Bible Reference: Acts 4:32 – 5:11
Heart of the Story: Ananias and Sapphira lied to the early church and to the Holy Spirit. As a result, they died when Peter confronted them with their lie.
Back Story: The setting for the story of Ananias and Sapphira, a husband and wife in the early church, is Jerusalem. At this time, church members shared all possessions. From time to time, a person who owned land or houses sold them and brought the money to the apostles. The money was distributed to anyone in the church who had need. There was no needy persons in the church because of the generosity of individuals who had wealth or owned property. An example of this sharing was Barnabas who sold a field and brought all of the money to the apostles. The apostles spent much of their time testifying to Christ’s resurrection.
Story Line: Ananias sold some property. With Sapphira’s full knowledge, Ananias kept back part of the money from the sale. The remainder of the money, he gave to the apostles to distribute to needy persons. The Holy Spirit disclosed to Peter that Ananias only gave a portion of the selling price to the Church. Peter confronted Ananias with his duplicity. Peter averred that Satan caused Ananias to lie not only to the church but to God.
In fear Ananias fell down and died. Some young men wrapped Ananias’s body in cloth, carried him outside the gathering, and buried him. About three hours later, Sapphira entered the church group. She was unaware of what happened to her husband. Peter asked Sapphira if the selling cost of the land was what Ananias gave the church. Sapphira said “yes;” thus, she lied to Peter also. Hearing Sapphira’s lie, Peter asked her how she could conspire to test the Holy Spirit. Then, Peter told her that the men who buried Ananias would also bury her. At that moment, Sapphira fell down and died. The young men took Sapphira out of the room and buried her beside Ananias. The event caused great fear to seize the entire church.
Pondering Relationships: The Bible does not record the age of Ananias and Sapphira, however, they were probably middle aged. They were married long enough to acquire some wealth and some property. When Ananias determined to sell a piece of property and give a portion – not the entire amount – of the selling cost to the early Jerusalem church, Sapphira did not caution Ananias that he would be lying to the church. Rather she went along with her husband’s duplicity. Sapphira was just a culpable as Ananias. When God created Eve, God created her to be Adam’s help mate or helper in the same way that the Holy Spirit is a helper to Christians. Sapphira failed in her God assigned role. If she was really Ananias’s help mate she would have cautioned rather than abet his choice to lie to the church.
The question is why did the couple act this way? They didn’t have to give any of the money from the sale of the property to the church. It was their property and their money. Yet, both conspired to lie about the selling price of the property and the offering to the church. I believe that both spouses wanted to be recognized and applauded for their generosity. Perhaps they saw how Barnabas was recognized for his generosity and wanted the same accolades.
Reflection: Women what are some ways that you can be a true help mate to your husband?
Copyright: December 13, 2016; Carolyn A. Roth
If you want to learn more about lesser known Bible characters, visit my website: www.CarolynRothMinistry.com and take a look at the book I wrote on the topic.