Study Notes on Acts 4:32 – 5:16
The Holy Spirit Brings Love, Holiness and Power
A) Provision in the Church (Acts 4:32 – 37)
Providing For Others
“While Christians today are to have the same spirit of love, they are not expected to sell their goods and form a separate community.” Warren Wiersbe
- We are to work to provide for ourselves and others (1 Tim 5:8, 2 Thess 3:7-13)
- As individuals and churches there is a pattern of giving to the needy (2 Cor 8,9, James 2:15 – 17)
The early believers saw themselves as the true covenant people of God, and lived out what that meant.
Witnessing to the resurrection (4:33)
The central theme of Acts is the risen Lord Jesus Christ at work in His church through His grace (undeserved favour) to His people.
The example of Barnabas
- Barnabas was a wholehearted example of encouragement
- While being prevented from owning land in Israel (Num 18:20,24), he (or his wife) may have owned land in Cyprus
B) Purity in the Church (Acts 5:1 – 11)
“Charles Hadden Spurgeon, the great Victorian Baptist preacher, recounted the story of how, on one occasion, he was preaching as usual when he found himself denouncing someone in the congregation whom he didn’t know. Word came into his mouth describing how this man was cheating his employer, stealing from him, and apparently getting away with it. But he found himself saying, this man should repent at once, or he would be found out … after the service, a young man came up to him in great consternation, ‘Please,’ he said, ‘don’t tell my master. I will give it all back’” Tom Wright
Ananias and Sapphira’s sin was hypocrisy and pride
- They wanted to appear as generous as Barnabas (4:36,37)
- Presumably they wanted influence and favour on the cheap
Satan’s character is the complete opposite to God’s character
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it?” Numbers 23:19
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10
- When we are tempted to turn our back on God and sin – we must remember the character of the one we are being tempted to reject, and the character and desires of the one who is tempting us!
Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit – how is God
“But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” Acts 5:3,4
This is direct divine judgement, not church discipline
- Church discipline is where church leaders work for the repentance and restoration of the individuals concerned – but God reserves the right to intervene directly!
- Achan taking the forbidden items (Joshua 7)
- Nadab and Abihu offering profane fire (Leviticus 10)
- King Uzziah’s over-confidence in offering (2 Chron 26)
- Uzzah touching the ark (2 Sam 6), disobeying Num 4:15
We need to avoid this sin in our lives
“… this punishment was in reality mercy to vast numbers. It
would cause strict self-examination, prayer, and dread of hypocrisy,
covetousness, and vain-glory, and it should still do so. It would prevent the
increase of false professors. Let us learn hence how hateful falsehood is to
the God of truth, and not only shun a direct lie, but all advantages from the
use of doubtful expressions, and double meaning in our speech.” Matthew Henry
C) Power in the Church (Acts 5:12 – 16)
The prayer in Acts 4:29,30 answered
“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”” Acts 4:29,30
- The prayer of Acts 4:29,30 seems to be answered in Acts 5:12-16
- Should it surprise us that God answered the apostles prayer?
Yet the presence of the Holy Spirit brings love and demands holiness
- We long for the power of the Holy Spirit displayed in Acts 5:12‑16, yet will we accept the Holiness of His presence as demonstrated in Acts 5:1-11?
- If the Holy Spirit is in our midst, are we demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit (which includes love, Gal 5:22) as shown in Acts 4:32-37?
The believers were respected and grew in number
“This verse (13) probably means that no hypocrite or unbeliever dared joined them. The case of Ananias and Sapphira frightened them too much!” Bible Knowledge Commentary
- It was evident to all that the power of God was present among the believers both to heal and to purify the church
“those who had truly been touched by the Lord said, “This is where I need to be: in the place of power and purity. Even if it’s painful, even if I’m smitten, and even if I’m uncomfortable from time to time, this is where I’ll stay.” The Book of Acts illustrates how intimately purity and power are linked together … A wise and loving Father, knowing the results of the misuse of power, will not give it to those who are not pure.” Jon Courson