Metaphysical Bible Interpretation of Acts Chapter 5
Metaphysically Interpreting Acts 5:1-11
5:1But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 5:2and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 5:3But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 5:4While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God. 5:5And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost: and great fear came upon all that heard it. 5:6And the young men arose and wrapped him round, and they carried him out and buried him.
5:7And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 5:8And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much. And she said, Yea, for so much.5:9But Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to try the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them that have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out. 5:10And she fell down immediately at his feet, and gave up the ghost: and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband. 5:11And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all that heard these things.
April 19, 1925: Acts 5:1-5
If the community plan is based upon scientific laws, why did not the early followers of Jesus Christ succeed in carrying out the plan? Personal selfishness crept in; Ananias and Sapphira "kept back part of the price."
Why did Ananias and Sapphira suffer death as the result of then selfishness? Selfishness is the prime cause of death; If we were living in the consciousness of Jesus Christ and had a full realization of the omnipresence of Spirit, the carnal consciousness which separates us from the Father mind would be dissolved; we should enter into the possession of spiritual life, and "all these things" would be added.
Can our most secret thoughts be hidden from Spirit? No; the deceptive belief (Ananias) that we can attain all the blessings of Spirit and at the same time retain our hold upon worldly ways and things, is a very subtle mortal error which causes the would-be disciple much misery. Nothing ever can be hidden from Spirit. It is always best to uncover the whole inner consciousness to Spirit and to pray earnestly to be thoroughly cleansed from every taint of deception and error.
March 3, 1935: Acts 5:1-6
Give the meaning of the name Ananias, and show how it may be connected with deception. Ananias means "compassion of Jehovah" or "graciousness of Jehovah." The one who is seeking spiritual understanding may cling to worldly interests at the same time, and in this way he may deceive himself.
What is the best way to get rid of self-deception? Sincere prayer is the best beginning of this work, for it lays the inner consciousness bare to Spirit and makes possible a thorough cleansing of mind and heart.
In what way is the story of Ananias and Sapphira helpful to the Truth seeker? It helps to convince him that a clean break must come between all deception, conscious and subconscious, and the way of life that the Truth seeker is trying to follow.
Name the sacrifice in which there is no compulsion. The sacrifice of love, or the voluntary dedication of mind, soul, and body to the expression of spiritual truth.
Of what do man's possessions consist? Those things which he holds dear or accounts valuable in mind, body, and affairs.
March 3, 1935: Acts 5:1-6 (Unity Magazine)
Deception is of two kinds: the intentional misleading of others and the tricking of oneself. The latter is always present in the former, for no one who thinks to deceive another can avoid deceiving himself at the same time. Therefore self-deception is the chief theme of today's lesson.
The meaning of Ananias is "compassion of Jehovah" or "mercy of Jehovah," which seems far removed from the thought of deception. However, the one who desires to gain spiritual understanding may at the same time wish to retain his worldly interests. The price of spiritual development is complete devotion to Truth. The Truth seeker may be unconscious of his leaning toward worldliness, and the best way to be rid of subtle seIf-deception is to uncover the whole inner consciousness to Spirit in prayer, and ask to be thoroughly purified and cleansed.
A great cleansing begins when the Spirit of truth becomes active in consciousness. The ancient Greeks symbolized this process in their myth of Hercules diverting the course of a river through the Augean stables, and clearing it in one day of the accumulated filth of thirty years. Jesus, when He began to teach, "was about thirty years of age." At thirty man comes into maturity of thought and is able to clear his mind of useless superstition and error. The great river of Truth makes a clean sweep of the accumulated thought refuse of generations, much of which is lodged in the subconsciousness of man. Faith (Peter) is the quality that, working in the mind and the heart, rids them of self-deception and all other forms of deceitfulness.
In a literal sense, the incident of Ananias and Sapphira is harsh and unchristian. The Spirit of truth leads sinners into all truth, not by frightening them to death, but by guiding them into the way of righteousness and peace. In a metaphysical sense this lesson is valuable, for it shows that a clean choice must be made between the life of deception and the Christ life of straightforwardness, through faith in the Spirit of truth within the heart. Faith trains us to keep watch over our thoughts and bring them into line with Truth.
