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Disaster

There was, however, a man named Ananias, married to a woman called Sapphira. He sold some property, and, with his wife’s knowledge, kept back part of the price. He brought the rest and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

‘Ananias!’ said Peter. ‘Why did the satan fill your heart, to make you tell a lie to the holy spirit and to keep back part of the price of the land? While it was still yours, it belonged to you, didn’t it? And, when you sold it, it was still in your power! Why did you get such an idea in your heart? It isn’t humans that you’ve lied to: it’s God!’

When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. Everyone who heard about it was scared out of their wits. The young men got up, took him away, wrapped up his body and buried him.

After an interval of about three hours, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.

Peter spoke to her.

‘Tell me,’ he said, ‘did you sell the land for this much?’

‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘that was the price.’

‘So why’, Peter answered, ‘did you agree together to put the holy spirit to the test? Look: the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door – and they will carry you out too!’

10 At once she fell down at his feet and died. The young men were just coming in, and they found her dead, so they took her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear came upon the whole gathering, and on all who heard about these things.

Healed by Peter’s Shadow

12 Many signs and wonders were performed by the apostles among the people. They were all together in Solomon’s Porch, 13 while none of the others dared to join them, though the people spoke highly of them. 14 But more people, a crowd both of men and women, believed in the Lord, and were added to their number. 15 They used to bring the sick into the streets, and place them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on them as he went by. 16 Crowds gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing people who were sick, or infested with unclean spirits. All of them were cured.

The Words of This Life

17 Then the high priest got up, and all who were with him, namely the group called the ‘Sadducees’. They were filled with righteous indignation, 18 and seized the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But an angel of the Lord came in the night, opened the prison doors, and brought them out.

20 ‘Go and take your stand in the Temple’, he said, ‘and speak all the words of this Life to the people.’

21 When they heard this, they went in at early morning and began to teach.

When the high priest arrived with his entourage, they called the official Assembly and all the elders of the children of Israel, and they sent to the prison to have the apostles brought in. 22 But when the attendants went, they didn’t find them in the prison. So they came and reported back.

23 ‘We found the jail shut up with maximum security’, they said, ‘and the guards were standing in front of the doors. But when we opened up we found nobody inside.’

24 When they heard these words, the commander of the Temple police and the chief priests were at a loss about them, with no idea what had happened. 25 But then someone came with a message for them.

‘Look!’ he said. ‘The men you put in prison are standing in the Temple and teaching the people!’

26 Then the commander went with his attendants and brought them. They didn’t use force, though, because they were afraid that the people might stone them.

Human Inventions and Divine Instructions

27 So they brought them and stood them in the Assembly. The high priest questioned them.

28 ‘We gave you strict orders, didn’t we?’ he demanded. ‘We told you not to teach in this Name, and look what you’re doing! You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you’re trying to bring this man’s blood on us!’

29 ‘We must obey God, not human beings!’ responded Peter and the apostles. 30 ‘The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, after you had laid violent hands on him and hanged him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the holy spirit, which God gave to those who obey him.’

33 When they heard this, they were infuriated, and wanted to kill them. 34 But then a Pharisee by the name of Gamaliel stood up in the Assembly. He was a law-teacher, highly respected by all the people. He ordered the men to be put outside for a short while.

35 ‘Men of Israel,’ he said to the gathering, ‘be careful what you do to these men. 36 Before these times Theudas rose up, claiming to be someone special, and about four hundred men went off to join him. But he was killed, and all the people who had trusted him were dispersed. The movement came to nothing. 37 After that, Judas the Galilean arose, in the days of the Census, and drew a crowd after himself. But he was killed, and all those who trusted him were scattered. 38 So my advice to you now is this. Leave off from these men; let them be. You see, if this plan or this work is of merely human origin, it will come to ruin. 39 But if it’s from God – well, you won’t be able to stop them. You might even be found to be fighting against God!’

They were persuaded by him, 40 and they called the apostles back in. They beat them and told them not to speak in the name of Jesus. Then they let them go. 41 They, however, went out from the presence of the Assembly celebrating, because they had been reckoned worthy to suffer disgrace for the Name. 42 And all day, in the Temple and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah.

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