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The Tragic Story of Ananais and Sapphira in the Bible and What it tells us about God’s Character
Have you ever read about the tragic story of Ananias and Sapphira in the Bible? It’s a story that teaches us an important lesson about honesty and integrity. In today’s blog post, we’ll look closely at this story and what it tells us about God’s character.
The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira are among the most terrifying events in the Bible, a reminder that God will not be mocked.
Sin is something that God takes very seriously, and when people break his rules, there can be consequences. Sin is dangerous, especially when it threatens the very existence of the early church. This married couple committed such an act and faced severe judgment – death – for their crime against the Lord.
The sad story of Ananias and Sapphira begins at the end of chapter 4 in Acts, describing the early church in Jerusalem.
The Bible illustrates many examples of honesty; one such example is found in the story of Ananias and Sapphira. In this passage from Acts 5:1-10, God demands complete honesty from His followers, or there will be consequences.
How open are you with God regarding your sins? We go before him and confess our wrongdoing so that all of our sins can be taken from us.
The Story of Ananias and Sapphira
When the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, they became a mighty force to be reckoned with. The power and grace of God swept through these men like wildfire, spreading the gospel across all who heard them preach!
The people of the early church were so tightly knit together that they held their possessions loosely, and gladly shared them with one another because their love was more significant than any material thing.
The early Christians were generous with their possessions and used donations from selling land and houses to help others.
The church encouraged people to share resources with each other, even if it wasn’t required. Those who participated were looked upon favorably. Barnabas was a man of incredible generosity. He gave his money, time, and energy to help others in need during the early days of Christianity. His actions demonstrated his authenticity.
Ananias and Sapphira sold their property and kept back some for themselves before laying the rest at the apostle’s feet.
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”
When Peter discovered that Ananias was lying to him and God, he confronted the hypocrisy right away. Ananias fell down and died.
When Sapphira showed up, she lied to Peter and God, saying that they had donated the entire proceeds of the sale of the land to the church. When her lie was exposed, she also fell down and died at Peter’s feet.
Some biblical scholars suggest that these two deaths were from natural causes. Perhaps Ananias died of shock or guilt, but Peter pronounced Sapphira’s sentence before she was executed, and their timing together shows God’s judgment on both Ananias and Sapphira. So this begs the question, why would God strike down two people for lying?
Sin is abominable to God, and He will not tolerate it. Ananias & Sapphira were clearly practicing duplicity and hypocrisy, which was indicative of their attitude toward lying.
God used them to teach a lesson to the early church and even to believers today.
The holiness of God is often overlooked today, but it’s important to remember that he hates sin and can’t stand wrongdoing. The church dealt with this sin of hypocrisy quickly and decisively.
So, were Ananias and Sapphira saved? They probably were. Their story is told in the context of how “all the believers” lived their lives as followers of Christ (Acts 4:32).
They knew of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3), and Ananias’s lie could have been an earlier promise that he would give the whole amount of the sale to the Lord. But the best evidence is that children of God are often subject to discipline, which is a sign that they have accepted Christ as their redeemer.
That was a terrible thing Ananias and his wife did. They conspired to get credit for doing good work, but in reality, their actions led them to death.
Ananias and Sapphira’s case illustrates that even believers can be led into bold, flagrant sin. It was Satan that had filled their hearts to lie in this way (Acts 5:3) and “to test the Spirit of the Lord” (verse 9, below). They were destroyed by a desire for material things, hypocrisy, and covetousness.
The sudden, dramatic deaths of Ananias and Sapphira served to warn and to purify the church. “Great fear came upon the whole church.” God’s judgment on Ananias and Sapphira helped guard the church against future pretense, showing that He would not tolerate any form of hypocrisy or lies. The flesh of Ananias and Sapphira lay in the path for all those seeking entrance into God’s house.
Furthermore, this event helped to establish the apostles’ authority in the church. The sinners had fallen dead at Peter’s feet. Peter knew of the secret sin and had the authority to pronounce judgment in the early church. If the hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira had indeed fooled Peter, it would have severely damaged the apostles’ authority.
