David Guzik’s weekly devotional, based on a verse or two from the Bible.

Bringing Blood Upon

Bringing Blood Upon

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” (Acts 5:27-28)

The religious leaders who opposed the apostles of the early church didn’t have the facts on their side. The truth was, Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, showing Himself to many people before He ascended to heaven. The religious leaders couldn’t produce the body of Jesus or discredit the reliable reports of His resurrection. Worst of all, they couldn’t stop the disciples of Jesus from proclaiming the good news of Jesus’ life, sacrificial death on the cross, and resurrection.

Bringing Blood Upon

So, the religious leaders did what many do when the truth isn’t on their side: they hoped intimidation would frighten the opposition into silence. That’s the scene when Acts 5:27 says, they set them before the council. This was another attempt to intimidate the apostles with a display of the council’s institutional authority. The apostles, knowing how God had protected and would continue to protect them, were probably not intimidated or even overly impressed.

Then, the most intimidating man present – the high priest – confronted the followers of Jesus saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?” It was true that they had commanded Peter and John to no longer teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:17-18). Yet Peter and John openly told them that they would continue, in obedience to God (Acts 4:19-20).

Then the high priest said to the apostles, “you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine.” This accusation probably made the disciples smile – it was a wonderful testimony of how effective their message had been. Their doctrine, the good news of Jesus Christ, had filled Jerusalem.

Then the high priest said something surprising, claiming the disciples “intend to bring this Man’s blood on us.” First, notice how he referred to Jesus: he called Him “this Man.” One might say that the high priest was so afraid of the power of Jesus that he avoided even saying the Savior’s name!

Yet, the charge that the apostles did intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us is interesting. The high priest no doubt meant that the apostles intended to hold the Jewish leaders responsible, at least in some measure, for the death of Jesus (as in Acts 2:23).

At the same time, we know that the apostles must have desired for the high priest and the other Jewish leaders to come to faith in Jesus, even as some other priests did (Acts 6:7). For certain, the apostles wanted to bring the covering, cleansing blood of Jesus upon the high priest and others in the council.

Perhaps the apostles smiled, nodded, and thought: “Yes, we want you to trust in what Jesus did for you through His death.”

In this sense, is His blood upon you?

Click Here for David’s Written Commentary on Acts 5

Set Free for a Purpose

Set Free for a Purpose

But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” (Acts 5:19-20)

God was working in a powerful way through the apostles, and the religious leaders in Jerusalem didn’t like it. Acts 5:17-18 says the high priest arrested the apostles and put them all in prison.

They didn’t stay in prison long. We read: an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors. This was easy for God to arrange. Angels are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14). God sent forth this angel to minister for the apostles. Locked doors are nothing for God or for those who He uses.

Set Free for a Purpose

To do the work, God sent an angel. Possibly, they only understood this was an angel as they looked back. Angels often come in human appearance, and it may not always be easy to recognize an angel (as in Luke 24:3-7 and Hebrews 13:2).

The angel didn’t just open doors, he also had a message: Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life. The angel freed them from prison, but he wasn’t going to do the work of preaching. That was up to the apostles, and it is also up to us.

Their rescue from prison was wonderful, but for a purpose – so they could continue their work. God didn’t set them free primarily for their safety or comfort. They were set free for a reason. In the future, they were not always delivered.

The later history of these apostles – and others associated with them in the early church – shows that sometimes God delivers by a miracle, sometimes He does not. According to fairly reliable church history and tradition, miraculous angels did not always deliver them.

– Matthew was beheaded with a sword.
– Mark died in Alexandria after being dragged through the streets of the city.
– Luke was hanged on an olive tree in Greece.
– John died a natural death, but they unsuccessfully tried to boil him in oil.
– Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome.
– James was beheaded in Jerusalem.
– James the Less was thrown from a height then beaten with clubs.
– Philip was hanged.
– Bartholomew was whipped and beaten until death.
– Andrew was crucified and preached at the top of his voice to his persecutors until he died.
– Thomas was run through with a spear.
– Jude was killed with the arrows of an executioner.
– Matthias was stoned and then beheaded – as was Barnabas.
– Paul was beheaded in Rome.

