Ananias and Sapphira

When both Ananias and Sapphira died after church members accused them of lying to and deceiving God, it is as though God’s wrath against sinners Ananias and Sapphira killed them. Understandably this shocked the other believers. The point here seems to be two-fold: 1) to lie to and to attempt to deceive the church is to do the same to the God, and this is looked upon as a grave sin, and 2), sinning like this may put your very life in peril.

As I read this, I got the feeling that this message deals with the power and control of the church – a story as a means to control the behavior of the parishioners. Wow! Don’t lie to the church or God or it will cost you your life. This message is in sharp contrast to another message I hold dear – and that is that God is a primordial goodness that is eternally present, regardless of what one does or does not do – a goodness and love bestowed upon each of us that is neither earned or deserved. We are all beloved to God, and God is forgiving and merciful.

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7 responses

  1. I think you are right here. This is very much about power and control and Peter and the apostles claiming the authority speak for God. There is a very similar story in the Old Testament someplace where God agrees to help the Israelites win a battle on the condition they take no booty. All the treasure they seize is to be offered to God alone. A guy and his sons hold some back and they are destroyed by divine fire.OTH — this is also a story of what happens to us spiritually when we set out a the spiritual path and get caught up in trying to appear spiritual rather than seeking spirituality for its own sake.

  2. merdith, I agree … this seems like a power play by the apostes in control to keep everyone in line. It’s not surprising that this community fell apart later – when you have to use fear to make people do what you want, moral bankrupsy has set in, in my opinion.

  3. Well power and control it is; I had not perceived that until you folks enlightened me.Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. To have control of the financial resources of all the members is a pretty great power. It seems that the church did it for centuries.(The Bruderhof has done it– to their detriment, I believe.)IMO no one has the right or authentic authority to exercise that kind of control over people. Such people are victims of the “mind forg’d manacles”.

  4. So what can you really say about what happened to Ananias and Sapphira? This chapter of the book of Acts has raised a lot of questions. It is sometimes hard to reconcile the grace of God to what happened to Ananias and Sapphira. But let us consider these:Were they really believers? It is not mentioned. And we all know that Satan cannot fill the heart of someone who already has the Holy Spirit(1John 5:18). Was it God who killed them? It is not mentioned either. But how did they die? Did God allow it to happen? Let us consider Peter. How did he act? Did he act in grace? We know that Peter is a very aggressive man, ready to die for His Lord. Let us not forget how Paul rebuked him (Galatians 2:11-21), and how, in his two epistles, we notice that the once so aggressive fisherman, is now filled with the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (notice the way he greeted his readers). That is a real character change brought by the Holy Spirit Himself. I would be glad if you guys can help me answer these questions. For I myself am sometimes confused. =)

  5. very ineresting thoughts eejay, would like to hear the response…

  6. What Jesus said about God's grace… was not about "believers", but about the nature of God, overwhelmingly gracious to 'the just and the unjust.'In the period this is story is set, "Christians" are a particular group of Jews–those who believed Jesus had been the Jewish Messiah, the divinely appointed King of Israel. This is relevant when we consider a Jewish figure of speech, example: "I don't have a daughter; my daughter is dead!"== "The daughter has left the family (or the synagogue); no one in the group will speak to her; she's 'dead to us.' "So, unless you believe that "inspired" means "error free," it's quite possible that a couple got thrown out of the church, but didn't need to be buried just yet."Lying to the Holy Spirit"? How about "deceiving yourself," Ananais trying to pretend to himself he's doing right here, when the Spirit in him of course knows better.But yes, trying to take something that's been dedicated to God was a major no-no, muy disrespectful to Himself… Remember how Jesus mentions sons being encouraged to dedicate property to the Temple–but then being left in a position where they can't use the property to support their parents in their old age.I think this works best if we think of "The Holy Spirit" as the "Breath of Life", "God's Image" in which we're all made. If that "fills" us, fine, there's no room for anything else. But generally people are afraid to let it entirely have its way with them. So this couple started out feeling the Spirit's influence, but because they weren't able to let it entirely drive out the fears that cause people to cling to worldly goods… They had one foot in the new world, and one in the old. As Jesus said, this sort of practice doesn't work. And Peter called them on it.But don't we find this over & over in the history of religious movements?–People follow God a little way, and it changes everything for them, for a while. And then it all gets to be too much of a stretch; they start holding back and wimping out, and then it's just 'going to church.'How many good people we know (& how about us?) are "dead"?

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