23 March 2010

Ananias and Sapphira

Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sold some land, gave some of the money to the apostles and kept the rest.
Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. Acts 5:1-2
The bible doesn't say how much the land sold for or what percentage they kept or gave away.

But whatever the selling price may have been, the percentage of the donation wasn't enough to satisfy Peter. Or God.
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? ... Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. Acts 5:3-4
I don't know how Peter would know that Satan was involved in any of this. God must have told him. But what about this "lie to the Holy Ghost" thing? So far, at least as far as the text goes, Ananias hasn't said a thing. Don't your lips have to move when you lie?

Maybe not. Maybe you lie to the Holy Ghost every time you don't give all of your money to the church. (Which church? The Holy Ghost's church, of course!)

In any case, Ananias fell over dead before getting to say a single word in his own defense.
And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost. Acts 5:5
A few hours later, they bring in Sapphira, who didn't yet know what had happened to her husband.
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. Acts 5:7
Peter asked her if the land sold for a certain price, and she said, yes, that was what the land sold for.
And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Acts 5:8
Then Peter asked her why she and her husband had tempted the Spirit of the Lord. And then, before she could answer, Peter told her that the guys who had just buried her husband were going to do the same to her.
Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Acts 5:9
After hearing Peter's words, she fell down dead. And the "young men" came in to bury her.
Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. Acts 5:10
And it scared the shit (and the shekels) out of everyone in the church.
And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. Acts 5:11

God's next killing: Herod Aggripa


Daniel Clements said...

If it happened to just one person, it is possible that they just had a heart attack and dropped dead from fright. But both of them? I say god did the murdering deed.

Unknown said...

"...thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God...How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?" (v.4-9)

Peter keeps talking about lying to God and disobeying him, so I think he had some responsibility.
Besides, this sudden death of Ananias and Sapphira is described as if it is supernatural, a "miracle" (a very cruel one indeed).

But I'm not that sure.

skanksta said...

I vote give it to Yahweh as well.

Agree with Dan and the others that it's too much of a coincidence and surely a warning parable.

Oh, and the big guy has got form !

Iara said...

I believe (actually, this is what I've been told, growing up in the Church) that Ananias and Sapphira decided to lie: they would sell their land, keep some of the money for themselves, and then bring the rest to the apostles saying "hey, this is everything we got" (check verses 1-2 and 8). Acts 4:34-37 says that every christian that had some land these days were selling it and bringing the money to be divided between the community. Peter words in verse 5:4 sound quite reasonable: "There wasn't any need to lie, the land was yours, and the money is yours." I was told they died because they lied, but that sure seems like cruel and unreasonable double murder... I blame Peter, with God (or the Holy Ghost) as the murder weapon.

twillight said...

I think they said "ok, here's all my money", then they were striken down by biblegod. Yep, a miracle of the Bible, and the obvious reality revealed behind that the same way as the talking on language accident when the christians' house collapsed.

busterggi said...

Hey, it was Ananias & Saphirra's land - they didn't have to give Peter anything.

Yahweh/Jesus gave Peter the power to be greedy & homocidal so Yahweh/Jesus at least deserves an assist on these.

Brucker said...

I'm with lara on this one. The standard evangelical line is that these two were killed by God, although not for greed, but for lying. The portion of verse 4 that you left out indicates this. (not that killing someone for lying is going to leave a better impression on most people who dislike this story...)

Steve Wells said...

Do you think it was OK for God to kill them for lying, Brucker? (Even though they didn't lie in the story.)

And is this the missing part of verse 4 that was the smoking gun for God's motive (killing for lying rather than not giving everything to Peter)?

"Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?"

I didn't realize that I'd left that out. I added an ellipsis that I should have included in the original post. (I hope God won't strike me dead for not including it in the first place.)

Steve Wells said...

OK, you've all convinced me. God killed them for lying, or for not giving the church all the money, or whatever.

I'll be away for a few days and won't be posting. But when I get back, I'll do the last two killings. In the meantime, see if I've forgotten any. What about Judas, for example? Would a young, healthy guy's bowels just fall out all by themselves? Or did God have something to do with it?

Brucker said...

Do you think it was OK for God to kill them for lying, Brucker?

Hmm, I thought I'd addressed that somewhere in my own blog, but I can't find it. Ah, of course, it was in my guest post where I addressed this issue, not that you liked my answer, of course.

(Even though they didn't lie in the story.)

Sure they do. They lie about the purchase price and what percentage they give to the church. While I don't think I would be struck dead for it, if I told everyone I was giving 100% of my income to the church when it was only 10%, I'd be lying, and therefore sinning against the church.

