Acts 4-6 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Peter and John Are Brought in Front of the Council
4 The apostles were still talking to the people, when some priests, the captain of the temple guard, and some Sadducees arrived. 2 These men were angry because the apostles were teaching the people that the dead would be raised from death, just as Jesus had been raised from death. 3 It was already late in the afternoon, and they arrested Peter and John and put them in jail for the night. 4 But a lot of people who had heard the message believed it. So by now there were about five thousand followers of the Lord.
5 The next morning the leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses met in Jerusalem. 6 The high priest Annas was there, as well as Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other members of the high priest’s family. 7 They brought in Peter and John and made them stand in the middle while they questioned them. They asked, “By what power and in whose name have you done this?”
8 Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and told the nation’s leaders and the elders:
9 You are questioning us today about a kind deed in which a crippled man was healed. 10 But there is something we must tell you and everyone else in Israel. This man is standing here completely well because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You put Jesus to death on a cross, but God raised him to life. 11 He is the stone that you builders thought was worthless, and now he is the most important stone of all. 12 Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.
13 The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated. The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But they could not deny what had happened. The man who had been healed was standing there with the apostles.
15 The officials commanded them to leave the council room. Then the officials said to each other, 16 “What can we do with these men? Everyone in Jerusalem knows about this miracle, and we cannot say it didn’t happen. 17 But to keep this thing from spreading, we will warn them never again to speak to anyone about the name of Jesus.” 18 So they called the two apostles back in and told them that they must never, for any reason, teach anything about the name of Jesus.
19 Peter and John answered, “Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him? 20 We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard.”
21-22 The officials could not find any reason to punish Peter and John. So they threatened them and let them go. The man who was healed by this miracle was more than forty years old, and everyone was praising God for what had happened.
Peter and Others Pray for Courage
23 As soon as Peter and John had been set free, they went back and told the others everything that the chief priests and the leaders had said to them. 24 When the rest of the Lord’s followers heard this, they prayed together and said:
Master, you created heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. 25 And by the Holy Spirit you spoke to our ancestor David. He was your servant, and you told him to say:
“Why are all the Gentiles
27 Here in Jerusalem, Herod[a] and Pontius Pilate got together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel. Then they turned against your holy Servant[b] Jesus, your chosen Messiah. 28 They did what you in your power and wisdom had already decided would happen.
29 Lord, listen to their threats! We are your servants. So make us brave enough to speak your message. 30 Show your mighty power, as we heal people and work miracles and wonders in the name of your holy Servant [c] Jesus.
31 After they had prayed, the meeting place shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and bravely spoke God’s message.
32 The group of followers all felt the same way about everything. None of them claimed that their possessions were their own, and they shared everything they had with each other. 33 In a powerful way the apostles told everyone that the Lord Jesus was now alive. God greatly blessed his followers,[d] 34 and no one went in need of anything. Everyone who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money 35 to the apostles. Then they would give the money to anyone who needed it.
36-37 Joseph was one of the followers who had sold a piece of property and brought the money to the apostles. He was a Levite from Cyprus, and the apostles called him Barnabas, which means “one who encourages others.”
Peter Condemns Ananias and Sapphira
5 Ananias and his wife Sapphira also sold a piece of property. 2 But they agreed to cheat and keep some of the money for themselves.
So when Ananias took the rest of the money to the apostles, 3 Peter said, “Why has Satan made you keep back some of the money from the sale of the property? Why have you lied to the Holy Spirit? 4 The property was yours before you sold it, and even after you sold it, the money was still yours. What made you do such a thing? You didn’t lie to people. You lied to God!”
5 As soon as Ananias heard this, he dropped dead, and everyone who heard about it was frightened. 6 Some young men came in and wrapped up his body. Then they took it out and buried it.
7 Three hours later Sapphira came in, but she did not know what had happened to her husband. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, did you sell the property for this amount?”
“Yes,” she answered, “that’s the amount.”
9 Then Peter said, “Why did the two of you agree to test the Lord’s Spirit? The men who buried Ananias are by the door, and they will carry you out!” 10 At once she fell at Peter’s feet and died.
When the young men came back in, they found Sapphira lying there dead. So they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 The church members were afraid, and so was everyone else who heard what had happened.
Peter’s Unusual Power
12 The apostles worked many miracles and wonders among the people. All of the Lord’s followers often met in the part of the temple known as Solomon’s Porch.[e] 13 No one outside their group dared join them, even though everyone liked them very much.
