Ananias and Sapphira


Series: The First Church (Acts 1-10)

Title: 8. Ananias and Sapphira Acts 4:32-5:11: The importance of #honesty


  • 2017-03-11: White Rock Lake

  1. Introduction
    1. Disproportionate punishment
      1. North Korea
    2. Punishment in the Bible
      1. Have you ever read a Bible story and thought, “Wow, that was harsh! Did that person deserve to be punished so severely?”
      2. We’re going to study one such story and discover why the sins mentioned are such a big deal
  2. The story
    1. Acts 4:32-35: Prelude
      1. The believers’ commitment to God had led them to a remarkable state of sharing
      2. This wasn’t forced sharing, as in some mandated wealth redistribution scheme
      3. This was voluntary generosity, inspired and lead by the Holy Spirit.
        1. If Christians practiced this sort of generosity today–if we truly surrendered everything to God–how would our world be different?
    2. A positive example of generosity
      1. Acts 4:36-37: Barnabas sells his field
        1. This is the first mention of Barnabas in the Bible
        2. Note that Barnabas was actually a nickname, reflecting his character
        3. His act was simple, unpretentious, and straightforward
        4. Although his act wasn’t self-seeking and he wasn’t trying to earn praise, his generosity brought recognition
    3. A negative example of generosity
      1. Acts 5:1-11: Ananias and Sapphira try to gain praise like Barnabas received
        1. These two stories give a positive example of generosity and a negative example
  3. Four lessons from this story
    1. Overall: The seriousness of sin
      1. Ultimately, this is a story about sin.
      2. Romans 6:23: The wages of sin is death
        1. Ananias and Sapphira experienced the default result for their sin
      3. Why don’t we die when we sin?
        1. 2 Peter 3:9: God wants everyone to come to repentance, so he gives time and opportunities to repent
        2. 1 Corinthians 10:6: Stories in the Bible1 happen as examples to teach us. Not every situation calls for an example to be made.
        3. In this case, there was a need to distinguish between Barnabas’ generosity and Ananias and Sapphira’s self serving, and teach the early church that the latter wouldn’t be tolerated
      4. Acts 5:11: The result of this lesson on the seriousness of sin was that great fear came upon the church, and they understood the point clearly
    2. Acts 5:3, 8, 9: Honesty
      1. The central issue with Ananias and Sapphira is not that they kept back a part of the proceeds, but that they lied and falsely claimed to have given all
      2. Proverbs 12:22: Lies are an abomination
      3. Proverbs 13:5: God’s people hate falsehood
      4. Matthew 5:8: God’s blessing is with the pure
    3. Acts 5:3, 4: Hypocrisy
      1. This is a special case of dishonesty which deserves separate mention
      2. The term hypocrite comes from the ancient Greek word for stage actor
      3. Matthew 6:1-6: Instead of doing actions aimed at gaining recognition from others, we should look only for God’s recognition
      4. Claiming to follow God without living like it is a sin.
    4. Acts 5:2: Partial commitment
      1. Although Ananias and Sapphira weren’t obligated to donate their entire proceeds, the fact that they didn’t follow Barnabas’s example points to their partial commitment.
      2. 1 Samuel 12:242: Serve the Lord with all your heart
      3. Are we fully committed to God? How about to advancing His church?
      4. Do we make commitments and then be unreliable and not follow through?
      5. Let us not only be Seventh-day Adventists, but also Seven-day Adventists


  1. The specific context in this passage is the exodus and Israel’s unfaithfulness at that time 

  2. Samuel’s farewell address to the nation