Acts 5 (Part 1) – Ananias and Sapphira

Acts 5 (Part 1) – Ananias and Sapphira

Ananias and Saphira - In this post, we will see what was happening in the early church that was built by God on the hands of the apostles. As the church grew and the disciples shared everything, the church was far from being perfect. Some were true examples of gratitude but some acted with hypocrisy.

Ananias and Sapphira

Acts 5 (Part 1) -Ananias and Sapphira

In the fourth chapter of Acts, the apostles were praying for more boldness and miracles. The church was growing and multiplying. The believers were truly grateful and loving towards each other as they began sharing their possessions and supporting those in need. However, even in the beginning, the church was not perfect.

Let’s look more into the last part of chapter 4 and the first of chapter 5. 


Gratitude and Sharing in the Church

At the end of chapter 4, we saw that the apostles and disciples were in one accord, one spirit and one heart. This is the ultimate goal of a true church. Let’s look  at that passage again:

Acts 4:32-35 (KJV)

32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.


Attitude of the Early Church

Frankly, most don’t really understand what it means for a group of Christians to be of one heart and one soul (verse 32). How beautiful it would be if today’s church life was half of what it was in the early days! Can you imagine what it can do when believers come together with honesty, true transparency, love and a genuine intention of growing in the Spirit and in the faith into the knowledge of the Lord?

This coming together is what the Lord Jesus Christ wants. He said: 

John 17:19-23 (KJV)

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.


True church life is the coming together of believers who care and love each other. We are to be one in the Spirit as Jesus Christ and the Father are one in Spirit. It is the Spirit of God that unites us.

In John 17:21 Jesus says the world will believe in Him because of His disciples being united as one in love and spirit. 

The coming together of the church in one heart and soul in Acts 4:32 eventually led to walking with great power and great grace. We see that in verse 33,

33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.


That also is key to see how today’s Christians can walk in the power of the Spirit. It is through the coming together of the believers in one accord that God can use each member of the body as a channel through which He can move and evangelize the world. Where people assemble in the name of the Lord, there the Spirit is. And where the Holy Spirit is, there is the power and grace of God. 

This true grace led the church to share everything together. No one thought they possessed anything but everything became common. The disciples were glad to share everything. They were sure they were following the TRUE God and didn’t care about worldly possessions anymore. This is a sign of being born again: we see worldly things as empty and we are glad to give them away for our dear brothers and sisters.

Some people have dared to suggest that the disciples were living a communist lifestyle. Nothing is further from the truth:

  • the disciples were of one heart and were genuinely caring for each other. They were not forced to share their possessions;
  • the disciples were of one soul, they lived in the unity of the Spirit of God, not as atheists;
  • the disciples shared their possessions in a spontaneous way without anyone imposing it. They all wanted to do it;
  • property was not controlled by state laws, but was given to the Lord who (through His apostles) distributed to each member according to their need;


Barnabas the Levite, a true example

Chapter 4 ends with these two verses:

Acts 4:36-37 (KJV)

36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Even though previous verses mention how the church shared everything, Doctor Luke found it necessary to mention the name of one man, Joses surnamed Barnabas. Some say that Barnabas must have been the first person who probably had enough trust and faith in what the apostles were doing. This is what it takes in today’s churches: men who are willing to be first in leading by example. Then others will follow.

The name Joses (which is same as “Joseph”) was used for another man from the town of Arimathea. Surprisingly, Joseph of Arimathea also had a land which he used for the Lord (coincidence?). His land was used for a different reason: the burial of the body of Jesus Christ.


Ananias And Sapphira

Going into chapter 5.

Acts 5:1-11 (KJV)

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.


Many find the story of Ananias and Sapphira strange and unsettling. Some have suggested the reaction of Peter was extreme. I mean, didn’t Ananias and Sapphira still give part of the money to the apostles? Was it not good enough for the apostles?

But looking at the text, it is clear there is more to it than that.


Ananias and Sapphira’s True Intentions

Peter knew Ananias let himself get deceived by Satan as he told him “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Ghost” (Acts 5:3). As Jesus Himself said, to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is much more dangerous than blaspheming against the Father and the Son. We see that it was not the fact that Ananias and Sapphira kept part of the money that bothered Peter but it was the fact that they lied to the Holy Spirit. Not only that, Ananias and Sapphira agreed together to tempt the Spirit (Acts 5:9). 

The whole story shows how the standards of God are very different from our own standards. It is clear that God looks at the intention of the heart, while we humans look more at outward acts. God saw what was in the heart of Ananias and Sapphira and He took that pretty seriously. 

  • Unbelief: they did not really believe the apostles had the power of the Spirit. If Ananias and Sapphira really believed, they would not have taken the risk of lying to the Spirit.
  • Insulting the Holy Spirit: they thought that by throwing some money at the apostles, they would be right with God. This is sheer arrogance which God was not willing to accept.
  • Hypocrisy: one of the greatest sins is hypocrisy. As we clearly see in the gospels, Jesus Christ was merciful to the sinners but harsh on the hypocrites. God hates hypocrisy and acting. Ananias and Sapphira had bad intentions. They saw others like Barnabas being praised, so they coveted that praise and wanted to get that glory to themselves.However, not at the expense of all their money.
  • Planned sin: Both Ananias and Sapphira agreed together to lie to the apostles and to the Holy Spirit. As we know from other places in the New Testament, deliberately planned sin is much more serious than falling unintentionally into sin.


Was God Extreme in His reaction?

Upon hearing Peter’s rebuke, both Ananias and Sapphira fell down and died. It is not surprising that two verses (Acts 5:5 and Acts 5:11) say that “great fear” came upon those Christians who heard about what happened. How serious was their crime? To God, it was pretty serious.

In the book of Exodus, Moses murdered an Egyptian. In the New Testament, Saul persecuted and killed Christians. However, God was merciful to them because they acted in ignorance. Paul says it clearly to Timothy.

1 Timothy 1:13 – I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.


This was not the case of Ananias and Sapphira, they knew what they were doing and they agreed together on it. That should be a lesson not to play around or mock God. He sees all our intentions and knows the depth of our hearts. 

God was not willing to have that and He made an example of Ananias and Sapphira to the whole church which trembled with fear of the Lord. This fear of the Lord was necessary to keep the disciples together. There is no group of believers that can thrive together without a true and genuine fear of God. 

God did not want hypocrisy in the new church that He was building on the foundation of His Son.



My friends, how many times we hear people say they are not able to find a good church? Some want to find a perfect church. Some even say “if we can only go back to the New Testament church”. However, there is no perfect church. Even the early church struggled with hypocrisy and lies. Hypocrisy in the church is a disease and is unacceptable to God. It is the reason many people leave. But that should not discourage us as Jesus clearly spoke about the local church. 

Looking for a perfect church is like looking for a hospital where everyone is already healed inside.

Jesus said He came for sinners as a doctor and a healer. When we look for a hospital, we don’t look for a hospital where everyone is healed. We look for a hospital where someone in there has the true medicine, where someone in there can heal us and is able to make us better.

The same is with the church. There is no perfect church because a church is filled with imperfect people. We have to look for a church with people that can provide healing and spiritual nourishment. We have to look for a church where at least some have the true medicine, the Spirit of Christ; the Spirit of life and the Spirit that heals.

Let’s not always look at what is missing but also at what is good and available. Look for the Spirit in the church If there are some who have Him, go in and enjoy their light. If there are some who are not perfect, shine the Light to them too.


Have your say