Ananias and Sapphira Bible Story Summary and Commentary

Ananias and Sapphira Bible Story Summary and Commentary June 30, 2015

What is the story of Ananias and Sapphira all about? Here’s an account of their story from Scripture with a commentary that follows.

Before Ananias and Sapphira

Chapter divisions where a product of Bible scholars and we can tell that the story of Ananias and Sapphira didn’t actually begin where their name is first mentioned in Acts 5 because Acts 5:1 says “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira” so we must turn back to the last few verses of Acts 4 to see where the story swings into action which is preceded by the conjunctive word “but” in Acts 5:1. In Acts 4:34-37 we read “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” Apparently Ananias and Sapphira saw what happened and wanted to be thought of as highly as Barnabas was. That gives us a better understanding of what happened next in chapter five of Acts.

Acts 5:1-2 “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

Here is the first hint of trouble. They had given to the church with the probable intent of being seen by men and women in the church. They gift had followed the other church members giving and Barnabas generous gift (Acts 4:34-37). The timing of their gift is not lost. The thing to remember is that they both conspired to give but “kept back” for themselves “some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet” so that they could be seen by others. The verse indicated that his wife is in on this too.


Acts 5:3-4 “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”

We don’t know how Peter knew that Ananias was lying to the apostles. Whether it was the Spirit of God that spoke to him or not, we just don’t know. We do know that Ananias did lie and it was Satan that inspired him to do so. Ananias had every right to give a portion and hold back some of the money as Peter said but to indicate that all of the profits were given for the church shows deceit in Ananias’ heart. He wasn’t really lying to Peter and the apostles but to God the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:5-6 “When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.”

It was immediately after hearing these words from Peter, and really they were the words inspired by God, that he fell down dead on the spot so it is no wonder that “great fear came upon all who heard of it.” The author of Hebrews correctly states that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31) because after death, judgment comes (Heb 9:27).

Acts 5:7-8 “After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.”

This confirms the fact that Sapphira was in on this deception (Acts 5:1) and to make certain that she was, Peter asked her “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much” and she confirmed that it was for “so much.” There is now no doubt that both Ananias and Sapphira were in collusion together and what happens next is the same thing that happened three hours previously to her husband.

Acts 5:9-10 “But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test 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.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.”

As expected, the same outcome resulted in Sapphira lying to God as did her late husband Ananias. She fell dead on the spot. She was buried next to her husband. Peter confirmed the fact that her and her husband had agreed together (conspired) “to test the Spirit of the Lord.”

Acts 5:11 “And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.”

Who could blame them? The phrase “great fear” means a strong reverence and respect fell upon the whole church and everyone “who heard of these things” indicating that those outside of the church heard about it too which makes sense of Acts 5:13 which says “None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem” which meant that those outside of the church didn’t dare join them unless they were sincere or genuine in their belief in Christ. This verse doesn’t mean that others were afraid to join the church because in the very next verse it says “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women” (Act 5:14).


The fear of God is not so much a fear of being struck dead but means having a deep, abiding holy reverential respect for God and for telling the truth. Today, God is still adding to the church, even though there is more persecution of the church today around the world than ever before, but God’s church will prevail no matter what Satan or man does and as Jesus said “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18b). He is still building His church today, one soul at a time.

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.

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