Acts 5:9
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Then Peter said to her, "Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well."

King James Bible
Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

Darby Bible Translation
And Peter said to her, Why is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Lo, the feet of those that have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out.

World English Bible
But Peter asked her, "How is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out."

Young's Literal Translation
And Peter said unto her, 'How was it agreed by you, to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? lo, the feet of those who did bury thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee forth;'

Acts 5:9 Parallel
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

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.


Acts 5:9 Parallel Commentaries

Whom to Obey, --Annas or Angel?
'Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18. And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. 19. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20. Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. 21. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

On Zeal
"It is good to be always zealously affected in a good thing." Gal. 4:18. 1. There are few subjects in the whole compass of religion, that are of greater importance than this. For without zeal it is impossible, either to make any considerable progress in religion ourselves, or to do any considerable service to our neighbour, whether in temporal or spiritual things. And yet nothing has done more disservice to religion, or more mischief to mankind, than a sort of zeal which has for several ages prevailed,
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

Whether Human Law Binds a Man in Conscience?
Objection 1: It would seem that human law does not bind man in conscience. For an inferior power has no jurisdiction in a court of higher power. But the power of man, which frames human law, is beneath the Divine power. Therefore human law cannot impose its precept in a Divine court, such as is the court of conscience. Objection 2: Further, the judgment of conscience depends chiefly on the commandments of God. But sometimes God's commandments are made void by human laws, according to Mat. 15:6: "You
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether the Devil is Directly the Cause of Man's Sinning?
Objection 1: It would seem that the devil is directly the cause of man's sinning. For sin consists directly in an act of the appetite. Now Augustine says (De Trin. iv, 12) that "the devil inspires his friends with evil desires"; and Bede, commenting on Acts 5:3, says that the devil "draws the mind to evil desires"; and Isidore says (De Summo Bono ii, 41; iii, 5) that the devil "fills men's hearts with secret lusts." Therefore the devil is directly the cause of sin. Objection 2: Further, Jerome says
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Cross References
Acts 5:3
But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?

Acts 5:4
"While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."

Acts 15:10
"Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?

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