Printer Friendly Page

What is the Spiritual Significance of Ananias and Sapphira?

Posted November 27, 2009


Hi J____,

Thank you for your question concerning the spiritual significance of the death of Ananias and Sapphira. The spiritual significance of this event is to show us that there is within us an Ananias and Sapphira, who wants to be seen of men as generous and whole-hearted in our service to our heavenly Father, when in reality we are holding back a portion of the proceeds of our "land."

Psa 119:2  Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

Act 5:3  But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

All scripture is a "two edged sword," which means that if we are not "keeping His testimonies and seeking Him with the whole heart", then we are not blessed. Keeping His testimonies and seeking Him with the whole heart, has nothing to do with tithing to a church and giving to others. It has everything to do with giving our bodies as a living sacrifice. It is being a good husband, or wife, or an employee, "as unto the Lord." We are to eat and drink and do all we do to His glory 24/7!

1Co 10:31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Col 3:17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Col 3:18  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
Col 3:19  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
Col 3:20  Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Col 3:21  Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Col 3:22  Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
Col 3:23  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Col 3:24  Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Col 3:25  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

"Not with eyeservice as menpleasers." Ananias and Sapphira are you and me when we are aware of how we appear in the eyes of men, instead of realizing that God knows the very thoughts of our hearts. We have all done what they did, and we must all 'die' as they died.

Rom 6:3  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

This story is part of God's is, was and will be words, and we will all live by this story.

Mat 24:34  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:35  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

"The land," in scripture, is our bodies, which we are instructed to give whole heartedly to God. We cannot "kept back part of the price" and expect to be blessed.

Rom 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Most of us are scared to death at the thought of "not conforming to this world." Like Ananias and Sapphira, we want to be accepted by people, and to think of ourselves as being "transformed by the renewing of our minds", while we kept back part of the price... of the land." When we do so, we must die at the fiery words that proceed from the mouths of God's witnesses just as they did. We must "live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Dying on the cross with Christ is not a bad thing. It may not be pleasant for the flesh, but it is good for the spirit.

Rev 11:3  And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
Rev 11:4  These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
Rev 11:5  And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

It is given to few to receive, but the Truth of God's fiery Word, coming straight from the mouth of Him who is the Word, is that all of mankind must "live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

Mat 4:4  But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

It is that same mouth that says this about Rev 11, and all the rest of the book of Revelation:

Rev 1:3  Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

Rev 22:7  Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.

"The things written therein... and the sayings of the prophecy of this book," includes these words:

Rev 19:21  And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
They also include this story of Ananias and Sapphira.

Years ago I gave a talk in Mobile, Alabama entitled The Types and Shadows of The New Testament. As it turns out, I discovered from studying for that talk that the whole Bible is a type and a shadow of spiritual reality.

1Co 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

"Man's wisdom teaches" that we can avoid living by the negative parts of God's word, as if we could somehow avoid being corruptible flesh and blood. When we "compare spiritual things with spiritual," and we realize that "we don't speak in words which man's wisdom teaches," then we begin to understand that all of Christ's words and His works and even His experiences, were spiritual in their nature and message.

Joh 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Joh 14:10  Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

To Christ the words and the works were one and the same. All the physical healings, such as healing the man born blind from his mother's womb, the healing of the ten lepers of their incurable disease, the healing of men with withered legs and arms, the feeding of the multitudes and the raising of the dead and the dying on the cross itself, are one and all spiritual types of what God is doing in, and to, and through us. We are each born blind and crippled from our mother's womb, we are diseased in our arms and legs, we are stricken with a deadly disease, we all eat Christ's loaves and fishes and are all at first blinded to the meaning of His parables. And if we can accept it we "are killed all the day long" and are crucified with him.

Rom 8:36  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

All things, good and evil, are ours, and we "will live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."

1Co 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
1Co 3:22  Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
1Co 3:23  And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

Truth is always to be found in the sum of God's Word. This story of Ananias and Sapphira is no different, and must be understood within the sum of the rest of God's Word.

Psa 119:160  The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever.

Now let's take this understanding of what is the type and shadow of the sum of God's spiritual words and compare those spiritual words to spiritual things, and find out what is the spiritual significance of the story of what happened to Ananias and his wife Sapphira.

