Summary: Ananias and Sapphira had a scheme for misleading the apostles and getting the admiration of their fellow believers. They sold some land, but they only brought a portion of the proceeds to lay at the apostle’s feet. They intended to keep the rest. Why di
The Game is Over
As children, many of us played a game called let’s pretend. My grand daughter and I still play the game. Last week, we pretended to be veterinarians and we would treat her stuffed animals for various physical problems. I have to admit that I enjoyed it. Unfortunately, many continue to play let’s pretend spiritually long after the time for games is over. In Acts 5 we are given the account of two people who played the game of pretending to be Christians. It is one of the most dramatic stories in the New Testament. The story clearly demonstrates the high price of hypocrisy.
Let’s begin by reading our text for today from Acts, chapter 5.
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.
2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?
4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.
6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
7 Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.
8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.”
9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.
11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
What is pictured here is deception. There are three things to note about this situation:
1. First, the act of deception.
2. Second, the discovery of the deception.
3. Third, the price of deception is high.
Let’s begin our Bible lesson today by looking at the act of deception that took place on this occasion.
Ananias and Sapphira had a scheme for misleading the apostles and getting the admiration of their fellow believers. They sold some land, but they only brought a portion of the proceeds to lay at the apostle’s feet. They intended to keep the rest. Why did they do it?
Why was the land sold in the first place?
It was because they were following the example of a man called Barnabas. We are told about him in the previous chapter. Barnabas had sold a piece of land and had brought the money to the apostles. The writer of Acts wrote, And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36-37)
Barnabas was well-known for his generous monetary gifts to the Early Church. This is one of the characteristics of the Early Church; it was a praying church and it lacked selfishness. Each member of this Jerusalem church was interested in the welfare of every other member. They were described by the expression, of one heart and of one soul, which shows the remarkable harmony of this Spirit-filled community. Richer members of the Church made provision for those who were poor. No one was in want or hunger. Those who had houses or land sold them in order to see to the welfare of others. Money was brought and laid at the apostles’ feet and distribution was made to everyone according as he had need. No one made windfall profits; no one was impoverished. Barnabus had no doubt brought an impressive sum to the apostles; and this act of commitment and devotion had, without a doubt, been exciting to the young Church. Ananias and Sapphira had witnessed the excitement that this gift had brought to the Church, and their trouble began with their jealousy of the reaction to Barnabas’s generous offering. They sought, from that moment on, to be honored members of the Church, and to be admired for their generosity.