what was given by faith.
9 When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,out of whom he had driven seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.
12 Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.
14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
Jesus wants us to believe quickly as well. whatever is not of faith is sin; or separates us (blinds us, makes us deaf and leads to self-reliance instead of dependency on the Holy Spirit). the cure to sin always is turning back to the Lord's goodness. then our sorrow for our separation is turned into joy. Godly sorrow that works repentance is not being sorry for screwing up so much as it is opening our hearts to receiving communion and the Holy Spirit through the doors of faith (Psalm 22-24). Notice how Mary came to those who were sorrowful and crying and still they did not believe. So weeping and being sorry is not Godly sorrow. Godly sorrow recognizes the unbelief and re-opens the doors of faith by doing what faith dictates. First to recognize Jesus is alive and then to believe. Jesus says believers who GO, STAND and SPEAK would have signs from heaven to confirm their witness.
15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
(Histemi: Take a stand and hold your ground) to make to stand ‘in the midst’ of others. (“In the Midst” is a study all its own. Jesus in the midst of 2 or 3 and the Holy Spirit in the midst of us we stand in the midst of those to whom Jesus wants to make Himself known. (By virtue of Communion elements Jesus is also ‘in the midst of us’ just as He was for nine months ‘in the midst’ of His Holy Mother Mary in her womb. Womb = Belly = Mercy from the living water/river of Life: Jesus said if you asked of Me I would have given you drink/mercy that would cause a fountain of life to spring up from the belly/womb (same word in Greek) with rivers of living water. In other words you become a spring like those that fed Jacob’s well where He met Rachel. Remove the stone (law/dead rock) from the mouth of your well and out of it shall the lambs and the sheep be watered. Out from it you will have an unlimited supply of the currency of God’s love to spend any way you wish! TO STAND – Means to establish, claim and stand your ground as a well of mercy flowing from the river of life as a spring that becomes a fountain pouring out on all who are thirsty! “Occupy until I return” ~ Jesus and when you’ve done all to STAND, STAND therefore!
Ephesians 6:10-19 10 finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God (as in “The Sign of the Cross” generally seen among our Catholic friends – and for 2 Millennia has meant you are putting on the whole armor of God!
In Christian Tradition: Crossing Yourself is accepting or acknowledging the Armor of the Spirit
‘In the name of The Father (3 fingers on forehead-helmet of salvation),
And The Son (3 fingers on the heart-breastplate of righteousness) and
The Holy Spirit. (Three fingers from left shoulder to right shoulder – Roman Catholic method or right shoulder to left shoulder – Eastern Orthodox Catholics for the rest of the armor: belt of truth, sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith and shoes of the Gospel of peace). 2 Corinthians 6:7 "By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,"
The Seventh piece of Armor is
to pray in the Spirit (in tongues)
in heaven’s language – an instant gift to all who are baptized in the gift of the Holy Spirit by Jesus! when Jesus baptizes you in the Holy Spirit the first thing He does is to give us His language in exchange for our own. We think in "English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, Mandarin, Swahili" Jesus language is the tongues of angels. By giving us the simple, supernatural ability to speak, pray, sing and prophesy in tongues the most outrageous member of our body learns to speak the language that is from above; pure, holy, lovely, full of grace and truth, full of His virtue with power to confound the unbeliever. He does not control us but allows us the ownership to pray, sing and speak at will. With tongues our mind is unfruitful because it thinks in human language but we are building up our most holy faith. It is the language of the Early Church and today. it is the language of Communion. It is the language of the Holy Spirit. It is the language of the Church and the angels.
Note that Verse 18 is a continuation of the description of the whole Armor of God.
Amen.” that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 wherefore take up the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword (short sword or dagger) of the Spirit (pneuma = anointed, powerful, Spirit, breath, wind of God), which is the Word (rhema = spoken word made by the living voice; the Lord speaking His dynamic, living word into or through a believer) of God (theos = divinity; properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:3; Genesis 1-3) Pray continually (how?) 18 with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit (heavenly language of the Holy Spirit and all baptized in the Holy Spirit that has sounds, vowels, consonants by vocal chords out loud, speaking, praying or singing – literally the language of heaven that will be spoken for eternity, all other languages will disappear!), and watching with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, 19 And on my behalf, that utterance may be given unto me in opening my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak
(praying in the Spirit, with the Spirit in tongues breaks up the fallow ground in our heat so that when we speak, we speak by the power of God. When we speak by the Spirit the listeners hear the voice of Jesus in their hearts. When we speak by the power of the Spirit, there are rivers of living water pouring out from us. In the overflow those who look upon us see Jesus. They encounter Jesus.
