5:3 lie to the Holy Ghost. The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not greed, for they did give a substantial gift to the church. Rather it was pride, desiring the praise of others in the church, and lying, in order to gain that prestige. Even so, it might not seem to be such a crime as to warrant immediate death. The judgment, however, came from God, not Peter, and was accomplished by providential miracle. In this very first church of our church age, it was absolutely vital that hypocrisy not gain a foothold and set a dangerous precedent. Consequently, it was expeditious in God’s eyes, for Him to enact His judgment of death on sin speedily (Romans 6:23) in this case.
5:4 unto God. In Acts 5:3, Peter said Ananias had lied to the Holy Ghost: in Acts 5:4, he said Ananias had lied to God. Thus, God and the Holy Ghost are used synonymously, showing clearly that the Holy Spirit is God.
5:11 upon all the church. This is the second use of the word “church” (Greek ecclesia) in the book of Acts (used first in Acts 2:47).
5:17 Sadducees. Strangely, all the chief priests were members of the Sadducees, the religious party which (like the pagan nations around them) denied the doctrine of resurrection. Therefore, they were increasingly furious at the effectiveness of the powerful preaching of the resurrection by the apostles (Acts 4:33; 6:7).
5:20 Go, stand. Regardless of opposition or difficulties, the Lord expects His people to stand—that is, to take a stand, once and for all (Ephesians 6:13-14)—and to speak—to speak all the words of this life, just as the apostles “spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
5:29 ought to obey God. Christians are commanded to “be subject unto the higher powers” (Romans 13:1) and to “submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake” (I Peter 2:13), with this one exception. They had been commanded not to “teach in this name” (Acts 5:28), but God had said: “Stand and speak” (Acts 5:20). God’s commands take priority, but they should be His commands, not our extensions of those commands.
5:34 Gamaliel. Gamaliel—a Pharisee rather than a Sadducee like the chief priests, and well instructed in the Scriptures—had been the teacher of young Paul before the latter became a Christian (Acts 22:3).
5:36 rose up Theudas. Nothing else is known about this event. However, there had been various insurgencies during the period of Roman occupation, and Theudas was a fairly common name.
5:37 Judas of Galilee. Unlike the revolt of Theudas, the insurgency of Judas of Galilee has been described by Josephus.
5:39 ye cannot overthrow it. Gamaliel may well have known Nicodemus, who was also a member of the council, a Pharisee, and a respected teacher (John 3:1,10). He must have been profoundly impressed by the conversion and devotion of Nicodemus to Jesus, and then by the empty tomb and the reports of Christ’s resurrection. He had good reason to fear that suppression of the Christians might indeed be fighting against God.
5:42 ceased not. After being beaten and warned never again “to speak in the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:40), they responded by “rejoicing” (Acts 5:41), and then they “ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ!” The result is summarized in Acts 6:7: “The word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly.”