Annanaias and Saphira


#1

I’m reading the Acts of the Apostles, and I’m at the part where Annanaias and his wife Saphira receive divine punishment (death) for witholding some money (proceeds from having sold their land) from the Apostles, who were supposed to distribute the money to everyone according to need. Doesn’t this seem excessive? I know they were being dishonest and selfish, but it’s almost as if they didn’t have the chance to repent, and I don’t think they behavior would usually warrant death.


#2

Hi!
…yeah, this is one of those… huh??? :bigyikes::bigyikes::bigyikes:

There are two things to keep in mind: a) their demise is not due to the money but their conspiracy to be dishonest (as it was told, it was theirs to do as they pleased; none would have coerced them to give a single coin if they did not wished it), and b) Jesus had just promised that He would go (back to the Father) so that He could send to the Church the other Paraclete (the Holy Spirit)–the couple’s engagement (dishonesty) was a sin against the Holy Spirit and, as with Aaron’s sons who offered the “strange fire” (Leviticus 10:1-2: 1 And Nadab and Abiu, the sons of Aaron, taking their censers, put fire therein, and incense on it, offering before the Lord strange fire: which was not commanded them. 2 And fire coming out from the Lord destroyed them, and they died before the Lord.), it is the failure to abide by God that was curtly dealt with.

Though I do agree with you that it seemed extreme, God’s Way are not always as clear to us as we may want them to be.

Maran atha!

Angel


#3

I thought of this: their physical death could be caused by the loss of the Holy Spirit, at the moment their sin was exposed. They could litterally die of shame.
And, as they experienced shame in this life, there is a chance they might not be ashamed for all eternity and might be saved.


#4

The Lord is infinitely perfect and knows how to deal with things that we do not understand.

Alleluia!


#5

God certainly saw it fit to do so.

After all, he sees the heart, while we don’t.


#6

I guess I kind of understand, but another thing bothering me is how Peter responded to Saphira. How he responded to Annanaias is understandable, but when he spoke with her, he basically said, “You’re husband is dead, and you are next.” He was just being honest, I know, but he seems a little too unaffected by the loss of human life. This probably isn’t an important detail, but it bothers me none the less.


#7

The faith of the early Christians was rewarded with extraordinary miracles. Should their lack of faith, their serious sins, not be punished with equally extraordinary punishments?

St Paul wrote about similar punishments happening in the Church at Corinth:
For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. (1 Cor 11:29-30)

Since we believe that God loves everyone, including Ananias and Sapphira, should we not also believe that, whether they went to heaven or to hell, their sudden deaths were ultimately for the best for them, i.e., that the timing of their deaths was calculated by God so that they would receive their own greatest possible enjoyment of heaven or their own least possible suffering in hell?


#8

I understand your concern… but let’s take it a step prior… how did Peter know what was in the heart of these spouses? What was transpiring was not simply a man (Peter) exercising power over others. Also, let us look at the language… Jehovah Witnesses (Arians), and the likes, who reject the Holy Trinity willfully ignore Scriptures where we are Taught about the Triune Existence of God… here in this summarily executed Judgment Cephas, speaking for the Church, declares that the couple have sinned against God, the Holy Spirit, and not man (Cephas, the other Apostles and all of the Believers).

Since this event allotted God to demonstrate that the other Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, is God, could God not have provided for or mitigated the Judgment (Eternal Life) on these two sinners… would He Who Guides and Leads the Church to the Fullness of Truth not have the Will and Power to, in the Spirit, convict these two and afford them Salvation?

Maran atha!

Angel


#9

It is so easy to get caught up in “Why did God do this…or that…I don’t understand and I question.”

Let us remember that we are finite and God is infinite. INFINITELY PERFECT!

Trust Him! He sees the bigger picture, and desires nothing more than our eternal happiness.

Praise Him!


#10

You betcha.

“Because he is God” should be a sufficiently good answer to any Catholic. Then the theology can begin.

Otherwise, we, creatures lower than dust, have the audacity to tell the Sovereign Creator, whose ways are infinitely above our ways, how he should behave.

I don’t think so.


#11

It was 100% just, or it would not have occurred by divine warrant. They formulated their deception ahead of time, maintained it throughout, and denied it when given the chance by Peter to repent. It is perfect justice.

The moral: don’t lie to the Holy Spirit. I’ll bet that very few did after word of that spread.