This reminds us that we should trust God for miraculous things and wish to see them more and more; but we do this knowing that God also has a purpose when He does not deliver with a miraculous hand. We also see that we, like the apostles, are set free for a purpose – not merely to live for ourselves.

Click Here for David’s Written Commentary on Acts 5

Strange Miracles

Strange Miracles

So that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Acts 5:15-16)

These first several chapters of the book of Acts tell the story of the amazing first years of the church, the community of the disciples of Jesus. To this point they had not expanded much beyond Jerusalem, and it was a season of an amazing work of God.

There were amazing – and strange – miracles. People brought the sick out into the streets. People were so convinced of the reality and power of what the Christians believed, they thought they could be healed by the mere touch of Peter’s shadow.

Strange Miracles

That’s what Acts 5:15 says: that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Notice it does not specifically say people were healed by Peter’s shadow; it simply tells us people thought it would, and they took action based on this belief. We don’t know for certain if people were actually healed when the shadow of Peter passed over them.

In this case, apparently even the shadow of Peter became a point of contact where people released faith in Jesus as healer. It seems that people well understood what Peter said in Acts 3:12-16: That Jesus heals, even if He does His healing work through His apostles.

It may sound crazy to us that someone could be healed by the touch of a shadow, but we know a touch of Jesus’ clothing healed a woman (Luke 8:44). There wasn’t anything magical in the garment, but it was a way that her faith was released. In the same, there was no power in Peter’s shadow itself, but there was power when a person believed in Jesus to heal them, and the passing of Peter’s shadow may have helped some to believe.

However God chose to bring the healing, there is no doubt that a remarkable work was present, so much so that they were all healed. We shouldn’t miss the connection between the purity preserved in the first part of Acts 5 (with the death of Ananias and the fear of God among the Christians) and the power displayed here. God blessed a pure church with spiritual power.

Notice that a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem. Notice that this was people coming to Jerusalem instead of the apostles going to them. This was exciting, but not exactly according to the command of Jesus. He told the disciples to go out to Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). The apostles didn’t leave Jerusalem until they were forced by persecution.

With all the miracles happening, perhaps they needed a greater miracle of obedience to Jesus!

Click Here for David’s Written Commentary on Acts 5

Added To the Lord

Added To the Lord

Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women. (Acts 5:13-14)

Sometimes we think that when the church lives as it should, the church will be a magnet that draws all those who do not yet believe on Jesus. They will see the purity and power and holiness of God among His people and say, “I want to join with such people.”

Added To the Lord

I suppose it works like that sometimes, and in some places. But certainly not always. Here, in Acts 5:13-14 we see that when the holiness and purity of the church was evident to the world, none of the rest dared join them.

When everyone learned of how God dealt with Ananias and Sapphira, and how jealously God guarded the purity of His people, they thought twice before joining the community of God’s people. They had such a marvelous reputation for integrity that everybody knew it was a serious thing to be a follower of Jesus.

When God cleanses the church this radically, it feels painful – even traumatic. Yet, one of the good things that flows from it is that there is much less of a casual commitment among believers. People then are more likely to count the cost as Jesus said they should (Luke 14:25-33).

Despite the hesitancy of some, the church kept growing. We read, believers were increasingly added to the Lord. Though people knew it was a serious thing to be a Christian, the Spirit of God kept moving with power. More and more people joined the community of the disciples of Jesus.

In fact, they were added in multitudes. We read that they joined the disciples in multitudes of both men and women. This was Luke’s way of reminding us that the cleansing of the church connected with Ananias and Sapphira did no lasting damage. God’s work continued forward.

Notice the phrasing that the Holy Spirit chose to describe this. They were increasingly added to the Lord. This means that new believers were added, but they were added to the Lord, not primarily to a “church” or to a person or even to a movement. They were added to the Lord Jesus Himself.

Christian, please understand: your fundamental identity is who you are as someone added to the Lord Jesus.

– You have a race and an ethnicity; those are not your fundamental identity.
– You live in a nation and perhaps belong to a political party; those are not your fundamental identity.
– You have an education and some kind of economic class; those are not your fundamental identity.
– You belong to a certain church or denomination; those are not your fundamental identity.

