And great fear came on all the church, and on as many as heard these things.…
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.