The opening part of chapter 5 is difficult for many to understand in a proper manner. A man named Ananias, whose wife was named Sapphira, sold a piece of property. To understand the context, refer to the end of chapter 4. It was a time of great unity in the early New Testament church. The Christians of the day were of one mind and one purpose, and they were all helping each other, helping the needy, and helping the apostles advance the Lord’s kingdom.
As we mentioned in the last post, nobody was expected to sell all of their worldly possessions. Neither was anyone required to sell anything at all. It was something that a great many of them were doing, so that the proceeds could be used to help the needy and advance the church. Verse two tells us that with his wife’s knowledge, Ananias kept part of the proceeds of the sale for himself, and came and laid the rest “at the apostle’s feet.”
Although the text so far does not indicate explicitly, we know from the next few verses that Ananias and Sapphira were telling everyone that they were putting all of the proceeds of the sale to use for the Lord’s church. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, knew what had actually transpired, and rebuked him for the lie, pointing out that it was all unnecessary in the first place. It was his house and his money, and he could have done with it as he pleased. Ananias collapsed and breathed his last breath upon hearing Peter’s words.
It was about three hours later when his wife Sapphira arrived, and Peter asked her whether they had sold the house for “so much” (Luke uses those words there because the actual amount was not important to the scripture). When she lied, saying that was the case, Peter rebuked her as well, and she also breathed her last breath.
The problem was not just with the lie itself, but with the intent behind it that showed an insincere heart when it came to what they were doing. God would have no such hypocrisy tarnish the unity and momentum that the Lord’s church had at that time.
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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