You have been added to the Lord Jesus; you are “in Christ.” This is the greatest and most glorious identity. Rejoice in it, rest in it – and remember it is a serious thing to be among those who are added to the Lord Jesus.


Click Here for David’s Written Commentary on Acts 5

Unity - A Great Miracle

Unity – A Great Miracle

And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. (Acts 5:12)

At this time, the community of the disciples of Jesus was still centered in Jerusalem. In that city, they gathered at Solomon’s Porch. This was an area up on the temple mount. The second temple was a massive compound, with extensive porches and covered areas. No doubt, the early Christians gathered in a particular area of the temple complex, in an area open to all.

Unity - A Great Miracle

This was a season of remarkable works – many signs and wonders. Here we aren’t told what these signs and wonders were. Presumably they were like what we see in other places in Acts and in the Gospels – healings, deliverance from demonic powers, and other unusual blessings.

In Acts 4:29-30, the disciples asked God to do some things: …grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. We see God powerfully answered that prayer by giving the disciples boldness to speak God’s word, and by working many signs and wonders through the apostles. They asked in faith, and God answered their prayers.

These miracles were done through the hands of the apostles. At this time God chose to do these miraculous works through the hands of the apostles and we don’t read of God doing these miracles through the hands of other disciples. We must trust that God wisely chooses which hands will bring a miracle. Here, God had a purpose in doing it through the hands of the apostles.

I don’t know about you, but I believe God still does miracles today. I don’t believe anyone has the power to perform miracles whenever and however they want to; that power does not rest in any person. But God has power to do things that go beyond our understanding of the natural order. The Creator of the normal laws of cause-and-effect can suspend those laws from time to time as it pleases Him.

It’s easy to see the miraculous when someone is healed or set free from demonic power. However, God does many other miracles that aren’t as easily seen as miracles. We also see this in Acts 5:12: they were all with one accord. There was wonderful unity of heart and purpose among the people of God.

Often, the fact that God’s people are together all with one accord is a greater display of the power of the Holy Spirit than any sign or wonder. Our selfish hearts and stubborn minds can be harder to move than any mountain. Divisions among believers can be harder to heal than the worst illness.

Believe God for miracles that He will grant in His wisdom – but don’t forget one of the greatest miracles: true unity in Jesus Christ among His disciples.

Click Here for David’s Written Commentary on Acts 5

Revival Is Like Judgement Day

Revival Is Like Judgment Day

Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. (Acts 5:5-6)

A man named Ananias, along with his wife, lied to God and cheated the church. They did it to appear more generous and spiritual than they really were.

Shockingly, God brought swift judgment: Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. Peter did not pronounce a death sentence on Ananias. It isn’t the business of the church to pronounce a death sentence on anyone. Peter simply confronted him with his sin and Ananias fell down dead, and he was probably more surprised than anyone else when Ananias fell down dead.

Revival Is Like Judgement Day

This was a harsh penalty for a sin that seems common today. Some wonder if God was too harsh against, but maybe the greater wonder is that God delays His righteous judgment in almost all other cases. Ananias received exactly what he deserved; he simply could not live in the atmosphere of purity that marked the church at that time.

This judgment on Ananias must be seen in the context of its time. This was a critical stage for the early church and such impurity, sin, scandal, and satanic infiltration could have corrupted the entire church at its root. Then, the church was all “root” – the branches had not yet developed. We can guess that one reason we don’t see God’s judgment just like this today is because God’s church has so many branches. Even if the entire body of Christ in the United States was to become corrupt through scandal or sin, there is plenty of strength in other parts of the tree around the world.

What God did here in Acts 5 shows it is wrong to assume that there is always more time to repent, more time to get right with God, more time to get honest with Him. Any such time given by God is an undeserved gift that He owes no one; we should never assume it will always be there.

There was an immediate result: So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. God’s purpose was accomplished in the church as a whole. This was evidence of a great work of God among His people.

When God begins to move in a mighty way among His people, it often starts with the exposure of sin, leading to radical repentance. God wouldn’t allow for a cover-up; this was going to be exposed so God’s people would take sin seriously.

