-This is truly a frightening story. No doubt their sin was serious but are there reasons that this outcome was so tragic. I think there was certain level of purity that was present within the early Church that ws necessary to keep as a model for future generations.
Also this possibly took place during a liturgical service. Early in the life of the Church, offerings were given prior to communion. This also reflects Jesus’ statement that we should reconcile with our brother before bringing our gift to the altar. This definitely explains the seriousness of the act. The offering was an act of worship that was part of the reception of the mysteries. The act of worship was corrupted and death resulted.
1-11: Chrysostom: “that having made the money sacred he afterwards secreted it.”
-There is a similar story in the OT book of Joshua. Joshua 7. Israel had just defeated Jericho. Joshua 6:16ff. There next battle was a defeat at the hands of the small insignificant city of Ai. The reason for defeat was discovered in the person of Achan. He was found and then was excuted.
In the early Church the standard story of sanctity for those from upper class backgrounds usually involved rich persons doing one of two things: 1. giving away all of their possessions to the poor and leaving society to become a monastic or a fool, or, 2. staying in society for a period, due to the obligations of family or state; living in a simple, humble manner (as minimalist, materially speaking, as possible) until those obligations were met, and upon that meeting moving on to option 1. When these saints of old went with option 1, they gave up not only their wealth, but also there means of procuring
12-16: similar things continue to be experienced in the church by Holy Men and women
17. Once again the healings and teachings of the apostles caused a disturbance among the Jewish leadership and the apostles were arrested, but miraculously God delivered them through the hands of one of His angels.
Vs.20 The angel refers to the words about Jesus as “words of life”
Why? This is way to communion with God.
30. “hanging on a tree” one hung on a tree was supposed to be cursed in the eyes of Judaism. Christ bore our curse--the curse of sin and death.
33. They were rearrested and many within the council planned on killing the apostles. Yet Gamaliel stepped forward with words of wisdom that preserved their lives.
34. Gamaliel: August 2. St Gamaliel was a Pharisee, a doctor of the Law (Acts 5:34), and the teacher of St Paul (Acts 22:3).
In the year 415, St Gamaliel appeared to a priest named Lucian. He was a tall, venerable man with a long white beard. He was dressed in white clothing which was edged with gold and marked with crosses, and held a gold wand in his hand.
Gamaliel called Fr Lucian by name three times, then told him to go to Jerusalem and inform Bishop John to open the tomb where his relics and those of other saints were resting. The priest asked the stranger who he was.
"I am Gamaliel, who instructed the apostle Paul in the Law," he replied. Then he told the priest where to find the relics of St Stephen. He also revealed that he had taken St Stephen's body and laid it in his own tomb after it had been lying exposed for a day and a night.
St Gamaliel also mentioned that St Nicodemus was buried at the same spot. "I received him into my house in the country," he said, "and maintained him there until the end of his life. After his death, I buried him honorably near Stephen."
St Gamaliel informed the priest that he and his twenty-year-old son Abibas were also buried there. Fr Lucian was afraid to believe this vision right away, lest it be a temptation from the Evil One. However, when St Gamaliel appeared again and commanded him to obey his instructions, he did so.
A monk named Migetius also had a vision of St Gamaliel and told Fr Lucian to search for the relics in a place called Debatalia. When the relics were uncovered, an ineffable fragrance was noticed.
The relics of Sts Stephen, Gamaliel, Abibas, and Nicodemus were transferred from Jerusalem to Constantinople in 428 and placed in the church of the holy deacon Laurence (August 10).