What about Ananias and Sapphira?


Source: lesmiserablesfilm.com

Recently in Connecticut, a pastor stood in front of his church and confessed to the sin of adultery. Then the pastor fell down dead, right in front of everyone. This proves that God expects his people to live holy lives and if they don’t, he’ll kill them.

Of course, that’s complete nonsense. The story is true – a Connecticut pastor really did die – but the interpretation is wrong. God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve.

But what are we to make of Ananias and Sapphira? Like the poor pastor they dropped dead in a church (Acts 5:1-11).

The bizarre deaths of Ananias and Sapphira have been debated for 2,000 years. Why did they die? Did God kill them? Why did God kill them? Why is this story in the Bible? Am I supposed to learn something from it? What? Will God kill me if I lie?

Questions like these have provided sermon material for countless fear-mongers. “God killed Ananias and Sapphira because they sinned and if you’re not careful he’ll kill you too! So fear God and behave yourself.”

Has there ever been a more damnable lie inflicted on those whom God loves? (Actually, I can think of several.)

Unpunishable on account of Jesus

I could give you a hundred scriptures to show you that God did not kill Ananias and Sapphira for their sins and to assure you that he won’t kill you for yours, but three should suffice:

(God) doesn’t punish us as our sins deserve. (Psalm 103:10, CEV)

The punishment that brought us peace was on him… (Isa 53:5b)

God is not counting people’s sins against them. (2 Cor 5:19b)

The good news of Jesus is that your sins and my sins and the sins of that Connecticut pastor and the sins of Ananias and Sapphira were condemned on the cross and there is nothing left to condemn.

God was angry with sin, which is why he poured out his wrath and dealt with sin once and for all at Calvary (Rom 8:3).

Those who accuse God of killing sinners are confused about the cross. God doesn’t kill sinners; he saves sinners. God doesn’t hate sinners; he loves them!

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

If God killed Ananias and Sapphira then the Bible is wrong and Jesus is not the Lamb of God who carried the sins of the world. (I talk elsewhere about Herod.)

There’s no shortage of sinners in this world. Why would God kill one couple and leave the rest alone?

I’ve heard it said that God killed Ananias and Sapphira to warn and purify the infant church. By making an example out of these hypocrites, the church would be filled with a holy fear and kept safe from liars and cheats.

If so, then God failed spectacularly. Liars, cheats and hypocrites have always been with us, and there were plenty in the New Testament church.

I’ve also heard it said that God set up this killing to establish the authority of his apostles. Never mind that Peter had been commissioned by the Lord and filled with the Holy Spirit. Like a kid going through a gangster initiation he had to kill someone to establish his bona fides.

How absurd! How utterly inconsistent with the message Peter had been commissioned to preach.

Meanwhile back in Connecticut

People sometimes ask me, “Did God kill Ananias and Sapphira?” When I reply in the negative I am invariably asked, “So who did?” as though there was some murder mystery to be solved. But the facts of their deaths may be more prosaic.

The pastor in Connecticut died from a sudden heart failure, which is very sad. Perhaps it was the stress of hiding a lie or losing his reputation that triggered the attack.

At the time of his death there was speculation in the press that he didn’t plan to confess at all – the adultery was a long time ago – but he had been ambushed by church members who had heard about his affair. Emotions were running high. There was shouting. The man died.

Whatever happened, it’s a sad story. But I am struck by the similarities between the Connecticut story and the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira:

  • By having a secret affair, you could argue that the pastor lied to his church and to God, as did Ananias and Sapphira.
  • The pastor was confronted by church members, as were Ananias and Sapphira.
  • The pastor dropped down dead, just like Ananias and Sapphira.

As far as I know, no one is blaming God for the pastor’s death, so why would anyone blame him for the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira? If you must blame someone, blame sin. Sin kills people. Sin ruins marriages and destroys lives. Sin is bad.

And this is why Jesus came – so that you might be free from the curse of sin and live.

If there is any takeaway from the Ananias and Sapphira story, it’s that the wages of sin is death. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that God is good, he doesn’t treat you as your sins deserve.

That’s the gospel of Jesus that we all need to hear!


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95 Comments on What about Ananias and Sapphira?

  1. Great write as usual. We need to preach the solution to sin, (Jesus sacrifice) not the power of sin.

  2. John Campbell // April 9, 2015 at 1:41 am // Reply

    Great commentary! It frames the issue perfectly. Jesus prophesied,blood bought and glorious New Covenant blood, shed for all sin and offered in heavens Tabernacle is our sin offering securing eternal redemption.
    Ananias and Sapphira did not lie to The Father or the Son but specifically to The Holy Spirit……..

  3. well done Paul, the revelation the stuck with me was ” the stress of hiding a lie or losing his reputation that triggered the attack.” it is so true and I tell people ” sin can kill ya”

  4. The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira must be looked at according to their dispensation. The “Law and the Prophets” were until John the Baptist; (Luke 16:16) after that, the “Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth” which persisted until the “Dispensation of the Grace of God” which was not given until the Apostle Paul. (Ephesians 3:2) After Pentecost, the first seven years of the Church was to Israel alone. (The only exception was to “proselytes”, only those who were willing to first “become Jews”, and then, they could be saved. (Acts 2:10) Not until Paul was Grace dispensed to the Gentiles. The Kingdom Gospel was, and will be again, to Israel, God’s natural born children. God has always reserved the right to chasten “his own children”. (Hebrews 12:4-11 “To the Hebrews”, not to the Gentiles, and in 1 Thess. 2:16, to the Jews who were not yet converted to Christ.) There is not, nor has there ever been any physical chastening to the Gentile Bride of Christ; Jesus does not beat his Bride, but God the Father does chasten those born in his own house; even his “firstborn son”, Israel. (Exodus 4:22)

    • Something is amiss here. Christ’s commission starts in Luke 24:47, “repentance and forgiveness should be proclaimed…to all nations beginning in Jerusalem”. Acts 1:8 “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the Earth”. Its a matter of starting point, not dispensation. Acts 7 has Phillip, Peter and John preaching Christ to Samaritans and the Ethiopian eunuch *before* Paul goes to the gentiles; and Acts 11 records Peter presenting the gospel to a “true” gentile, again, *before* Paul. After Christ’s resurrection anyone could be saved. But God did have to break the disciples out of the “Jews” only mindset. There is only one Body, the Church, there is no longer Jew or Greek.

  5. gatordeano // April 9, 2015 at 2:34 am // Reply

    Thanks Paul. I agree;the text never says God killed them. It seems probably the stress of what they were doing hit them, but I can speculate that Peter might have overreacted and certainly did nothing to diminish their stress. He pretty much contributed to them “retaining” their sin.

    Just curious what you make of (John 20:23) which is a post-Resurrection admonition to the gathered disciples after explicitly “breathing” the Holy Spirit on them, “Whosoever’s sins you dismiss (forgive) they are dismissed (forgiven), and whosoever’s sins you retain (don’t forgive) they are retained.”

    I know that power has been taught as some kind of special apostolic or priestly anointing, but couldn’t Jesus just have been pointing out the seriousness of the effect and responsibility they would have toward and on other people in light of the gospel, It seems to me if they didn’t get this before Ananias & Sapphira perhaps they did afterward, and maybe that’s what it means about great fear coming upon the disciples

    • I really like your point. We as disciples have the ministry of reconciliation. Jesus said “the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” so today we, as His body on the earth need to do what He did. It is sobering to consider the power someone as full of the Holy Spirit as Peter has. May God give us the grace to condemn the sin but forgive the sinner in the spirit of humility and brotherly love.

    • However, Jesus also said “whosoever speaks against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven him”. Ananias and his wife were part of a group of believers where “great power” and “great grace was upon them all”. They both knew, felt and saw the Spirit move mightily and Peter simply recognized that their sin was the unpardonable sin. Satan was trying desperately to corrupt the church so Ananias allowed him to enter him. “Ananias why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit…?” Ananias knew exactly what he was doing and premeditated with his wife how to lie. Without the Holy Spirit, remains no forgiveness.
      That goes to show Christians can have demons by the way.

