Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for July 7

Here’s the Explore the Bible Sunday School lesson commentary for July 7, written by Mark Rathel, professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida.

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for July 7


Acts 4:36–5:11

Luke, the author of Acts, was a medical doctor (Col. 4:14) as well as a historian and missions team member with the Apostle Paul. Yet Luke preferred the background role rather than a role of prominence.

The New Testament contains only three references to Luke (Col. 4:14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Philemon 24). The vignettes provided by Luke of the first century church contain both good patterns to emulate and warnings of church issues to be avoided.

Exhibit A: Barnabas (4:36–37)

Barnabas was the nickname for a man with the birth name of Joseph. He was a Levite — the lowest order of Hebrew priests. According to verse 36, Barnabas means “son of encouragement.” Another possibility for the nickname is “son of prophecy” or “one who preaches.” Preaching should be encouraging. One way he encouraged believers in Jerusalem was through selling his property located on the island of Cyprus and donating the money he received to the Jerusalem church to assist the church’s benevolence ministry. I asked myself what nickname would be appropriate for me if my church gave me one. I encourage you to ask the same question. One of my church’s deacons gave me a compliment (I think) recently.

He said some men are good preachers and some are good pastors. He placed me in the good pastor category. I love to preach and felt a sting, but God called me to be a pastor.

Exhibit B: Ananias (5:1–6)

Unfortunately, the early church had hypocritical church members just as modern churches do. Perhaps out of envy for the recognition the church in Jerusalem gave to Barnabas, a husband and wife gave a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their property to the church. It was within the right of Ananias and Sapphira to sell a piece of property and give only a portion of the monetary proceeds to the church.

Presumably, the Holy Spirit gave insight into the motive and action of the couple. Peter asked a series of probing questions. Why did Satan fill your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? Why did you keep some of the proceeds of the sale while giving the church the impression you gave the total amount of money you received?

Baptist preacher Tony Merida characterizes the couple as spiritual posers, praise seekers, liars, greedy, deceivers, Satan’s instruments and Holy Spirit grievers.

How can a generous gift be an encouragement to others? I once served as pastor for a church member who had little monetary resources yet set aside and saved money throughout the year to be able to give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

Exhibit C: Sapphira (7–11)

Thee hours later Ananias’ wife Sapphira arrived. Her name means “beautiful,” yet her beauty was only skin deep. Peter asked her why she joined in and supported her husband’s deceit. God immediately ended her life. Husband and wife both died the same day because of the sin and the same heart of deception.

By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida

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