This page is a verse by verse study of Acts 5:1-16. These verses describe the lie told by Ananias and Sapphira, and the miracles done through the apostles’ hands.
Ananias and Sapphira. Miracles by the Apostles.
¶ "One man, named Ananias, along with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. He pocketed part of the proceeds, and his wife knew this. He brought the rest and laid it at the apostles’ feet."(Acts 5:1-2).
Kept back part. Here is another example of the benevolence being practised by the church in Jerusalem. In the previous example, Barnabas gave the apostles the whole proceeds from the sale of his land (Acts 4:36-37). Unlike Barnabas, Ananias and Sapphira donated a portion from their sale, and kept some for themselves. Had they been open and honest about this, they'd have done no wrong. They weren't obliged to donate the whole proceeds if they didn't wish to. Peter makes that clear as we read on.
¶ "But Peter said, 'Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to secretly pocket part of the price of the land? While you kept your land, didn't it remain your own? Even after you sold it, the proceeds were under your control, weren't they? How could you let the thought of this pretence enter your heart? You haven't lied to men; you've lied to God.' When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. (Great fear came on all who heard of this event.) The young men arose; wrapped up Ananias; carried him out; and buried him. "(Acts 5:3-6).
To lie to the Holy Spirit The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not keeping money for themselves. The sin was making out they hadn't. They hoped to appear more generous and self-sacrificing than they really were. Their pretense was a lie to the apostles and to the congregation —or so they thought. But Peter calls it a lie to the Holy Spirit of God. We might think we can fool people. But we can't fool God. "All things are naked and open to the eyes of him with whom we have to do"(Hebrews 4:13).
Fell down and died. We don't know whether Peter intented that Ananias and Sapphira should die, or whether God independently caused the deaths —there's no value in speculating on this morbid subject. As we read on, Peter did expect Sapphira to be killed like her husband. But that doesn't necessarily mean that he was her executioner.
¶ "About three hours later, his wife, not knowing what had happened, came in. Peter answered her, 'Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.' She said, 'Yes, for so much.' But Peter asked her, 'How could you agree together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.' She suddenly dropped at his feet and died. The young men came in and found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband."(Acts 5:7-10).
Sapphira’s ignorance of events It seems a little strange that Sapphira wasn't warned of her husband’s demise. Perhaps Peter had instructed everyone to keep the secret until Sapphira went through the same test as her husband without any advantage over him.
No,funerals. It was customary to bury the dead without delay (Acts 8:2,Acts 9:36-39). However in "the burial custom of the Jews" care was given to laying out the body, enbalming it, and wrapping it in clean linen (John 19:38-42).. Also there would usually be a mournful procession to the burial grounds outside the city. The niceties of burial custom seem to have been cut to a minimum in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.
¶ "Great fear came on the whole church, and on all who heard about these events. By the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. They were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. None of the others dared to join them, however the people honored them. More believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women."(Acts 5:11-14).
Hands of the apostles The phrase "by the hands of the apostles" may not be just a manner of speaking. Later in Acts we learn that "by the laying on of the apostles’s hands the Holy Spirit was given"(Acts 8:14-19). Everyone baptized in the name of Christ received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39), but not such that they received miraculous powers. To receive the power to work miracles by the Spirit, it was necessary to receive the laying on of hands by an apostle. The apostles in Jerusalem were likely, by their hands, already passing on to others the ability to work signs and wonders.
Solomon’s Porch. One of the grand courtyards in the temple was the main gathering place for the church.
The others Usually the church meetings would include people interested in the gospel but not yet added to the church. These are probably the "others" who didn't at this time dare to visit the meetings. They would have been frightened not only by hearing of the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, but also being aware of the Sanhedrin’s growing opposition to the church. However this soon blew over. The church maintained favor with the people, and new believers were added.
¶ "People even carried out the sick into the streets on stretchers or small beds. They hoped that as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might fall on some of them. Large crowds also came together from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by foul spirits. They were all cured."(Acts 5:15-16).
Crowds in the streets. The news of miracles performed by the apostles, especially Peter, spread through Jerusalem and the surrounding towns of Judea. Crowds of people brought their afflicted into the streets to be healed. This of course made the populace happy but not the Sanhedrin.
Unclean spirits. Luke does not say that some of the sick were thought to be suffering from unclean spirits. He says they were. Not only is he inspired by the Holy Spirit in that statement, but he speaks as a physician (Colossians 4:14). How Luke knew the difference between sickness from some physical cause and suffering from evil spirits, we cannot say. This skill would have to be rediscovered through research. Nor therefore can we say how much illness today might be caused by demonic spirits. These foul spirits that infected human beings were sentient as demonstrated by cases where they spoke through their victims (Luke 8:27-30, Acts 19:14-16).
Peter’s shadow. The power of God imparted to Peter was very convincing because even "at the least his shadow" could impart healing (Acts 5:15).
They were all cured It would not have been convincing, however, if only a portion of the sick brought for healing were cured. "They were all cured"(Acts 5:16).