  6. chris whyatt // April 9, 2015 at 2:41 am // Reply

    That still does not explains why it happened

  7. This is an interesting take on the infamous couple . This interpretation does have it’s challenges though: Why did the Holy Spirit give Peter the prophetic insight to tell Sahpira that she was about to be carried out dead like her husband? Why did the Holy Spirit give Saphira the opportunity to come clean with Peter’s clear and concise question, “Is this the the amount you got for the land?” but did not give Sahpira opportunity to repent after she lied to the Holy Spirit? The last challenge is why didn’t niether Peter or the Holy Spirit set the crowds of people straight when “great fear fell on the entire church and upon all who heard of this” ? Surely the entire church and the inspired author of Scripture and rock of the church himself -Peter getting the wrong conclusion could have easily been corrected if they were all wrong about Gods motives and intentions. And lastly why is the Spirit careful to record this event and the exact timing, words and responses in the inspired text to further entrench this misunderstanding? (Evidently leaving that task for 2000 years to Paul Ellis )
    We must not let our propensity to reinterpret the simple and straight forward intended interpretation of the text to force it to fit our own pet systematic theology. I don’t know why God puts some folk to death and doesn’t put others to death Let God be God and let Him make whatever exceptions he wants to make. Let’s let God explain that to Uzza ( who God put to death for offering a helping hand when the ark slipped on the oX cart as well as to our infamous couple in this fearful account in Acts 5 (and to their families. ) Lets also let God explain why he threatened to put Jezebel and her children to a bed of pain and to death along with those who commit immorality with her (Rev 3).

    • Hi Barry
      God allows Himself to be misinterpreted by us in the hope that we would have the kind of conversation we are having now with ourselves and others.
      How else can we make sense of the thousands of years of OT violent God stuff.
      We need to filter all scripture through the lens of Jesus by the Spirit.

    • I can tell you why Uzzah died: he touched an anointed ‘thing’. It’s the same way today- anybody called of God is anointed (even if they don’t “act” anointed), & it’s dangerous to touch them in any fashion- regardless of what they do/say (remember the story of King Saul chasing David). I’m expecting to hear some real horror stories in the near future, of ppl keeling over after speaking against God’s servants (actually, it’s been prophesied that it would happen, & I think it’s already happened to a few- whom I will NOT name). Anyway, the ppl handling the ark were doing it the wrong way, but they were still anointed, & when he tried to correct the problem himself he hit the deck. That’s why he died…

    • You are thoughtful in your perspective, but you are reading more into the text than what is there. It does not say that Peter told Sapphira she was going to be carried out dead. It says the men who buried her husband were going to carry her out. It does not specify that she would be carried out alive or dead.

    • clement NG // June 13, 2015 at 9:43 pm // Reply

      it wasn’t the Holy Spirit; but rather the evil one who orchestrated everything to its deadly conclusion..

  8. My question would be why did Peter predict that Sapphira would be carried out on the same bed that her husband was carried out of?

  9. That explanation will never fly! It’s just too simple. 🙂

  10. Paul, I am so tired of writing about how awesome you are! 😎 You refuse to budge an inch from the goodness of God.
    One of the great things about the freedom of the gospel is you are set free from being led by the opinions of one man. We are now led by the Holy Spirit not men! But also another benefit is being able to hear his voice in the words of a man. It is so refreshing to be in this wilderness lacking the perspective of Jesus, to hear someone not letting go of the bone!
    Paul, I am continually amazed at the depth of wisdom that can come forth from just a few sentences that you write.
    I don’t see you as needing encouragement since you get so much from your readers. However, it seems very important to me to continue telling you this. I am really not sure why. Thank you for keeping the faith!

  11. I’ve also heard many accounts of people getting closer or more sensitive to God when their day of death approaches. An old man in our church suddenly started speaking with power and authority, so much that we held a special series of meetings so he could preach what he downloaded from God. People in these meetings were struck by the wisdom, authority and words he brought. Then right at the end of his last sermon he said something akin to ‘it is finished’ and he died clutching the pulpit. Everyone marveled at how he delivered his “Gettysburg address”, and they knew God had then called him home.
    The pastor who had committed adultery probably didn’t know ‘his number was up’, but God did. It’s my opinion that God gave him the grace, strength and humility to “come out”.

    • That is how I also understood the story about the pastor. He finally repented and is hopefully in heaven right now 🙂
      The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
      -2 Peter 3:9

  12. Mark russell // April 9, 2015 at 5:05 am // Reply

    Great article Paul! I saw something in this story a while back that comforted me. If you look back to the verses above the account of Ananias and sapphira to 4:32 God has given us the explanation. It says “32And the congregation of THOSE WHO BELIEVED were of ONE HEART AND SOUL; and NOT ONE of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.”
    The scriptures couldn’t have said “NOT ONE OF THEM claimed that anything belonged to him,” if there was one person (sapphira) who did. Also it says “THOSE WHO BELIEVED were one heart and soul.” This scripture would have not been true if Ananias and sapphira were counted among “THOSE WHO BELIEVED,” because they were not one heart and soul with the rest. Your thoughts??

    • That was an awesome revelation! Didn’t see that, thank you and Paul for tackling some difficult passages in the light of the cross.