The deceiver, the "lying spirit" that pursues us away from uprightness and causes us much trouble, has two sides in the mind. Outwardly or in conscious thought it is Ananias; in the subconscious thought it appears as Sapphira. Both these must die before the spiritual thoughts (church) can increase in numbers and power. The best way to dissolve these errors is to face them boldly and accuse them of holding back part of the price of salvation.
Some persons have an entirely mistaken opinion of themselves. Others consciously play a part, strike an attitude, and never know a moment of naturalness. Still others, when the redemptive process begins, are so wrapped up in material possessions that they do not give up wholly to Spirit; they retain a part of the price. Before he can come into the full light of understanding, man must know himself. In the white light of Truth that filled and surrounded Jesus on the mount of transfiguration, even his garments became "white and dazzling," so intense was the power of his true thought.
Once man clearly discerns spiritual Truth, material thoughts fall away. There must be a complete surrender of mind, soul, and body to God, a dedication of the threefold nature to the expression of spiritual Truth. Not only is the body to become a living sacrifice; the mind and soul must also accompany it to the altar of a high and constant purpose to be true. In this sacrifice there is no compulsion. No one can force us to be good, truthful, or holy. We are free to live on the animal plane or on the spiritual, at will. If we choose the spiritual and desire to give ourselves wholly to the higher life, we must not hold back any of our possessions. Among these belong all that we count valuable in mind, body, and affairs. The true church of Christ is a great school of spiritual discipline, and whoever enters this school must give up the world and all sense desires in order to finish the course he elects to take.
August 30, 1914: Acts 5:1-11
What should be our attitude with regard to possessions when we agree to give ourselves wholly to the Higher Life? We must be willing to give up all that is pleasing and gratifying to the personal man.
What do the "possessions" mentioned in this lesson symbolize within ourselves? All that we count valuable in mind, body and affairs.
What is it that exposes the deceptive thoughts in the mentality? The light of Absolute Truth.
What is the best way to rid the mind of deceptive thoughts? To uncover the whole inner consciousness to Spirit and ask to be thoroughly purified and cleansed.
How do we "bury" Ananias and Sapphira? By specifically denying the deceptive thoughts and refusing to entertain them either consciously or subconsciously.
August 30, 1914: Acts 5:1-11
SlLENT PRAYER: I am not deceived by the sense of possession.
When the Spirit of Truth begins to flow in the consciousness, a great cleansing goes on. In Greek mythology this it one of the works of Hercules--turning the river through the Augean stables. This great river of Truth makes a clean sweep of the accumulated refuse of generations. Man in his mortal thinking has filled his mind with error after error until his consciousness has not been able to be cognizant of them all at once, and they have settled back into that stored-up memory realm called subconsciousness. When the light of Absolute Truth begins to shine, all these dark corners are illuminated and their filth exposed.
Man is free to give up his mind to the rule of the Holy Spirit or retain it in whole or in part. We are never forced to be good, nor truthful, nor holy. We can live on the animal plane, or the spiritual, as we may choose. When, however, we have chosen the spiritual, and agreed to give ourselves wholly to the Higher Life, we must not hold back any of our possessions. These possessions are not necessarily lands and money, as represented in this lesson, but all that we count valuable in mind, body and affairs. The true church of Christ is a great school of spiritual discipline, and whoever enters this school must give up the world and all his earthly desires.
There is a lurking belief in the mind that we can join this great school of spiritual development and at the same time retain our hold upon worldly things in a measure. This belief is Ananias—deception. Deception in the mind is a very subtle mortal error and causes the would-be disciple much misery. The best way to handle it is to uncover your whole inner consciousness to the Spirit, and ask to be thoroughly purified and cleansed. It is a very bitter pill to take sometimes, this admission of lying and deception in the mentality. But do not be squeamish; you will find that there are others in your alley who are similarly affected. This liar and deceiver has two sides in your mind. Outwardly, or in the conscious thought, it is Ananias; in the subconscious thought it appears as Sapphira. Both of these must die before your church, or spiritual thoughts, will increase in numbers and power. The best and quickest way to dissolve these liars is to boldly face them up and accuse them of holding back part of the price.
