Acts 4:32 - 5:11

Ananias and Sapphira lie to God

32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

[One heart and one soul] The excitement of finding Messiah and being born again by the power of the Holy Spirit welded their hearts together as a single unit. There was no more "I" or "mine". Each considered himself and all that he had to belong to God and to be available for God's work and workers. Such love became a hallmark of the Christian community.

33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

[With great power] Such energy and unity permitted the Holy Spirit to bless their witness with great effectiveness.

34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

[Neither was there any among them that lacked] Jewish law made care for the poor to be a requirement of the more fortunate (see the note on Acts 3:2). Gifts for the poor were given to the temple treasury and distributed (not necessarily as cash) to the needy. However, since the new believers in Jesus Christ were considered heretics, they were not eligible. In a voluntary outpouring of love the wealthier believers continued the practice within the church.

36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

[Barnabas] This is the first reference to Barnabas, a stalwart early Christian and associate of Paul.


1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 And 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.

[And kept back part of the price] Annanias and Sapphira, carried along by enthusiasm and observing the honor which was accorded the contributors, determined to make a similar contribution, but when the time came to make the contribution they had second thoughts. Thinking that no one would ever know, they decided to keep back part of the proceeds of the sale yet claim that the amount which they were contributing was the full sale price. Their motive for lying appears to be a mixture of greed and desire for recognition. 1 Timothy 6:10.

3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

[Satan filled thine heart] How Peter knew they were lying is not revealed to us, but his understanding of the source of that lie is clear. Satan, the arch enemy of Christ was already hard at work opposing Christ's infant church. See the notes on Satan.

[Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God] The sin here exposed was not of keeping back part of the money, but of lying. They probably could have succeeded in deceiving the believers but they could never deceive God. "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." Proverbs 15:3.

Regarding lying: Proverbs 19:5, Proverbs 19:9, Revelation 21:8.
A point of Bible doctrine; although none of us can honestly claim to be innocent of all of the above sins, we who have committed our lives to Jesus Christ have had our sins covered by the blood of Christ, much like correction fluid covers typewriter errors, and we are in God's sight justified ("Just as if I had never sinned") and will not be condemned to the lake of fire. Romans 4:7, Romans 5:9.

Regarding making promises to God: Numbers 30:2, Deuteronomy 23:21, Ecclesiastes 5:4.

5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

[Ananias ... gave up the ghost] To "Give up the ghost" in this context is to experience physical death where the human soul and spirit of a person is separated from the body. The dead body is disposed of in the customary manner and the soul/spirit go to the holding place for the departed dead. See What happens after a person dies? Was Ananias born again? I hope so.

7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

[Then she ... yielded up the Ghost.] The same notes regarding Ananias apply to Sapphira.

11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

[And great fear came upon the church] God, in his sovereign will, chose to set an example of what he expected from his church. And the message was loud and clear. Even we, far removed from the initial incident, should respond to the Holy Spirit's urging that our behavior be not according to the world's standards but according to God's standard as set forth plainly in his Word..


This page updated 11/18/2007

Copyright (C) 2007 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved