|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:1-11 The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was, that they were ambitious of being thought eminent disciples, when they were not true disciples. Hypocrites may deny themselves, may forego their worldly advantage in one instance, with a prospect of finding their account in something else. They were covetous of the wealth of the world, and distrustful of God and his providence. They thought they might serve both God and mammon. They thought to deceive the apostles. The Spirit of God in Peter discerned the principle of unbelief reigning in the heart of Ananias. But whatever Satan might suggest, he could not have filled the heart of Ananias with this wickedness had he not been consenting. The falsehood was an attempt to deceive the Spirit of truth, who so manifestly spoke and acted by the apostles. The crime of Ananias was not his retaining part of the price of the land; he might have kept it all, had he pleased; but his endeavouring to impose upon the apostles with an awful lie, from a desire to make a vain show, joined with covetousness. But if we think to put a cheat upon God, we shall put a fatal cheat upon our own souls. How sad to see those relations who should quicken one another to that which is good, hardening one another in that which is evil! And this punishment was in reality mercy to vast numbers. It would cause strict self-examination, prayer, and dread of hypocrisy, covetousness, and vain-glory, and it should still do so. It would prevent the increase of false professors. Let us learn hence how hateful falsehood is to the God of truth, and not only shun a direct lie, but all advantages from the use of doubtful expressions, and double meaning in our speech.
Verse 1. - Ananias (Ἀνανίας) In Nehemiah 3:23 the Hebrew name ענַנְיָה (God covers or protects) is thus rendered in the LXX. But the name occurs nowhere else. The very common name הֲנַנְיָה Hananiah (God is gracious), is also rendered in the LXX. Ananias (Ἀνανίας), and is doubtless the name meant here and in Acts 9:10; Acts 23:2, etc. Sapphira does not occur elsewhere. It is either derived from the Aramean שַׁפָירָה, beautiful, or from the Hebrew סַפִיר, a sapphire. A possession (see Acts 2:45). The kind of possession is not specified by the word itself, which applies to houses, fields, jewels, and wealth generally; but the nature of the property is shown by the word χωρίον, applied to it in vers. 3 and 8, which means especially" a parcel of ground" (John 4:5), "a field" (Acts 1:18, 19).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But a certain man named Ananias,.... A name common among the Jews, the same with Hananiah, Jeremiah 28:1 it signifies not the humility of the Lord, or the affliction of the Lord, or the answer of the Lord, as say some, as if it was derived from but the grace of the Lord, or the Lord's gracious one, coming from there is no dependence on names; though this man's name signified one that was in the grace and favour of God; he was not so, but a graceless person, as appears by what follows. It is very likely he was a minister of the word, since the account of him follows upon that of Barnabas, and is opposed to it; it may be he was one of the hundred and twenty, on whom the Holy Ghost fell on the day of Pentecost; and yet, though he had great gifts, had no grace. This shows there are hypocrites among men of the greatest names and characters, and in the purest churches; this first and pure church, which, in the preceding chapter, has such large encomiums, was not free from them:
with Sapphira his wife; whether this is the same name with "Shiphrah", Exodus 1:15 or "Zipporah", Exodus 2:21 both which are by the Septuagint called "Sephora", or whether another, and may signify "beautiful", is not very material. Jerom (c) says, in the Syriac language this name signifies "beautiful"; though he first gives other explanations of it, as "narrantem, literatam, sive librariam", as though it was derived from the Hebrew word The precious stone called sapphire seems to come from the same root as this, and to be so called because of its beautiful azure colour. The name "Sappho", which was the name of a famous poetess, the inventress of a kind of verse called "Sapphic" verse, is said to be the diminutive of this name "Sapphira". Drusius observes, it may be read "Tzephira"; which comes near to "Zipporah", and among other things signifies a "she goat"; and it was usual to give women names taken from such creatures. So "Rachel", a "sheep", and "Tabitha", or "Dorcas", a "doe". But whatever her name or person were, her actions were disagreeable:
sold a possession; which was their own. So the Arabic and Syriac versions read, "their own field", or "farm"; find the Ethiopic version, "their own vineyard": it might be his wife's dowry or jointure, and so her consent was necessary; or they might be jointly concerned in this sale, to show not only their concord and harmony among themselves; but that they agreed in their devotion and religious actions, and that being both filled with zeal for God, and love to the brethren, sold their estate to support the common cause.
(c) De Nominibus Hebraicis, fol. 106. C.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ac 5:1-11. Ananias and Sapphira.
"The first trace of a shade upon the bright form of the young Church. Probably among the new Christians a kind of holy rivalry had sprung up, every one eager to place his means at the disposal of the apostles" [Olshausen]. Thus might the new-born zeal of some outrun their abiding principle, while others might be tempted to seek credit for a liberality which was not in their character.
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