ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA

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[Acts:4:32-37]; [Acts:5:1-16].

Lesson No.: 
284
Class: 
Junior
Memory Verse: 

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape”  (Proverbs 19:5).

Notes: 

Unity
After their release from prison, the Apostles continued to preach the Gospel. They spoke with the boldness that was given to them when they were filled with the Holy Ghost, as they prayed. They preached about Jesus and His resurrection. They spoke with great power as they witnessed and testified. Jesus had promised that they would receive power and be witnesses after they had received the Holy Ghost [Acts:1:8]).

There was a multitude of believers. One day as Peter was preaching, 3000 people believed and were baptized [Acts:2:41]). Another time among those who heard the Gospel, there were 5000 who, believed [Acts:4:4]). The believers were bound together by love and unity, for Jesus had told them to love one another [John:15:12]). He had prayed for His disciples that they would all be one [John:17:21-22]). They were of one accord and of one mind, just as Paul wrote that Christ’s followers would be [Romans:15:6]; [Philippians:1:27]; [2 Corinthians:13:11]).

Possessions Sold
Although there is no evidence that they were told to do so, Christ’s followers sold what property they had and gave the money to the Apostles. Of their own free will they did this -– none were asked or compelled to do so. The believers seemed to have a great desire for spiritual possessions. Treasures in Heaven [Matthew:6:19-21]) seemed to be more valuable to them than anything else.

The money was not hoarded. The Apostles were generous and gave to those who were in need. The true Spirit of the Gospel is to help others, for the Bible states, “God loveth a cheerful giver” [2 Corinthians:9:7]). God usually does not require a person to sell his property in order to be a Christian. Although, if a person loved his possessions to the extent that they kept him from serving God, it would be necessary to dispose of them. There is an account in the Bible of a rich young ruler whose possessions stood between him and the Lord. He asked Jesus what good thing he could do to inherit eternal life [Matthew:19:16]). He had lived a good life, loved his neighbours, and kept some of the commandments. He asked, What lack I yet?” The young man had many possessions and he loved them more than he loved God. Jesus told him that he would have treasures in Heaven if he would sell his possessions and give to the poor. The young man was very rich and loved his money dearly. He went away grieved. His possessions hindered him from serving God [Mark:10:22]).

Spiritual Possessions
Many of Christ’s followers do not have great earthly possessions, but what they do have is consecrated to the Lord for His service. They also have spiritual possessions, which can be used to be a blessing to others. One day Peter and John helped a lame man. Peter said: “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” To be healed of his lameness meant much more to the lame man than money. We, too, can pray, testify, and speak words of encouragement to those who are in spiritual need. In [Isaiah:41:6] we read, “They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage.”

Barnabas
Among the believers who sold their possessions and gave the money to the Apostles was one who was especially mentioned. He was a man by the name of Joses, later called Barnabas by the Apostles. In the days that followed, this man, was used by the Lord in a great way. He let nothing hinder him from serving the Lord. He gave himself and his talent, as well as his possessions, to God. Barnabas befriended and helped Paul when he was a new convert [Acts:9:26-27]). Later Barnabas was sent to Antioch to encourage the people, for “he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord” [Acts:11:24]). Barnabas accompanied Paul on his first missionary trip, and then with Mark went to Cyprus [Acts:15:39]). Thus Barnabas received many blessings and was also a blessing to many other people.

Ananias
A man and his wife also sold their possessions but kept back a part of the money. When Ananias gave some of the money to the Apostles, he pretended that he had given all. Perhaps Ananias did not say anything. He gave the appearance of being generous and religious but his heart was deceitful. No doubt he wanted the praise of men. He wanted the money, too. Ananias could not trust God to take care of him should he give his all to the Lord. Ananias was like one who wanted to serve God and mammon at the same time [Matthew:6:24]).

Deceit
God shewed Peter that Ananias was not honest. The Lord looks on the heart and He knows the true purpose that is there. A person cannot deceive God. If he tries to deceive men, usually God reveals it to his minister, his teacher, or his parents.

Peter knew that Satan had put the suggestion into Ananias’ heart, and Ananias had yielded to the temptation. If you are ever tempted to do that which is not right, you know that Satan has suggested it and tried to put it into your heart.

Peter reminded Ananias that he had not been commanded or compelled to sell his property and give the money to the Apostles. Ananias did that of his own accord. The property was his to do with as he pleased. Even after it was sold, Ananias was not required to give the money to the Apostles. It was not a sin for Ananias to give just a part of the money. Ananias sinned when he tried to deceive the Apostles. He pretended to be what he was not. His actions showed that he loved money, and that he did not trust God or His disciples. Peter said to Ananias, “Thou has not lied unto me, but unto God.”

