Chapter four records the powerful story of the first preaching through opposition that the church underwent. Jesus’ opponents are waking up to the fact that although Jesus is gone his followers are just as ardent and are able to preach boldly and with power even though they are uneducated. Luke records that Holy Spirit came upon them and the place where they were shook. In 4:11 the fact that Jesus is the rejected cornerstone is again repeated. This must have had greater meaning in that context than in ours because it is repeated numerous times.
Chapter five begins with the shocking story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira. They sold some property and claimed to be giving all of the proceeds to God, whereas they kept some for themselves. Due to their lying to Holy Spirit (v3) they both fell down dead. This case clearly demonstrates that not all of Acts is prescriptive because God doesn’t strike people dead in church for lying. It’s a running joke on TV or in the movies about God striking someone down for lying but thankfully he doesn’t do it very often. Was this sin punished immediately at this time because God needed to ensure that only those who were “in Christ” promoted the gospel during this period? Especially in light of the great power that was being displayed by the apostles and the need for perseverance in suffering that would soon come.
The Jewish leaders tried to stop the apostles from preaching the gospel but they refused. Gamaliel convinced the Sanhedrin that if this movement was of human origin then it would soon die out but if it was of God then no matter what they did it would continue. The leaders were convinced so they merely flogged the apostles. I wonder how hard they were flogged. They went away rejoicing because they were worthy to suffer for his Name. Acts 6:7 records that a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. This was no doubt cause for concern among the authorities and led to Stephen’s arrest.