1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Ananias and Sapphira, at a time when the peculiar situation of the truth led believers to dispose of their property and place the proceeds at the disposal of the apostles, "sold a possession and kept back part of the price." In this
Peter accused them of having committed a great crime. The crime did not consist in withholding part, but in professing to give the whole. They were under no obligation to part with the property or to hand over the price. As Peter said,
"While it remained was it not thine own; and after it was sold, was it (the price) not in thine own power?"
But in the general enthusiasm of generosity that prevailed, Ananias and Sapphira did not wish to appear to be behind others, nor did they want to clean out every penny, so they took the middle and dangerous course of misrepresentation-alias lying.
The heinousness of the offence was increased by the fact that it was an attempt to deceive God. "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." Ananias and Sapphira were both struck dead on the spot, one after the other, which naturally made a deep impression on the believing community, at the time very numerous in Jerusalem.
"Great fear came upon all the ecclesia, and upon as many as heard these things."
If it be said there can be no "learning" for us in circumstances so out of the run of our experience, the answer has to be made that the lesson is not limited to the particular circumstances nor to any circumstances. It is a lesson affecting all characters and all time. It may be expressed in the simple words:
"Never try to appear to be more than you are. Be simple and modest and true."
Ananias and Sapphira would have come out all right if they had said, "We cannot afford to give more than half." The mistake was to attempt to gain the credit that did not belong to them. This mistake may be made, and is made, in many, many matters besides giving; and it is here where what is written is fruitful for "our learning," in this sad case.
Let us avoid with scorn all attempts to seem wiser than we are, to know more than we know, to be better than we are, to be more generous, or to be of more consequence than we are.
"He that giveth, let him give with simplicity"
and truth, guarding in the main against letting our left hand know what our right hand is doing.
Bro Roberts - Sunday morning No. 260
32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
The Holy Spirit in Our Day
The Holy Spirit was given in the days of the apostles as a divine witness to the truth of their testimony to the resurrection of Christ (see Jno. 15:26, 27; Acts 5:32; Heb. 2:4; Mark 16:20). The apostles were the "witnesses" to that fact (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39; 13:31), and theHoly Spirit confirmed their testimony so that men might have a basis for faith.
No such purpose could be served now, for there are no witnesses' testimony for the Spirit to confirm. There is only the written testimony of the apostles which has already been abundantly confirmed. No doubt it would be a powerful confirmer of faith if God gave the Holy Spirit to believers now as he did in the days of the apostles; but we must remember that God condescends to such special displays of power only at great turning points when it is necessary to show his endorsement of events for the confidence of subsequent generations.
Faith is the great thing he aims to produce. The constant exhibition of His power would be "sight" not faith. The time will come for this, but that will only be when a sufficient number of Adam's race has been influenced by faith to become obedient.
"Without faith, it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6).
He grants so much confirmation of the testimony as is necessary to enable men to have faith in the thing testified in sufficient numbers for His purpose. Beyond this, we might desire, but cannot expect Him to go.
The Christadelphian, July 1898
42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
What, then, was necessary to equip these new converts for the work of introducing the gospel of Jesus Christ among the Jews of Rome? It was necessary that all things they had heard from the apostles should be brought to their remembrance; and that they should be guided into all the truth (John 14:8-14).
This was as needful for them in Rome as for the apostles in Jerusalem. But more was required than this. It was necessary that what they affirmed as truth of Deity issuing from their mouth, should be acknowledged by Him as such; that their hearers might be-lieve for the work's sake.
In this case, their faith would "stand not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of the Deity." In short, it was necessary, that they should have all "the diversities of gifts" constituting "the Manifestation of the Spirit;" such as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith as it were, to remove mountains, gifts of healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, diverse kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues (1 Cor. 12:4-10).
Now, these gifts they would no doubt receive by the imposition of the hands of Peter, after the manner recorded of him, when the apostles sent him and John down to Samaria for a like purpose; who, when they arrived, "prayed for them that they might receive holy spirit: then laid they hands upon them and they received holy spirit" (Acts 8:15-17). In this way the gifts were imparted when apostolically and evangelistically bestowed...
"From whom the whole Body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working of the Spirit in the measure of every part (whether a prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher) maketh increase of the Body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Eph. 4:9-16).