  13. Not much about A and S…I don’t think their death is a coincidence…It is said they lied to God. Peter prophecies her death. Tough one

  14. Thanks so much Paul, am so inspired by your posts, same related pple don’t let the interpret Bible. They assume the word of God.

  15. Terry Benischek // April 9, 2015 at 5:49 am // Reply

    In light of the Gospel of Grace, the truth is easy to spot, the enemy is real and he roams around seeking whom he may devour, he kills, steals and destroys. Death is an enemy of God and the enemy would like nothing more than to blame his handiwork on God. Jesus (Grace) came, that we might have life and have it more abundantly. This pastor, nor were Sapphira and Ananias, obviously enjoying life more abundantly. None of this was from God. They did not have Grace established in their hearts and that meant that the Law was their leader and guide, hence the wages of sin, according to the Law is death. Under the law they got exactly what they deserved and expected, since they did not receive or accept the Grace of God through Jesus Christ.
    And who has Christendom blamed over the ages for Ananias’ and Sapphira’s death? God. Those of us who know, and experience day by day, the Love of God through Jesus Christ will never blame death on God. Death is God’s enemy, that is why He sent Jesus Christ to die for us and be Resurrected from the grave. If the defeat of death, (which the Bible tells us is God’s enemy) is God’s ultimate goal through Christ, why would He cause anyone to die? Doesn’t make too much sense does it?

    • Thank you Terry for the way you expressed: “In light of the Gospel of grace…” This is similar to something I heard a while back: when bank tellers are being trained to detect fake notes, they are only allowed to handle genuine notes. When they encounter the fakes, instinctively they can feel/recognize them. When we are grounded in Grace and Truth (Jesus), fake doctrines or fake anything else is easy to detect.

      • humbleheart72 // April 9, 2015 at 9:51 am //

        “When we are grounded in Grace and Truth (Jesus), fake doctrines or fake anything else is easy to detect.”

        Amen…..it’s getting easier for me now…….but oh man did I get pulled onto a lot of rabbit trails there for a while……..one of the reasons I think God led me to E2R………about that time was when I was starting to recognize the different between true and false teachings. God is tweaking my discernment more and more the more I seek His face and really, just by showing up where I believe the Holy Spirit is calling or leading me to go. Being a Christian these days is adventurous 😀

  16. I really like the Scripture index advertisement for some reason…whoa

  17. This is amazing! How did you manage to write an article tomorrow and post it today??? Hahaha! God bless you Paul, I really enjoy getting your emails 🙂

  18. They fell dead at the words of an apostle.

  19. humbleheart72 // April 9, 2015 at 7:08 am // Reply

    This is awesome! Just read it out loud to my dad and we both agree this pretty much sums up the story of Ananias and Sapphira. I’m really happy to know that God did not kill them but all these years I’ve wondered what in the world happened and why their deaths were so sudden and harsh. Do we realize that Peter prophesied them? I think that people operating in the authority of the LORD need to be careful what they speak because they could be prophesying the early death of people. Wonder if that’s why so many disasters are happening in the world and everything is getting worse and worse because people keep saying (even me) that it’s getting worse and worse out there every day and the weather is getting crazier and crazier all over the world. We’re prophesying it all! But I do know that the Word of God has it’s own prophesies and we need to be in agreement with the Word always so there’s no sense in trying to prophesy against any of it hoping that we can stop the inevitable. But what about Moses praying for God to spare the people? He was able to get God to change His mind? Or was he? Are we seeing things from God’s perspective or leaning on our own understanding of what makes sense to us in the natural? I think that’s often what we do with stories like Ananias and Sapphira. We try to rationalize everything instead of just asking God for understanding. Great article Paul. Got me stirred up! Hahaha! God bless!

  20. humbleheart72 // April 9, 2015 at 9:56 am // Reply

    Paul, I just want to take a moment to thank you and commend you for being such an active participant to your blogs by responding to the comments when you can. There are so many dead blogs out there and I see this one just blooming with life because you are tending it so well. Not trying to gain any brownie buttons here, just speaking the truth. The Spirit of Truth is in this place ❤

    • Thanks HH,
      Thanks for that. This is actually an issue that bothers me a lot – that I don’t get to engage more. Some of the people who come here are lost and hurting. Some share stories they have never told anybody else. I am humbled that people feel safe enough to be so open and honest here, and I wish I had the time to give everyone a personal response. By the same token I am very grateful for those regular readers who do respond to others with grace, peace and Holy Spirit wisdom.

