These verses in Acts are not as well known as they should be – and, there is not a lot taught about this issue. For the benefit of those who may not have a Bible at hand, the verses are as follows (Acts 4:34 toÂ 5:11):-
‘There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas, sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet, The Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land. Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”
When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole Church and all who heard about these events.’
As Selwyn states: ‘They were perfectly free to do what they liked with the money – to give it to the Church or keep it for themselves – but they were not free to lie. Their root sin was hyporisy, and it swiftly brought upon them the judgment of God. But why was the penalty so severe? Because God wanted to show His people that the koinonia (community fellowship, led by His Holy Spirit)Â was not to be taken lightly.’
It’s important to note that Jesus considers that a sin against the community of believers is a sin against Hinself, and He is reminding us that such a sin, deserves death.
It is therefore a great and continuous act of grace on God’s part that people who defile His body of believers are not immediately struck dead – yet, I feel that those who betray their position of trust in the Church by their behaviour (e.g. sexual abuse) that it would be better for them to have never been born then to face Jesus on their judgment day – what do you think?