Sin in the Camp (Acts 5:1-10)
Jul 26, 2010 by Craig Blomberg | 0 Comments
“When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. . . . About three hours later his wife came in. . . . At that moment she fell down at his feet and died” (vv. 5a, 7a, 10a TNIV).
One of the most troubling passages in Acts narrates the sudden deaths of Ananias and Sapphira.
We may stress that the word translated “kept back” in verse 2 can mean “swindled ,“ and the only other time it appears in the Greek Bible is in Joshua 7:1, when Achan keeps plunder for himself that the Lord had forbidden. He too was executed for lying about what he kept for himself. Probably both sins posed serious threats to the purity and even the existence of the fledgling communities of God’s people in each context. We may point out that Ananias and Sapphira were not struck down for not giving all but for their lies, even to God, the Holy Spirit. We may note that “Satan has so filled your heart” (v. 3) was an idiom that does not refer to literal demon possession and that nothing in the passage suggests the couple was eternally damned, merely physically put to death.
But still the passage proves troubling. Surely each of us commits sins at least this serious more than once in our lifetimes. Why pick on this couple? Probably that is the wrong question to ask. Why not pick on all of us? Interestingly, the very reason we sense the account to be overly harsh is because most of the time God exercises grace and not justice. Never ask God to be fair with you; that’s a request for damnation! Praise him for his lavish grace that only rarely implements such stringent but perfectly deserved punishments.