      • the other day was thinking about the feedback to you,and thought about how many times ive put something out there and people respond with praise or thanks and It is humbling and scary, because I think. “man Lord I hope I heard you or got this correct “

  21. While I appreciate the fact that God loves us greatly and Jesus is the lamb that took away our sins, I believe there are some scriptures that are not straight forward in interpretation. The comments of Peter suggest that God is involved in that incident. What explanation can we give to ‘God is a consuming fire’?

  22. Hmm. I do think there is more to this than meets the eye, but totally agree with you Paul that it wasn’t God who killed them. One of those tricky ones we might have to wait until the new earth to find out what really was going on.

  23. Great word Paul. Pastor Joseph Prince has a great message on these two. He teaches that they weren’t believers but unbelievers trying to deceive the Body of Christ. He agrees as well that God didn’t kill them.

    • I’ve watched JP’s sermon on A&S. It’s true that he argued that A&S were not believers, but he didn’t say that God didn’t kill them. He said that God wanted to protect the church. Btw Paul, if the wages of sin is death, then we the believers should be dead also like A&S. So I agree with JP that A&S were not believers. That’s the difference between us & A&S.

  24. The shouting was not angry shouting as written but shouts of support when the pastor had a heart attack.

  25. The final conclusion ” If there is any takeaway from the Ananias and Sapphira story, it’s that the wages of sin is death.”. Then, mankind should be extinct for all has fall short of the glory of God.

  26. I think wen Peter said to them why did you lie, they were surprised and died in surprise to this, Peter knowing the truth from Father in Spirit and truth said through Peter to them and even said this land you sold you did not have to, nor have to give it up to us. and you chose to. You could have just said here is what we offer, from what we sold. It was yours to choose. And So to their surprise, shock killed them both.

    so the morrow of the story ere to me is Why Lie, God knows, and by lying I will not fool Father the king who by Son took away sins all that brought death to us by Adam’s fall. I see to respond to this in being honest to all and not cheat anyone after in thanksgiving and praise to this amazing feat of Christ in his risen life today for us all to get by belief in and be freed from harm to doing harm to anyone else anymore
    Since Father saw to do this for all in Mercy and truth, because he really does just love us to respond in thanksgiving and praise to
    Thank you Yeshua and Yeweh thank you deeply

  27. I know this doesn’t answer all questions but when it comes to the Ananias story I like to look at the two men in the book of Acts named Ananias. In chapter 5, the one that died, the bible referred to him as a “certain man.” In chapter 9,the Ananias that returned Paul’s sight, he was referred to as a “certain disciple.” In over words God doesn’t kill his children/believers/disciples. I know this doesn’t answer all questions but it may offer some comfort to those having trouble with this passage.

  28. Was God waiting for the pastor to confess the sin and then kill him? (Since he committed the adultery a long time ago). If He did wait, then there was all the more reason for God to look at his changed heart and let him live….I think the same would apply to Ananias and Sapphira – The moment they lied about the money God should have killed them if He did kill them……I think all those believing that God killed these people should be living in fear because God might anytime kill them…worse they’ll be afraid to confess their sin because surely the time would be ripe for them 🙂

  29. Really good. I’m always surprised at how one hears the God-killed-them claim from the pulpit.

  30. Only argument from a lack of faith would believe that God killed them, for me it borders on dillusional for a believer to even consider that God had killed them, but I see believers living in the belief that they could die, that the life that have been given is not yet realized but only a hope that could be shattered.God does not take life he gives life to those that choose it, what is so difficult to understand.Is everyone like Martha saying yes Lord I believe that we will rise again in the ressurection at the last day. Get a little bit of Lazarus in you people shake of the burial cloth and wake up.Acts 5:19 There is no prison that holds Gods children. Acts 5:20 Now go out and speak all the words of this life.? Not the life to come This life !!

  31. Is anybody thinking Ananias and Saphira were born again?. Its not everybody that comes to church and wind up into leadership that knows Christ and is born again. Some just come to socialize and many don’t understand the gospel. Many think the true gospel is too good to be true. Ananias and Saphira were trying to buy their way into church leadership. God wont just allow it.

    • I agree. I do not believe that Ananias and Saphira were truly born again. There have been other instances in the New Testament where someone has tried to buy their way into the Christian experience (including the power of the Holy Spirit). I believe that Satan was (and is) behind this attempt to destroy the true way of grace (not works). In the New Testament Paul had to immediately rebuke a demonically influenced person who was pointing out to the crowds as to Paul’s identity, Their must have been something offensive in the way this was done. Simon Magus had attempted to buy the power of the Holy Spirit, and Paul struck him blind through the power of the Spirit. I suppose the lesson should be that Satan’s attempt to throw grace in disrepute is not tolerated by God.

