Acts 5:11
And great fear came over the whole church and all who heard about these events.
Sermons
A Broken VowJ. B. Converse.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraC. S. Robinson, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraMonday Club SermonsActs 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraH. Thomson, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraW. G. Moorehead, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraD. J. Burrell, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraG. C. Osgood.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraActs 5:1-11
Ananias and SapphiraT. De Witt Talmage.Acts 5:1-11
Ananias and Sapphira -- Lessons of the NarrativeJ. Dick, A. M.Acts 5:1-11
Dangers Within the Early ChurchJ. Thompson, A. M.Acts 5:1-11
Deception Exposed and PunishedActs 5:1-11
Fraudulent BenevolenceActs 5:1-11
Hypocrites Appear After RevivalsC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 5:1-11
Hypocrites in the ChurchActs 5:1-11
Privileged with the Gospel, But not Improved by ItActs 5:1-11
The Beacon -- AnaniasW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 5:1-11
The Divine Judgment on DuplicityW. H. Davison.Acts 5:1-11
The First SinDean Vaughan.Acts 5:1-11
The First Tare Among the WheatK. Gerok.Acts 5:1-11
The Hardship of HypocrisyH. W. Beecher.Acts 5:1-11
The Sin and the Doom of Ananias and SapphiraT. Binney.Acts 5:1-11
The Sin of Heart: Untruth and its PunishmentE. Johnson Acts 5:1-11
Conspiracy Against GodR.A. Redford Acts 5:7-11
After Judgment, RevivalW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 5:11-16
Authority and FaithDean Travers Smith.Acts 5:11-16
ContrastsApostolic PastorActs 5:11-16
Elements of InfluenceW. Clarkson Acts 5:11-16
Phases of the Young ChurchD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 5:11-16
The Power of God with the ApostlesJ. Fawcett, M. A.Acts 5:11-16
The Ungodly RepelledActs 5:11-16
Instead of the sin and death of Ananias and Sapphira proving disastrous to the infant Church, the melancholy event was followed by a period of extraordinary success: There was a high tide of prosperity; the gospel showed itself a great power in the community (ver. 14). Here are some of the elements of that power.

I. THE TERRIBLE. "Great fear came upon... as many as heard these things" (ver. 11). "By terrible things in righteousness" God sometimes answers us and impresses us. The fearful has a work to do in inspiring awe and leading to conviction and conversion. There are awful truths in connection with the gospel (Matthew 21:44; Matthew 24:51; Matthew 25:46, etc.), as well as terrible facts happening in the providence of God, which do their work in the mind, solemnizing, subduing, preparing for thought, devotion, consecration.

II. THE BENEFICENT. (Vers. 15, 16.) In apostolic times Christian beneficence took the form of miraculous healing, and it was most efficacious in attracting and winning men. Now it takes other forms hardly less effective. The hospitals of the missionary in India and China, and the philanthropic institutions of England, initiated and sustained by Christian sympathy and self-sacrifice, are great elements of power. Christian kindness, taking a thousand shapes, flowing in a thousand channels, is an untold, incalculable influence for good.

III. THE SACRED. "The people magnified them" (ver. 13). To whomsoever this applied, whether to the apostles only or to the band of believing disciples, it is clear that a certain reverence was paid to those who bore about them such marks of close association with the Divine. To those who walk with God, who are men of prayer and of real devoutness of spirit as well as blamelessness of life, there will attach a certain sacredness which will cause them to be "magnified by the people," and their word will be with power.

IV. THE SUCCESSFUL. It is clear, from the fifteenth and sixteenth verses, that the publicity gained by the "many signs and wonders of one day brought together a still larger congregation of the sick and the expectant the following day. Success in Jerusalem begat success in "the cities round about." The moral and spiritual triumphs of the truth have been elements of influence of signal worth. What God has wrought in opening blind eyes of the mind and cleansing leprous souls has been the means of extending the healing and renewing power of Christ on every hand. What stronger argument have we than this - What Christ has done for such sad and sinful souls he can and will do for you?

