Acts 5:2
And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
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(2) And kept back part of the price.—The mere act of keeping back would not in itself have been sinful. The money was his own, to give the whole or part (Acts 5:4). But the formal act, apparently reproducing that of Barnabas, was an acted lie. The part was offered as if it were the whole. The word for “kept back” is rendered “purloining” in Titus 2:10, and always carried with it the idea of stealthy and dishonest appropriation. It is used in the LXX. of Joshua 7:1, as describing the sin of Achan.

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.And kept back - The word used here means properly "to separate, to part:" and then it means to "separate surreptitiously or clandestinely for our own use" a part of public property, as taxes, etc. It is used but three times in the New Testament, Acts 5:3, and in Titus 2:10, where it is rendered "purloining." Here it means that they "secretly" kept back a part, while "professedly" devoting all to God.

His wife also being privy to it - His wife "knowing it," and evidently concurring in it.

And laid it at the apostles' feet - This was evidently an act professedly of devoting all to God. Compare Acts 4:37; also Acts 5:8-9. That this was his "profession," or "pretence," is further implied in the fact that Peter charges him with having "lied" unto God, Acts 5:3-4.

2. kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it—The coolness with which they planned the deception aggravated the guilt of this couple.

brought a certain part—pretending it to be the whole proceeds of the sale.

Kept back part of the price, when they had vowed the whole to God and his service, which made it a robbing of God, whatsoever pretence they might possibly have of detaining some part for their own necessities in old age, or time of sickness; arguing a great distrust in that God, whom, when they had made their vow, they pretended to give themselves and their substance unto.

His wife also being privy to it; her subjection to her husband not excusing her partaking in his sin and punishment.

Brought a certain part; their ambition carried them thus far, they would seem devout, charitable, &c., and their covetousness hindered them from going farther.

Laid it at the apostles’ feet: see Acts 4:35. And kept back part of the price,.... At which the possession was sold; he reserved it for his own use, after he had given out that he sold it for the service of the church:

his wife also being privy to it; to this private reserve:

and brought a certain part; whether the greater part, or an equal part, half of it, or a lesser part; some little part of it, so the phrase seems to signify, is not certain:

and laid it at the apostles' feet; as the rest did, thereby to make a show of charity, and cover the deceit.

And {a} kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

(a) Craftily took away.

Acts 5:2. ἐνοσφίσατο: may merely mean from its derivation, to set apart νόσφι. But both in LXX and N.T. it is used in a bad sense of appropriating for one’s own benefit, purloining, Joshua 7:1, of Achan, 2Ma 4:32, so here and in Acts 5:3, and Titus 2:10, cf. also a similar use of the word in Jos., Ant., iv., 8, 29 (so in Greek authors, Xen., Polyb., Plut.).—ἀπό: the same combination in Joshua 7:1 (cf. Acts 2:17 above, ἐκχεῶ ἀπό, cf. Hebrew מִן. See Bengel’s note, in loco, on the sin of Achan and Ananias).—συνειδυίης: it was thus a deliberate and aggravated offence. On the irregular form, instead of -υιας, cf. the LXX, Exodus 8:21; Exodus 8:24, 1 Samuel 25:20; and see also Winer-Schmiedel, p. 81, note, and Blass on instances from the papyri, in loco.—παρὰ τοὺς πόδας: a further aggravation (Acts 4:35), since the money was brought ostentatiously to gain a reputation for the donors. Blass well comments: “in conventu ecclesiæ hoc liberalitatis documentum editum”; cf. Calvin, who in marking the ambition of Ananias to gain a reputation for liberality adds: “ita fit ut pedes Apostolorum magis honoret quam Dei oculos”.2. and kept back part of the price] i.e. while at the same time they professed to be bringing the whole sum into the common fund. The portion which was kept back was probably not large, for otherwise the general sense of the value of the land would have made it conspicuous. The word translated “kept back” is the same which is rendered Titus 2:10 purloining, and in classical Greek it has frequently the meaning to rob.

his wife also being privy to it] This is mentioned to shew that the offence was an aggravated one, and had not been committed without deliberation and set purpose. She was a willing accomplice in the intended fraud.

and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet] Thus professing equal devotion with all the others who were making sacrifices for the cause of the faith. We are not told what they hoped to gain by their act, whether in reputation among the people (Acts 2:47), or, by giving what was supposed to be their whole estate (which may be implied in the vague word possession), to procure for themselves in perpetuity a maintenance from the common funds. The former ambition was most probably what led to their offence. They thought more of the display made at the Apostles’ feet than of the offence before God’s eyes. And we know from St Peter’s Epistle (2 Peter 2:3) that it was soon foretold that men would arise in the Christian community, who “through covetousness would with feigned words make merchandise of” the society, and at a later date (Judges 11), these men are described as those who run “greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.” We may therefore be convinced that in the example of Ananias we have a typical instance of the kind of offence into which at this time the Christian community was in danger of being tempted.Acts 5:2. Ἐνοσφίσατο, he fraudulently kept back) The sin of Achan and that of Ananias were in many respects similar, at the beginning of the churches of the Old and New Testament respectively; and the same verb, ἐνοσφίσατο, fraudulently appropriated or kept, is used of Achan, in Joshua 7:1. The former, however, in the Old Testament, according to the direction of God, was killed by the hand of men; the latter, in the New Testament, by the Divine hand, at the word of the apostle. The sin of Judas also was similar to that of Ananias.—ἀπὸ τῆς τιμῆς, of the price) These two seem not to have believed that Christianity would last long.—συνειδυίας, being conscious of it) They sinned the more grievously, since they might have mutually dissuaded one another from the sin.—ἐνέγκας μέρος τὶ, having brought a certain part) just as if it were the whole. Ananias however had wished to seem to have brought the whole: therefore he had not kept back much.Kept back (ἐνοσφίσατο)

Only here, Acts 5:3, and Titus 2:10, where it is rendered purloining. From νόσφι, aloof, apart. The verb means to set apart for one's self; hence to appropriate wrongfully.

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