You need to know the Sadducee theology for this read:
- The first five books of Moses (the Torah) only
- Sadducees flatly rejected the Pharisee teaching that oral tradition was equal to Scripture in authority.
- They believed in unrestrained free will—meaning God had no role in the personal lives of humans. Everyone was a master of his or her own destiny.
- Sadducees rejected the supernatural, refuting belief in angels, demons, heaven, hell, and resurrection. To their way of thinking “souls die with the bodies.” The End.
Chapter 4 begins with the Sadducees ticked off about the “message”. Well knowing what the Sadducees believe makes total sense. So they bring Peter and John to Annas and Caiphas. Deja Vu! The same first trial that Jesus went to. Do you remember who Annas was? The High Priest position is supposed to be for life, but the Romans gave it to Caiphas as a figurehead (Annas’s son on Law). But Annas still had ALL the power (he was in the good ole’ boys club with the politicians “the Sadducees”).
Peter, was the one who denied knowing Christ. BUT this Peter has the Holy Spirit!! Fearless! In Matthew 10 Jesus said to the disciples:
16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Peter then quotes a messianic psalm: Psalm 118
11 Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’
and continues to share the message of the Gospel! Will they believe the words? Well of course, they just saw a lame man walk!
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Now we come to a compare and contrast. As the church comes together it is BEAUTIFUL!
- All the believers were one in heart and mind.
- No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
- there were no needy persons among them.
- For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
- Even a Levite names Joseph (name changed to Barnabas) sold his field and donated it
Chapter 5 is the contrast: Annanias and Sappharias. They broke the unity of the church. Peter tells them it was not about holding money back…it was about lying to God about it.
4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
Is this really any different than what Adam and Eve did? They LIED to God.
This story shows the judgment of God is the same in the Old Testament and the New Testament. BUT so is His love and healing power. God contrasts the death of Ananias and Sappharias with the healing of many.
Gamaliel (Supposedly the President of the Sanhedrin). I like this guy so far! He talks about 2 revolutionaries that formed revolts that both failed. Gamaliel advice is-“Better safe than sorry”
38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
Well, I think that was proven already, don’t you? ANGELS let them out of Prison! Did that happen for Thudeas or Judas the Galilean when they protested? No. Their activity was of human origin. The Angels prove Peter and John are coming on behalf of God.
Let’s start with What is a Hebrew Jew verse a Hellenistic Jew?
Hebrew Jew– Aramaic speaking, local-born and raised in the area, read the Hebrew scriptures (spoke Hebrew in the Synagogue)
Hellenistic Jew- if you remember when we talked about Alexander the Great, he “Hellenized” the regions by making everything Greek (It’s all Greek to me!!😂). During the Hellenization period, the scriptures were translated into Greek and they are referred to as the Septuagint. (Sept=70). Seventy scholars translated the Scriptures. Hellenistic Jews were the descendants of those from the captivity that were scattered. They lived among the Gentiles and used the Septuagint for their scriptures instead of the Hebrew version. (Hmmm, sounds like people who get frustrated when other people read from a different version translation).
the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
Wait? What? I thought in Chapter 4 they were all in unity? See the word ‘complained’. It is the same word used in the Old Testament for ‘Grumbling’ in the desert after the Exodus…Noooo! This breaks my heart.
(I am not pointing the finger at who was right or wrong. The Hebrews really thought they were ‘above’ the Greeks so they probably did short change them. The Greeks made it worse by ‘Grumbling/complaining’. )
The appoint 7 men (notice they are Greek to diffuse the situation) and a summary statement is made:
7 So the word of God spread. (this will be repeated in Chapter 12 and 19 in summary too)
9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen.
The Freedmen were Jews that were ex-slaves that were free that actually, a guy by the name of Saul headed up (just setting you up for Saul/Paul coming up).
They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”
Sound familiar? Same accusations were read before the Cross
- accused of blasphemy against God
- accused of blasphemy Moses
- accused of blasphemy the temple
To be continued…