Go Deeper


The following comments are designed to help you better understand the passage and stimulate your thinking on the implications of the scripture.

The following comments are designed to help you better understand the passage and stimulate your thinking on the implications of the scripture passage.

When we encounter the story of Ananias and Sapphira, we may end up confused or offended. In many ways, the story of Ananias and Sapphira point us back to a story in the Old Testament about a man named Achan. In Joshua 7, the people of God are experiencing immense blessings from the Lord as they conquer the Promised Land. The walls of Jericho crumbled and they were commanded to devote everything in the city to the Lord, but Achan secretly kept a few things for himself. As a result, the people of Israel unexpectedly started losing battles. They were no longer experiencing the blessing of the Lord. Achan’s sin had stalled the Mission of God. Achan is killed, and God once again blesses his people and gives them success. In the same way, Ananias’ deceit threatened to stall the Mission of God and bring judgment, instead of blessing, upon the Church.

The story of Ananias is to the book of Acts what the story of Achan is to the book of Joshua. In both narratives an act of deceit interrupts the victorious progress of the people of God. It may be that the author of Acts himself wished to point to this comparison; at any rate, when he says that Ananias “kept back” part of the price (v. 2), he uses the same Greek word as is used in the Septuagint of Josh. 7:1 where it is said that the children of Israel (in the person of Achan) “committed a trespass” by retaining for private use property that had been devoted to God. (Bruce, The Book of Acts, 110)

It is also worth noting that Satan is credited with “filling [Ananias’] heart” to commit this sin. He is violently opposing the Mission of God, even from within the Church. But instead of stalling the Mission, it is said that “more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” What Satan meant to cripple the Church was used by God to flourish her.

Satan also attacked the Church from the outside, by persecution and violence. The Apostles are arrested, and once again, they stick with their message: you killed Jesus, but he is now alive and reigning in heaven. At this point, they are so “enraged” that they “wanted to kill them.” But through the council of Gamaliel, they decide to threaten and beat them. By “beating,” it probably means they were flogged by receiving 39 lashes. But what was the result of this attack of Satan? Did this stall the Mission of God? No.

The apostles’ reaction arouses our admiration. They left the Sanhedrin, their backs cruelly lacerated and bleeding, yet rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name… They were in fact doing what in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus had told them to do, namely rejoicing in persecution. (Stott, The Message of Acts, 118-119)

They continued to preach the message of Jesus, not only in houses but also in the temple. In fact, the Greek text “indicates that the refusal to stop speaking about Jesus was a permanent disposition of the apostles.” (Schnabel, Acts, 320)

At this point, there is a growing schism between the Jewish leaders and the followers of Jesus.

The fact that the apostles defy the Sanhedrin’s ban and continue to proclaim Jesus as Israel’s Messiah and Savior implies the “parting of the ways” of Jews and followers of Jesus… As the apostles preach Jesus as Messiah in the temple, despite the ban on speaking imposed by the Jewish leaders in the highest court of the land, Luke “has answered for his readers the question concerning the leadership over Israel. Not the faithless members of the Sanhedrin but the Twelve are truly ‘ruling over the twelve tribes of Israel.’” (Schnabel, Acts, 320)

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