Do not try to excuse yourself in matters that have to do with God. You cannot hide anything from the All-Knowing Spirit, and the quicker you confess, put the breath out of the deceiving thought and bury it out of sight, the better it will be for you and your spiritual development
January 25, 1920: Acts 5:1-11
As used in this lesson, what is the meaning of Ananias and Sapphira? "Ananias" means "cloud of the Lord," or hypocrisy. "Sapphira" in this instance means participator of Ananias crime and punishment
What is the mortal idea back of hypocrisy? Pretension. Claiming, and in an outer way trying to express virtues one does not possess.
What is Jesus' teaching regarding such pretensions? His words were, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites," and he called all such wolves in sheep's clothing.
When we fail to measure up to the law of honesty, whom are we sinning against? We are sinning against God. Jesus taught that if we give alms, and love to make long prayers to be seen and heard of men, the only reward due us is from men; but if we give to the needy in secret, if we pray in secret (that is, without any desire for outer show or glory,) we are serving God, and that our reward comes from God, the true Source of all good.
When the light of Spirit begins its work in the individual soul, what results? The whole consciousness becomes illumined. All that does not measure up to the spiritual standard is brought into visibility for adjustment. That which is good is lifted up; the filth is cast out of consciousness.
When we meet this experience is there anything to fear? No, not if we stand true to principle, and refuse to let the mortal part of us try to make excuses. The path which leads into the light is found by facing the light. If we let go of all deception of whatever kind, repent, forgive ourselves, forgive others, be willing that the law of the Lord have its perfect way in our hearts, victory is ours. The results are sure to be pleasing to the Father, and to be beyond the reproach of man.
Metaphysically Interpreting Acts 5:17-32
5:17But the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy, 5:18and laid hands on the apostles, and put them in public ward. 5:19But an angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them out, and said, 5:20Go ye, and stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this Life. 5:21And when they heard this, they entered into the temple about daybreak, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison-house to have them brought. 5:22But the officers that came found them not in the prison; and they returned, and told, 5:23saying, The prison-house we found shut in all safety, and the keepers standing at the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within. 5:24Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were much perplexed concerning them whereunto this would grow. 5:25And there came one and told them, Behold, the men whom ye put in the prison are in the temple standing and teaching the people. 5:26Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them, but without violence; for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.
5:27And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 5:28saying, We strictly charged you not to teach in this name: and behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 5:29But Peter and the apostles answered and said, We must obey God rather than men. 5:30The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, hanging him on a tree. 5:31Him did God exalt with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins. 5:32And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
September 6, 1914: Acts 5:17-32 (Unity Magazine)
THE FREEING POWER OF TRUTH
SILENT PRAYER: The Truth shall set you free.
Many conflicts take place in the mind between the old and the new lines of thought. The new encroaches upon the old, and occupies its field as teacher and leader. There is reaction again and again, and we sometimes think it would be best to crush out entirely these revolutionary truths which are making such powerful headway in the consciousness. Some people are too cautious to become real Christians. They dare not let go the teachings of their forefathers for fear they may be led into some heresy, and lose their chance of getting into heaven.
But if we give it a chance to express itself we will find, even among our most conservative Pharisee thoughts, a leader who advocates common "sense and reason. This is Gamaliel, "the doctor of the law," who advocates that Truth be tested by its fruits.
Prejudice and bigotry often blind us to the real merit. There is in everyone that spirit of fairness which will give every idea a chance to prove itself. "If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it." This is the conclusion of every well-balanced mind and we should listen to every doctrine with this good judgment to the front.
But it does not follow that we endorse a doctrine when we are tolerant of it. Listen to the testimony and weigh it as a good judge. If you cannot accept it do not condemn it but put it on its merits and let it work out its own salvation.
This lesson is especially applicable to the present status of the Revised Christianity of these times. There are those who are doing things in the name of Spirit that the conservative thoughts in the majority of us cannot endorse. We cannot see this Truth used as a source of money getting and call it good, yet we should not condemn those who are so using it. Let them stand or fall by the law. If their work be of God, it will stand; if it be of men, or personality, it will fall.
