CHAPTER FIVE: Part One Ananias & Sapphira
Jesus rules with grace and power and says, "I will build My Church and the gates of hell will retreat as I move forward"
Acts 5:1-16 Part One New American Standard Bible The Fate of Ananias and Sapphira & the Lord kept Adding to the Church and Confirmed the Witness of the Apostles with Signs, Wonders and Healings of every kind! The Revival Continues at Solomon’s Porch!
Yellow Jesus manifesting His presence;
Teal is the activity of the Holy Spirit supernaturally confirming the kingdom of God
1 But a man named Ananias (Root word chananyah (chanan grace of Yah God)= “God reveals His grace; favor” God’s grace camps among us, pitches His tent as in the Word made flesh and tents among us), with his wife Sapphira (Root word sappir, caphar = “to tell what has been written or etched as in stone, “lapis lazuli or sapphire” the blue stone on which the ten commandments were etched by the finger of God; to enumerate for the record” (see Exodus 24:9-12; 34:1; Ezekiel 1:26; Isaiah 66:1; Psalm 99:5; 1 Chronicles 28:2; and Numbers 15:39-40) “The earth is His footstool” and the tablets and the of the law were the color of His throne), sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan (root word Greek: Satanas = arch enemy of good from Hebrew “mabad/abad” = to enslave by works) filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.
7 Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.” 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
12 At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord (God-produced unity; one mind of Christ) at Solomon’s Porch. 13 But none of the rest dared to associate (keep company) with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. 14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow (could be a shadow of light or the source of the shadow was the light of Jesus) might fall on any one of them. 16 Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
What power did this ‘new cult’ have? People die who lie?
It is more than that. Ananias (Grace of God) and Sapphira (Accountable to the Law of God) equals a mix of grace and law. The two do not and never will mix. The deceit of Ananias and Sapphira was something they believed perfectly acceptable. The Lord wanted to make it very, very, clear at the very beginnings of the New Community that mixing of grace with the law will not be permitted. The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom ruled by a scepter of Grace.
Ananias and Sapphira were ‘camping out’ with the New Community to be part of the newest and coolest thing. While they were camping out, measuring newfound money through their property sales, others were selling and giving everything ‘that possessed them’ to the New Humanity being birthed by the Holy Spirit. While the true believers were shedding their possessions to be the sole possession of Jesus, Ananias and Sapphira just didn’t get it. They didn’t think accountability and accuracy was all that important and like the justification Adam used and Eve, they were seduced by giving into an attitude rooted in lies and deceptions. They pretended to be part of what was going on because their conversions were less than thorough. They ‘mixed’ the grace of Jesus with self-effort and sealed their demise. The worth of the Kingdom that Jesus demonstrated in the parables time and again was ‘to sell all’ to make the purchase of “the treasure field” or “pearl of great price”. Ananias cheapened the value and the worth of the finished work of Jesus and Communion. They confused the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus with self-righteousness. They did not understand the parables about the Kingdom. (Note: St. Ephraim, 350 A.D. calls the Eucharist – the Pearl).
A great lesson here is if we take it upon ourselves to decompose the worth of the Flesh and Blood offered by Jesus to each believer, then we also ‘place communion on sale’. We cheapen what God has called the “greater love has no man than this”. This is the Song of Solomon (the courtship of Jesus and His Bride) and it is being manifested right on the writer’s Porch. The passionate, no-compromise, all-in, never turning back commitment between the bride and the bridegroom is what Ananias and Sapphira failed to see and hear. They looked at the New Humanity with jealousy while the New Humanity saw Jesus and gave their all to Him!
Those who see and hear Jesus one-on-one, personally, intimately and first hand in the light of Communion’s Fire, experience thoroughgoing conversion. Lying is no longer in the vocabulary or lifestyle of those who speak in the Holy Spirit’s vocabulary with the cloven tongues of fiery love. There are no conditions of conscience that are up for a vote in the Kingdom of God. There is no desire for negotiating from a position of deceit with the Holy One. Jesus is enough. No more is needed. His rule of grace, goodness, love and mercy brings us to our blessed knees with hearts overflowing with thanksgiving.
He is the Good Shepherd and we have no other needs. It was easy for the New Humanity to lay the sales of their meager possessions in exchange for the eternal wealth of the Kingdom of God. Further, it was sheer joy to see that everyone benefitted through the distribution of earthly wealth and goods because Jesus rules with love, care and sharing!
