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14. More firsts

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Lesson 14 Leader’s notes: Acts 5:1-6:7

Deception and consequent discipline Acts 5:1-11

As a class work through the references for Acts 5:1-11, plus the ‘Compare’ references (opposite, below them). Find answers to questions (1) and (2).

Ananias and Sapphira had set out to deceive and make themselves look as if they were giving more than they actually were. If they had said “We have sold land and this is part of the money we received” there was no problem. But they had colluded together to imply that they were giving all of the money, when they were not. Their sin was deception. They keep back for themselves, they give Satan space, they speak untruth both to people and to God, verses 1-4. We would say ‘they were hypocrites’.

Peter was in tune with God. Prompted by God he confronted the couple singly.

Our God is a pure God. He demands purity from His people and His Church.

Christians must take seriously their honest living!

Church leaders can be put into difficult situations by God.

Next explore the references for Acts 5:12-42. Use public reading verses with some question and answers, or silent reading with arising questions.

Summary Acts 5:12-16

verse 12 signs point away from themselves to something or somewhere else

verses 12-13 meeting together brought strength and encouragement

verse 13 considered by outsiders as morally and professionally good

verse 14 more people became believers. Some did not dare to. Why?

verses 15-16 faith and healing are linked. Faith is demonstrated not spoken.

Compare with Acts 19:11-12, Luke 8:42b-48. Neither Peter’s shadow, nor Paul’s handkerchiefs, nor Jesus’ garment possessed magical powers. Healing resulted from the faith of the person/persons and especially the power of Jesus Christ.

Jealousy from the Sadducees Acts 5:17-42

Jealousy – a feeling of anger or bitterness fearing losing something

verses 18-21 God works differently. Here miraculous release, compare 4:3-7

verses 21-24 obedience to God is a non-negotiable priority, compare 4:18-21

verses 25-26 prisoners are not in the prison! Notice the word ‘fear’ again.

verses 26-32 apostles escorted gently to be confronted by the Jewish leaders

Luke records an unintended testimony to their success in verse 28

Peter boldly and wisely points everybody towards Jesus, whenever he can

verses 33-39 God uses Gamaliel ‘s intervention. Not a Christian, but … used. Does God still use ‘outsiders’ to help His people today? How?

Summary Acts 5:40-42 Costly. Everywhere. Always talking the gospel of Jesus.

Student's page:

Lesson 14 More Firsts Acts 5:1-6:7

Keep in mind 4:36-37 and Barnabas’ example.

Deception and consequent discipline Acts 5:1-11

5:1 Joining in God’s work …

5:2 … but not wholeheartedly

5:3-4 Confronted and found out

5:5-6 Fearsomely judged by God

5:7-10 Gently given a second chance, but failed to take it

5:11 “Great fear” is ‘mega phobos’, originally meaning wanting to fly/run away! Some of them probably thought, ‘Let’s get out of here’. Would you have?

Compare Hebrews 4:13, 10:31, 12:29, Psalm 97:1-3, Habakkuk 1:12-13a,

1 Timothy 4:12, 1 Peter 2:12.

(1) Describe the problem exactly in your own words.

Can you find at least three things?

(2) Why was the punishment so immediate and strong? See verses 5-6, 10.

Living honestly as a Christian is a serious business! Pray for yourself.

Being a leader in the church has its difficult moments. Pray for your pastor.

Summary Acts 5:12-16 compare John 10:23, Acts 3:11 Solomon’s Colonnade

5:12 notice believers were out, mixing with the general population. Why?

5:13 are there ways we can earn high respect from outsiders? What?

5:14 Who adds people to the true Church?

5:15-16 compare Acts 19:12, Luke 8:42b-48.

Where did people’s faith come from?

Jealousy from the Sadducees Acts 5:17-42

5:17 the same popular miracles brought admiration, respect and opposition

5:18-21 Angel’s serve God Whose plans cannot be thwarted. God recommissions.

5:21-24 Notice ‘teaching’ is a big part of evangelism, verses 21, 25, 28. Why?

5:25-26 Christians may be afraid of ungodly authorities, who may also fear us!

5:27-28 See how “this Name” is crucial? Note verse 30. Try to speak of Jesus.

5:29-32 a witness is one who speaks simply what he/she has seen and heard

5:33 Why does the mention of Jesus make everyone appear to go mad?

5:34-39 How does God use Gamaliel? See especially verses 38-39. Therefore, trust God always.

5:40 The apostles knew what it was to ‘take up their crosses’, Luke 9:23-24.

Summary Acts 5:42 All the time, any place they went, and at home, the Christians taught and preached Jesus. God was very pleased, I’m sure!

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Leader's page:

Read Acts 6:1-6 in the group.

Ask - What is going on here? What issues are raised?

The problem at first appears racist, but is more administrative with racial overtones.

Both groups were Jewish believers.

The Twelve decide that it is not right for them to look after the needy - they were required to keep the ministry of the word of God and prayer foremost in their time and effort. But the needy still had to be cared for. There was an opening for an administrative level of leadership.

For this new level of leadership men who were full of the Holy Spirit and exhibiting practical wisdom were essential. It was as important as preaching.

Today all levels of leadership still need godly men and women.

These men were set apart for their role. Prayer and the laying on of hands in the presence of the whole church was a visible encouragement to everyone. The issue was seen to be being taken seriously.

Important question

Sometimes people say “Why don’t we just go back to the Early Church and be like them?

I think they mean ‘let’s just work for Jesus, love each other and let God work what He wants’.

That is hard to argue against because the above sounds so ideal and is part of the situation we have seen in the Early Church.

But, people are Christians? - yes. And Christian are perfect? - no!

Some are picky about how things are done, some have an inflated view of their own abilities. Growth in numbers attending multiplies different views and every person comes with their own baggage. Aren’t we human beings wonderful?

We all need to be transformed by Jesus. We will never be perfect until we get to heaven. Yet we must keep trying!

Ask the question opposite.

Firsts seen here include – discipline – judgement – more growth – prison and miraculous freedom – wisdom of Gamaliel - embargo on speaking about Jesus – ignoring it – believers upset – new level of spiritual leadership introduced.

Student's page:

And another first - division within Jewish Christian believers? Acts 6:1-6

What is going on? What are the issues?

6:1 Was growth good or bad ? Was it good and bad? It brought issues with it.

6:2-4 The Twelve took a decision – then what did they do? - what guidance did they give to the disciples?

- why did they do all this?

6:5-6 What was the relationship between the Twelve and the disciples? Different roles. Various callings and giftings. All in the same, one, work of God.

The new administrative staff all had Greek names - diplomacy - it was the Greek speaking widows who had felt neglected. The “whole group” 6:5 chose the seven deacons for a specific responsibility, and the Apostles ordained them.

Suddenly, instead of those who had been with Jesus and those who had come to believe on Him later, there are leaders with teaching and prayer ministry responsibilities and leaders with administrative responsibilities and many believers.

Suddenly, the simplicity had become a bit more complicated!

Think of issues in a local church that may cause problems today. Share them.

What guidelines would you pass on from Acts 6:1-6, to all people who may be involved?

Summary Acts 6:7

word of God spread in ever widening circles

number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly

large number of priests became obedient to the faith - Hallelujah

What ‘firsts’ have you seen today in Acts 5:1 – 6:7?

Problems of growth in church, just like we face in a smaller way, as our families grow and children get older! Growth is good, but it is not always easy.

Please read Acts 6:8-8:1 for next time

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