Acts chapter 4 closes by stating that the Christian believers in the early Church did not consider their possessions to be their own, but they had all things in common, and that a church member, Barnabas, sold a plot of land and donated the profit to the apostles. Ananias and Sapphira also sold their land, but withheld a portion of the sales, having decided that they did not wish to give it all to the common purse.
In chapter 5, Ananias presented his donation to Peter claiming that it was the entire amount. Peter replied, "Why is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit?" Peter pointed out that Ananias was in control of the money and could give or keep it as he saw fit, but that he had withheld it from Peter and lied about it, and stated that Ananias had not only lied to Peter, but also to God. Ananias died on the spot, and as a result, everyone who heard the tale became afraid. Three hours later, his wife told the same lie and suffered the same fate.
Template:Unreferenced-section This story is a strong statement about telling the truth. Ananias chose to lie, and was killed for the lie. Some believe that this donation was not a free choice. If it were, Ananias and his wife would not have attempted to conceal their retention of some of their money, which they clearly wanted to do. Instead, they were forced into concealing their choice - and paying the ultimate price when this was discovered.
Others interpret this donation as a free choice. However, Ananias attempted to look pious in front of others while secretly hiding some of his wealth. This greed culminated in lying to the Holy Spirit in which he was killed for.
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
- Acts 5 at WikiSource
- King James Version Bible Commentary. 1831 pages. Thomas Nelson Publishing: 2005. ISBN 1-4185-0340-1.