Right before Acts 5.1-11, everyone is coming together. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…There were no needy persons among them” (4.32, 34a). People are selling their possessions and bringing the money back to the apostles so that they can distribute it to the people who need it. Then, chapter 5 starts of with a story of a man, Ananias, and his wife, Sapphira. Verses 1 and 2 say that they sold a piece of property and “with his wife’s knowledge, [Ananias] kept back part of the money for himself” and gave the rest to the apostles. When he gave the money to Peter, Peter called him out on lying about it, and the dude literally fell dead at his feet. Later, after they carry him out, Sapphira (who doesn’t know that her husband has died yet), comes in to Peter. He asks her if the money Ananias had given was the same amount of money he had received for his property, and she says yes. He calls her out just the same and she falls dead at his feet, too.
- I want to be a good wife someday. I do want to be submissive to my husband, and I want him to be able to lead me. However, I hope I’m the kind of wife who can call her husband to resist the sin and temptation he faces in order to help him through it rather than holding his hand and walking into it with him. Sapphira knew that her husband was holding back the money and she knew that he was going to lie to Peter, and she was fine with that. She helped him along, and she suffered for it. What got her is that she didn’t realize her husband had been called out and had died. She could have come clean and admitted her sin and been free, but she stuck with it and died with him.
- They weren’t punished for holding back the money. They were punished because they were deceitful and lied about it. By lying, they were trying to appear super generous when really they weren’t giving it all. They were trying to make themselves seem really pious, and they were doing it to be seen and noticed; for selfish gain. And Peter specifically says that Ananias had not lied to men, but to God.
- I just think it’s crazy that they died from lying. They tried to deceive the Holy Spirit and hold onto what did not belong to them, and they just dropped dead. There’s a story to tell your kids about lying…