Acts 5:1-32 5 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 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. 3 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? 4 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 man but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. 7 After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed 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.” 10 Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
Peter didn't have anyone telling him what was going on, he didn't have any spies going around watching everyone. By direction of the Holy Spirit, through the gift of Knowledge, Peter knows what they have done.
First of all we see that Ananias and Sapphira lie for the purpose of making themselves look better in the eyes of the church and in the opinion of the Apostles. How many times have we, or have we seen someone advance their position through a lie? But in this case, it is who they are lying to that has such an impact.
Peter asks a simple question, "Why?" It is a good question. They didn't have to do what they did. But because they listen to Satan, instead of the Holy Spirit, they conspired to lie. Why did they do it? Were they jealous of what Barbabas did? Were they afraid to say that they held back a portion? Were they greedy? We don't know. All we know is - they sinned.
Resisting Satan is a necessary part of our walk with God. We have to be ever vigilant to protect ourselves from his lies, because he is ever vigilant to keep tempting us.
Peter then tells Ananias that he hasn't lied to men, but he lied to God. In other words, the great sin committed here isn't lying to the church - you lied to God too! Oops! This can't end well. The great takeaway from this that you and I need to understand is, the Holy Spirit is a person and He will be just as offended (if not more) than you are when lied to.
Now Ananias drops dead. There are those who think God was to harsh here. But when you look at this in context of other scriptures you can understand why God did this. Each time God starts something new you see His judgement is more severe. He did it with the Israelites when they first left the land of Egypt and He did it with them when they first entered the promise land. Bottom line. God doesn't like selfishness, unbelief, greed and hypocrisy.
Each time this happened the scriptures says that great fear came upon all who heard of it. I think that is the most appropriate response anyone could give. Yes, God loves you - but - don't mess with Him! This isn't a fear that scares people away - it is a reverential fear that draws you closer to God. It isn't a fear that splits the church, it is a fear that unites them. You can be sure that for some time this story was told again and again. "Remember what happened to Ananias and Sapphira!" I bet you that phrase stopped a lot of people from sinning against God.
12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
Did any of this slow the growth of the church? No way. People were still joining everyday. Some suggest that by this time the church numbered around 10,000. Verses 15 - 16 show how much faith people placed in Christ and in His church. I know that the idea of Peter walking around, allowing his shadow to fall on people for their healing, appears to be some kind of showmanship. First of all, it was the peoples idea to let that happen. Even if Peter couldn't lay hands on each and every one of them, at least they could get his shadow. I am humbled by the number of people who came looking to the church for their needs. The sick and afflicted. The demon possessed and others. When will we see the church in such demand again?
17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
When push come stop shove, know that Satan will always overplay his hand and try to intimidate with fear and discouragement. Don't allow circumstances to dictate your direction. Jesus knows what He is doing - follow Him.
The Apostles are in jail, but God sends and angel to unlock the prison doors and set them free. Then they are commanded, "Keep doing what you have been doing all along." God was not about to let Satan or the Sadducees get the upper hand.
The next few verses detail the confusion that erupts as the Sadducees and the temple guard discover that the Apostles have escaped. Then someone runs in and says, "Hey, the guys you arrested are out in the Temple teaching again!" This time the Sadducees and the Temple Guard have to take a different approach. They know that all the Apostles have to do is give the word and the place would riot. This is significant as this is the first time we see the Sadducees treat the Apostles with any kind of respect - all be it out of fear.
The priests ask them, "Didn't we tell you to knock it off!?!"
Peter and the Apostles answer, "We must obey God rather than men." Ouch! The highest voice in the land for God just got overruled. Because the Holy Spirit was now within each of them, they didn't need a priest to approach God on their behalf. They understood that they could do this for themselves.
The priests also point out, "You're trying to pin His murder on us!"
I know that my sarcasm would have exploded at that point (and wrongly so) but - NO DUH! The evidence that would convict them was overwhelming.
English Standard Version (ESV)