  32. So I really enjoyed this article, and thanks to God, I came to these conclusions myself before even reading your blog, so things are good. However, I just …

  33. Paul, I cannot stop laughing once I read this quote from your book Grace Disco.
    “Pretty soon you’ll be whipping yourself and asking your friends to crucify you for the Easter parade.”😎👏🎉

  34. Something to notice about the passage in Acts 5:1-11, there is nothing to indicate that Peter knew Ananias and Sapphira were going to die or that he had any part in causing it. He merely calls them out on their sin. When he told Sapphira that the men who buried her husband were here to carry her out, there is no indication that he meant they were there to bury her because she was about to die as her husband had. He very likely meant they were there to forcibly escort her out because of her offense in some form of removal from fellowship. She, like her husband, could have also been overcome by the stress of the situation and her heart gave out. I can’t say that I “know” this for sure, but people assume a lot when the details of what happened were not clear.

    • Brandon I 100% agree with you on this. For conjectures are prevalent from everyone to think this or that about any an all Scripture to this and or that. And unfortunately many make their conjecturing Doctrines of things that are not clear to begin with. For me I find all said here from each person “Interesting” not Doctrine. The only doctrine I stick to is Jesus Christ the way, the truth and the new life given us in his risen life from Father to all that believe to walk as Christ waked in Faith fro Father to lead in Mercy and truth to all,

  35. Yea no way Ananias and Sapphira were believers. It wouldn’t even make sense for the Holy Ghost to kill another believer. The Holy Ghost kills another believer filled with the Holy Ghost? No way. And it would make the Lord look evil. Those two jokers had to be nonbelievers and they were trying to take advantage of people in that church.

    • Jesus said he is the perfect representation of God. . . when you saw him you saw the Father. Jesus did not kill anyone, he did not accuse anyone. When we describe God as a vengeful killer we have created a God after our own image, it’s called idolatry. i.e man is vengeful and angry therefore we imagine God as vengeful/angry. God is not vengeful or angry. Jesus came to show the exact image of God so you wouldn’t need to be confused about the true nature of God. What is God like? He’s exactly like Jesus. Jesus, in the absence of an accuser, neither does he accuse or condemn or kill.

  36. Paul, are you saying that A&S were believers? Just like to know your opinion. As always, your posting has always been a blessing!

    • No, I’m saying it would be unjust of God to kill a person for sin that has already been condemned on the cross (Rom 8:3). It would also be out of character (Rom 5:8).

      • Paul, this reminds me of a line of thought on this subject I am curious what your take is on it. Some people say that yes Jesus died for the sin of the whole world but that a person has to place their faith in Christ before they come under freedom from condemnation along the line of Romans 8:1. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, so if someone is not “in Christ” wouldn’t that mean condemnation remains unless they place faith in Christ? I think that is why people are questioning whether A&S were believers. I can also see the argument that Christ took the punishment for the sin of the whole world on Himself and that all people are free until they die physically and then have to face the eternal consequence waiting for them if they did not receive the gift of salvation.

      • My point, that I am evidently not making well, is that sin is not God and that sin has consequences that God cannot be blamed for. Sin literally kills people; God saves people. This isn’t about “oh they were unbelievers and I’m a believer, therefore I’m safe,” because ANYONE who sows to the flesh can reap destruction. If you drink and drive down the wrong side of the freeway at 100 miles an hour, you’re not going to be safe because you’re saved. You’ll still go to heaven; you’ll just get there a little quicker.

      • Ok, that makes more sense, and I agree. Thanks for clarifying.

      • Hi Paul,
        Just wondering what your thoughts are as to whether God ever harmed or killed people for any reason before the cross.

      • This post is relevant.

  37. Isn’t it ridiculous that men are sturbornly bent on blaming God for what he already paid dearly to free us from. And preachers are the mostly the cause. Grace gives us the power to say no to sin. Law teaches us to run from sin in order to avoid it’s consequences but Grace simply gives us power over sin. Rom. 6:14. Sin shall not have dominion over you for you are not under the law but under grace.

  38. God’s word is very descriptive and does not leave out necessary details. I believe in regards to Acts 5 about Ananias and Sapphira that they are not disciples. If you look at the scripture, you will find descriptive details given about individual. The only descriptive details about these two is a conniving couple. Read Acts 5 in the Voice version.

