But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,…
The question may be asked, Was not this punishment of Ananias and Sapphira too severe? No time was given for repentance; no opportunity was offered for them to consider their transgression, and to cry unto God for pardon. We may find answer to this inquiry, I think, in the following suggestions: —
1. Their sin was an aggravated one. "Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God," were Peter's words to Ananias. The peculiar enormity of their sin consisted in its being committed against the Holy Ghost. They knew of the Pentecostal gift; and now they come with a definitely settled purpose to deceive the Spirit of God in the persons of God's chosen ones, thinking Him to be such a one as themselves. Dr. Lightfoot supposes that Ananias was not an ordinary believer, but a minister, and one that had received the gift of the Holy Ghost with the hundred and twenty. Yet he dared thus by dissembling to belie and shame that gift.
2. It was a deliberate sin. It was not committed as the result of a sudden temptation; but these two had consulted together about it, and had entered into a mutual agreement to work this deception upon the apostles and the Church. It was cold-blooded in every respect. There was apparently no necessity laid upon them by outward circumstances. Ananias shows himself to have been by deliberate choice a hypocrite.
3. Sin must have become the settled purpose of their lives. God does not pronounce condemnation unto death for an initial sin or for a series of sins. It is only when the soul becomes saturated with sin, when there is no longer hope of the man's bearing fruit unto righteousness, that God casts him off. It must have been a crisis in their inner lives marking the determination of their souls — a crisis not apparent to men, but open and plain to the eye of God.
4. The severity of this punishment may have been due in a measure to the conditions surrounding the Church at that early period. The Church was in its infancy. We may further learn from this lesson —
(1)That those who presume upon security and impunity in any sinful course are reckoning ignorantly and foolishly. "Be sure your Sin will find you out."(2) It is useless to bring half of self to God in consecration.
(3) The wheat and the tares ever grow together in the earthly Church.
(G. C. Osgood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,