Acts 4:31-5:11

May 5, 2019 // By:Dave // No Comment

They were all bfilled with the Holy Spirit and began to cspeak the word of God with dboldness.

32 ¶ And the 1congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them 2claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but aall things were common property to them.

33 And awith great power the apostles were giving btestimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.

34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses awould sell them and bring the 1proceeds of the sales

35 and alay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be bdistributed to each as any had need.

we have some time passing here 

since 

  1. they are all speaking with boldness means in front of other people and
  2. they have enough time passing to evaluate needs of others and sharing resources and selling property to meet those needs.

36 ¶ Now Joseph, a Levite of aCyprian birth, who was also called bBarnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of 1cEncouragement),

37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and alaid it at the apostles’ feet.

Later in Acts we read more about Barnabas. 

  • He invested in the lives of younger believers (9:26–30). 
  • He had a good eye and a glad heart (11:19–23). 
  • He encouraged believers to remain faithful to the Lord (11:23). 
  • He was humble and trustworthy (11:25–30; 13:1–14:28). 
  • He was patient with the imperfections of others (15:36–41; and Col 4:10; 2 Tim 4). 
  • But here in this passage, Barnabas’s generosity is emphasized.

Lev. 25:33 ‘What, therefore, 1belongs to the Levites may be redeemed and a house sale 2in the city of this possession 3reverts in the jubilee, for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the sons of Israel.

Lev. 25:34aBut pasture fields of their cities shall not be sold, for that is their perpetual possession.

(Barnabas is not violating this law, the property is not from his native Israelite city, it is in Cyprus (so he is not selling land that he can just take back at the year of Jubilee) He is not doing anything wrong here.

However, it usually doesn’t take long for a genuine article to be imitated by a cheap fake.

Acts 5:1 ¶ But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,

2 and akept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s 1full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he blaid it at the apostles’ feet.

3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has aSatan filled your heart to lie bto the Holy Spirit and to ckeep 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 1under your control? Why is it that you have 2conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but ato God.”

5 And as he heard these words, Ananias afell down and breathed his last; and bgreat fear came over all who heard of it.

6 The young men got up and acovered 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 1afor such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, 1that was the price.”

9 Then Peter said to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to aput bthe 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 afell 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.

11 And agreat fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.

Ananias and Sapphira exemplified that same spirit at work in the Pharisees (Hypocrisy)

“God hates the sanctimonious hallelujah more than he hates the godless curse.”  Donald Grey Barnhouse

“Profess only what you possess, and rest only in that which has been given you from above”.   C. H. Spurgeon

“When hypocrites ran up against Jesus it was like a cat running into a mowing machine”. A. W. Tozer

They were spiritual posers (vv. 1–2). Theirs was a sham holiness, a fake piety. Ananias and Sapphira were forced neither to sell a field nor to give all of the proceeds once property was sold. Doing either was totally voluntary. So what was the problem? Ananias apparently pretended to give more than he actually gave. They kept some of the proceeds, claiming to give it all.

They were praise seekers (vv. 1–2). These two wanted a reputation like Barnabas without having the compassion of Barnabas. Perhaps Ananias wanted a nickname too, a phrase that would make him sound important and that just might increase his popularity. Unfortunately, this same quest for the praise of people still infects the church today. Many live for the applause of the powerful. Others want to be on the inside with the leaders. Still others want admiration from members.

They were liars (vv. 3–4). The couple lied about their charity! And they did it together! The ease with which one can lie without considering the damaging ramifications on self and others demonstrates the sinful nature of humanity. Paul says that a symptom of one’s sin nature is lying (e.g., Rom 3:13). This contrasts with God’s nature, for it is impossible for God to lie (Titus 1:2). And God calls his people to be a people of integrity. He despises lying (Prov 6:16–18).

The reason the judgment on these two people seems so outrageous to some is simple. Few understand how serious lying really is. 

Peter says the pair lied to God (implying the deity of the Holy Spirit). 

That concept is terrifying! It suggests that God takes the untruths we tell as personal offenses. 

