The Murder of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 -- Promoting Fear When Perfect Love Just Won't Do
==== ====get this product with special price at :http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000UVVX28?tag=pdf-marketing-20==== ====Even as a child, the "Bible Story" of a husband and wife in the early church under Peter beingkilled for "lying" about how much money they really had as opposed to what they gave to thechurch, seemed surreal. In the context, we are told the early church was more commune like andevidently shared with all that which each possessed to get them through.Acts 2:44-45And all that believed were together, and had all things common;And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.Acts 4:32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any ofthem that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.Nothing wrong with this I suppose, but one would think it was rather voluntary and something thatpeople do when they wish to drop out of society and cling unto only those that see the world asthey do. Its an early practice in any group like this which tends to break down after time andeveryone goes their own way again, or at least does not feel the need to share their hard earnedresources and support the loners forever.But one has to ask why this story was included in the Book of Acts? Ask yourself what might bethe result today of this happening in your church! Whats wrong with this story and I will call it astory as I do not personally believe it ever really happened, but I do believe it had the desiredeffect on the "Church."Acts 51Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2Withhis wifes full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put itat the apostles feet.Comment: It was their property and they had the right to sell it for as much as they wished. It wasnice that Ananias had such an open and trusting relationship with his wife, Sapphira, that heincluded her in how much he actually sold it for. While the "rules" called for everyone to share andshare alike, no one has the right, save in that culture or in the "Church" it seem, to demand ALL ofit. Keeping your own money for yourself is no crime on earth or in heaven. And anyone has theright to change their mind about contributions to anyone. He brought "the rest" and that seemsgenerous enough under any circumstances. "Putting it at the Apostles Feet" seems contrived, but
if he literally did and Peter stood there whenever members brought in the goodies and shekels tobe placed at his feet is this not an arrogant position that he has assumed for himself? I picturePeter standing at the front of the room standing like Mr. Clean, which of course he wasnt,receiving these required contributions.Remember, this is the Peter who denied Jesus three times with three lies of never having knownthe man and was forgiven in John 21, when John thought Peter was better left off the roster ofApostles worth anything to the Church. Seems at this point of his career, Peter was not much inthe mood to forgive as he had been forgiven or follow any of Jesus teachings on the topic. Id sayPeter had given Jesus lots of reasons to knock him off early in the disciple game too.3Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to theHoly Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4Didnt itbelong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasnt the money at your disposal? Whatmade you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."Comment: "Satan" could be anyone or anything. This can merely mean that Ananias made hisown decision about how much he could afford to contribute. Its not like he was sharing his dayswage for making pots down the street. This would have been a chunk of family change andperhaps land that had been in his family for generations. I once went to a store in Jerusalem thatwas in a cave of sorts and the owner said that the cave and using it for commerce had been in hisfamily for over 800 years!Whenever someone makes a decision the church or minister does not like or think is the right one,"Satan" often is named as the cause for this. It often means that the person simply does not seethings the way the minister or church does on this topic. Besides if a literal Satan filled his heart,then forgive him and go after Satan! I always found it difficult to resist as a mere human when arogue spirit that had access to God and was part of Gods plan for testing humans was unleashedon me. I mean, come on here, human is human! I cant even resist chocolate. So at least we seeit was theirs to give, and somewhere along the line, what he said he would give and what he gavewas the problem in Peters mind. The lie is not in not giving it all, the lie seems to be in sayinghed give it all and then not doing that. Again, would Peter, who denied Jesus three timesremember, with three lies, in a very short time, not understand his own past in this matter?Also we have the problem of uping the ante to lying, not