Ananias and Sapphira, however, were in charge of their own program not believing or trusting the Miracle of the New Community or its quickly growing population. They followed the prescription of selling all for the Kingdom because that’s what they saw everyone doing. But their lack of faith caused them to hold a little back just in case this “Jesus thing” is a fluke. I’m sure they thought they were being prudent, but sometimes prudence born in unbelief has disastrous results.
This powerful demonstration of life and death decisions being made by those who think “negotiating with God” is an option, can only have one end. Death by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is truth and you cannot lie, use trickery or deceit with Him. In His light there are no shadows. When Jesus shows up, darkness, death and sin flee. They were not only allowing Satan to fill their hearts with lies, but they were also breaking the trust and integrity of the church. This couple was to become the supreme example of those who refuse the full Saving Power and Lordship of Jesus Christ. Their story is among the great stories in salvation history like Lucifer’s fall from heaven and the presence of God under sentence of eternal damnation. It is like the curse of sin and death generated by the fall from grace in the garden through Adam and Eve’s disobedience by deception of the Serpent Satan. It was the same compromise for “money, greed and power” that turned one of the twelve into a traitor to the Son of God and Judas committed suicide just before the redeemer’s blood of forgiveness was shed for all sinners. His judgement included blotting out his family so that no lineage could be derived from him. Then there were the 3 Temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. Only Jesus overcame all powers of persuasion, temptation and deception.
If the presence of Jesus, in His glory, has the power to transform us from one degree of glory to another degree of glory then our course is affirmed every time we have His Blessed Flesh and Precious Blood in Communion. That is the diet of the Kingdom of God. We no longer play between the Tree of life and the forbidden Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Feeding on Jesus is feeding on the Tree of Life
In the light of Jesus through the word of knowledge, the lie and deception is exposed. It is akin to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. No man or woman, refusing the love and grace of God’s Son, can stand in the presence of God in a lie. Their sin, born by deception and exposed by the Law, causes death. Satan deceived them just as he did Adam and Eve. He enslaved Ananias and Sapphira to ‘financial security’ or worse ‘financial indiscretion’ like Judas. By their own will they decided on a salvation based on ‘negotiating with God’ blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit. The law demands we work as slaves of sin and death and grace demands that we rest in the finished work of Jesus to only be led by the Holy Spirit into the unity of the New Community by way of the New and Everlasting Covenant as we all share His Agape Feast. Our fellowship with Jesus is transparent and filled with a goodness and mercy that everyone else at the Table recognizes and understands. His love is disclosed to us and becomes the bond of the Kingdom. His love cements the living stones together one by one as He adds to the inventory every day! He is building and we are shaped and then empowered by Him to fit in the place He has planned for us since before the world was created. Jesus demands 100% pure perfection of every stone. The only way for that to happen is 100% dependency on His grace and love to make us pure and perfect. The clay does not tell the potter what to do!
You cannot mix perfection with imperfection without creating an imperfect result. You cannot mix self-righteousness with heaven’s righteousness because it will create an imperfect righteousness. What is temporal is temporal. What is eternal is eternal. What is natural is natural and what is super natural is super natural. They do not mix. The only one who could carry off the two for the purpose of redeeming was a pure and perfect Mother and Son to bring the pure, perfect, eternal and supernatural into the impure, imperfect, temporal, natural world. Before Jesus Body and the Church Mary was the physical Tabernacle of God. Then Jesus physical body was manifested to pay for all the ruin caused by Adam and Eve by influence of the same serpent that schemed with Judas. He paid the price for a debt He did not owe. His sinless perfection combined with the sin of the world as final payment for all who would believe. Totally, 100% redeemed by the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He sets us free to be a part of His promises, partakers of His love and life without reserve and to have the hope of eternal life with Him and the visionary anchor of hope that He will raise us up to be with Him forever on the last day.
Had the Lord allowed Ananias and Sapphira to live, the toxin of their sin would have nullified the credibility of the Holy Spirit and the authentication of the Gospel contaminating the Bride with spot and blemish.
For others, who chose the Groom and committed to Him with everything they had and were, this would have been a deal breaker. For the Kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. There is only one meal that sustains the Kingdom. It is Jesus’ Flesh-bread and Blood-wine prepared by Him and only served at His Table.
Feeding from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil empowered man to live and negotiate with himself about what to believe, how to live and to establish his own priorities. They are left to only worship in theory and concept and their food is the flesh and blood of man seasoned with Satan’s deceptions. Slaves bound to the law of sin and death are manifested as those who ‘camp out’ with the beloved and secretly fix the books to maintain a lifestyle that suited their old humanity appetites.
Ananias comes from a word that means “grace” or gracious. Sapphira comes from a word (sapphire) or lapis lazuli (the same blue stone that God used to write the law).
