Unlikely Leaders


A Dishonest Husband and Wife Punished

This chapter is based on Acts 4:32 to 5:11.

As the disciples proclaimed the gospel, a great number of people believed. Many of these early believers were immediately cut off from family and friends, and it was necessary to provide them with food and shelter. ULe 27.1

Those among the believers who had money and possessions cheerfully sacrificed to meet the emergency. Selling their houses or lands, they brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. Their love for their fellow believers and the cause they had embraced was greater than their love of money and possessions. They considered people to have higher value than earthly wealth. ULe 27.2

In sharp contrast were the actions of Ananias and Sapphira. These professed disciples had heard the apostles preach the gospel. They had been present when “the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 4:31). Under the direct influence of the Spirit of God, Ananias and Sapphira had made a pledge to give to the Lord the proceeds from the sale of a certain piece of property. ULe 27.3

Afterward, they began to regret their promise and harbored feelings of greed. They thought they had been too hasty and decided not to fulfill their pledge. Ashamed to have the others know that their selfish hearts grudged what they had solemnly dedicated to God, they deliberately decided to sell their property and pretend to give all the money into the general fund, but to keep a large share for themselves. In this way they would receive money to live on from the common fund and at the same time gain the admiration of their fellow believers. But God sees hypocrisy and falsehood. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit, and God repaid their sin with swift judgment. When Ananias came with his offering, Peter said: “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” ULe 27.4

“Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all who heard these things.” ULe 27.5

No one had pressured Ananias, forcing him to sacrifice his possessions. He had acted from choice. But in attempting to deceive the disciples, he had lied to the Almighty. ULe 27.6

“Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter answered her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?’ She said, ‘Yes, for so much.’ Then Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.” ULe 28.1