— Sharleen Stone hosted the Feb. 26 meeting of the Wednesday Bible Study Club at the Black Horse Restaurant. Robbie Pierson led the study of Mark, Chapter 5.
The first 11 verses of this chapter tell of Ananais, who, along with his wife, Sapphira, sold a piece of property they owned. They brought the proceeds of the sale and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But they did not turn all the proceeds over to the apostles; they withheld a portion of the proceeds for themselves.
This sin of Ananais and Sapphira of withholding some of the proceeds does not seem such a great sin. However, it is a double sin of dishonesty and deceit. The two of them were struck dead. Their sin was a lie to the Holy Spirit and to God.
These verses show us the early church was not perfect. The Bible paints a picture of the early church – warts and all.
Verses 12 through 16 describe Solomon’s Colonnade (or Porch) in the Temple. This was a large pavilion with marble columns on the east side of the temple. It was in this area that rabbis taught small groups. It was a place for entering the temple. And it was in this area that Jesus had driven out the money changers. This, now, was the place where the young believers gathered. The sick and tormented were brought here for healing.
All the activity that was focused on Peter and John and the rest of the apostles gained the envious attention of the High Priest who ordered their arrest in verses 17 through 32. The High Priest and the Sanhedrin had ordered the apostles to abstain from teaching in the name of Jesus. The concern was not so much what was being taught by the apostles, but rather they feared the assembling of such large crowds would bring about unrest and volatile actions which would attract the attention and interference of Rome.
Miraculously, Peter and John were led out of prison and immediately returned to Solomon’s Porch where they continued their teaching. Peter and John exhibited the courage to go back to the porch and preach in the Temple. Their ultimate principle was their obedience to God – even though those actions might not be safe. They were obedient to God. They had the clear knowledge that they were witnesses for Christ.
The High Priest and the Sanhedrin were outraged by the continued teaching of the apostles [verses 33 through 42]. Chaos broke out and voices screamed, “stone them.”
During their second appearance before the Sanhedrin, the apostles found a surprising ally. Gamaliel stood up for the apostles. Gamaliel is a Pharisee and a rabbi revered and respected for his scholarship, his wisdom and his ability to reason. He was a Doctor of Laws due to his knowledge of interpretation of Mosaic Laws and Rabbinic Laws. Gamaliel was the one who could speak without asking permission from the High Priest. He used the Talmud method of argument: “If this is foolishness it will disappear, but if this is of God, you cannot stop it and you will be fighting God.”
The Sanhedrin ordered the apostles be flogged with 40 lashes. The apostles rejoiced because they were worthy of suffering in Jesus’ name. The number of believers grew and they never stopped proclaiming the Good News: Jesus is the Messiah.
President Sarita Monroe conducted a short business meeting which was dismissed with the Closing Prayer.