(Laleo: Preach, Speak, Utter; from Lalos = talkative) as by the breath of the Holy Spirit – to disclose a message by revelation/inner vision (opening eyes of the Spirit to see) and hearing/inner locution to hear; to bring the message to closure, meaning and message. Isaiah 6:9; Matthew 13:13-14; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; Acts 28:25-28.
Audience: The People in the Temple
(The New Temple made of Believers In the Midst of the People standing inside the Old Temple)
“To the Jew first and then to the Gentile” see Acts 28:25-28: This is the disclosure of the entire book of the Acts of Jesus. He makes it clear He has left the Old Temple and is only found there when the Christians are found there. He is spreading out His ministry from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria to the uttermost parts of the earth to add the Gentiles to the Family of God.
The people of the temple are the first and therefore the last to be addressed with the power and authority of the Gospel confirmed by signs and wonders and the recognition that this is the doing of Jesus (and His people). The people of Jesus are ‘In the Midst’ of the people of the temple. A New Temple has been raised up made of Living Stones from people who have given their life to Jesus for the rest of eternity! Now THE Temple is in the temple. The Jewish people would rather care for the brick and mortar due to be razed by the Romans in the next 70 years rather than to become the brick and mortar of the New Temple, raised up and enlivened/empowered by the Holy Spirit! The New Community was In the Midst of the Old Dwelling Place of God where the voice of Jesus from the Cross “It Is Finished” caused the foot thick curtain in the Temple to be torn from top to bottom by the hand of God! He is no longer there! The Lord has left the building! He is about to inhabit those who believe and will now and forever be seen in the midst of them – even where 2 or 3 are gathered.
So hearing this from the angel they went to the Temple – Solomon’s Porch – and picked up where they left off before being imprisoned.
Here Jesus is emphasizing that you cannot imprison the Gospel. The Gospel, His ongoing, day-to-day message, the daily bread given in Communion to the Jesus people is the power of God! He demonstrates and openly reveals His power through the 1st-hand revelations and messages declared by His people and then with miracles, signs and wonders confirms their witness and that the powers of this world do not compare to the power of Jesus. Jesus keeps revealing His presence “In the Midst” of the hearts of the believers who come to His Table, “In the Midst” of those who meet in groups of 2, 3 or more and “In the Midst” of the temporal, natural and worldly with eternal, supernatural and heavenly signs and wonders.
CHAPTER FIVE: Part One Ananias & Sapphira
Jesus rules with grace and power and says, "I will build My Church and the gates of hell will retreat as I move forward"
Acts 5:1-16 Part One New American Standard Bible The Fate of Ananias and Sapphira & the Lord kept Adding to the Church and Confirmed the Witness of the Apostles with Signs, Wonders and Healings of every kind! The Revival Continues at Solomon’s Porch!
Yellow Jesus manifesting His presence;
Teal is the activity of the Holy Spirit supernaturally confirming the kingdom of God
1 But a man named Ananias (Root word chananyah (chanan grace of Yah God)= “God reveals His grace; favor” God’s grace camps among us, pitches His tent as in the Word made flesh and tents among us), with his wife Sapphira (Root word sappir, caphar = “to tell what has been written or etched as in stone, “lapis lazuli or sapphire” the blue stone on which the ten commandments were etched by the finger of God; to enumerate for the record” (see Exodus 24:9-12; 34:1; Ezekiel 1:26; Isaiah 66:1; Psalm 99:5; 1 Chronicles 28:2; and Numbers 15:39-40) “The earth is His footstool” and the tablets and the of the law were the color of His throne), sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan (root word Greek: Satanas = arch enemy of good from Hebrew “mabad/abad” = to enslave by works) filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.
