Acts 5:10
Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
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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.Agreed together - Conspired, or laid a plan. From this it seems that Sapphira was as guilty as her husband,

To tempt - To try; to endeavor to impose on, or to deceive; that is, to act as if the Spirit of the Lord could not detect the crime. They did this by trying to see whether the Spirit of God could detect hypocrisy.

At the door - Are near at hand. They had not yet returned. The dead were buried without the walls of cities; and the space of three hours, it seems, had elapsed before they returned from the burial.

Shall carry thee out - This passage shows that it was by divine interposition or judgment that their lives were taken. The judgment was in immediate connection with the crime, and was designed as an expression of the divine displeasure.

If it be asked here "why" Ananias and Sapphira were punished in this severe and awful manner, an answer may be found in the following considerations:

(1) This was an atrocious crime - a deep and dreadful act of iniquity. It was committed knowingly, and without excuse, Acts 5:4. It was important that sudden and exemplary punishment should follow it, because the society of Christians was just then organized, and it was designed that it should be a "pure" society, and should be regarded as a body of holy men. Much depended on making an "impression" on the people that sin could not be allowed in this new community, but would be detected and punished.

(2) God has often, in a most solemn manner, shown his abhorrence of hypocrisy and insincerity. By awful declarations and fearful judgments he has declared his displeasure at it. In a particular manner, no small part of the preaching of the Saviour was employed in detecting the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees, and denouncing heavy judgments on them. See Matthew 23 throughout for the most sublime and awful denunciation of hypocrisy anywhere to be found. Compare Mark 12:15; Luke 12:1; 1 Timothy 4:2; Job 8:13; Job 13:16; Job 15:34; Job 20:5; Job 36:13; Matthew 7:5; Luke 11:44. In the very beginning of the Christian church it was important, by a decided and awful act, to impress upon the church and the world the danger and guilt of hypocrisy. Well did the Saviour know that it would be one of the most insidious and deadly foes to the purity of the church; and at its very "threshold," therefore, he set up this solemn warning to guard it, and laid the bodies of Ananias and Sapphira in the path of every hypocrite that would enter the church. If they enter and are destroyed, they cannot plead that they were not fully warned. If they practice iniquity "in" the church, they cannot plead ignorance of the fact that God intends to detect and punish them.

(3) the apostles were just then establishing their authority. They claimed to be under the influence of inspiration. To establish that, it was necessary to show that they could know the views and motives of those who became connected with the church. If easily imposed on, it would go far to destroy their authority and their claim to infallibility. If they showed that they could detect hypocrisy, even where most artfully concealed, it would establish the divine authority of their message. At the "commencement" of their work, therefore, they gave this decisive and most awful proof that they were under the guidance of an infallible Teacher.

(4) this case does not stand alone in the New Testament. It is clear from other instances that the apostles had the power of punishing sinners, and that a violation of the commands of Christ was attended by sudden and fearful judgments. See 1 Corinthians 11:30, and the case of Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13:8-11.

(5) neither does this event stand alone in the history of the world. Acts of judgment sometimes occur as sudden and decided, in the providence of God, as in this case. The profane man, the drunkard, the profligate offender is sometimes suddenly stricken down, as in this instance. Cases have not been uncommon where the blasphemer has been smitten in death with the curse on his lips; and God often thus comes forth in judgment to slay the wicked, and to show that there is a God that reigns in the earth. This narrative cannot be objected to as improbable until "all" such cases are disposed of, nor can this infliction be regarded as unjust until all the instances where people die by remorse of conscience, or by the direct judgment of heaven, are "proved" to be unjust also.

In view of this narrative, we may remark:

(1) That God searches the heart, and knows the purposes of the soul. Compare Psalm 139.

(2) God judges the "motives" of people. It is not so much the "external" act, as it is the views and feelings by which it is prompted, that determines the character of the act.

(3) God will bring forth sin which man may not be able to detect, or which may elude human justice. The day is coming when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and God will reward every man according as his works shall be.


10. buried her by her husband—The later Jews buried before sunset of the day of death. The same sins meet with the same punishment; God is no respecter of persons, Jew or Gentile, male or female.

Then fell she down straightway at his feet,.... In like manner, and by the same hand of God as her husband before:

and yielded up the ghost; died directly:

and the young men came in and found her dead; the young men who had been to inter her husband came into the house at that instant, and found her dead upon the floor, at the feet of the Apostle Peter:

and carrying her forth, buried her by her husband; as it was usual with the Jews to do. So they say (i), that in the cave of Machpelah were buried Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah.

(i) Cippi Hebraici, p. 4. T. Bab. Sota, fol. 13. 1.

Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
Acts 5:10. παραχρῆμα, see on Acts 3:7. The introduction of the word shows that the writer regarded the death as supernatural, see above on Acts 5:5. πρός, by, beside her husband = παρά with dative, Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 135, note; Winer-Moulton, xlix. h. Although the whole narrative shows that in each case the death was caused by the judgment of God, yet nothing whatever is said as to the world beyond the grave: “As it is, both the man himself is benefited, in that he is not left to advance further in wickedness, and the rest, in that they are made more earnest,” Chrys., Hom., xii. Wendt points out that the punishment inflicted by St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 5:5, was of a wholly different kind, because it had the avowed aim of saving the spirit of the sinner in the day of the Lord by delivering him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh; but it should not be forgotten that St. Peter himself speaks of a judgment according to men in the flesh, which has its issue in a life according to God in the spirit (1 Peter 4:6). St. Augustine’s words may fairly be quoted not against but in favour of applying to the cases before us the principle of judgment employed by St. Paul: “Credendum est autem quod post hanc vitam eis pepercerit Deus.… Correpti sunt mortis flagello, ne supplicio puniantur æterno,” Serm., de Verbis Act. v., 4, cf. Origen, Tract. viii., in Matth., and Jerome, Epist., 130. See Speaker’s Commentary, in loco, and Bengel, Felten, Zöckler, Plumptre. Felten’s reverent thoughts, p. 124, may well be compared with the remarks of Dr. Pusey on the case of Ananias, What is of Faith? etc., p. 14.

10. Then fell she down straightway at his feet] Close to the place where the money, for which they had sinned, had been laid, and where perhaps it was still lying. For we cannot think that St Peter would be willing to mix an offering given in such a hypocritical spirit with the more pure offerings of the other brethren. It may be that as he spoke, in Acts 5:8, he pointed to the money still lying there unaccepted, “Did ye sell the land for so much?”

and yielded up the ghost] The verb is only used in the N. T. of the death of this husband and wife, and of the end of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:23).

and the young men came in, and found her dead] They came to join the congregation again, for the worship appears not to have ceased during the time between the death of Ananias and the arrival of Sapphira. And this may be the explanation of the wife’s ignorance of her husband’s fate. None had gone forth but the younger men to bury the dead body.

and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband] Probably all that was required to be done was to roll a stone from some cave’s mouth and place the body within.

Acts 5:10. Εὗρον, found her) after their return from burying Ananias.

Verse 10. - And she fell down immediately for then fell she down straightway, A.V.; gave up for yielded up, A.V.; they carried her out and buried her for carrying her forth buried her. She fell down immediately. The Spirit who killeth and maketh alive thus vindicated his discernment and his power, and testified to the truth of his prophet St. Peter, by whose mouth he had just foretold the death of Sapphira. Gave up the ghost (ver. 5, note). Buried her by her husband. What a strange example of conjugal unity! One in their Jewish religion, one in their conversion to the faith of Christ, one in their hypocrisy, one in their terrible death, one in their common grove! one in the undying record of their guilt in the Book which is read by every nation under heaven! Acts 5:10
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