to Peter, or to the board, or too thetreasurer. No, this young and successful couple had lied to the Holy Spirit! Yikes. One wouldthink that lying once about how much money you had to give was like a normal lie between men.Lying three times in a short period of time about not knowing Jesus, so sure you can kill him, Idont know the man, seems more of a Holy Spirit lie, but evidently not. Peter cannot forgive whathe had done himself. Maybe Peter felt he should have been punished for denying Jesus, andprojected his shame and the sentence onto this poor couple, though I still doubt it ever happenedin real time.It is also interesting that Satan, an untouchable spirit caused him to lie and the Holy Spirit, anuntouchable spirit strikes him down. This certainly leaves any human responsibility for thesedeaths in the pews out of the picture. So its a story of church members dropping dead of noknown humanly provable causes. We can hope Peter did not cut them down with a sword as heunsuccessfully tried to do in the garden lopping only the High Priests ear off in the attempt to
cleave his skull.5When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.No confidentiality here, or "we need to talk."Bang...youre dead! It also says he fell down first and then died. I would think that having the HolySpirit strike you down would be more of a "he died and fell down." Just a thought.And great fear seized all who heard what had happened.Comment: WELL, THIS IS THE WHOLE POINT ISNT IT? Even Peter understood that fear wasthe motivator even though something called "perfect love" had already been said to cast out fear.Fear is the opposite of Love, not hate. Peter evidently still had a lot to learn and this poor couplewould pay for his ignorance. Peter only knew to cast out the person, not the fear, and that thisexample would lower contributions and donations to the "Work," if he didnt nip it in the bud. Orperhaps Paul, who said "perfect love casts out fear" had Luke tell this story to make a fool out ofPeter. I mean, here is the Great Apostle Peter instilling fear when Paul instilled Love. Who wouldyou follow?6Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.Comment: Now have this happen in your church and see if you just get to wrap him up and throwhim in the dumpster. No one felt this was wrong. No one evidently would miss him or wonder why"he went to church, but never came home." His parents were either there agreeing to this orsimply learned to live that their son and daughter in law, who had that nice piece of property justvanished and somehow now we find the Church has the property. This is contrived and Apostoliccruelty and abuse at its worse, if it happened, which it didnt. But the story makes a nice motivatorof the brethren to turn in ALL the goodies. In the modern Church, all the goodies would be yourecomplete tithe...10%, not 9%.7About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter asked her,"Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?"Comment: Three hours later than what? How long were church services anyway! Hmmm, hebaits her, knowing that was not the price. Sounds like "Tell me my precious..." right out of Lord ofthe Rings."Yes," she said, "that is the price."Comment: It would have been better to say, "we thought it over and this is what we agreed to giveyou." That would have put Peter on the defensive saying, "well why didnt HE say so! Oh damn, Ijust never asked him if maybe he told you he had agreed to something else and I just didnt knowor that you both recalculated and I just phrased my question to him in a wrong way...oh my ohme." Well, no such luck.9Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the menwho buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also."
Comment: I expect he meant the feet of those guys had dirt on them from the previous burial ofher husband. I seriously doubt that this sweet couple said, "Hey, lets test the Spirit of the Lordand lie about this." Peter may have been meaning, "How could you lie to me." But then this is thesame man who lied about even knowing Jesus, three times in a very short time, and to a little girlto boot! Peter denied Jesus and Judas betrayed him...whats the difference. Maybe this is thepoint of the story.10At that moment she fell down at his feet and died.Comment: Well so much for "come let us reason together."Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside herhusband.Comment: These young men are no doubt going to need some counseling of their own after this.Would ou not love to have heard the talk while they dug the graves? "What the hell is this allabout?I liked these people and they always gave more than any of the other sluggards in the group.Anyone here think Peter, who lied about even knowing Jesus, THREE TIMES, is nuts?"11Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.Comment: Which is, again, the whole point of the story for the early church isnt it?So here we have revenge killings in church of people whose hearts were filled by Satan to keepsome of their own hard earned money and felled by the Holy Spirit as punishement. No chancePeter, WHO LIED ABOUT KNOWING JESUS THREE TIMES, could forgive them, or just say"thank you so much for your contribution and generosity to the Church." No way this Peter wasgoing to let the others think that they could get away with not having all things in common, and Imean all things. I wonder if Peter gave the Church the proceeds from his fishing boat andequipment? I guess if you said, "no way, thats my stuff," you were off the hook. The problemseems to be in saying you would and then not, but that is easily remedied by renegotiating theagreement, not MURDER!The point is all about religious loyalty motivated by fear, guilt and shame again, isnt it? Itsmotivating you to stick with the church because if you dont then Satan will eat you alive or you willgo to hell or burn in the lake of fire, none of which is proveable in space and time. Its saying thathurricane Katrina was punishment on New Orleans for being full of humans who are just like theones in Houston and Chicago and everywhere else including, of all places, Washington. Its theRabbi saying that Bird Flu has come the the "UN-Holy Land" for that is what it is these days,because Israel allows Gay marriage, or even mixing cheese with hamburger to make acheeseburger, when everyone knows that violates seething a calf in its own mothers milk! No lie.I saw the posters condemning McDonalds in Tiberias...or was it McDavids?The story of Ananias and Sapphira is a construct to instill fear of disobeying the Church andChurch leadership. We should not miss the fact that this Peter, the impetuous disciple, the "letskick their ass for not believing in you Jesus," the "oh yeah, well Ill split your skull with my sword,"LIED THREE TIMES that he ever knew Jesus and then fled. This is a contrived story to produce
the desired effect...FEAR in the Church. A motivator that I am sorry to say is all to much aweapon in the ministerial arsenal of far too many churches today still.Still there is one other motive that there might be for this rather negative story about Peter in thebook of Acts. It was no secret that Luke, the author of Acts was a man of Paul. He was theapologist link, so to speak between the Jewish Church under James and the Gentile Church underPaul. It was Lukes job to make it appear that Paul got along better with Peter, James and Johnthan he really did or they with him. There was no love lost between Peter and Paul for sure asPaul, in Galatians places Peter along with James and John in the "Apostles so called" categoryand reminds his readers that "I learned nothing from them."This Peter, this man who PROMISED Jesus that he would never leave him, only to deny him threetimes shortly after and flee has a history. This story of the Peter, who cant abide saying onething and doing another from Ananias and Sapphira, who SAID he was in agreement with Paulabout eating with Gentiles but then withdrew when the Jewish James showed up for dinner, justmight be here to poke fun of Peter, whom Paul disliked. Luke is chiding Peter for his duplicity insaying one thing, like Ananias did, and doing another, as the couple is reported to have done. Inshort, it may be that Luke was reminding the Gentile Church that Paul, not Peter was a betterleader and more to be trusted. After all, the entire book of Acts is about Paul and others only asthey lead up to and introduce Paul.Peter can dish it out, but when push came to shove in his own life, he could not take it. Peter hada history of doing exactly the same thing that he is proported to have "killed" Ananias andSapphira for; saying one thing, and doing another. The story might be a simple mock of Peter andhis so called leadership in the Church. Leadership is something Peter, Paul, James and Johnseemed to fight over after Jesus is supposed to have left the planet.Interestingly enough, every time John speaks of Peter in the Gospel of John, he makes acomment about Judas, then his point about Peter and then another point about Judas...every time.Obviously John also felt Peters denial of Jesus was the same as Judas betrayal. John howeverportrays himself in his book as being the "disciple Jesus loved," reclining on Jesus breast as hisbest buddy, with Jesus at his trial when Peter had fled, at the foot of the cross with Jesus momand the only one who understood what the empty tomb meant. These guys were very human andtook every advantage and opportunity to put each other down while trying to elevate themselves inthe eyes of the Church.Bible guys will do that to each other in the scripture when they have a chance to point out eachothers faults and foibles. Thus, I doubt the real murder of Ananias and Sapphira because theykept some of their own money never literally happened but is a slap, by Luke, at Peter for his ownduplicity. Pretty common stuff between Pastors I might add.Article Source:http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dennis_Diehl