7 Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.” 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
12 At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord (God-produced unity; one mind of Christ) at Solomon’s Porch. 13 But none of the rest dared to associate (keep company) with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. 14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow (could be a shadow of light or the source of the shadow was the light of Jesus) might fall on any one of them. 16 Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
What power did this ‘new cult’ have? People die who lie?
It is more than that. Ananias (Grace of God) and Sapphira (Accountable to the Law of God) equals a mix of grace and law. The two do not and never will mix. The deceit of Ananias and Sapphira was something they believed perfectly acceptable. The Lord wanted to make it very, very, clear at the very beginnings of the New Community that mixing of grace with the law will not be permitted. The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom ruled by a scepter of Grace.
Ananias and Sapphira were ‘camping out’ with the New Community to be part of the newest and coolest thing. While they were camping out, measuring newfound money through their property sales, others were selling and giving everything ‘that possessed them’ to the New Humanity being birthed by the Holy Spirit. While the true believers were shedding their possessions to be the sole possession of Jesus, Ananias and Sapphira just didn’t get it. They didn’t think accountability and accuracy was all that important and like the justification Adam used and Eve, they were seduced by giving into an attitude rooted in lies and deceptions. They pretended to be part of what was going on because their conversions were less than thorough. They ‘mixed’ the grace of Jesus with self-effort and sealed their demise. The worth of the Kingdom that Jesus demonstrated in the parables time and again was ‘to sell all’ to make the purchase of “the treasure field” or “pearl of great price”. Ananias cheapened the value and the worth of the finished work of Jesus and Communion. They confused the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus with self-righteousness. They did not understand the parables about the Kingdom. (Note: St. Ephraim, 350 A.D. calls the Eucharist – the Pearl).
A great lesson here is if we take it upon ourselves to decompose the worth of the Flesh and Blood offered by Jesus to each believer, then we also ‘place communion on sale’. We cheapen what God has called the “greater love has no man than this”. This is the Song of Solomon (the courtship of Jesus and His Bride) and it is being manifested right on the writer’s Porch. The passionate, no-compromise, all-in, never turning back commitment between the bride and the bridegroom is what Ananias and Sapphira failed to see and hear. They looked at the New Humanity with jealousy while the New Humanity saw Jesus and gave their all to Him!
Those who see and hear Jesus one-on-one, personally, intimately and first hand in the light of Communion’s Fire, experience thoroughgoing conversion. Lying is no longer in the vocabulary or lifestyle of those who speak in the Holy Spirit’s vocabulary with the cloven tongues of fiery love. There are no conditions of conscience that are up for a vote in the Kingdom of God. There is no desire for negotiating from a position of deceit with the Holy One. Jesus is enough. No more is needed. His rule of grace, goodness, love and mercy brings us to our blessed knees with hearts overflowing with thanksgiving.
He is the Good Shepherd and we have no other needs. It was easy for the New Humanity to lay the sales of their meager possessions in exchange for the eternal wealth of the Kingdom of God. Further, it was sheer joy to see that everyone benefitted through the distribution of earthly wealth and goods because Jesus rules with love, care and sharing!
Ananias and Sapphira, however, were in charge of their own program not believing or trusting the Miracle of the New Community or its quickly growing population. They followed the prescription of selling all for the Kingdom because that’s what they saw everyone doing. But their lack of faith caused them to hold a little back just in case this “Jesus thing” is a fluke. I’m sure they thought they were being prudent, but sometimes prudence born in unbelief has disastrous results.
This powerful demonstration of life and death decisions being made by those who think “negotiating with God” is an option, can only have one end. Death by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is truth and you cannot lie, use trickery or deceit with Him. In His light there are no shadows. When Jesus shows up, darkness, death and sin flee. They were not only allowing Satan to fill their hearts with lies, but they were also breaking the trust and integrity of the church. This couple was to become the supreme example of those who refuse the full Saving Power and Lordship of Jesus Christ. Their story is among the great stories in salvation history like Lucifer’s fall from heaven and the presence of God under sentence of eternal damnation. It is like the curse of sin and death generated by the fall from grace in the garden through Adam and Eve’s disobedience by deception of the Serpent Satan. It was the same compromise for “money, greed and power” that turned one of the twelve into a traitor to the Son of God and Judas committed suicide just before the redeemer’s blood of forgiveness was shed for all sinners. His judgement included blotting out his family so that no lineage could be derived from him. Then there were the 3 Temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. Only Jesus overcame all powers of persuasion, temptation and deception.