V. THE SUPERNATURAL. "Signs and wonders are not now wrought by the hand of the ministers of Christ." But the supernatural is with us still, though the miraculous is gone. In connection with the preached Word, and in answer to believing prayer, the iron will is bent and the rocky heart is broken, the blind eyes are opened, and from the grave of sin dead souls come forth to newness of life. - C.







And great fear came upon all the Church.
The case of Ananias served several important ends.

I. IT BORE A VERY EMPHATIC TESTIMONY TO TRUTH. Falsehood in the world was a great barrier in the way of the Church. It was difficult to build even that Divine edifice without a foundation, without some. thing in humanity of which it might take hold. Unless the Church find or generate truth it will not overcome the world; it will sink as in a mire. And so at the outset a miracle was employed to set truth as on a rock for ever. The death of Ananias and Sapphira is the arm of the Lord revealed to deliver the body of the Church in her youth from a consumption which, if not so checked, might have brought her down to an early grave, although no breath of persecution had ever blown upon her. We learn here the work of God to cast out of the body the poison that would undermine life is as stupendous as His work to shield the Church from the power of her foes.

II. GREAT FEAR CAME UPON THE CHURCH. It is a healthful symptom, a needed discipline. "Lord, is it I?" "Let him that thinketh he standeth," etc. It was Christ who said, "Remember Lot's wife." Many centuries after the event, He directed that it should be kept in memory. These dark monuments have obtained a place in the Word that liveth and abideth for ever, that their warning may be available in all nations and times. Fear also came on as many as heard. As a natural consequence, "of the rest durst no man join himself to them," i.e., those who were not of them dared not pretend to be of them. The stroke of judgment scared the hypocrites.

III. BELIEVERS WERE THE MORE ADDED. The judgment on false professors hastened instead of hindering conversions. The terror of the Lord effectually persuaded men to take refuge in His mercy.

1. Believers were added to the Lord; not. merely to the communicants roll. "Your life is hid with Christ in God." The life of the branch depends on being in the vine; although its fairness may depend on its being interlaced in bonds of love with other branches.

2. Multitudes were added. This is the common experience still. A great number came at one time with a rush: and a period of comparative barrenness supervenes. Again there is a revival, and again a time of coldness. Ask yourself, Has the tide risen in my time and carried in many on its wave, and am I left behind? But even when the heaving of the spiritual tide in our neighbourhood has ceased, the door is not shut. We are as welcome when we come one by one as when we press in with a crowd.

3. "Both men and women." There was a reason for specifying this. The gospel enfranchises and elevates woman. She owes to Christ not only her home in heaven, but her rightful place in the world. Nor women exclusively; for when the Word comes in power it makes quick work with that lordly pride in which men wrap themselves when they select philosophy or politics as their sphere, and leave religion to women.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

And by the hands of the apostles were many
Apostolic Pastor.
The wrath of God by the mouth of the apostles had consumed two hypocrites; but relief by the hands of the apostles happened to a great number of miserable people. The Lord proved thereby that judgment is His strange work, but that He delights in mercy. And as He shows His zeal against the wicked, so He does not turn His heart away from the wretched.

(Apostolic Pastor.)

The text presents the young Church as —

I. AN ORGAN OF RESTORATIVE POWER. The works were miraculous and material, but they may be regarded as specimens and symbols of those spiritual works which the true Church is constantly performing for the benefit of mankind. This restorative power was —

1. Manifestly Divine. So little did the people regard the works as the effects of the natural powers of the apostles, that they considered the very shadow of Peter sufficient. The moral power of the Church to restore souls is also incontrovertibly Divine. No man, however exalted his piety, extensive his attainments, or brilliant his talents, can restore one lost soul.

2. Very extensive. Great were the crowds of sick folk, and various their diseases; but they were healed every one. So the healing power in the Church is equal to every case.

II. AN INSTITUTION DIFFERENTLY AFFECTING DIFFERENT MEN.

1. In some it produced a revulsion. "And of the rest," the class to which Ananias had belonged, "durst no man join himself to them." A church whose discipline is so severely pure, which will not tolerate untruthfulness, dishonesty, or selfishness, is sure to keep aloof the carnal, mercenary, and false.