From Joseph Prince, “In effect we see the mixing of the law and grace. This always leads to judgement. The Law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
The Lord is making it very clear that His Kingdom (within our hearts) is not like the old community of the Law but that His Kingdom is a New Community whose foundation, pillars, walls and streets are comprised of grace, goodness and mercy generated from spending time at His Table and feeding upon His Flesh and Blood. He is the Lamb of God. He is the Bread of Life. It is His Blood at work in our life not outdoors but within. We don’t eat and drink symbols we feed on the reality of His eternal life in His presence every time we “do this in remembrance of Him”.
The day had come and was confirmed that those who belong to Jesus, will now worship Him in Spirit and Truth.
The death of both Ananias and Sapphira were immediate. The Greek tells us what kind of death they both experienced. The power of the Holy Spirit entered each one on the words spoken by Peter and caused the very breath they were breathing to be sucked out of them. They had no breath and so they fell dead. This was a “wow” moment. God demonstrated through this event that divisive scheming, money-based greed, plans based on false security and any aspect of Satan’s influence would not be tolerated from that point on for eternity. The Lord crushed the enemy and His associates publically, undeniably and powerfully. This message was so powerful it still makes anyone who reads it shiver in their boots. It put the fear of God at the doorway to the Church where the Holy Spirit would convince all who passed by of sin, righteousness and judgement.
Fear and an increasing sense of awe contributed to a heightened sense of faith. Jesus is present in a communion-centric body of believers and confirms His presence in tangible ways giving the New Community its identity as the New Temple, the church (ecclesia: those called out from the world to demonstrate the truth of the King and His Kingdom). This is the new dwelling place of God and His Table becomes the Ark of the Covenant where all who believe can come to enjoy His presence. Jesus makes it clear from the start that if you come to Him by way of the law then the consequences are sin and death.
Then, many signs and wonders were done by the hands of the Apostles among the people at Solomon’s Porch. The believers kept meeting from house to house having communion and eating their meals with gladness and singleness of heart. They no longer ‘cleaved’ to the Apostles as they were busy declaring the Gospel. Perhaps because of this powerful event with Ananias and Sapphira, the people all held Peter and the Apostles in great esteem. Believers were continually being added to the Church by Jesus in multitudes of both men and women. He confirmed the reality of His Kingdom as people brought the sick and placed them on beds and sofas at Solomon’s Porch so that as Peter passed by his shadow would heal them. This was not a shadow from sunlight, but the shadow of Jesus cast by the Holy Spirit at work through Peter. This special grace was part of all that Jesus was doing to draw people to the unity of the New Faith Community – the Church. (Orthodox Study Bible notes on pages 1476-1477 thomasnelson.com)
Another multitude gathered from surrounding cities to Jerusalem bring the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits and they all were healed. The sense of the Kingdom and the awareness of the presence of The King grew with power, signs and wonders sending a message to all that His Kingdom had come and His will was being done on earth as in heaven.
Special Study that helps to position the reason for the death of Ananias and Sapphira
Adam and Eve were deceived and believed a lie. Satan entered Judas Iscariot as was prophesied for thirty pieces of silver and by the same sin Ananias and Sapphira literally ‘lost their ability to breathe’. Through the lives of these five God made it very clear that becoming a part of his eternal Kingdom has the effect to selling all that possesses us so that we might become possessed by His charity, love and grace. What a great day it will be when we can cast our crowns at his feet! Worshiping Jesus in Spirit and Truth means we come to His Table to renew our worship as we lean in and bow down to kiss His holy presence. In His presence our conversion deepens so that we experience one degree of his presence to another.
Let us not be given to “test the Spirit” (the sin of Ananias and Sapphira) but to be led by the Spirit again and again back to the Lord’s Table to dine not on the temporal but rather the eternal.
Note: Not enough room here: But connect the dots between The Garden of Eden, Isaiah 14, Jesus Temptations in the wilderness, Judas at the Last Supper and the story of Ananias & Sapphira.
These were major onetime Biblical events in Salvation History that are all connected. The arch rival of goodness that deceives to enslave believers and non-believers alike to a life chained to self-righteousness is at the heart of these scenarios. Another common thread is the deception that joy will come from money, power and thinking you can negotiate with God.
Jesus Temptations and His Response Luke 4:1-13
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
The Five “I Wills” of Lucifer in Isaiah 14 Led to Lucifer’s fall as the arch enemy of God’s goodness with a third of the angels and is given the name Satan. His final judgement is proclaimed.
12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will raise you up. He who would be greatest among you must be servant of all. Arrogance precedes a downfall.