What about Judas, for example? Would a young, healthy guy's bowels just fall out all by themselves? Or did God have something to do with it?

The fundie party line on Judas is that the whole "field of blood" thing went like this: Judas gives back the money, and goes and hangs himself. When they cut down his body, he falls down and bursts open, as he had been hanging for some time. The field on which this happened was thereafter purchased with the money he forfeited, and used as a graveyard. God was not directly involved in Judas' death.

twillight said...

On Judas: accidents happen. Only if you go with the suicide-version, then could you blame Jesus (and through him God) IN CASE he was aware of Judas' mental instability (or if the betrayal was God's plan all along, and he knew about Juda's reaction before it happened and didn't change the plan...) can Jesus be blamed.

But Jesus! That WAS God's plan all along! Yep, the killing was indirect, but making one to make himself killed, IS considered murder by law.

vp said...

Peter told one of the most notorious lies in the bible (the denial of Jesus). And he did it three times!

Being accused by Peter of lying (even though Ananias did not explicitly lie in the text) is like being accused by John Edwards of committing adultery.

Unknown said...

Boy, wouldn't the IRS love to have access to this kind of sanction for cheating on your taxes?

How come I couldn't see the horror of the violence in this story when I was an evangelical? Now as an agnostic I see it's no better than Muslims chopping off hands as a penalty for stealing a candy bar.

And as far as Judas, of course, which of deaths are you going to cover: the hanging, or the disemboweling?

skanksta said...

I still want you to add some more to killing 88 (ish?) - I don't think I was the only one either.

The text suggested a lot more deaths than you'd given - I'll find out which one for when you get back - you deserve a holiday !

vp said...

@Steve Wells:

What about the deaths of 2000 pigs in the Gerasene demoniac story? (Mark 5)

Jesus gives permission for the demons to enter the pigs, presumably using his God-given power.

Or do non-human deaths not count?

Brucker said...

Animal deaths would be virtually uncountable: consider the sacrificial system from Genesis 3 forward through Noah and into the Israelite system. The number is no doubt in the billions.

twillight said...

But it is an interresting idea on the animals.
Steve have 2 kind of list on the human-killings: one with the precisly given numbers, and one with the estimated total.

So if someone had the time, the cases where the exact numbers (or percentage) were given, that version of the list could be assembled.

skanksta said...

Animal deaths...wow !


It was god's 85th killing, "the delivering of the Moabites". You DID up to 3,000 but I still don't think this is enough.

The bronze-age holy book states...
"The LORD ... will deliver the Moabites ... into your hand. And ye shall smite every fenced city, and every choice city, and shall fell every good tree, and stop all wells of water, and mar every good piece of land with stones"

To cut a long story short that's what they did.

You upped to 3k, but the suggestion is definitely more than 3 cities - I'd suggest 5 - and I also think the big guy deserves more for "collateral" damage.
He specifically tells the Israelites to devastate the land - essentially a mixture of deforestation (very serious in marginal arid deserts) and also poisoning wells.

I think at least 5 cities, (so 5k not 3k) AND at least SOME more for the deliberate environmental terrorism. I think AT LEAST another 250 for this.

Anyone else ?

Matthew Blanchette said...

And as far as Judas, of course, which of deaths are you going to cover: the hanging, or the disemboweling?

For some reason, I'm now imagining Judas hanging himself with his disemboweled intestines; yeeesshhh... :-S

Also, how come we've suddenly jumped so far ahead? There's no God-killings in any of the other prophetic books or Gospels?

Steve Wells said...

Brucker: Do you agree with the "fundie party line" on Judas' death? That Peter just forgot to mention that Judas hung himself before he fell down and "burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out."

If Judas fell and exploded with his intestines spewed about, then that was it was a miraculous death and another of God's mighty and wondrous killings. That sort of thing just doesn't happen naturally.

Matthew: I've skipped ahead so far because I can't find any other of God's killings between Ezekiel's wife and Judas. God has great plans that he reveals through his bat-shit crazy prophets for huge, bloody mass murders, but he's saving it for later. But I wouldn't be surprised if I missed a couple along the way. Let me know if you find any.

Unknown said...

Ananias and Sapphira clearly lied straight to The Holy Spirit. By not giving the full amount when they were supposed to, and everyone around them was. while this may not be verbally interpreted, it is not telling the full story, or being dishonest. dishonest- altered, not honest; LYING , cheating etc. The reason Ananias was given no time to say a word in his own defense is because there is no excuse for lying to The Holy Spirit (God). Any word in his defense would have been a lie or a non-relevant excuse; he lied to God, end of story.

skanksta said...

@ Ethan Currier...

