|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 3. - Thy for thine, A.V. Peter said. It was given to Peter on this occasion, by the Holy Ghost, to read the secrets of Ananias's heart, just as it was given to Elisha to detect Gehazi's lie (2 Kings 5:25, 26); and the swift punishment inflicted in both cases by the word of the man of God - leprosy in one case, and sudden death in the other - is another point of strong resemblance. To lie to the Holy Ghost. It is only one instance among many of the pure spiritual atmosphere in which the Church then moved, that a lie to the apostle was a lie to the Holy Ghost under whose guidance and by whose power the apostle acted. Ananias's fraud was an ignoring of the whole spiritual character of the apostles' ministry, and was accordingly visited with an immediate punishment. The death of Ananias and Sapphira was a terrible fulfillment of the promise, "Whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John 20:23).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But Peter said, Ananias,.... Peter, by divine revelation, or by a spirit of discerning, such as Elisha had, who knew what his servant Gehazi had done, knowing what a reserve Ananias had made, calls him by his name, and says to him,
why hath Satan filled thine heart? or emboldened thee, given thee so much spirit and courage to act in such an impudent and audacious manner; so the phrase is used in Esther 7:5 see the Septuagint there, and often in Talmudic writings.
"Says R. Joshua, I never , "filled my heart"; or my heart never filled me to say to a man, go and take the change of these three things, &c. (d).''
And says another Rabbi (e),
"though I say so, , "I never filled my heart", or my heart never filled me to transgress the words of the companions;''
that is, I never durst do so. And again (f), it being observed, that Isaiah should say, "hear, O heavens!" it is said,
"who, or what is this, who , "hath filled his heart", or whose heart has filled him to call to the heavens to hear.''
But this instance of Ananias was such, that none but Satan could have put him upon, or emboldened him to have done; who from hence appeared to have the power over him, and to have possessed him, to have great access to him, even to his heart, and great influence upon it, so as to prompt him
to lie to the Holy Ghost; who was in the apostles, and by whom they were acted, and to whom he had given a discerning of spirits; so that it was a daring action, and downright madness, to go about to deceive them: or he pretended he had an impulse from the Spirit of God to sell his estate, and give the whole price of it to the apostles, and yet kept back part of it; which was acting contrary to that Spirit he pretended to be influenced by.
And to keep back part of the price of the land: that is, he lied against the Holy Ghost, by keeping back part of the price the land was sold for; when he had declared he sold it with this view, to give the whole for charitable uses, and affirmed that what he brought was the whole.
(d) T. Hieros. Maaserot, fol. 48. 4. (e) Sabbat, fol. 14. 3.((f) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 160. 1. Vid. Shaare ora, fol. 2. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3-6. why hath Satan filled—"why … fill—"why hast thou suffered him to fill"
thine heart—so criminally entertaining his suggestion? Compare Ac 5:4, "why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart?" And see Joh 13:2, 27.
to lie to the Holy Ghost—to men under His supernatural illumination.
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