Acts 5:1 But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; 2 with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” 5 Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it. 6 The young men came and wrapped up his body, then carried him out and buried him. 7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.
Passages like this one are scattered throughout scripture, mostly in the Old Testament. God brought judgment on those who opposed his chosen leaders: Abraham, Moses, David, and more. God brought ten calamitous plagues on Egypt – both to secure freedom from slavery for the Hebrews and to strike fear in the hearts of those who might attack them on their way to the Promised Land. Hundreds of thousands of people were put to death in these episodes in the Old Testament.
But this story is from the New Testament. In fact, it’s the only story of its kind I can recall in the New Testament. And the ones put to death are not outsiders, but are members of the believing community. They offended the Holy Spirit by withholding some of the proceeds of the sale of their property instead of handing it over to the apostles to be shared. But instead of being given an opportunity to repent and be restored to the church, God puts them to death. Right now!
The New Testament tells the story of a new covenant between God and people in which Jesus Christ goes to the cross to atone for the sins of all who call upon his name. Life and death are no longer bound up in fulfillment of the law, but in the gift of grace found in Jesus. There is also mention of a time of judgment in which “Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead”. But that day has not yet come.
So why did Ananias and Sapphira incur judgment when they did? Instead of having the possibility of a future repentance and restoration to the Christian community they die – right now. Maybe one of you readers can explain this to me. Lord open my mind and heart and soul to receive what you intend in this passage from the book of Acts. Amen.
2 thoughts on “Poor Ananias and Sapphira…”
I am buffaloed!
I remember that there were some members of the New Church that did sell everything and give the proceeds to the Church, and in turn God gave them what they needed (I kind of equated it to the Levites). So they wanted to be members who were cared for by God, but didn’t trust Him enough so they had to have a ‘just in case’ fund.
Then there are the other people – when Jesus gave the parable of the of the three persons trusted with the master’s money. Two provided a return and one buried it only to have the same amount.
We can trust God in either way, but we must always give God what is His.