The Choosing of the Seven (Acts 6:1 – 7)

Scripture Text:

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Acts 6:1 – 7

Questions:

1. Which responsibility at home or work would you gladly give up? Never give up?

2. Given Acts 2:44 – 45 and Acts 4:32, how would the widows be neglected?

3. How do the apostles resolve this problem?

4. Why did they (the people) choose men “full of the Spirit and wisdom”?

5. Consider verse 6. Why such attention to a seemingly minor task?

6. What secondary issues hinder your church from fulfilling Acts 1:8?

7. Does your church require high credentials and offer great blessings for the “minor” tasks? What if it did?

Early on, the church ran into complaints from a neglected minority, the Grecian Jews. This branch of Jews retained many Greek customs and chose to speak Greek rather than Hebrew. The apostles response in creating a new church office shows considerable diplomacy. The names of the seven appointees indicate they were all Grecian Jews. In other words, the apostles entrusted the minority with full authority to solve their own problems. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, came out of that group of seven.

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The Apostles Persecuted; Gamaliel’s Counsel (Acts 5:17 – 42)

Scripture Text:

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Acts 5:17 – 42

Questions:

The coalition arrayed against the disciples resembles the group that came to arrest Jesus in Gethsemane. The priests were working hand-in-hand with Roman rulers, who appointed their chiefs and allowed them to maintain a police force (with a “captain”) to keep order in the temple. Reports of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead especially alarmed the Sadducees, a party of priests who denied there would ever be a resurrection from the dead (Acts 5:17 and Acts 23:6 – 8).

1. What has been your experience on either side of jail? What sights, sounds, and feelings do you associate with jail?

2. When you leave home or your car unattended, do you always lock it? Why or why not?

3. How do you account for the jealousy of the Sadducees?

4. As an apostle, how would you feel during the events of verses 18 – 21? What would you expect to happen next?

5. Of what do they accuse the apostles in verse 28? How is this different from what bothered them in chapter 4:2?

6. What assertions in Peter’s response (verses 29 – 32) would arouse their fury? Why is Peter being so direct (see Acts 4:1 – 12; Acts 5:19 – 20)?

Compare Acts 5:33 with Acts 2:37. The Gospel, when preached in the power of the Holy Spirit, often enrages or convicts.

7. Prior to Jesus, there were many Jewish zealots who led rebellions against Rome. What is Gamaliel’s point in recalling two such leaders (verses 36 and 37)? Do you think he might be one of the secret believers mentioned in John 12:42? Or a political opportunist not wanting to arouse the public? Why?

Terrorist acts have a long history in the Middle East, as Gamaliel’s speech shows. During the years surrounding Jesus’ life, several revolutionaries led armed uprisings, two of whom Gamaliel refers to here. Several decades later, the apostle Paul was mistaken for an Egyptian who had staged a terrorist revolt in the desert (Acts 21:38).

Gamaliel was a revered and wise rabbi in his day, a follower of the progressive branch of Judaism that originated with the rabbi Hillel. Paul mentions in Acts 22:3 that he once studied under Gamaliel.

8. How do you think Peter’s statement in verse 29 (and Acts 4:19) may have influenced Gamaliel?

9. Flogging sometimes resulted in death. Why do you think the disciples considered it worth rejoicing that they suffered in Jesus’ name?

10. How might proclaiming Jesus as Prince and Savior in Jerusalem immediately after His crucifixion be different than proclaiming Jesus as risen Prince and Savior over 6,000 miles away 2,000 years later?

11. How do you think you would feel if you were sent to jail for what you believe? How would your family feel? What would this do for your faith?

12. In what way has God set you free to honor Him more fully?

13. How do you explain why God sometimes delivers you out of hardships, but at other times He allows you to go through them?

14. Describe a recent even when you had to choose between God and man (verse 29).

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Ananias And Sapphira (Acts 5:1 – 16)

Scripture Text:

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Acts 5:1 – 16

Questions:

As the previous passage demonstrates, members of the early church cared for each other so much they even sold their possessions and brought the proceeds to the apostles for distribution to those in need. The generosity of Barnabas and the Jerusalem church is in contrast to the gift of Ananias. The difference is revealed in today’s passage . . . 

1. What religious practice did you once do just because everyone else did it that way, but you have since outgrown?

2. Were Ananias and Sapphira required to sell the land and lay all the money at the apostles feet (see Acts 4:32 – 37)? Why or why not? What was their sin?

3. What would Ananias and Sapphira gain by lying about the money they received?

  • enjoyment of the portion they kept
  • people’s praise for their generosity
  • status in the community
  • a boost for their ego
  • nothing, in the long run

4. Where did Ananias and Sapphira go wrong?

  • They shouldn’t have sold the land.
  • They shouldn’t have kept part of the proceeds for themselves.
  • They shouldn’t have dishonestly claimed to donate all the proceeds.
  • They shouldn’t have been dishonest about the selling price.

5. How would you have felt if you were one of those who carried out and buried Ananias and Sapphira?

  • shocked
  • sobered
  • afraid
  • full respect for God
  • I would have gotten God’s point.
  • saddened
  •  sickened

6. Why do you think God punished Ananias and Sapphira so severely?

  • to keep them from continuing in their greed and deceit
  • to deter others from their sin
  • to show that, with God, honesty is the only policy
  • to demonstrate that God cannot be deceived
  • to make it clear at the church’s outset that a holy God will not tolerate such hypocrisy and deceit
  • because the trust and integrity of the fellowship was threatened

7. How come many people who deceive God and their church today do not come to a dramatic end like Ananias and Sapphira?

8. How have you seen people try to use God and the church to further their own ends?

9. In your personal and professional life, in what situations are you most tempted to be dishonest, unethical or lack integrity in some way?

10. When have you tried to “fool” God? What happened? On the other hand, when have you experienced the “fear of the Lord”? How has that changed your life?

11. How might great fear or uncompromising honesty be useful to God?

12. How would this incident with this couple lead to the response of the people in verses13 and 14? What words might outsiders use to describe the church?

13. Is coming to Jesus or His disciples for healing the same as giving Him your life? Why or why not?

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