Acts 4:32-5:11 NIV
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
5 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 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.
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”
5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”
10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died.Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
4:32-35: Grace to Give
- Generosity is a feature of a Spirit-filled church. “Great grace” (v. 33 KJV) was the divine favor and enablement that prompted certain believers to give above and beyond what was required. This generosity arose out of unity, which are conditions we are not to take for granted (cf. 6:1)
- These irenic conditions allowed for the apostles to testify to Christ without hindrance or distraction.
- Joseph is highlighted as an especially generous and encouraging Christian.
- Going by his nickname, Barnabas, he will feature heavily in the narrative as an advocate for Saul (9:27; 11:22-26) and later as an apostle alongside him (13:1-4).
5:1-2: Ananias and Sapphira
- Ananias is presented in contrast to Barnabas. Both men offered gifts to God, but God did not receive them equally. Barnabas gave from grace; Ananias gave out of envy, and then attempted to deceive God and the church. The two gifts remind us of Cain and Abel who respectively gave unto God but were received differently (cf. Genesis 4:1-5).
- Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, who was complicit in his deception, are reminders of Adam and Eve and the failure of a husband and wife to keep one another accountable (cf. Genesis 3:6-7). Ananias, as the head of his wife, is confronted first, then Sapphira.
5:3-11: Judgment on Sin
- Ananias’ is charged by Peter with “having lied to the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is God (vv. 3-4). Similarly, Sapphira, conspired to “test the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 9). God takes seriously when we attempt to hide sin and deceive the church as if we were lying to Him directly.
- This couple’s deception was inspired by Satan, the father of all lies (v. 3, cf. John 8:44). Another call back to Adam and Eve who gave into the serpent’s guile.
- The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira may seem severe, but sin leads to death and God has the right to execute judgment on His people. There have been many times where God similarly struck people dead: Korah (Numbers 16:28-30), Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3), Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:7), and certain believers in Corinth (1 Corinthians 11:27-32).