If the presence of Jesus, in His glory, has the power to transform us from one degree of glory to another degree of glory then our course is affirmed every time we have His Blessed Flesh and Precious Blood in Communion. That is the diet of the Kingdom of God. We no longer play between the Tree of life and the forbidden Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Feeding on Jesus is feeding on the Tree of Life
In the light of Jesus through the word of knowledge, the lie and deception is exposed. It is akin to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. No man or woman, refusing the love and grace of God’s Son, can stand in the presence of God in a lie. Their sin, born by deception and exposed by the Law, causes death. Satan deceived them just as he did Adam and Eve. He enslaved Ananias and Sapphira to ‘financial security’ or worse ‘financial indiscretion’ like Judas. By their own will they decided on a salvation based on ‘negotiating with God’ blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit. The law demands we work as slaves of sin and death and grace demands that we rest in the finished work of Jesus to only be led by the Holy Spirit into the unity of the New Community by way of the New and Everlasting Covenant as we all share His Agape Feast. Our fellowship with Jesus is transparent and filled with a goodness and mercy that everyone else at the Table recognizes and understands. His love is disclosed to us and becomes the bond of the Kingdom. His love cements the living stones together one by one as He adds to the inventory every day! He is building and we are shaped and then empowered by Him to fit in the place He has planned for us since before the world was created. Jesus demands 100% pure perfection of every stone. The only way for that to happen is 100% dependency on His grace and love to make us pure and perfect. The clay does not tell the potter what to do!
You cannot mix perfection with imperfection without creating an imperfect result. You cannot mix self-righteousness with heaven’s righteousness because it will create an imperfect righteousness. What is temporal is temporal. What is eternal is eternal. What is natural is natural and what is super natural is super natural. They do not mix. The only one who could carry off the two for the purpose of redeeming was a pure and perfect Mother and Son to bring the pure, perfect, eternal and supernatural into the impure, imperfect, temporal, natural world. Before Jesus Body and the Church Mary was the physical Tabernacle of God. Then Jesus physical body was manifested to pay for all the ruin caused by Adam and Eve by influence of the same serpent that schemed with Judas. He paid the price for a debt He did not owe. His sinless perfection combined with the sin of the world as final payment for all who would believe. Totally, 100% redeemed by the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He sets us free to be a part of His promises, partakers of His love and life without reserve and to have the hope of eternal life with Him and the visionary anchor of hope that He will raise us up to be with Him forever on the last day.
Had the Lord allowed Ananias and Sapphira to live, the toxin of their sin would have nullified the credibility of the Holy Spirit and the authentication of the Gospel contaminating the Bride with spot and blemish.
For others, who chose the Groom and committed to Him with everything they had and were, this would have been a deal breaker. For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. There is only one meal that sustains the Kingdom. It is Jesus’ Flesh-bread and Blood-wine prepared by Him and only served at His Table.
Feeding from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil empowered man to live and negotiate with himself about what to believe, how to live and to establish his own priorities. They are left to only worship in theory and concept and their food is the flesh and blood of man seasoned with Satan’s deceptions. Slaves bound to the law of sin and death are manifested as those who ‘camp out’ with the beloved and secretly fix the books to maintain a lifestyle that suited their old humanity appetites.
Ananias comes from a word that means “grace” or gracious. Sapphira comes from a word (sapphire) or lapis lazuli (the same blue stone that God used to write the law).
From Joseph Prince, “In effect we see the mixing of the law and grace. This always leads to judgement. The Law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
The Lord is making it very clear that His Kingdom (within our hearts) is not like the old community of the Law but that His Kingdom is a New Community whose foundation, pillars, walls and streets are comprised of grace, goodness and mercy generated from spending time at His Table and feeding upon His Flesh and Blood. He is the Lamb of God. He is the Bread of Life. It is His Blood at work in our life not outdoors but within. We don’t eat and drink symbols we feed on the reality of His eternal life in His presence every time we “do this in remembrance of Him”.