Here is that story as it actually happened:

Act 5:1  But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
Act 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.
Act 5:3  But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Act 5:4  Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
Act 5:5  And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Act 5:6  And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
Act 5:7  And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
Act 5:8  And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Act 5:9  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.
Act 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.
Act 5:11  And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Act 5:12  And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
Act 5:13  And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
Act 5:14  And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

This all took place immediately after the day of Pentecost and the giving of the holy spirit to the 120 who were gathered in the upper room. Immediately after the events of that day, Peter and John went up to the temple and prayed for a man who was lame from his mother's womb, and who was over 40 years old. This man had been at "the gate that is called beautiful" begging for alms for over forty years. The man was healed instantly, and the whole city was aware of how he had been healed.

Act 3:1  Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
Act 3:2  And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
Act 3:3  Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
Act 3:4  And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
Act 3:5  And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
Act 3:6  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
Act 3:7  And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
Act 3:8  And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
Act 3:9  And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
Act 3:10  And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.
Act 3:11  And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.

Act 4:22 For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.

It wasn't as dramatic as the raising for Lazarus from the dead, but it is far more likely that more people knew of this 40 year old beggar than about Lazarus. At any rate many people were converted and "added to the church" as a result of the healing of this lame beggar. Of course the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees tried to dissuade the apostles from preaching by placing them in jail overnight.

Act 4:1  And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
Act 4:2  Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
Act 4:3  And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.
Act 4:4  Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

But the very next day they were released and went right back their own people and told them what had happened and continued preaching and teaching in the temple. Here is how the fourth chapter concludes:

Act 4:32  And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
Act 4:33  And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
Act 4:34  Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
Act 4:35  And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
Act 4:36  And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
Act 4:37  Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

"As many as were possessors of lands or houses, sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold and laid them at the apostles feet... Barnabas... having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles feet."

This is a period, at the very beginning of the New Testament church, when everyone still expected that Christ would return in their own lifetime and set up His kingdom on this earth, with physical Israel as His nation, through which He would rule this world. Miracles by themselves do not produce men who are drawn from the breasts and are capable of receiving the strong meat of the the word. The disciples spent three and one half years with Christ and had themselves healed the sick and cast out demons, and yet were not even converted. Miracles affecting the physical realm but do not affect the heart or mind.

Luk 22:32  But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Even after the day of Pentecost, Peter would never have gone into Cornelius' home. At this time Peter still considered it a sin to do such a thing. So all these good honest-hearted Christians who were selling their homes and bringing the proceeds of those sales and "laying it at the apostles feet", were spiritual babes in Christ, as were the apostles themselves, according to what Christ had told them the night before His crucifixion, just a few weeks earlier:

Joh 16:12  I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Christ still had "many things to say to His disciples" which they were still unable to bear because they were still not mature enough to do so. It was under these circumstances that the disciples apparently "had all things in common." This was not meant to continue for long and the persecutions which soon came upon the church began to mature all those who were intended to grow in Christ. It is only through trials that we grow to the point of getting past the milk of the Word.

Isa 28:9  Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.

1Co 3:1  And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
1Co 3:2  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

It was under these circumstances that Ananias and his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property and came and laid part of the proceeds down at the apostles feet telling the apostles and the church that they were giving the entire sale price to Him.

Act 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.

Perhaps some of the people mentioned in chapter four were friends of Ananias and Sapphira, and Ananias and Sapphira wanted to appear to be just as sincere as were their friends and acquaintances who had sold their lands and given the entire proceeds of the sales to the apostles. But Ananias and Sapphira were not as sincere and as whole-hearted in their service to their Lord, as were those who had given all. As the apostle Peter pointed out to them both, there was no requirement that they give anything, and there was no requirement that they give it all. The money from the sale was still 'in their power' until they gave it for the service of the church. What was required was that they be whole-hearted in their service to their creator and give their whole life to Him. If a portion of the proceeds had been needed to feed and cloth themselves, then that would be feeding and clothing themselves for God's service, which would have been totally acceptable. But to seek recognition of men, as if they had done more than they had actually done, was to hold back from God that which was already His. Here is how King David put it when he had taken an offering of the people for the work of the Lord's house, the temple:

1Ch 29:14  But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.

That is how we should view our entire life as called and chosen by God. We are to present our lives as a sacrifice to God, with not so much as an ounce of pride in the flesh, and in complete recognition that if we do accomplish any good thing, it is not us but Christ who does that good thing.

I hope this helps you to see how we are to see every word we read in God's Word. The kingdom of God is within you, if it is within you. "We do not teach in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the holy spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." The whole world sees this story as little more than a part of early church history. They see no personal application. But "all things are ours", including death. The death of Ananias and Sapphira is in type our own death to our own flesh which stubbornly refuses to give up all of our 'land' as a sacrifice to God."

Your brother in Christ,


Mike