What does it say?
Repercussions continue from the crippled man’s healing in Acts 3. At least 5,000 came to faith as a result of the preaching that followed the healing, but it also brought the wrath of the religious leaders that killed Jesus (Acts 4). They threatened Peter and John, but could not deny the miracle because the healed man is standing by their side. God continues to pour out his grace and power on the assembly (church) of believers.
In Acts 5 a married couple makes a show of giving the price of a property to the church, but secretly keeps part. In this super-charged atmosphere, both are struck dead for lying to God. Miracles and signs continue among the people. The religious leaders desperately try to stop the movement from spreading.
Even in this time of great power and blessing, problems arise among believers of different backgrounds (Acts 6:1) feeling that one group was preferred above the other. As a result, seven men are chosen to lead in serving the believers and freeing the apostles to focus on prayer the ministry of the word. One of these servant-leaders (deacons) is Stephen, boldly proclaims the Gospel, but is delivered to the Jewish council on charges of blasphemy.
What does it mean?
These early chapters of Acts are transitional. God has used Israel as his primary instrument since the days of Abraham. Now, he inhabits the assembly of believers as his witnesses to the Gospel of Christ. God uses the miracles, signs and wonders to confirm the truth of the resurrection and the authority of the apostles.
We should not expect all that happens in this transitional time to be normative for all believers in all places and at all times. For example, anticipating the imminent return of Christ, these believers pool their resources (4:34-35) to provide for those who came to Jerusalem for Pentecost, put their faith in Christ and now remain to find their place in what God is doing. What we see here in the pooling of resources is not a mandate for all believers, but a description of dealing with their particular circumstances. While not blindly duplicating their circumstances, we can expect God’s indwelling Holy Spirit to always be our source of our power also, and that the mission to make the Gospel accessible to all peoples has never changed. We can expect that God still heals and still validates the authority of his church in whatever ways he desires, because he promised to be with us always (Mat 28:20). Our responsibility is to live in submission to him.
How will I respond?
What is one practical application from this passage that I can make to my life today?