PETER APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST
Acts Chapter 4 verse 32 to Chapter 5 verse 11 – God uses Peter to warn the Church
(For whole text see separate post)
See how the whole community of believers were enjoying such Christ-like compassion in their relationships with each other!
Chapter 4 verses 32-37 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement, a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
And then a terrible event happened, bringing such fear to the community!
Chapter 5 verses 1-6 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
What happened that day?
Were Ananias and Sapphira pretending to be generous and Christ-like?
Yes. It was revealed to Peter by the Holy Spirit that Satan had made them dare to pretend to give all the money while keeping some for themselves.
Yet they “agreed together” to do it in the sight of God who knows everything (v.9).
So, what did they pray to the Holy Spirit? Was it? ‘See how holy we are in giving so much!’ And then did they say to each other? ‘Surely God knows how good we are and will not mind if we keep just a little for ourselves; and people will think we gave it all.’
So, see how they lied in persuading themselves that they could be both selfish and unselfish at the same time, then how they lied to men in pretending to give all, but – above all – how they lied to God because what they prayed to the Holy Spirit was not true and what they did was actually self-serving.
Peter recognized Ananias’s death as being the judgment of God, and expected it to fall on Sapphira as well. So, when he accused her, she also died (vv.7-10).
They had “tested the Holy Spirit” (v.9), and the Holy Spirit showed his anger. It was a stern lesson for all of us who believe, that we may be saved. There will be a far worse death on God’s Day of Judgment, if we also do not listen but choose to have two minds and hypocritical pretence in our behaviour.
Verse 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard these things.
This is the first use of the word ‘church’ (chos-tschoks). That day it was to the whole church a lesson bringing “great fear” (vv.5,11) both for those who believed then, and also for all who would believe down through all the years since then, a lesson for us not to be hypocritical and self-serving in our service to God.
Jesus had hard things to say about the hypocritical Jewish lamas, the religious leaders, who pretended to be holy (Matthew 23:27-28).
It is a temptation for all of us. But, for those who wish to give money and help to the needy without letting everyone know about it, he gave helpful advice (Matthew 6:1-4).