And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.…
The share taken by Sapphira was manifestly a prominent and an active one. She and her husband were at full accord in the matter; and her sin is the more aggravated as she had a longer time to think it over, and had evidently planned what she would say and do if any remarks were made by the apostles or the brethren as to the gift of the land. "The question asked by St. Peter gave her an opening for repentance. It had been in her power to save her husband by a word of warning protest. It was now in her power to clear her own conscience by confession. She misses the one opportunity as she had misused the other. The lie which they had agreed upon comes glibly from her lips, and the irrevocable word is spoken."
I. THE COMMON JUDGMENT. The same fate overtook both, as they had joined together in the sin. Compare the cases of Dathan and Abiram. There was union:
1. In the slow judgment of the deteriorated and debased soul. And this is ever the first form of the Divine judgment on the sinner. Hardening of heart, deadening of conscience, cherishing of blinding and fatal delusions, are as truly direct judgments of God, ever working, as sudden death. This truth needs to be seen more clearly and impressed more constantly.
2. In the swift and immediate judgment of the sudden death, which, in the second case, was prophetically declared to be God's witness to the exceeding heinousness of their sin. The life of all men is in God's hands, and we may well "fear him who can cast body and soul into hell." "The lives of all men are in his hand. Daily he is cutting them off in a moment - even hot with lust or red-handed from crime. His doom now and then antedates the slower processes of human law. The time and fashion of all our deaths are with him. If one day his mercy turned to judgment, and he took from the earth two forfeited lives for, the warning and the bettering of many, who shall say either that the lesson was dearly bought or that the penalty was undeserved? It is well that men should be taught once for all, by sudden death treading swiftly on the heels of detected sin, that the gospel, which discovers God's boundless mercy, has not wiped out the sterner attributes of the judge" (Dr. Dykes).
II. THE MORAL MISSION OF DIVINE JUDGMENT. A solemn awe fell on the minds of all present. Illustrate by impressions now made by a case of sudden death in a congregation, or by such a case as that of Alexis, smitten by lightning at Luther's side. It is said that "great fear came upon all the Church." The Scripture meanings of the word "fear" may be given and illustrated. Here it is a solemn sense of the severity and power of God, and of the strictness of his demands. The members now felt, as they had never done before, what a serious thing it was to make a Christian profession. Dwell on two things.
1. Fear as solemnizing other professors, filling them with new thoughts about insincerity, hypocrisy, and covetousness. Reminding them that no man should enter Christ's kingdom without first "sitting down and counting the cost." "The true ecclesia must be free from such hypocritical professors, or its work could not advance." "God fills our hearts with the spirit of reverence, truthfulness, and godly fear, lest another spirit fills us with lies, with greed, with vainglory, and with presumptuous impiety."
2. Fear as deterring would-be professors. Persons in all ages are too ready to take up the mere profession of Christ's Name, and such need to be shown that such profession involves responsibilities as well as privileges. There is grave danger of our estimating our responsibilities too lightly. The vows of Christ ought ever to be a solemn and a holy burden. "What manner of persons ought we to be?" God is "known by the judgments that he executeth." We still need to recognize his hand, and we must be careful not to lose the impression of his personality in the modern sentiment about law. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
WEB: About three hours later, his wife, not knowing what had happened, came in.