The tragic story of Ananias and Sapphira in the Bible is not an obscure incident from the Old Testament demonstrating a violation of Mosaic Law. This occurred in the first-century early church.
We can see a reminder of this in the story of Ananias and Sapphira. They were Godfearers or people who trusted Him with their lives but sinned by lying about how much money they had given to help build His church. This brought about their death.
Remember that God sees our hearts, hates sin, and is concerned for the purity of His church.
Satan’s Role in the Story of Ananias and Sapphira
This cautionary story is not about Ananias and Sapphira lying to the church and the apostles and keeping back a portion for themselves. It’s about them lying to God.
The two could have just as well kept back a portion for themselves; it was theirs to do with what they pleased, as Peter indicated (verse 4). Instead, they presented it as all they had.
You see in Peter’s somewhat prophetic statement in verse 3, that Satan is afoot. Satan is trying to intervene because he sees how powerfully the Spirit moved among the early church members.
Whereas the community was with the Holy Spirit, Ananias was with Satan; Satan, not God, was working in his heart.
This is Not God’s Normal Pattern
There’s nothing in this story or even the Bible itself that says God responds to sin in this way regularly. In fact, if it were, the pattern would stop in Acts 8 with Simon the sorcerer. Though the acts and motivations of Ananias and Simon the sorcerer are different, Peter’s rebuke has a similar solemnity to it. He even warns death will come for them if they don’t change their ways—but Simon repents before his death would come.
It seems to be a unique moment of God’s judgment. The people’s great fear indicates that this was not something they were accustomed to, either.
Similarities to Other Biblical Figures
There have been many comparisons between the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira to the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, who served as priests at God’s desert tabernacle.
Leviticus 10:1 says
They offered “unauthorized fire” to the Lord, contrary to his command. A fire then came out from the presence of the Lord and killed them.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira is one that may also remind us of God’s judgment of Achan.
After the battle of Jericho, Achan hid some plunder under his tent. His fraud led to defeat for Israel as a whole but also ended up with him and his family dead at God’s hands. (Joshua 7)
God demanded honor under the old covenant and reinforced that order in the new covenant with the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.
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The First Recorded Sin in the Early Church
The sins of Ananias and Sapphira were the first reported instances of church members committing immorality in the newly organized church. Hypocrisy is like a virus that can infect the church and cause its destruction. These two deaths served as an example to the body of Christ that God hates hypocrisy. Further, it demonstrated to both believers and unbelievers, in an unmistakable way, that God protects the holiness of his church.
Ironically, Ananias’ name means “Jehovah has been gracious.” God favored Ananias and Sapphira with wealth, but they responded to his gift by cheating.
Lessons from the Story of Ananias and Sapphira in the Bible
So what can we learn from Ananias and Sapphira? Here are just a few things:
1) God sees everything, even what we keep secret from man.
Ananias and Sapphira tried to lie to Peter and the apostles about their profit from the sale of their property, but they could not escape God’s omniscient eye.
We can never hide from God, so why try to?
2) Sin is inevitable when greed sets in
Scripture says that the love of money is the root of all evil. Greed will always cause man to commit sin.
Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit and made up an image of generosity. Greed can also cause one to steal, manipulate, lie, coerce or even rob.
3) When we lie, we lie to God and not to our fellow man
Lastly, we must realize that when Christians lie they are not just covering up to humans; instead, it’s an act that goes against God himself.
We have to realize that everything we do, we do unto the Lord. We are His representatives on Earth, and everything that we do will affect our relationship with Him.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira is one that is full of lessons for us all. As we’ve seen, there are comparisons to be made between these two biblical characters and other figures in the Bible. But what can we learn from their story specifically? Here are a few takeaways:
-Don’t lie – even if it seems like no one will ever know.
-Be honest with yourself and with others.
-God sees everything, and He will judge you accordingly.
What other lessons do you see in the story of Ananias and Sapphira? Let us know in the comments!
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