Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for July 7

Here’s the Explore the Bible Sunday School lesson commentary for July 7, written by Jay T. Robertson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Mobile.

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for July 7

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By Jay T. Robertson, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, University of Mobile


Acts 4:36–5:11

The growth of the early Church was incredible. A small group of unqualified people with no money, no power and no influence turned the world upside down and changed the course of history. These believers were completely devoted to the message of the gospel, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit, which resulted in bold proclamation and sacrificial service. We will learn that God holds believers accountable for their motives in service.

Exhibit A: Barnabas (4:36–37)

Many of the new believers lost their jobs and were disowned by their families because of their new life in Christ. Motivated by their love for one another, they sold houses, land and other possessions to provide for the extreme needs in their community. The gospel had loosened their grip on their stuff and tightened their grip on each other. This sacrificial giving was not mandated by man’s law; it was motivated by God’s love.

Joseph is better known by his nickname Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” He was descended from the tribe of Levi, a son of Jacob. In the Old Testament, the Levites helped with the physical needs of the tabernacle and later at the temple. In the New Testament, they took turns serving in the temple.

Barnabas was born on Cyprus and migrated to Jerusalem. It’s interesting that he owned land. Originally, the Levites were not allowed to own land because the Lord was their inheritance (Deut. 10:9). With the passing of time, this restriction was rescinded.

Barnabas “sold a field he owned” and gave the money from the sale of his field to the apostles to be used to meet the needs of hurting believers. These verses show us a Christian view of possessions that centers not on ownership but on stewardship, not in creed but in need and not in fad but in family.

Exhibit B: Ananias (5:1–6)

Luke introduced Ananias and Sapphira into the narrative to demonstrate the importance of our motives. Barnabas had sold his field and brought the money to the apostles because of his concern for his brothers and sisters. But Ananias, with his wife’s knowledge, did not give all of the profit from the sale to the apostles.

Barnabas was filled with the Spirit and gave his money away to bless people. Ananias and Sapphira were filled with the love of money and the praise of people, so they lied about their level of generosity.

We’re either filled with the Spirit, which leads to satisfaction and joy, or Satan is filling our hearts with the love of money and the praise of people, which leads to dissatisfaction, jealousy and lies.

Peter confronted Ananias about lying to the Holy Spirit and withholding some of the profit from the apostles. After hearing Peter’s challenge, Ananias died suddenly and was taken out and buried. Great fear came on all who heard what God had done.

Exhibit C: Sapphira (7–11)

Three hours after the Lord judged Ananias, Sapphira came in and repeated her husband’s lie. Peter pronounced judgment on her and she too died immediately. We learn in this passage that we cannot hide from God. The Lord knows our thoughts and our motives. We also learn that sin is a deadly serious matter to God. If we are offended by God’s swift judgment here, we are ignorant of God’s holiness, our sinfulness and the seriousness of our sin in relation to His holiness.