Judgment
Ananias had probably expected to be commended and praised for doing what appeared to be good. Maybe he had even planned what he would say in case he was questioned. When the time came, he was speechless. Judgment was swift to this man who planned to do this evil. Judgment was serious – but so was the sin. In Ananias’ plan to cheat God, he was belittling the power of God. One does not lie to God’s ministers without lying to God. This should be a warning to others always to deal honestly with God and His people.

When Ananias heard Peter’s words, he dropped dead, with no chance to repent. Without anything being said to his wife, Anania’s body was prepared, and taken out to be buried as it was the custom in that place to bury immediately after death.

Sapphira
About three hours later, Sapphira, the wife of Ananias, went to the Apostles. She and her husband had agreed to misrepresent the gift of money. They had bargained in private to give a portion of their money and to say that it was the full amount.

Perhaps Sapphira, too, had expected thanks and honour; but when Peter questioned her, she was found to share Ananias’ sin and dishonour – she did not tell the truth about the money. She made no excuse and was given no time to repent. Sentence was pronounced, and death came speedily. When Peter told her what had happened to Ananias and that she, too, would die, she fell down at his feet and died. When the men returned from burying Ananias, there was the man’s wife to be buried beside him.

Sudden Death
There have been other times when those who defied and broke God’s law have been smitten down suddenly by the judgment of the Lord. We have read about Korah’s rebellion in the days of the Children of Israel (Lesson 105). Korah and all who were in sympathy with him, as well as those who sinned with him, were destroyed. “The earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, . . . They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished” [Numbers:16:32-33]). There are other accounts given in the Bible of men who were punished for their sins by sudden judgment of the Lord [Numbers:14:37]; [2 Kings:1:10-12]).

However, all sinners do not drop dead suddenly; and all sudden deaths are not punishment for sin. Sometimes God’s people die suddenly, too, if that is God’s way to take them. But when death comes suddenly to a sinner, he has no time to pray and repent – it is too late to have his sins forgiven and to make his peace with God. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked [Ezekiel:33:11]); but, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” [Psalms:116:15]).

Partaker in Sin
The experience of Sapphira should caution us. She did not go with Ananias to give the money, and thus take an active part in his sin. Sapphira protected Ananias in his sin and lied to help him. She was a partaker in Ananias’ deceit.

May we be careful lest we become a partaker of the sin of others by shielding the guilty and by excusing their sin. A Christian does not cover sin; but rather, he reproves that which is evil [Ephesians:5:11]).

The Truth or a Lie
In your schoolwork and in your play, do not have a part in the evil ways of others by failing to take your stand for the right. A lie is not always spoken; sometimes it is acted, too. Whether spoken or acted, “no lie is of the truth” ([1 John:2:21]).

When we studied the Proverbs we learned that God hates lies [Proverbs:6:16-19]). The devil is a liar and the father of lies [John:8:44]). When one does not tell the truth, he belongs to Satan and cannot go to Heaven unless he repents and tells the truth. In [Revelation:21:8] we read that all liars “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.”

Great Fear
What effect did the sudden deaths of Ananias and Sapphira have upon the people? This made an impression on all who heard it. Fear came upon them, and they realized the seriousness of a lie, and the necessity of being honest with God. They knew that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” [Hebrews:10:31]). Perhaps they were reminded of words spoken by men of old: “Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God?” [1 Samuel:6:20]), and the answer given by David in the 24th Psalm: “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”

The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira did not check or hinder the spread of the Gospel. The people of the Lord continued their work and worship. The number of believers increased; and many, both men and women, were added to the Church. The blessing of the Lord was upon the people because sin had been taken from their midst. In order to have God’s blessing today, sin must be taken out of lives, and from the midst of His followers. If sin continues in the heart and life, God cannot work as He would like to work.

Miracles
By the power of God, the Apostles worked miracles among the people. A multitude came from the cities and the country about Jerusalem. Many signs and wonders took place –- the sick were restored to health, unclean spirits were cast out, and all who were brought to the Apostles were healed. The people had such confidence and faith that they laid the sick by the wayside, in order that the shadow of Peter “might overshadow some of them.”

Perhaps Jesus was referring to these miracles when He gave His disciples the promise of the Comforter and said: “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father” [John:14:12]). These miracles were some of the signs that Jesus said would follow those who believe in Him [Mark:16:17-18]). Today, these signs still follow true believers when they, in faith, pray in Jesus’ name for His honour and glory. (Read [Acts:4:29-30] and [Romans:15:18-19]).

Questions: 

1. What enabled the Apostles to speak with boldness?
2. What is unity?
3. Tell what you know about Barnabas.
4. How did Peter know that Ananias was not honest?
5. Who caused Ananias and Sapphira to try to be deceitful?
6. In what way did Ananias and Sapphira sin?
7. What was the judgment of God upon Ananias and Sapphira?
8. How does the Lord feel about a lie?
9. What effect did the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira have upon the people?
10. How could the Apostles work such miracles?