2. In some it awakened admiration. "But the people magnified them." Incorruptible sincerity and high spiritual purity will always command the honour and respect of the unsophisticated multitudes. The common people heard Christ gladly, because He spoke the true thing in the true spirit. And so the people will always honour the Church for what is pure and noble in her members.

3. In some it effected a conversion (ver. 14).

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

1. As when the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan and Abiram and their company, the people fled at the cry of them, and said, "Lest the earth swallow us also"; so the fate of Ananias and Sapphira operated as a warning to all who were of a like spirit, and made them afraid of tempting God by a false profession, lest they should be struck dead in like manner. But though the false hearted were thus restrained, those whose consciences bore them witness that they were upright before God were not discouraged, nay, they were even induced the more to unite themselves with the company of disciples.

2. The peculiar words, "Added to the Lord," do not stand in the text without a strictly appropriate meaning. Ananias and Sapphira had been added to the Church, but not to the Lord. The judgment executed upon them guarded the growing society from being corrupted in spirit as it increased in numbers. Alas! how often is this the case. The visible Church increases in numbers but decays in piety. The real prosperity of the Church, then, consists in two things — in its being enlarged, and in its being edified; in multitudes being added to the community, and believers added to the Lord. And there seem to have been two causes of this happy state of things. The apostles had prayed that the Lord would give them boldness to speak the Word by stretching forth His hand to heal, etc. In the text we find that the prayer was answered. And as the support which they asked was given, no doubt it was given for the end for which they asked it, namely, to embolden them in speaking the Word. We have then three things for consideration.

I. THE WORD PREACHED. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Men cannot call on that only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved unless they know it; and they cannot know it unless it be revealed to them. And though it is in the power of God to reveal it without the instrumentality of men, yet such is not His ordinary method. "Of His own will begat He us by the Word of truth." If we are begotten again, it is "not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever." Though he that planteth is nothing, and he that watereth nothing; though God alone giveth the increase; yet there must be the planter and the waterer. To expect the fruit from man without the blessing of God would be vain confidence; to expect it from God without the human means which He has appointed would be presumption. The true path of wisdom — the golden mean — in this case is, not to neglect the means of grace, and not to rest in them; to use them diligently, yet to look beyond them. There is a regard to instruments which is faulty, and when men glory in one above another, so as to say, "I am of Paul, and I of Apollos," etc., this is to ascribe to man what is the work of God; nevertheless, the preaching of the Word is a Divine ordinance, and ought to be attended to.

II. THE WORD ACCOMPANIED WITH SIGNS CONFIRMING IT. Though it has pleased God to withdraw the miraculous confirmation, is therefore all Divine confirmation of the Word withheld? Though gifts of healing have ceased, is there no way by which the Lord bears witness to His truth? Yes: there surely is, and that the most important of all. The body might be healed, but that healing would be only for a time; it must at length die, and the soul might be lost. The blind eye might be opened, and the natural light poured in upon its before insensible organs; but in a little while it must be closed again in death: and the soul might be consigned to the blackness of darkness for ever. The most important confirmation, and what is equally above the power of man, is that which quickens the soul that was dead in trespasses and sins; which opens the blind eyes, so that he who was spiritually blind may say, I see. He who is brought out of darkness into light, has the witness in himself; and while he lets his light shine before men, he may be a witness to ethers also; proving to them that there is a power of Divine grace working mightily in them that believe, and enabling them to do what in the strength of nature they could not perform.

III. THE BENEFITS OF HEALING CONFERRED IN ANSWER TO FAITH. These "signs and wonders" were an evidence to all men of the power of God with them, a proof of their commission from Him, who thus set His seal to their preaching, and confirmed the truth of the doctrine which they taught. And the doctrine thus delivered and confirmed was variously received. Some believed, and some believed not. But multitudes believed: and these showed their faith by acting as men always do when they are fully persuaded of the truth of any report. They hasted to make their sick friends and relations partakers of the benefit. And we should go ourselves to Christ for the healing of our own souls in the first place; and then do what we can to carry our friends to Him.