When people don’t value the holiness of God, they minimize sin. And when they do that, they devalue the cross, where Jesus traded places with liars.

They were greedy (v. 3). Peter says that Ananias and Sapphira “kept back” part of the proceeds. The verb used here means “to pilfer” or “to embezzle.” The same rare verb occurs in the Greek version of Joshua 7:1–26, in the story of Achan, which Luke would have known. The stories of Achan and Ananias are similar in multiple ways, including in the fact that the progress of the mission central to each story gets interrupted because of sin inside the camp. The stories of Achan, Ananias, Judas, the rich young ruler, and millions more testify to the devastating nature of greed. It must have no place within the church.

They were deceivers (v. 4).These two planned what they did. How foolish to think that no one knows about sinful plotting. God always knows what is done and said in secret; we can’t hide anything from him.

They were Satan’s instruments (v. 3). Whatever we make of Peter’s question about Satan filling Ananias’s heart, we must affirm the real influence of Satan. The devil destroys through love of money, falsehood, and hypocrisy. He tempts people to act unwisely and godlessly. He tempts people to think that sin is no big deal. But make no mistake: his ultimate goal in all of this is to destroy people and the church. Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon, look out. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31).

They were grieving the Spirit (vv. 3–4). Ananias and his wife lied to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is not a force but a person who can be grieved. One grieves the Spirit when he or she lies, deceives, steals, and participates in anything that is contrary to his holy nature.

What Happened to Them: Instantaneous Judgment (5:5–11)

As a consequence of this couple’s massive offense, judgment fell. It came from God, not Peter. 

In this scene, Peter simply does what brothers and sisters do: he holds these professing believers accountable. 

the resulting spirit of fear that came upon everyone as well as the unceremonious burial they were given indicate that the people recognized what happened to these two as divine judgment.

[Acts, p. 75]

But wasn’t this instantaneous judgment extreme? Only if you minimize the offense by minimizing the One against whom the sin was committed. God had been belittled by the actions of these two, and his church was facing a satanic assault made apparent by their deeds. God takes these things seriously. Paul spoke about God’s terrifying judgment as people took the Lord’s Supper impurely (1 Cor 11:28–30). That account wasn’t as dramatic as this one, but what happened in that case was real and serious, too. (also Aachen in Joshua 7:11, the individual sin is confessed later in vs 20-21)

In verses 7–10 Peter approaches Sapphira about her own involvement in the matter. The results of that meeting were the same. She shared in her husband’s conspiracy and would share in her husband’s fate. Sometimes it’s sinful for a wife to submit to her husband; her loyalty first belongs to God. She should not have gone along with Ananias’s sinful plan.

Discuss

  • What’s the difference between Christian unity and other forms of unity?
  • Do you think Ananias and Sephira where believers? (acts 4:31 says they were all filled, one heart and soul)
  • In what ways have you seen others practice generosity in your congregation? Explain the impact of such giving.
  • This assembly stood apart to others looking on, “something of God”. Do we, as a gathering, testify to others as a Holy people, or a club to join casually?
  • What keeps people from being radically generous?
  • What does the resurrection have to do with generosity?

When the early Christians grasped the reality of the empty tomb, a revolution of generosity took place. They could have broken into small groups to discuss the deep theological implications of the Resurrection, but they didn’t—not at this time, anyway. Instead they asked the question, “Because Jesus is alive, what can we do to help our neighbors in need?” In response some of them, such as Barnabas, sold land they owned and gave the proceeds to the poor.

Jesus’ resurrection turned their financial worldview from one of ownership to stewardship. “No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own.” The new Christ-followers began to view everything they “owned” as a sacred trust from God. They now had a responsibility to live generously in ways they had not done before. As a result there were “no needy persons among them.”

they saw financial and resource sharing as serving

servanthood is the dynamic fruit of the resurrection

Phil 2:5-11   Jesus demonstrates the heart of God by serving

matt 20:26

2 Cor 9:6-8. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver

how are each of us called to serve.

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