Observations on life; particularly spiritual

Are Ananias and Sapphira of Acts 5:1-11 in heaven?

In the early Church the believers shared their possessions in such a way that “there were no needy persons among them” (Acts 4:32-35 NIV). In fact “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:45). Luke recorded two examples of such sharing – one good and one sinful.

Barnabas “sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:37). His was an unselfish, sacrificial act. Ananias and Sapphira also sold a piece of property but decided to keep some of the money for themselves, while appearing to give all the proceeds of the sale to the apostles. This was a deliberate, dishonest and hypocritical act. When Ananias was accused of lying “he fell down and died” (Acts 5:5), and when his wife Sapphira was also accused of lying she fell down and died as well (Acts 5:10). Their punishment for this sin of deception and hypocrisy was instant death. Understandably, “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events” (Acts 5:11).

Ananias and Sapphira were members of the early Church in Jerusalem in a period when “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). At this time, all the members of this church were true believers who were “one in heart and mind” (Acts 4:32). This means that Ananias and Sapphira are in heaven like all true believers who have died. Just because they were influenced to sin by Satan doesn’t affect their eternal security. Sin spoils our fellowship with God, but not the salvation He offers (Jn. 10:28-29). Ananias and Sapphira were disciplined as God’s children (Heb. 12:6-11). They illustrate that God sometimes takes a believer home early because of sin (1 Cor. 11:29-32).

This deception is the first recorded sin in the life of the Church. It seems as though God was stressing the importance of living godly lives at the beginning of a new era and was warning about the seriousness of sin. It has been recorded in Acts 5:1-11 to remind us all of this lesson. Similarly, in the period when the Old Testament Law was being established, Nadab and Abihu died after they disobeyed God’s command (Lev. 10:1-2). Likewise, sin may be dealt with swiftly when the Lord rules on earth during the Millennium (Isa. 65:20).

This incident reminds us of God’s holiness and our sinfulness (Rom. 3:23; Rev. 4:8). Surely, He deserves our obedience and respect. Are we swift to confess our sins and repent as “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight” (Heb. 4:13; 1 Jn. 1:9)? Is our way of life being transformed to be more like the Lord (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:18; 7:1; 1 Th. 4:7; 1 Pet. 1:15; 2 Pet. 3:11)? Let’s be honest and give up our hypocritical ways.

Published, October 2009; updated, October 2016

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4 responses

  1. myth buster

    This is a lie from the pit of Hell. Nothing unclean will enter Heaven. Those who love and practice deceit have their lot in the Lake of Fire. It is written, “If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us.” Now, God alone is their judge, but personally, I hold out only slightly more hope for their salvation than for Judas Iscariot. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, and never attempt to pull one over on God, for God is not mocked.

    April 5, 2016 at 11:54 am

    • Thanks for the comment.
      The letter of 1 John was written to believers (1 Jn. 2:26; 5:13). The topic of the first chapter of 1 John is “our fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ” (1 Jn. 1:3). In order to maintain this fellowship, one’s life shouldn’t be characterised by hidden sin or failure to acknowledge sins (1 Jn. 1:5-7, 10). Instead, our sinful nature should be recognized (1 Jn. 1:8); and our sins confessed (1 Jn. 1:9).
      1 John 1:9 involves the sins of a believer. They are going to heaven as the penalty for their sin has already been paid. If they confess, then they receive parental forgiveness and their fellowship with God is renewed. See “If a Christian dies with unconfessed sin, will they go to heaven?“.
      This illustrates that believers can be led by Satan into serious sin (Acts 5:3). Adam and Eve were another example of this.
      Immediately after this account, we are told the apostles healed the sick (Acts 5:12-16). These miracles were an example of the restoration of the physical world in the coming kingdom of God (Acts 3:19-20). Likewise, the judgement of sin is also a characteristic of this kingdom.
      Another possible interpretation is that Ananias and Sapphira weren’t believers because they didn’t share everything they had (Acts 4:32). In this case they could be like Judas Iscariot (Lk. 22:3).

      April 5, 2016 at 4:45 pm

  2. David Walker

    I’m really sorry, but I cant see God killing true believers. Sin does effect your salvation. If someone who claimed to be saved, deliberately sinned and refused to repent, they would go to hell when they die, simple. I do not preach anything else.

    October 14, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    • Thanks for the comment David.
      You say, ” I can’t see God killing true believers”. As mentioned in my post, God sometimes takes a believer home early because of sin (1 Cor. 11:29-32). This letter was written to believers, “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be His holy people” (1 Cor. 1:2NIV). The passage says: “Those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world” (1 Cor. 11:29-32). In this context, the judgment isn’t God’s eternal judgment, but is physical sickness and death – “many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (v.30). “Fallen asleep” is a euphemism for death (Jn. 11:11). So the judgment was God’s discipline. Because they didn’t confess and repent of the sin in their lives, the Lord was required to take disciplinary action against them. He loves us too dearly to allow us to go on in sinful ways.
      With regard to sin, salvation and repentance, please see my post, “If a Christian dies with unconfessed sin, will they go to heaven?“. The conclusion of this post is “Although a Christian’s unconfessed sins affects their relationship with God, they are still a child of God whose ultimate destiny is heaven”.

      October 29, 2016 at 3:42 pm

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