We often think revival is something triumphant, moving from glory to glory. True revival from God is glorious, but often begins as judgment day for the church. But after the judgment, and after things are settled, real blessing flows.

If God is “cleaning house” in your church or life, don’t despise it. It could be the start of the revival you’ve been praying for.

View or listen to the late Dr. J. Edwin Orr’s  wonderful message, “Revival Is Like Judgement Day”

Satan and My Sin

Satan and My Sin

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4)

When we sin, whose fault is it? Sometimes we like to claim that the devil makes us sin. I don’t want to defend the devil, but Satan does not do everything he gets blamed for! The truth is that the world, the flesh, and the devil work together to lead us to sin and ruin. Acts 5 is an example of this.

Satan and My Sin

In a season of great generosity among the first Christians, a man named Ananias and his wife Saphira wanted to be known as super-generous people. They sold piece of land. Then, they pretended to give all the money from the sale to the church, but actually kept back some of the money for themselves.

This was a sadly unnecessary sin. Peter told Ananias, while it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Peter understood that the land and its value truly belonged to Ananias; he was completely free to do with it what he wanted. His crime was not in withholding the money, but in deceptively implying that he gave it all.

This was a sin so bad that Peter had to publicly confront Ananias. When Peter spoke, Ananias must have been crushed. Certainly, he expected praise for his spectacular gift, but was rebuked instead. Peter saw that Satan was at work, even through a man like Ananias who was numbered among believers.

There is no doubt that Satan did his work in the heart of Ananias. But Peter also described his sin in another way: Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? Satan had filled the heart of Ananias, yet Peter could ask why he had conceived this thing in your heart. Satan can influence the life of a believer, even a spirit-filled believer, but he can’t do your sinning for you. Ananias had to conceive it in his heart.

We need to practice spiritual warfare, knowing that our real enemies are spiritual (Ephesians 6:10-20). We should be on guard against Satan and all of his strategies.

However, if you are believer, please remember – Satan can’t make you sin. He can tempt you, scream at you, attempt to deceive or frighten you, but the devil can’t do your sinning for you.

So, as you are on guard against Satan and his strategies, also make sure you take double care to keep an open heart before God. Take care what you conceive in your heart. Don’t be afraid to do some heart-repentance. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 5

Image and Reality

Image and Reality

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 5:1-2)

God was moving in a powerful way among the earliest Christians. The movement of the followers of Jesus was so fresh, so new, and so full of life that they hadn’t even yet taken the title “Christians” – that would come later. But even without that name they were a community of love, power, and great generosity.

Image and Reality

It has been said that whenever God moves in a powerful way, the devil also starts moving. There is some truth to that. As the church grew and prospered, Satan didn’t surrender – he got busy. Satan’s strategy of scaring Christians into silence didn’t work, so he tried attacking them from the inside.

Satan attacked the church at a strong point: the great generosity described at the end of Acts 4. There we read of a man named Barnabas who was especially generous – and people noticed his generosity.

So, we read of a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife who sold a possession. After seeing the great generosity of Barnabas and how well he was respected (Acts 4:36-37), Ananias and Sapphira decided they wanted to receive the same respect.

Here is the problem: once they sold the land, Ananias and Sapphira kept back part of the proceeds. They sold the possession, and gave only a portion, while implying that they sacrificially gave it all. They misused the money to “buy” the image of being radically generous while keeping back a good part of it for themselves.

In a time when God was moving in remarkable ways, their greed and misuse of money was a threat to God’s work. It wasn’t just Ananias – we read, his wife also being aware of it. They were partners in the deception. Maybe they originally vowed to sell the land and give all the money to God and told others they would do that. But when the money was in their hand they said, “We don’t have to give it all – but let’s tell everyone we did.”

There was a lot of evil packed into the sin of Ananias and Saphira, evil that went beyond the attempt to deceive God and the church.

They showed disrespect to God, and they defrauded the Lord. They did it out of a twisted ambition to be thought of as amazing people. They cared more about having the image of being generous than actually being generous. They arrogantly thought they were clever enough to sin this way and not be found out.

It didn’t work. The planned hiding of our sin doesn’t work. Eventually, things that are only image and not reality are exposed.