(J. Fawcett, M. A.)

Of the rest durst no man join himself to them
I. THAT A LIVING AND SPIRITUAL CHRISTIANITY REPELS THE UNGODLY FROM THE COMMUNION OF THE CHURCH.

1. It does so by awakening a feeling of hatred —

(1)Of God (Romans 1:30).

(2)Of Christ (John 15:24).

(3)Of Christ's disciples (John 17:14).

(4)The Church is hated by the world in proportion to its purity (John 15:19).

(a)The sinfulness of seeking to make religion pleasing to the world.

(b)The condition of the Church, or believer, loved by the world.

2. It does so by producing feelings of fear and reverence.

(1)When God comes forth in the more visible displays of His majesty in nature — in providence — in the judgment, the wicked tremble.

(2)When the image of God is visibly on the character of man, reverence is thereby extorted from the wicked.

(3)In like manner, when God is in the visible Church — when He makes it His pavilion, the world regards it with a constrained reverence (Psalm 14:5).

(4)This feeling is not inconsistent with persecution.

(5)Such a feeling will keep the world out of the Church.

3. It does so by acting upon the conscience.

(1)Church membership, combined with practical irreligion, shows a conscience asleep.

(2)This is encouraged by a low general standard among believers.

(3)A living Christianity would be a check.

II. THAT A LIVING AND SPIRITUAL CHRISTIANITY IS NOT EASILY IMITATED.

1. It is by feigning Christianity that ungodly men enter the communion of the Church.

2. Human nature has a wonderful power in counterfeiting religion — assisted by the devil.

3. But the more spiritual that religion in, the less easily is it counterfeited — detection is more likely.

4. And the self-denial being generally greater, is not likely to be practised.

5. Hence, a spiritual Church will not be joined by worldly men.

III. THAT BEING IN A SPIRITUAL STATE, THE CHURCH POSSESSED MUCH OF THE SPIRIT OF JUDGMENT

1. The Spirit is promised to the Church as "a spirit of judgment" (Isaiah 28:6).

2. The statement of the text is connected with its exercise (vers. 1-11).

3. This spirit is still needed — should be asked.

4. The ground of admission into the Church is a credible, profession; when it is declared credible, there is a judgment.

5. When the Church is spiritual, the possession of this Spirit of judgment will be moreapparent.

(1)The grounds of each judgment will be more ample (Matthew 18:15-18).

(2)The rule of judgment will be more Scriptural.

(3)The application more enlightened.

(4)The decision given, more free from the influence of worldly consideration.

6. This matter rests with the members of the Church. A languid body will not cast off disease.

IV. THAT PERSECUTION WAS A TEST OF DISCIPLESHIP.

1. The world applies a test as well as the Church — sometimes a severer and more searching one.

2. But only when the Church is living. 3, The Church is not diminished (ver. 14).

(James Stewart.)

This beautiful picture of the apostles ruling the infant Christian community and bearing a never-ceasing testimony to their Risen Lord, displays to us the great principles on which the Christian Church is founded. We find here the principle of authority and the existence of office in the Church — office and authority cheerfully recognised and submitted to. Of the rest of the Christian body none durst join himself to the apostles. Their office was of Divine appointment. There was nothing in this exceeding reverence with which the apostolic office was viewed inconsistent with the personal belief of every Christian in the Saviour as his Saviour, and in the gift of the Holy Spirit as given directly to him. How different would the Church of the present day be from that of those primitive times if there were now, as some suppose, an inconsistency between authority and faith, and a man must needs believe the less in Christ his Saviour the more he believes in the Church of Christ as a Divinely ordered system of authority and government I Rightly regarded by those who use it, and by those for whose benefit it is used, there is no earthly means which ought to help men so much to faith in the Lord as the Christian Church, set before men's eyes, witnessing to His story by its very existence, which began with the apostles, whom He chose and educated through all their weakness to carry on His work on earth when He had entered heaven, to help them from thence by His unfailing grace, end to fit them for an office and a work which, without Him, they could never have fulfilled.

(Dean Travers Smith.)

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