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1-4 But there was a man named Ananias who, with this wife Sapphira had sold a piece of property, but with her full knowledge, reserved part of the price for himself. He brought the remainder to put at the apostles’ disposal. But Peter said to him, “Ananias, why has Satan so filled your mind that you could cheat the Holy Spirit and keep back for yourself part of the price of the land? Before the land was sold it was yours, and after the sale the disposal of the price you received was entirely in your hands, wasn’t it? Then whatever made you think of such a thing as this? You have not lied to men, but to God!”

5-6 As soon as Ananias heard these words he collapsed and died. All who were within earshot were appalled at this incident. The young men got to their feet and after wrapping up his body carried him out and buried him.

7-8 About three hours later it happened that his wife came in not knowing what had taken place, Peter spoke directly to her, “Tell me, did you sell your land for so much?” “Yes,” she replied, “that was it.”

Then Peter said to her, “How could you two have agreed to put the Spirit of the Lord to such a test? Listen, you can hear the footsteps of the men who have just buried your husband coming back through the door, and they will carry you out as well!”

10-11 Immediately she collapsed at Peter’s feet and died. When the young men came into the room they found her a dead woman, and they carried her out and buried her by the side of her husband. At this happening a deep sense of awe swept over the whole Church and indeed all those who heard about it.

The young Church takes its stand in the Temple

12-14 By common consent they all used to meet now in Solomon’s Porch. But as far as the others were concerned no one dared to associate with them, even though their general popularity was very great. Yet more and more believers in the Lord joined them, both men and women in really large numbers.

—and miraculous power radiates from it

15-16 Many signs and wonders were now happening among the people through the apostles’ ministry. In consequence people would bring out their sick into the streets and lay them down on stretchers or bed, so that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall upon some of them. In addition a large crowd collected from the cities around Jerusalem, bringing with them their sick and those who were suffering from evil spirits. And they were all cured.

Furious opposition reduced to impotence

17-20 All this roused the High Priest and his allies the Sadducean party, and in a fury of jealousy they had the apostles arrested and put into the common jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and led them out, saying, “Go and stand and speak in the Temple. Tell the people all about this new life!”

21-23 After receiving these instructions they entered the Temple about daybreak, and began to teach. When the High Priest arrived he and his supporters summoned the Sanhedrin and indeed the whole senate of the people of Israel. Then he sent to the jail to have the apostles brought in. But when the officers arrived at the prison they could not find them there. They came back and reported, “We found the prison securely locked and the guard standing on duty at the doors, but when we opened up we found no one inside.”

24-25 When the captain of the Temple guard and the chief priests heard this report they were completely mystified at the apostles’ disappearance and wondered what further developments there would be. However, someone arrived and reported to them, “Why, the men you put in jail are standing in the Temple teaching the people!”

26-27 Then the captain went out with his men and fetched them. They dared not use any violence however, for the people might have stoned them. So they brought them in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin. The High Priest called for an explanation.

28 “We gave you the strictest possible orders,” he said to them, “not to give any teaching in this name (of Jesus). And look what has happened—you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and what is more you are determined to fasten the guilt of that man’s death upon us!”

The apostles speak the unpalatable truth

29-32 Then Peter and the apostles answered him, “It is our duty to obey the orders of God rather than the orders of men. It was the God of our fathers who raised up Jesus, whom you murdered by hanging him on a cross of wood. God has raised this man to his own right hand as prince and saviour, to bring repentance and the forgiveness of sins to Israel. What is more, we are witnesses to these matters, and so is the Holy spirit which God gives to those who obey his commands.”

Calm counsel temporarily prevails

33-39 When the members of the council heard these words they were so furious that they wanted to kill them. But one man stood up in the assembly, a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law who was held in great respect by the people and gave orders for the apostles to be taken outside for a few minutes. Then he addressed the assembly: “Men of Israel, be very careful of what action you intend to take against these men! Remember that some time ago a man called Theudas made himself conspicuous by claiming to be someone or other, and he had a following of four hundred men. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and the movement came to nothing. Then later, in the days of the census, that man Judas from Galilee appeared and enticed many of the people to follow him. But he too died and his whole following melted away. My advice to you now therefore is to let these men alone; leave them to themselves. For if this teaching or movement is merely human it will collapse of its own accord. But if it should be from God you cannot defeat them, and you might actually find yourselves to be fighting against God!”

40-42 They accepted his advice and called in the apostles. They had them beaten and after commanding them not to speak in the name of Jesus they let them go. So the apostles went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin full of joy that they had been considered worthy to bear humiliation for the sake of the name. Then day after day in the Temple and in people’s houses they continued to teach unceasingly and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.