May 29, 1927: Acts 5:27-35
What two points are prominent in today's lesson? The first prominent point in today's lesson is the apostles' loyalty to the principles with which Jesus had inspired them. The second point is the tolerance and the wise advice of Gamaliel, a Pharisee, a doctor of the law, who argued that the disciples be judged by their deeds.
What thoughts are dominant in the minds of those who persecute others who do not hold the same religious beliefs that they hold? Ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry are dominant in the minds of those who religiously carry out the letter of the law instead of observing its spiritual correspondent.
When a new religious idea springs up and begins to take hold of the mind, how should it be handled? In all religious matters we should exercise faith and love and judgment. These faculties give balance and poise to the developing soul. In the life of Jesus they were represented by Peter (faith), John (love), and James (judgment). These three apostles were present with Jesus in the performance of all his outstanding works.
State one of the secondary points in today's lesson. One of the secondary points in today's lesson is the activity of the spirit of boldness, courage, fearlessness and persistency in the preaching and in the teaching of Truth. Unwavering courage is a blessed thing; it carries us through seeming difficulties to victory and overcoming.
What is necessary to carry out the teachings of Jesus? Demonstration is necessary to fulfill the teachings of Jesus. "Faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself." Living faith sees into the invisible realm and beholds the demonstration completed. This quickens the spiritual forces and causes them to bring into visibility the concrete demonstration.
August 26, 1951: Acts 5:25-29
Does the public-spirited citizen regard expediency as desirable? No. He follows his convictions instead of catering to public opinion. "We must obey God rather than men." He whose opinion carries weight with others puts his convictions first and holds to them faithfully.
Metaphysically Interpreting Acts 5:33-42
5:33But they, when they heard this, were cut to the heart, and minded to slay them. 5:34But there stood up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in honor of all the people, and commanded to put the men forth a little while. 5:35And he said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves as touching these men, what ye are about to do. 5:36For before these days rose up Theudas, giving himself out to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were dispersed, and came to nought. 5:37After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the enrolment, and drew away some of the people after him: he also perished; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered abroad. 5:38And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will be overthrown: 5:39but if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God.5:40And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles unto them, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 5:41They therefore departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name. 5:42And every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ.
June 17, 1945: Acts 5:29-42
On Gamaliel's advice the high priest and council of the Sadducees agreed to let Peter and the apostles alone, but before dismissing them they beat them. What does this show? That the religious concepts of the intellect (Sadducees) do not necessarily include understanding of right or r know it from wrong, and that they are at variance with spiritual or true understanding.
Is the suffering of dishonor "for the Name" legitimate ground for rejoicing? It is proof of our staunchness and steadfastness in Truth that we cannot be deflected from it by personal considerations. This is ground for rejoicing in that it reveals maturity of character.
ls it wise to allow movements or expressions that are not understood to grow without check until they prove themselves? It is wise to let what is claimed to be of God alone until a close watch reveals whether its effects or influence are for the general good. If the effects are not good, further noninterference may foster the growth of noxious causes. It is best to meet negation fairly and squarely as soon as it is recognized, and replace it with constructiveness.
May 29 1927: Acts 5:38-42
Do Christians have to meet the opposition of old lines of thought? If so, with what attitude of mind should they meet it? Christians have to meet the opposition of old lines of thought. They are slowly learning to meet opposing religious beliefs by awakening to the fact that God is changeless but man's concept of God is in a constant process of transformation. As man progresses, his religious views change accordingly; he is approaching nearer and nearer to the ideal man that God created in the beginning.
Are the followers of Jesus open to spiritual inspiration today as were those who followed him at the time of the writing of the Scripture given in today's lesson? It is difficult to determine how receptive the masses were to the advent of Christianity. We know, however, that those who divest their minds of the religious trammels that men have imposed upon Christianity and go direct to Spirit, will bring forth the fruits of Spirit.
June 30, 1946: Acts 5:42
What qualities make spiritual work effectual? Steadfastness and harmony ("with one accord"), gladness, singleness of heart, and praise.
Does the combination of these quantities make for a faithful work? It does. "Every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ."
Transcribed by Dan Beckett on 9-8-2013.