Opening Prayer

Thank you, Father, for the Holy Spirit, who showed me who you are and enables me to make him known to others.

Read ACTS 5:1–11

Ananias and Sapphira

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

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Before reading this commentary, meditate for a moment on Hebrews 12:28, 29.

Think Further

A first reading of this text may leave us with a sense of shock and alarm. The sudden death of a man and his wife within the believing community is disturbing, and the event created ‘great fear’ at the time (see v. 11). The sin of this couple was not the fact that they withheld some of the proceeds of the sale of their land, but that they concealed this from the apostles and, as Peter says, lied to God (v. 4).

Perhaps we should hear this tragic and disturbing story as a sobering commentary on Jesus’ warning that we ‘cannot serve both God and money.’1 This is precisely what Ananias and Sapphira attempted to do and their calm determination to compromise their loyalty led them into deception and hypocrisy. Is this incident really as strange and remote from the reality of our churches’ practices as it might seem at first glance? Justo Gonzalez comments that if everyone in our churches who lies were to drop dead ‘our membership would be reduced drastically!’2 His statement applies in general to the absence of truth in many of our superficial conversations, but it is especially relevant to the way in which we handle money and talk about it.

The issue raised by this tragic incident is perhaps not as remote from our reality as we might have assumed. Indeed, in a world in bondage to the idolatry of Mammon we may need the shock of this passage to awaken us to the peril of deceiving our brothers and sisters and forgetting the holiness of the God who demands truth in every sphere of life.


Make Frances Ridley Havergal’s hymn, ‘Take my life, and let it be,’ your prayer.

Closing prayer

Examine my heart, Lord God, and show me where there is any lack of integrity or sincerity. Let nothing stand in the way of my pleasing you.

Last Updated on May 30, 2024 by kingstar

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