The day had come and was confirmed that those who belong to Jesus, will now worship Him in Spirit and Truth.
The death of both Ananias and Sapphira were immediate. The Greek tells us what kind of death they both experienced. The power of the Holy Spirit entered each one on the words spoken by Peter and caused the very breath they were breathing to be sucked out of them. They had no breath and so they fell dead. This was a “wow” moment. God demonstrated through this event that divisive scheming, money-based greed, plans based on false security and any aspect of Satan’s influence would not be tolerated from that point on for eternity. The Lord crushed the enemy and His associates publically, undeniably and powerfully. This message was so powerful it still makes anyone who reads it shiver in their boots. It put the fear of God at the doorway to the Church where the Holy Spirit would convince all who passed by of sin, righteousness and judgement.
Fear and an increasing sense of awe contributed to a heightened sense of faith. Jesus is present in a communion-centric body of believers and confirms His presence in tangible ways giving the New Community its identity as the New Temple, the church (ecclesia: those called out from the world to demonstrate the truth of the King and His Kingdom). This is the new dwelling place of God and His Table becomes the Ark of the Covenant where all who believe can come to enjoy His presence. Jesus makes it clear from the start that if you come to Him by way of the law then the consequences are sin and death.
Then, many signs and wonders were done by the hands of the Apostles among the people at Solomon’s Porch. The believers kept meeting from house to house having communion and eating their meals with gladness and singleness of heart. They no longer ‘cleaved’ to the Apostles as they were busy declaring the Gospel. Perhaps because of this powerful event with Ananias and Sapphira, the people all held Peter and the Apostles in great esteem. Believers were continually being added to the Church by Jesus in multitudes of both men and women. He confirmed the reality of His Kingdom as people brought the sick and placed them on beds and sofas at Solomon’s Porch so that as Peter passed by his shadow would heal them. This was not a shadow from sunlight, but the shadow of Jesus cast by the Holy Spirit at work through Peter. This special grace was part of all that Jesus was doing to draw people to the unity of the New Faith Community – the Church. (Orthodox Study Bible notes on pages 1476-1477 thomasnelson.com)
Another multitude gathered from surrounding cities to Jerusalem bring the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits and they all were healed. The sense of the Kingdom and the awareness of the presence of The King grew with power, signs and wonders sending a message to all that His Kingdom had come and His will was being done on earth as in heaven.
Special Study that helps to position the reason for the death of Ananias and Sapphira
Adam and Eve were deceived and believed a lie. Satan entered Judas Iscariot as was prophesied for thirty pieces of silver and by the same sin Ananias and Sapphira literally ‘lost their ability to breathe’. Through the lives of these five God made it very clear that becoming a part of his eternal Kingdom has the effect to selling all that possesses us so that we might become possessed by His charity, love and grace. What a great day it will be when we can cast our crowns at his feet! Worshiping Jesus in Spirit and Truth means we come to His Table to renew our worship as we lean in and bow down to kiss His holy presence. In His presence our conversion deepens so that we experience one degree of his presence to another.
Let us not be given to “test the Spirit” (the sin of Ananias and Sapphira) but to be led by the Spirit again and again back to the Lord’s Table to dine not on the temporal but rather the eternal.
Note: Not enough room here: But connect the dots between The Garden of Eden, Isaiah 14, Jesus Temptations in the wilderness, Judas at the Last Supper and the story of Ananias & Sapphira.
These were major onetime Biblical events in Salvation History that are all connected. The arch rival of goodness that deceives to enslave believers and non-believers alike to a life chained to self-righteousness is at the heart of these scenarios. Another common thread is the deception that joy will come from money, power and thinking you can negotiate with God.
Jesus Temptations and His Response Luke 4:1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
The Five “I Wills” of Lucifer in Isaiah 14 Led to Lucifer’s fall as the arch enemy of God’s goodness with a third of the angels and is given the name Satan. His final judgement is proclaimed.
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will raise you up. He who would be greatest among you must be servant of all. Arrogance precedes a downfall.