Ananias and Sapphira
5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira, his wife, sold a possession,
5:2 and kept back part of the price, his wife also being aware of it,
and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
5:3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie
to the Holy Spirit,
and to keep back part of the price of the land?
5:4 While you kept it, didn't it remain your own? After it was sold,
wasn't it in your power?
How is it that you have conceived this thing in your heart? You haven't
lied to men, but to God."
5:5 Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and died. Great fear came
on all who heard these things.
5:6 The young men arose and wrapped him up, and they carried him out
and buried him.
5:7 About three hours later, his wife, not knowing what had happened,
5:8 Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much."
She said, "Yes, for so much."
5:9 But Peter asked her, "How is it that you have agreed together to
tempt the Spirit of the Lord?
Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door,
and they will carry you out."
5:10 She fell down immediately at his feet, and died.
The young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out
and buried her by her husband.
Such Miracles Increased the Church
5:11 Great fear came on the whole assembly, and on all who heard these
5:12 By the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done
among the people.
They were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
5:13 None of the rest dared to join them, however the people honored
5:14 More believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men
5:15 They even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them
on cots and mattresses,
so that as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow
some of them.
5:16 Multitudes also came together from the cities around Jerusalem,
bringing sick people, and those who were tormented by unclean spirits:
and they were all healed.
Why did they die?
The answer to this should be easy enough from a clear reading of the text.
But often people don't read the text, but rather rely on human dogmatism
and presumption. Would they have died if they simply told the truth? Certainly
not! Would God have killed them if they simply gave part of the sale to
the church and kept part of it for themselves if they had been forward
with these facts? Certainly not! They were not even under any obligation
to sell their property in the first place. Peter himself admits this saying:
it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the
money at your disposal?" Ac 5:4 (niv) These are of course rhetorical
questions, which also indicates that the Apostles and the early Church
did indeed recognize personal property rights. What you have is yours.
It belongs to you. You are not under compulsion to give anything to the
church. When you give it is not under obligation, but simply an act of
generosity. But remember this:
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should
give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under
compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2Cor 9:6,7
Have you committed this sin?
This type of sin is quite common in the Christian community throughout
its history. What is the sin? Simply claiming to give more to God than
we actually give. Have you ever claimed to give more or do more for God
than you actually did? Then you have sinned just like Ananias and Sapphira
and are worthy of no less a punishment.
What was the root of this sin?
We note that just prior to this in the end of Chapter 4 that it speaks
of Barnabus selling a field and giving it to the church. Why did Ananias
and Sapphira lie? I would infer that they were attempting to get undue
praise. Despite their apparent generosity, it was self-seeking pride that
motivated them to withhold the truth so that they could take the credit
and get the honor.
If the apostles had not been given special insight by the Holy Spirit
these two would have gotten away with it. And in fact many today do get
away with it. Many do "good works", but with mixed motivations. Such will
have their rewards diminished. But this is not to say that we should necessarily
question everyone's motives. Else we may end up slandering those who do
What could have been to avoid such sins?
It would have been helpful if the apostles had heeded Christ's instruction
to keep acts of generosity private - away from public observation, and
avoid giving recognition to those, like Barnabus, who practice generosity
or other such good works. For what would be the point in such praise of
man? Such praise, recognition, hand-clapping is common, and I would suggest
overdone in churches today. The righteous man doesn't prefer such recognition.
It detracts from the element of faith and calls into question his motivation,
and rewards from the Lord may be reduced. Mt 6:1
"Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen
by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
(also Luke 14:13,14) Praise from men introduces a temptation
which many Christians fall into whether consciously or unconsciously.
Why hasn't God killed all such Christians?
If this type of sin is so common, why haven't more people died of such?
And indeed we read of other instances such as in 1Cor 11 of people dying
because of behaving inappropriately at the communion service. Indeed it
seems if a church claims to mimic the first Century church, rather than
having people "slain in the spirit" it should have people just plain dropping
dead! But though I think that a vast number of Christians today would
have died if God kept that up, I think He did it in the first century as
a warning of His attitude concerning such matters. And it worked. Christians
feared God. They had to judge even their own motivations. The fear of God
has waned a bit in the Christian community due to deviant theology and
a lack of such judgement today. Let us therefore not take advantage of
his present mercy and tolerance, but rather repent of any inappropriate
behavior and attitudes. For though we may not experience it now, it is
inevitable that we will all face judgment. Let us fear God and depart from
Did they go the hell?
This is an assumption that many make in reading this account. But in fact
it doesn't indicate what their fate was. These could have indeed been born
of God but were taken aburptly out of the ministry. They could have done
more for God if they simply hadn't claimed to already be doing more than
they were doing. But as it is their future rewards will be limited and
for thousands of years they would face shame as their deed is recorded
in the Bible. However they did associate with the Christianity community
and believe in Christ even in the face of persecution. They even sold some
of their property and gave that to the church - which they were under no
obligation of doing. All these would indicate to me that these were true
believers, though I couldn't say for sure. But the practice of their faith
certainly surpasses many of those who claim to be "Christian" today.
Miracles Increasing the Church
Once again as I noted in Acts 2 that such a record of public miracles as
we see here is self-affirming. For if they hadn't occurred everyone would
have known it, and the account would have been discredited and would have
discredited the author. Yet the fact that such accounts stood the test
of time even in the midst of a hostile society itself is evidence affirming
these reports. And indeed if such things hadn't occurred, where did
the mass of believers come from?
vs 13 It is interesting that though they faced persecution from
the religious elite, who also had Christ crucified, yet they were highly
regarded by the ordinary unbelieving Jews. There are many unbelievers that
respect Christians, but don't want to be around us. Else they be convicted
of sin, or also experience persecution from anti-Christians.
vs 12 It appears that God was only doing miracles through the
apostles and not through all the Christians. For it was the apostles words
which needed affirming. The other Christians merely had to propagate the
apostle's worrds and point to the miracles done by them as an affirmation.
This is no different than today where, although miracles are not commonly
performed by ordinary Christians, yet we propagate the words of Jesus and
the apostles, affirming the word by the miracles done by them.