Surely anyone who has a personal relationship with a god for any length of time, (ie - EVERY believer) MUST lie to their god at SOME time or other ?

I lied to Ba'al, (I worshipped him for a while in my 20s) and Poseidon during a particularly frightening and emetic boat trip.

I once talked to Jesus - said I was sorry for pretending to become a Catholic, just so I could get married in a beautiful church on the beach in Italy - and I was lying thru' my back teeth then too.

Why aren't I dead ?
and why aren't other believers ?
Have you ever lied to your god, (Allah I'm guessing?) ?
would we deserve if our god killed us for lying to him ?

Interested in your response...

Unknown said...


I don't think Ba'al counts. I don't know much about him but I doubt lying is a Death Penalty to him.

Poseidon on the other hand you got lucky. He either wasn't listening or you have protection from a higher voice. He does kill people just because.

As far as The God (of Christians) is concerned, I believe that showing and killing is out of practice. Since he left the world to it's luck a long time ago, he will not do anything besides showing his face on bread for his amusement.

Note: I do not approve of killing for lying. The punishement should always be in-line with the fault. Lying (even to gods) should be considered a minor fault specially if the consquences can be corrected.

Manna ם ֶחֶלּ ַה said...

We are living in a realm of duality and fragmentation. The beginning of Pentecost occurred in the period in history of the divided tongue beneath the constellation of the two fishes or the fragmented church. God hides nothing.
Peter displayed his divided tongue by pointing their sins and speaking death upon them when he was supposed to speak life and grace. Note the absolute lack of commentary by the scripture. The revelation is finely tuned in order that whatever the hearts condition is will find whatever that heart's condition is. Life and death is on the power of the tongue. James tells us blessing and cursing should not come forth from the same tongue. Notice what happened to the believers and those outside the church when this happened. The believers were in great fear (Greek-phobos or terror). Terror is not from God and believers are not to walk in fear. But remember we are at the start of Pentecost and the division and trouble doesn't take long to occur. Paul said these things must and we will eventually come to a recognition of Christ within(Tabernacles) and come into unity. Notice also in 5:13 that 'none of the rest dared join them.' And the next verse they are growing again. This is the church of the divided tongue. Someday we'll speak life and turn this around but not until we come to unity (Ephesians 5:13) Love and life to you all in Christ.

Elvis Ford said...

God’s reasons for bringing about the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira involve His abhorrence of sin, the unbelief of the two people and the lesson for the rest of the church, both then and now. With the emphasis of the modern church on God’s love and mercy, how easy it can be to gloss over the holiness of God, to forget that He is righteous and pure and that He hates sin with every fiber of His being.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Ananias-and-Sapphira.html#ixzz2izxcVL54

Manna ם ֶחֶלּ ַה said...

Do you really believe God was holding Ananias and Sapphira's sin against them. If you do you are in opposition to the scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:19: "that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." If God is not counting people's sin against them then something else was going on here, Elvis. What would that be. Christ dealt with the world's sin at the cross and God is reconciled to man. We are to tell people God is their friend, not their torturer and killer. Your default setting of sin consciousness is the problem and maybe that is why Paul had to repeatedly tell Peter to get his act together when he was imputing people's sins to them.

Elvis Ford said...

@Collision of Souls. I'm not a pastor, nor theologian, just a believer, and I thought the whole story about these two was, well, a little harsh. So I researched the story and found this answer. Perhaps if read this in its entirety it will be more clear the reason(s). http://www.gotquestions.org/Ananias-and-Sapphira.html#ixzz2izxcVL54

Manna ם ֶחֶלּ ַה said...

Elvis: I am not a pastor or theologian either, but I am one who wants the truth and institutions, I have found, can not offer me truth, just their doctrines. Truth is a person and that person is Christ. Christ has taken us all the way to the Father and there is no longer anything to fear. He's good with us and we can be good with him. I wish you well. http://isleofexile.blogspot.ca/2013/02/halfway-there.html

Elvis Ford said...

Thank you my brother in Christ. I am so grateful.

Unknown said...

The writer changes The Bible in order to make his argument.

Thinking said...

Or did Peter who was known to be ready with the sword actually act as judge jury and executioner. He could have had the authority to get away with it. And it would tighten his control because of the fear speed afterwards. And that "minor detail" about the sword left out in the telling would change the whole dynamics.

Thinking said...

Or did Peter who was known to be ready with the sword actually act as judge jury and executioner. He could have had the authority to get away with it. And it would tighten his control because of the fear speed afterwards. And that "minor detail" about the sword left out in the telling would change the whole dynamics.

Szczery said...

and guys do you know that Peter lied himself when he denied Jesus three times?