Summary of Acts 5:1-11
Ananias sold some property with his wife’s knowledge with the intent to give the proceeds to the Lord. Instead, he kept part of the money for himself. Peter calls him on it, asking him how he has lied to the Holy Spirit. Thus, Ananias fell down dead. Fear seized all who heard Ananias’ tale (understandable). He was buried.
Three hours later not knowing what has happened to her husband, Sapphira comes in and tells Peter the same thing. Peter says she too is testing the Holy Spirit. She too fell down dead. Great fear seized the whole church (NOTE: First time the word church is used in the Bible).
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 4, Day 2: Acts 5:1-11
3) “Sold a piece of property.” “With his wife’s full knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.” “How is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?” “After it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?” “What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”
4) Ananias and Sapphira lied about holding back the money, which made them misrepresent themselves spiritually. They were trying to appear pious and full of faith, but they weren’t. Furthermore, in Acts 4:32, it says they all agreed to share everything. Hence, both of them broke their word as well to share everything.
5) Personal Question. My answer: At the very beginnging of the church, God demanded absolute honesty and integrity. He demands the same from us, it’s just now we don’t physically die from our lies, but we do die spiritually. A bit of our soul dies with every life — something to keep in mind the next time you are tempted by Satan to lie. I don’t like often, but I do hold my tongue when I should say something, so I’m guilty by my silence.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 4, Day 2: Acts 5:1-11
I had completely forgotten this story. Great lesson for us all. This lesson can be misconstrued that you should give everything you have to God, and that is not the point of this story. The point is not to lie about your gifts to God and try to appear better than what you are. Ananias and Sapphira were punished so severely (with their lives) because in the early days of the church, the rules and standards were being set. A strong message had to be sent to others when they were not met.
There is A LOT packed in here, so continue reading to learn more.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 4, Day 2: Acts 5:1-11
After they saw the great generosity of Barnabas and how well he was respected (Acts 4:36-37), Ananias and Sapphira decided they wanted to receive the same respect.
The ancient Greek word for kept back is nosphizomai, which means “to misappropriate.” The same word was used of Achan’s theft in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Joshua 7:21). The only other time nosphizomai is used in the New Testament, it means to steal (Titus 2:10).
“The story of Ananias is to the Book of Acts what the story of Achan is to the book of Joshua. In both narratives an act of deceit interrupts the victorious progress of the people of God.” (Bruce)
God apparently gave Peter supernatural knowledge of what Ananias had done. This spiritual gift, called the word of knowledge, is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8.
Because his sin was lusting after public praise for his generosity, it was appropriate that the sin be exposed publicly.
Ananias and Sappira’s crime was not in withholding the money, but in deceptively implying that he gave it all.
Ananias and Sappira’s Sins
We sin similarly today when:
- We pretend we are God’s when we are not.
- We pretend to have it all together
- We exaggerate our spiritual accomplishments or effectiveness to make an impression.
Pride corrupts the church more quickly than anything else.
The Death of Ananias and Sappira
The death of Ananias and Sappira was an act of God, not an act of Peter. All Peter did was confront Ananias. God did the rest.
What Ananias did also must be seen in the context of its time. This was a critical juncture for the early church and such impurity, sin, scandal and satanic infiltration could have corrupted the entire church at its root.
For many Christians in compromise, their greatest fear is not in sinning itself, but in being found out.
The concept of submission does not extend to submitting unto sin.
Ananias and Sapphira both died, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they did not go to heaven. It is possible for a Christian to sin unto death (1 John 5:16-17), and we have New Testament examples of saved Christians being judged by being “brought home” in death (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).
In Joshua, God expected the people of God themselves to execute the judgment upon the offender. But in Acts, God took this type of judgment out of the church’s hand and did it Himself. This shows that the church has no place in administering such punishment itself or in having civil authorities do so for them. The Roman Catholic Church missed this lesson during the Middle Ages and the Inquisition.
The name Sapphira means, Beautiful in Aramaic. The name Ananias means God is Gracious in Hebrew. It might seem that their names contradicted their lives, but we see the beauty and graciousness of God in two significant ways.
- If Ananias and Sapphira were actually heaven-bound, it shows that God was beautiful and gracious enough to not deny them salvation even for a grievous sin.
- The beauty and graciousness of God was seen in the continued blessing of God upon the church. He protected it not only against outside attack, but also against itself.
Fun Fact: This is the first use of the word church in the Book of Acts.