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.
Barnabas (Acts 4:36-37) was an example of someone who gave to the Lord properly. Ananias and Sapphira are examples of those who do not (Acts 5:1-11). This passage is a transition from a good to a poor model of giving to the Lord.
But [emphatic contrast] a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.
Ananias and Sapphira are examples of what can go wrong when a church has “all things in common.”
And he kept back [literally, pilfer, embezzle] part of the proceeds,
Both Ananias and Sapphira were aware of the scam to make a false appearance of giving more than they did. The words “kept back” indicate that the issue was not failing to provide the entire sum of the property to the Lord but the appearance that they gave the whole amount. They apparently thought they were to be held in high regard by the church for their sacrificial giving.
his wife also being aware of it,
Sapphira was complicit in the scheme. She was as guilty as Ananias.
and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Ananias brought only part of the proceeds from selling their property and gave it to the Lord.
But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit
Peter confronted Ananias for attempting to deceive the Holy Spirit. The matter of Satan’s involvement made the issue a serious matter. Satan “filled” or controlled his heart. His sin was not merely against the apostles and the church; it was against the Holy Spirit Himself, an offense against the person of God. Ananias’s action was, in effect, a denial of the Spirit’s presence in the church.
The word “filled” is the same Greek word for the filling of the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18.
and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?
Peter exposed Ananias’s sin. To keep part of the land was not a sin, but to give the appearance of giving it all was.
While it remained, was it not your own?
Had Ananias not sold the property, there would have been no problem. The couple had no obligation to sell their property.
And after it was sold, was it not in your own control?
The couple could have given all or part of their property. It was no sin to keep part of the sale for themselves.
Why have you conceived this thing in your heart?
Although Satan tempted Ananias to commit this sin, the burden lay upon him for committing the sin, not Satan. The onus of lying to the Spirit rested on Ananias.
You have not lied to men but to God.”
In 5:3, the accusation was that the couple lied to the Holy Spirit. In this verse, the accusation is lying to God. In other words, the Holy Spirit is God.
Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last.
Once Ananias understood that he had lied to God, he fell down and died.
So great fear [awe] came upon all those who heard these things.
The church came to grips with the gravity of violating the character of God. The “fear” that the church experienced was not a phobia but a sense of awe of God’s action.
And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
Young men wrapped Ananias and took him to a grave. Immediate burial was common in Palestine due to the hot climate.
It is a serious thing to make a commitment to God.
Achan committed a similar sin to Ananias and Sapphira (Josh 7:1; cf Nu 15:32-36; 16:1-35). The Old Testament (LXX) uses the same Greek word for pilfering or embezzlement for Achan’s sin of keeping booty for himself.
There is such a doctrine as the “sin unto death” (1 Jn 5:16). A Christian can die prematurely by committing this sin of protracted resistance to God’s will.
We need to note that our passage teaches the deity of the Holy Spirit and that He is a person, not an influence. It is not possible to lie to an influence.
Hypocrisy is the sin of deception, an attempt to wear a mask to pretend that we are what we are not. This sin becomes serious when we attempt to deceive God.