  39. Ananias and Sapphira, Simon the sorcerer and Judas Iscariot were the same kettle of fish. Their common story is that Satan had filled their hearts and they were captive to sin.Can we as believers have our hearts filled by Satan and be captive to sin? I don’t think so. – Acts 5:3,Acts 8:23,Luke 22:3.

  40. “3 Peter said to him, “Ananias, why did you let Satan take control of you and make you lie to the Holy Spirit by keeping part of the money you received for the property? 4 Before you sold the property, it belonged to you; and after you sold it, the money was yours. Why, then, did you decide to do such a thing? You have not lied to people—you have lied to God!” 5 As soon as Ananias heard this, he fell down dead; and all who heard about it were terrified. ” The Scripture is clear. Ananias let Satan take control of him and he lied to the Holy Spirit. He fell down dead as a consequence of lying to God. God punished him for His sin. It’s a clear warning to all believers to take God seriously! God is love but God is also holy!

    • Actually the scripture doesn’t say that God punished Ananias; it says the punishment was on Jesus. If your interpretation is correct, then the Bible is wrong and Jesus didn’t carry the sins of the world.

    • It does say he let Satan havr control and lied to the Holy Spirit. It does not say that God punished him for that sin. Sin has natural destructive consequences completely apart from any punishment.

  41. I think it’s important to note that “Sin” in this reference is “unbelief” as in “to be without a share in” the God-kind of life Jesus died to give us. Then we can see how God does not punish the act of sin, as in wrong behavior, but rather let’s our unbelief “sin” minister it’s own death and destruction. Sin, as in wrong behavior is a result of “unbelief” sin, so without doing away with the root, behavior can’t change. God looks at our heart, which is our belief system, not our behavior and wants us all to choose His system of grace through Jesus. Ananias and Sapphira chose satan’s law based system of self-righteousness, which says “By what I do, I become” and the wages of that unbelief “sin” is death. God was not punishing their wrong behavior, their law based belief system has consequences of death and destruction because God is not in that system. That’s why He sent Jesus to take the death of that system to the cross. God hates that law-based system and wants His children to choose His grace, which is life in Jesus, but never forces us by punishment. He is not a manipulative God. Jesus fulfilled that law-based system that required a death, but if we don’t know what He did at the cross, just like Ananias and Sapphira, we too will “miss the mark” and not live the beautiful, glorious life God restored to us in Jesus! Grace, Grace Grace!!!!!

  42. Hi Paul. Been thinking and meditating on this — oh, I love everything you said btw — and agree. But here is what I think Jesus is saying to me: when we ask why they died, we’re asking the wrong question. We ought to be asking: what could Peter have done so that they would LIVE and come to know Jesus better? I think he should have done what any of us would have done: Thanked them for their gift and told them what a great difference it would make. Clearly they needed affirmation and acclaim; why not give it to them, so they would know they were loved and approved of? Then maybe they would have felt good about themselves and been free to approach God and His people without artifice, on His merit rather than their own. The story is in the Bible as a caution to us, as believers, not to judge and condemn as Peter did, but to affirm and approve as God does. What do you think?

    • I think that’s an outstanding question, Jax! We’ve been so hung up on their deaths, we’ve not stopped to ask what might have been done to save them from death? All these debates – I see Jesus doing a big face-palm and saying, “It’s like I didn’t even come.” So thank you!

    • Warren (South Carolina, USA) // December 31, 2015 at 6:07 am // Reply

      Jax, I really like what you said: “The story is in the Bible as a caution to us, as believers, not to judge and condemn as Peter did, but to affirm and approve as God does.”

      Warren (South Carolina, USA)

  43. Warren (South Carolina) // May 5, 2015 at 12:08 pm // Reply

    Both of them “yielded up the ghost” in the KJV. It was the very beginning of the new covenant and they were so scared from the way they related to God under the old covenant they had a heart attack.
    Appreciate this teaching/understanding from Jim Richards.
    Warren (South Carolina)

  44. I suppose God also killed moses ?? No he also died from the law.

  45. This is the other Chris, now we can also try and argue about moses salvation ??

  46. Acts 4:32-37 gives a precise description that would exclude Ananias and Sapphira from being counted among the multitude of those who believed. Acts 4:32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. Acts 4:33 …And great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:32 shows that the multitude consisted of those that believed and those that did not. Barnabas(Acts 4:37) was given as an example of those that believed while Ananias and Sapphira(Acts 5:1) of those that did not. Ananias and Sapphira were of one heart and one soul with one another; Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?(Acts 5:9). Ananias and Sapphira decision to keep back part of the price of the land for themselves(Acts 5:3) further reveals the contrast with the believers of Acts 4:32, in that the things that they possessed were their own and they did not have all things in common with the believers. Ananias and and Sapphira’s outcome reveals that they were not the beneficiaries of great grace(Acts 4:33) but the recipients of abiding wrath(John 3:36).

