Two believers, Ananias and his wife Sapphira, sell property just as other believers have been doing. However, they plot to keep some of the money for themselves, and lie to the apostles that they are donating the full sale to the church. Peter confronts Ananias for lying to God. God strikes Ananias dead and he is buried. Sapphira, the wife of Ananias, goes before the apostles, not knowing that her husband is dead. Peter tests her by asking if the money they donated was the full price of the property sale, and she lies and says “Yes.” Peter wonders why she and her husband conspired to lie to God. She too is struck dead by God, and is buried. A sobering, instructive fear spreads among the believers when they hear this.
The apostles continue to heal the Jewish people in the walkway of the temple, preaching that Jesus was the Messiah. Crowds gather, even from the suburbs of Jerusalem. Sick and afflicted people pour in daily, experiencing healing. Many repent and believe, joining the growing church.
The Sadducees are angered by the apostles’ ministry in the temple and have them arrested. An angel frees the apostles during the night and tells them to return to the temple and continue teaching. The apostles obey. The Council of Pharisees and Sadducees send for their prisoners, the apostles. But the temple soldiers discover the apostles are not in the jail, despite the doors being locked and the guards standing at their posts. A messenger informs the Council that the apostles are back at the temple, teaching just as before. The guards arrest the apostles again, peacefully, to avoid conflict with the crowds of people there.
The high priest interrogates the apostles. He asks them why they are teaching in Jesus’s name throughout Jerusalem. He reminds them that he had already threatened Peter and John to stop this. He also asks why the apostles keep accusing them of being responsible for Jesus’s death. The apostles reply that they obey God, not men. They speak their message to the Council, that God resurrected Jesus, and exalted Him as Prince and Savior to sit at the right hand of God’s throne. The apostles testify that they have witnessed these acts of God, and that the Holy Spirit is with them.
Many in the Council are enraged by the apostles’ response. They wish to kill them. But Gamaliel, a Pharisee, advises the other religious leaders to leave the apostles alone. He reminds the Council of two other men from the past who pretended to be sent by God, but when they died, their followers gave up their cause. If the apostles are not from God, their ministry will fail. If they are from God, then nothing can stop them, nor would the Council want to oppose God’s will.
The Council heeds Gamaliel’s advice to not kill the apostles. But they have them whipped all the same, then forbid them again from teaching about Jesus. When released, the apostles praise God that He found them worthy of persecution. They go right back to preaching that Jesus is the Messiah, in the temple and at people’s homes.