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Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Acts
Book: Acts
Chapter: 5

The Death of Ananias and Sapphira. (1-11) The power which
accompanied the preaching of the Gospel. (12-16) The apostles
imprisoned, but set free By an Angel. (17-25) The apostles
testify to Christ before the Council. (26-33) The advice of
Gamaliel, The Council let the apostles go. (34-42)

1-11 The Sin of Ananias and Sapphira was, that they were
ambitious of being thought eminent disciples, when they were not
true disciples. Hypocrites may deny themselves, may forego their
worldly advantage in one instance, with a prospect of finding
their account in something else. They were covetous of the
wealth of the world, and distrustful of God and his Providence.
They thought they might serve both God and Mammon. They thought
to deceive the apostles. The Spirit of God in Peter discerned
the principle of unbelief reigning in the Heart of Ananias. But
whatever Satan might suggest, he could not have filled the Heart
of Ananias with this wickedness had he not been consenting. The
falsehood was an attempt to deceive the Spirit of Truth, who So
manifestly spoke and acted By the apostles. The crime of Ananias
was not his retaining part of the price of the land; he might
have kept it all, had he pleased; but his endeavouring to impose
upon the apostles with an awful Lie, from a desire to make a
vain show, joined with Covetousness. But if we think to Put a
cheat upon God, we shall Put a fatal cheat upon our own souls.
How sad to see those relations who should quicken one another to
that which is good, hardening one another in that which is evil!
And this Punishment was in reality Mercy to vast Numbers. It
would cause strict self-examination, Prayer, and dread of
hypocrisy, Covetousness, and vain-Glory, and it should still do
So. It would prevent the increase of false professors. Let us
learn hence how hateful falsehood is to the God of Truth, and
not only shun a direct Lie, but all advantages from the use of
doubtful expressions, and double meaning in our speech.

12-16 The separation of hypocrites By distinguishing judgments,
should make the sincere cleave closer to each other and to the
Gospel ministry. Whatever tends to the purity and reputation of
the Church, promotes its enlargement; but that power alone which
wrought such miracles By the apostles, can rescue sinners from
the power of Sin and Satan, and add believers to His
worshippers. Christ will work By all his Faithful servants; and
every one who applies to him shall be healed.

17-25 There is No Prison So dark, So strong, but God can visit
his people in it, and, if he pleases, fetch them out. Recoveries
from sickness, releases out of trouble, are granted, not that we
may enjoy the comforts of Life, but that God may be honoured
with the services of our Life. It is not for the preachers of
Christ's Gospel to retire into corners, as long as they can have
any opportunity of preaching in the great Congregation. They
must preach to the lowest, whose souls are as precious to Christ
as the souls of the greatest. Speak to all, for all are
concerned. Speak as those who resolve to stand to it, to live
and die By it. Speak all the words of this heavenly, divine
Life, in comparison with which the present earthly Life does not
deserve the name. These words of Life, which the Holy Ghost puts
into your mouth. The words of the Gospel are the words of Life;
words whereby we may be saved. How wretched are those who are
vexed at the success of the Gospel! They cannot but see that the
Word and power of the Lord are against them; and they tremble
for the consequences, yet they will go On.

26-33 Many will do an evil thing with daring, yet cannot Bear
to hear of it afterward, or to have it charged upon them. We
cannot expect to be redeemed and healed By Christ, unless we
give up ourselves to be ruled By him. Faith takes the Saviour in
all his offices, who came, not to save us in our sins, but to
save us from our sins. Had Christ been exalted to give dominion
to Israel, the chief priests would have welcomed him. But
Repentance and remission of sins are blessings they neither
valued nor saw their need of; therefore they, By No means,
admitted his doctrine. Wherever Repentance is wrought, remission
is granted without fail. None are freed from the guilt and
Punishment of Sin, but those who are freed from the power and
dominion of Sin; who are turned from it, and turned against it.
Christ gives Repentance, By his Spirit working with the Word, to
awaken the Conscience, to work sorrow for Sin, and an effectual
change in the Heart and Life. The giving of the Holy Ghost, is
Plain evidence that it is the will of God that Christ should be
obeyed. And He will surely destroy those who will not have Him
to reign over them.

34-42 The Lord still has all hearts in his hands, and sometimes
directs the prudence of the worldly Wise, So as to restrain the
persecutors. Common sense tells us to be cautious, while
experience and observation show that the success of frauds in
matters of religion has been very short. Reproach for Christ is
true preferment, as it makes us conformable to his pattern, and
serviceable to his interest. They rejoiced in it. If we suffer
ill for doing Well, provided we suffer it Well, and as we
should, we ought to rejoice in that Grace which enabled us So to
do. The apostles did not preach themselves, but Christ. This was
the preaching that most offended the priests. But it ought to be
the constant business of Gospel ministers to preach Christ:
Christ, and him crucified; Christ, and him glorified; nothing
beside this, but what has reference to it. And whatever is our
station or rank in Life, we should seek to make Him known, and
to Glorify his name.