Daily Bible Reading for October 11, 2014, with Commentary: Acts 5-6
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Context: The beginning of chapter 5 offers a comparison to the end of chapter 4. In the end of chapter 4, believers were voluntarily sharing all that they had with one another. It was not required of them, but they chose to do so. In the beginning of chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira choose to give the money they made from selling land to the church. Their sin was not failing to give the whole amount they earned for the land, but rather their lie about how much they sold the land for. It is their lie that killed them. All Christians must be on guard for Satan to try and enter our lives. Peter and John returned to teaching at Solomon’s Colonnade, where they had previously been arrested. The religious leaders, especially those who had instructed them to preach no more, were not pleased that Peter and John ignored their orders. They were once again arrested and placed in jail overnight. The Lord opened the doors of their jail cells and allowed them to walk out. And the guards did not notice! Peter and John did not run though. They returned to preaching…and were re-arrested. This time there was no escape; they were flogged. Such brutal punishment did not discourage them, it encouraged them! We should follow their example. Do not let trials or persecution sway you from following the path of the Lord. Use it as motivation! Remember, Jesus suffered for us, so that we could have salvation and spend eternity with Him. Peter and John were honored that they could share in His suffering. In chapter 6, we discover that multiculturalism is not a new development within churches. The first century church experienced it and the minority felt they were being treated unfairly. A group was chosen to ensure that all widows were being treated equally and taken care of. The Twelve chose not to take care of the issue directly because it would have distracted them from spreading the Gospel. In choosing a group to take care of the issue, the first requirement was that they be full of the Spirit. That should also be our first requirement today when selecting leaders within the church. If they are full of the Spirit, God can use them and develop other necessary skills. Even in the face of persecution and trial, Stephen remained calm and courages because he knew that God stood with him. With God’s help, Stephen could face anything.
World History: Gamaliel was a highly respected Pharisee and served as a mentor to Saul of Tarsus. Gamaliel referred to two individuals, Theudas and Judas the Galilean, who incited people to follow them, however, after their deaths their followers quickly disbanded. Gamaliel believed the same would happen to the followers of Jesus Christ. Theudas is an unknown person, although it is believed by many that he was a leading insurgent in Palestine following the death of Herod the Great. Judas the Galilean refused to pay taxes to Caesar.