14 Many men and women started having faith in the Lord. 15 Then sick people were brought out to the road and placed on cots and mats. It was hoped that Peter would walk by, and his shadow would fall on them and heal them. 16 A lot of people living in the towns near Jerusalem brought those who were sick or troubled by evil spirits, and they were all healed.
Trouble for the Apostles
17 The high priest and all the other Sadducees who were with him became jealous. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the city jail. 19 But that night an angel from the Lord opened the doors of the jail and led the apostles out. The angel said, 20 “Go to the temple and tell the people everything about this new life.” 21 So they went into the temple before sunrise and started teaching.
The high priest and his men called together their council, which included all of Israel’s leaders. Then they ordered the apostles to be brought to them from the jail. 22 The temple police who were sent to the jail did not find the apostles. They returned and said, 23 “We found the jail locked tight and the guards standing at the doors. But when we opened the doors and went in, we didn’t find anyone there.” 24 The captain of the temple police and the chief priests listened to their report, but they did not know what to think about it.
25 Just then someone came in and said, “Right now those men you put in jail are in the temple, teaching the people!” 26 The captain went with some of the temple police and brought the apostles back. But they did not use force. They were afraid that the people might start throwing stones at them.
27 When the apostles were brought before the council, the high priest said to them, 28 “We told you plainly not to teach in the name of Jesus. But look what you have done! You have been teaching all over Jerusalem, and you are trying to blame us for his death.”
29 Peter and the apostles replied:
We don’t obey people. We obey God. 30 You killed Jesus by nailing him to a cross. But the God our ancestors worshiped raised him to life 31 and made him our Leader and Savior. Then God gave him a place at his right side,[f] so that the people of Israel would turn back to him and be forgiven. 32 We are here to tell you about all this, and so is the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to everyone who obeys God.
33 When the council members heard this, they became so angry that they wanted to kill the apostles. 34 But one of the members was the Pharisee Gamaliel, a highly respected teacher. He ordered the apostles to be taken out of the room for a little while. 35 Then he said to the council:
People of Israel, be careful what you do with these men. 36 Not long ago Theudas claimed to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed. All his followers were scattered, and that was the end of that.
37 Later, when the people of our nation were being counted, Judas from Galilee showed up. A lot of people followed him, but he was killed, and all his followers were scattered.
38 So I advise you to stay away from these men. Leave them alone. If what they are planning is something of their own doing, it will fail. 39 But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God.
The council members agreed with what he said, 40 and they called the apostles back in. They had them beaten with a whip and warned them not to speak in the name of Jesus. Then they let them go.
41 The apostles left the council and were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus. 42 Every day they spent time in the temple and in one home after another. They never stopped teaching and telling the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Seven Leaders for the Church
6 A lot of people were now becoming followers of the Lord. But some of the ones who spoke Greek started complaining about the ones who spoke Aramaic. They complained that the Greek-speaking widows were not given their share when the food supplies were handed out each day.
2 The twelve apostles called the whole group of followers together and said, “We should not give up preaching God’s message in order to serve at tables.[g] 3 My friends, choose seven men who are respected and wise and filled with God’s Spirit. We will put them in charge of these things. 4 We can spend our time praying and serving God by preaching.”
5 This suggestion pleased everyone, and they began by choosing Stephen. He had great faith and was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they chose Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and also Nicolaus, who worshiped with the Jewish people[h] in Antioch. 6 These men were brought to the apostles. Then the apostles prayed and placed their hands on the men to show that they had been chosen to do this work. 7 God’s message spread, and many more people in Jerusalem became followers. Even a large number of priests put their faith in the Lord.
Stephen Is Arrested
8 God gave Stephen the power to work great miracles and wonders among the people. 9 But some Jews from Cyrene and Alexandria were members of a group who called themselves “Free Men.”[i] They started arguing with Stephen. Some others from Cilicia and Asia also argued with him. 10 But they were no match for Stephen, who spoke with the great wisdom that the Spirit gave him. 11 So they talked some men into saying, “We heard Stephen say terrible things against Moses and God!”
12 They turned the people and their leaders and the teachers of the Law of Moses against Stephen. Then they all grabbed Stephen and dragged him in front of the council.
13 Some men agreed to tell lies about Stephen, and they said, “This man keeps on saying terrible things about this holy temple and the Law of Moses. 14 We have heard him claim that Jesus from Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses gave us.” 15 Then all the council members stared at Stephen. They saw that his face looked like the face of an angel.
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