THE RIGHT WAY TO GIVE AND THE WRONG WAY
Acts iv: 32, to v: 42.
N those early days the Church of Christ in Jerusalem was
like a great family; for each one was full of love for
all the others. No one said of any thing that he
owned, "This is mine," but they had all things together,
as belonging to all. Those who owned lands or houses
sold them, and brought the money, and laid it down at
the feet of the apostles. This was not because a rule
was made commanding it; but because each member loved
the rest, and wished to help them. The money that was
given in this free way the apostles divided among those
that were poor, so that no one among those who believed
in Christ was in need.
There was one man especially who gave away all that he
had to help the Church. His name was Joseph, but he
was called "Barnabas," which means "The one who
encourages," because he was so helpful and cheering in
his words. Barnabas sold his land, and gave the money
from it to the apostles, that they might help with it
those who were poor; and Barnabas spent all his time,
as well as his money, in doing good.
But there was another man in the Church at Jerusalem
whose spirit was not that of Barnabas, to give up all
and live fully for the Lord. This man, whose name was
Ananias, wanted to have the name of giving all, while
he kept a part for himself. Ananias sold some land
which he had owned, and agreed with his wife Sapphira
to give a part of the money to the apostles for the
Church, and to keep back a part for themselves. This
they had a right to do, or even to keep it all. But
they agreed together to act as though they were giving
all the money, and that was agreeing together to tell a
 Ananias brought his money and laid it down before the
apostles. But Peter, by the power of God, saw what was
in the thought of Ananias, and said to him, "Ananias,
why has the evil spirit filled your heart to tell a lie
by your act, in keeping back part of the money? Before
it was sold was not the land your own? And after it
was sold, was not the money in your hand? You have
tried to tell a lie, not to man, but to God; and God
will judge you."
As Peter spoke these words, Ananias fell down before
him, and in a moment was lying dead upon the floor.
The young men in the meeting took up his dead body, and
wrapped it with long rolls of cloth, and carried it out
and buried it as was the manner of the Jews.
DEATH OF ANANIAS
After three hours, Sapphira, the wife of Ananias, came
into the room. She did not know that her husband was
dead, for no one had told her; such was the fear upon
Peter said to her, "Tell me, did you sell the land for
so much?" And he named the sum that Ananias had placed
Sapphira said, "Yes, that was the price of the land."
But Peter said to her, "How is it that you two people
agreed together to bring down Godís anger upon you?
Those who have buried your husband are at the door, and
they shall carry you out also!"
Then Sapphira fell down, struck dead by the power of
God. The young men coming in found her dead; and they
carried out her body and buried it beside her husband.
A great fear came upon all the church, and upon all who
heard how Ananias and Sapphira died. After that no one
dared to try and deceive the apostles in their gifts to
the Lordís church.
And every day the apostles went to the Temple; and
standing in Solomonís Porch, they preached to the
people about Jesus, and salvation through his name.
They wrought many wonders also in healing the sick.
From the houses those that were sick were brought out
into the street, lying on beds and couches, so that as
the apostle Peter passed by, his shadow might fall on
them. And from the villages around Jerusalem they
brought people that had diseases, or were held by evil
spirits; and by the power of God in the apostles they
were all made well.
All these wonderful works brought great multitudes to
hear the apostles, as they spoke in Solomonís Porch.
 believed in Christ as they heard, and men and women in
great numbers were added to the church.
But all these things, the wonders wrought, the crowds
brought together, and the people believing in Christ,
gave great offence to the high-priest and the rulers: for
they were the ones who had led in sending Jesus Christ
to the cross, only a few months before. These rulers
sent their officers, who seized all the twelve
apostles, and thrust them into the common prison of the
city. But at night, an angel of the Lord came, and
opened the doors of the prison and brought the apostles
out, and said:
"Go and stand in the Temple, and speak to the people
all the words of this life."
Then, very early in the morning, just at the breaking
of the day, they went into the Temple and preached to
the people. On that day the high-priest and all the
rulers met together, and sent to the prison-house to
have the apostles brought before them. But the
officers who were sent did not find them in the prison.
They came back to the rulers, and said:
"The prison we
found shut and locked, and the keepers standing at the
doors; but when we opened the doors and went inside we
found none of the prisoners there!"
When the captain of the Temple and the rulers heard
this they wondered greatly; for they could not
understand it. Then came some one, who said, "The men
whom you put in prison are standing in the Temple and
are teaching the people!"
Then the captain of the Temple went with his
officers, and again took the apostles, but without
doing them any harm, for
 they were afraid that the people would stone them if
they dealt harshly with these men, whom all held in
high honor. They brought them into the hall where the
rulers were met together. The high-priest said to
"We told you not to speak in this name, or about that
man; and now you have filled Jerusalem with your
teaching, and you are trying to bring the blood of this
man upon us."
But Peter, in the name of all the apostles, answered
"We must obey God rather than men. You put Jesus to
death, hanging him upon the cross. But the God of our
fathers raised him from the dead, and lifted him up to
be at his right hand as a Prince and a Saviour, to give
the forgiveness of sins. And we declare these things;
and Godís Holy Spirit tells us that they are true."
When the rulers heard these words they were made very
angry, and thought of causing the apostles to be slain.
But there was among them one very wise man, named
Gamaliel, a man who was held in honor by all the
people. Gamaliel asked to have the apostles sent out
of the hall, while he would speak to the rulers. When
the apostles were taken away, Gamaliel said:
"Ye men of Israel, be careful in what you do to these
men. If what they say comes from themselves alone, it
will soon pass away; but if it be of God, you cannot
destroy it, and you may even find yourselves to be
fighting against God. My advice to you is: do no harm
to these men and leave them alone."
The rulers agreed with these words. They sent for the
apostles, and caused them to be beaten; then they
commanded them again not to speak in the name of Jesus,
and they let them go. The apostles went forth from the
meeting of the rulers, happy in suffering for the name
of Jesus. And in the Temple and among the homes of the
people they did not cease from preaching Jesus as the
Saviour and the Lord.