  47. One wonders if Peter, not fully understanding Grace at the time, overstepped his authority and spoke, he certainly showed no grace at all…same as the disciples wanting to call down fire and Jesus saying you know not what spirit this is, after all there is power in the tongue and we can see Peter certainly was only starting the journey of understanding grace still believing in holding his seperate ideas till reading in his latter letters explaining he loved Paul and respected his teachings on Jesus and grace even though they were difficult to understand. If Annanias and Saphira were believers then even death for them would have lost its sting, so even death then for them would be an amazing blessing, not a punishment, just looking at the whole and bigger picture, it was better for the advancement of the gospel for them to be with Him than in a new group tainting it…just a few thoughts.why do we still think of death in terms of punishment if we have eternal life now. Distancing away from the emotions of it and seeing the story in an eternal picture.

  48. Warren (South Carolina) // May 25, 2015 at 2:06 am // Reply

    Who are we to determine whether or not someone is a believer? Only God knows our hearts.

  49. i get so tired of hearing christians say the unpardonable sin. IT WAS NOT! The only sin unpardonable is calling Jesus’ miracles a work of the devil. READ the Bible. Only one sin is unforgivable, and it was not aninias. It was the pharisees saying the miracles done by our Lord were done by the devil or he had a devil in him.Blasphemy against the holy spirit is the only unforgivable sin.

    • John Campbell // June 7, 2015 at 9:33 pm // Reply

      Amen. Hebrews 10:29 defines the unpardonable sin as rejecting the new covenant blood of our beautiful Savior very well…. Those who homogrnize the blood Moses sprinkled on the children of Israel with the eternal redemption of Christ Jesus NEW Covenant blood and come up with a re fried legalism are doing so unwittingly….Moses testified of Christ when he struck the ROCK and water gushed out, not vice- a versa. It’s ALL ABOUT JESUS!!!!!

    • Warren (South Carolina) // June 8, 2015 at 12:49 am // Reply

      At NUMEROUS other posts and comments on this site, I think Paul explains very well and consistently what blasphemy is (the unpardonable sin). Keep reading your bible, pray for wisdom, and don’t quit. God dose not quit on us. Currently, we ALL see through a glass dimly. . . .including me.

    • Will,
      It is not sufficient to READ the Bible, we must also learn to interpret it in the spirit of love and grace. Also, explain it to others in the same spirit…
      It would be nice if the only unforgivable sin was calling Jesus’ miracles the work of the devil. It was the context when Jesus talked about it, but it’s not the only way we can insult the Holy Spirit.
      Unbelief in Jesus Christ is unforgivable. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict of sin, testify of Christ and give us life eternal. To say that He (the Spirit) failed to do His part properly is blasphemy. Everybody is saved by the cross of Christ, though we are all born in sin and under condemnation. It is the Holy Spirit’s duty to lead us to accept Christ as Savior. If we resist Him until we die, we insulted Him and we are unforgivable. In Hebrews 10 it says we will also face judgement and “fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries” if “we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth [because] no further sacrifice for sins is left for us…How much greater punishment do you think that person deserves who has contempt for the Son of God, and profanes the blood of the covenant that made him holy, and *insults the Spirit of grace?*” (Heb 10:26-29 NET)
      There it is, another way of blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

      • Brother blasphemy, used in its proper context as its presented in the scriptures, only occurs at the willfull rejection of Jesus as Lord. I know Christians like to abuse the word blasphemy and label this or that as blasphemy (lol)…but its only used in one sense as the Bible presents it. The word blasphemy is about as misused and abused as the word repent. lol And I believe you would agree that the Holy Spirit convicts the believer of righteousness because we have forgiveness of all sins and Jesus’ gift of righteousness. But yea the rest of the nonbelieving world is being convicted by the Holy Ghost of the sin of rejecting Jesus as Lord.

    • Actually the only sin that is unpardonable, is the willful rejection of Jesus Christ. All the people who end up in hell, get there by never receiving Jesus as their Lord. That’s the ONE sin that has no type of additional means of rectification by the Lord.

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