Ananias and Sapphira

Ananias was a Jew of Jerusalem who with his wife Sapphira, attempted to join the Christians and pretended to give them the entire price of his lands. Ananias was slain by God for lying to the Holy Ghost and his wife followed. The name Ananias means God is gracious and Sapphira means beautiful. The example of giving property was probably incited by the charity of Barnabus and the others in the giving of goods. Together as man and wife they sold a piece of property and brought the pretended price to the apostle Peter. Luke does not say they sold all but merely a possession. But having sold it, they then held back a part. It is evident that they had talked it over and conspired.

They were not condemned for failing to turn over all they had to the church, but for pretending to be more generous than they were. The whole case of giving and having goods in common shows a voluntary and not required act, while in communism in the modern sense, there is no room left for individual generosity. The fact that Barnabus is especially commended for selling his field also suggests that such generosity was uncommon.

Ananias conspiring with his wife Sapphira, to deceive and defraud the brethren was overtaken by sudden death, and immediately buried. Either their covetousness or fear of want influenced them to keep back part of the price - an acted lie. Peter was moved by the spirit to uncover the deceit; and instead of extenuating it because the lie had not been uttered, "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God."

The apparent severity of the punishment meted out is to be explained as a sin unto death. It was an offence which involved a public example for all time.
332, 352, 12, BD, 380]

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