Today, ask God to guard you from the proud lies that promote the image of godliness when the reality falls far short.

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 5

A Giving Church

A Giving Church

Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. (Acts 4:34-35)

Going through the early chapters of Acts, we are impressed by the many descriptions of the generosity and sharing of the first Christians. We read of the Christian community in Jerusalem that there was not anyone among them who lacked. No one starved or had no place to live, because the Christians took care of each other.

A Giving Church

That took some radical generosity: all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them. Among the 5,000 or so Christians in Jerusalem at that point, some were wealthy. These wealthy believers weren’t taxed into a program of income redistribution. Everyone gave generously and God provided. Remember that the Jerusalem Christians were largely made up of visitors who came as visitors on Pentecost – they were refugees from abroad and had special needs.

I keep noting that they did this among the community of Christians. We don’t read that they did it for everyone who lived in Jerusalem. Christians have a responsibility to take care of those who are fellow believers. We have the opportunity to help those outside the church, but I don’t think we have the responsibility. I just don’t see in the Scriptures where Christians are responsible to feed, clothe, and shelter everyone on earth. But we are called to take care of our own.

Among the believers, they distributed to each as anyone had need. Unfortunately, this generosity was soon abused. Later Paul taught regarding who should be helped and how they should be helped. Paul’s directions include:

– The church must discern who the truly needy are (1 Timothy 5:3).
– If one can work to support himself, he is not truly needy and must provide for his own needs (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, 1 Timothy 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:11).
– If family can support a needy person, the church should not (1 Timothy 5:3-4).
– Those whom the church supports must make some return to the church (1 Timothy 5:5, 10).
– It is right for the church to examine moral conduct before supporting (1 Timothy 5:9-13).
– The support of the church should be for the most basic necessities of living (1 Timothy 6:8).

I think that today the church does a better job with this than most people give credit for. Of course, Christians can and should always do better and do more. But I can’t think of a single voluntary organization that does more to feed, clothe, and shelter their own and the poor of the world than the church.

Today, ask God if there is a believer in need that He wants you to help – and trust that if there is, the Holy Spirit will show you and guide you. Do it with the Biblical wisdom given by Paul and others – but do it!

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 4

Mega Power, Mega Grace

Mega Power, Mega Grace

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:32-33)

Back in Acts 2:44-45 we saw the sharing heart of the early church. Those verses tell us how they shared with one another and even sold their possessions to help each other. That was true of the church when they were about 3,000 in number. Now, the number of Christians was much greater, and they still had that sharing heart.

Mega Power, Mega Grace

We read of this great generosity: those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of things he possessed was his own. This was true of the multitude, not just a few. To say it simply, they regarded people more important than things. This unity was a wonderful evidence of the work of God’s Spirit among them.

James Boice made an interesting observation about this unity in the early church. It wasn’t the unity of conformity, where everyone is pressured to be exactly alike. This unity was something greater than that; it was the unity of God’s Spirit, centered on Jesus.

Because of their unity, they had all things in common. They recognized God’s ownership of everything; it all belonged to God and His people. Because God had touched their lives so deeply, they found it easy to share all things in common.

The unity and generosity of these early Christians was wonderful to see. Everyone would love to live in a community like that! Yet, those Jesus-focused hearts also experienced something else: with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. This great power was paradoxically both the result and the root of their unified, generous attitude. They put God first, people second, and material things a distant third.

We also notice that they gave witness to the resurrection. We see the central place that the resurrection of Jesus held in the message of the first Christians. They preached a resurrected Jesus.

We read that great grace was upon them all. Grace is God’s favor. Without sounding too sentimental, we can say that God’s grace is His smile from heaven. It is the favor and goodness of God to His people. Even better, this wasn’t just grace – it was great grace. One commentator says that literally this was mega grace. The phrase great power can be understood as mega power.

Did you notice who this was for? We read that this mega grace was upon them all. Not just a few special apostles, but for them all.

Today, radically put your focus on the resurrected Jesus. Receive the gifts of His generosity and spirit of unity. Then, receive His mega power and mega grace. It’s for us all!

Click here to read David’s commentary on Acts 4