#12

For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

1 Corinthians 11


#13

Good questions, Milestone! There’s lots to think about, in the context of this story!

Keep something in mind, though: you can’t just look back to the times prior to the New Covenant and presume that something that was kosher back then is still according to Hoyle now! (How about that for a mixed metaphor! :wink: )

After all, we’re talking two distinctly different situations!

[quote=Milestone]How he responded to Annanaias is understandable, but when he spoke with her, he basically said, “You’re husband is dead, and you are next.” He was just being honest, I know, but he seems a little too unaffected by the loss of human life.
[/quote]

It seems to me that it’s not a question of “being honest” – rather, Peter was prophecying at that moment!

And, keep in mind that the early Church was very aware of the difference between “falling asleep” and “dying”. Moreover…

[quote=jcrichton]how did Peter know what was in the heart of these spouses?
[/quote]

[quote=Milestone]it’s almost as if they didn’t have the chance to repent
[/quote]

That’s exactly the whole point! She did have the chance to repent, and Peter explicitly gave her that opportunity! We can only surmise what would’ve happened if, when Peter asked “did you sell the land for this amount?”, Sapphira would’ve answered, “forgive me, Peter! We didn’t! We sold it for more and kept some of the proceeds! Forgive me!”…

But, she didn’t repent. Having been given the chance, she held fast to that lie against God (cf v.4).

In a way, the story is reminiscent of the story of Susanna, in the Book of Daniel


#14

Hi, Gorgias!
…actually we have to distinct but very congruent situations… Faith, Trust, Obligation. Both parties determined something in error; both parties thought they could deceive God; both parties were summarily and severely corrected.

The glue that binds them is the Holy Spirit–nothing that man offers to God can be done outside of the Holy Spirit, yeah even way back when:

For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful, and will withdraw himself from thoughts that are without understanding, and he shall not abide when iniquity cometh in. (Wisdom 1:5)

22 For in her is the spirit of understanding: holy, one, manifold, subtile, eloquent, active, undefiled, sure, sweet, loving that which is good, quick, which nothing hindereth, beneficent, 23 Gentle, kind, steadfast, assured, secure, having all power, overseeing all things, and containing all spirits, intelligible, pure, subtile. 24 For wisdom is more active than all active things: and reacheth everywhere by reason of her purity. 25 For she is a vapour of the power of God, and a certain pure emanation of the glory of the almighty God: and therefore no defiled thing cometh into her. 26 For she is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty, and the image of his goodness. 27 And being but one, she can do all things: and remaining in herself the same, she reneweth all things, and through nations conveyeth herself into holy souls, she maketh the friends of God and prophets. 28 For God loveth none but him that dwelleth with wisdom. (Wisdom 7:22-28)

16 And hardly do we guess aright at things that are upon earth: and with labour do we find the things that are before us. But the things that are in heaven, who shall search out? 17 And who shall know thy thought, except thou give wisdom, and send thy Holy Spirit from above: 18 And so the ways of them that are upon earth may be corrected, and men may learn the things that please thee? (Wisdom 9:16-18)

Maran atha!

Angel


#15

I have no answer to that too. I can only think that they were in different era or at least in a transition period where the wages of sin is death.


#16

Hey bro. The wages of sin is still death. But yes, for some reason, God decided to enforce death in this immediate and extraordinary way. I think it was a critical time in the birth of the Church, where miracles and great signs were establishing the New Covenant. At this time, the Apostles were afforded great fear (respect), so that the Church could make known the hidden mysteries of God.

We can just as well ask, why were the Apostles and first converts able to perform miracles?


#17

I think Pentecost has already happened, for we see the spirit being poured out in Acts 4;23-ff
So, the people aren’t waiting for the first pourings of the spirit. I looked at the previous chapter to understand what you might mean. I see that context of the trial is the “conspiracy” of the nations and rulers against God’s anointed. (AKA the Christ) That would be Jesus and presumably the church.

I notice that the prayer for the spirit comes from the people, and is not attributed to Peter.
The people pray psalm 2. It ends with a fickle phrase “Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

–the couple’s engagement (dishonesty) was a sin against the Holy Spirit and, as with Aaron’s sons who offered the “strange fire”

I don’t see that people were required to sell all their land. So, I’m not sure what a command to offer specific incense has to do with Annas and Sapphira. They don’t appear to be under a command to give everything.

Though I do agree with you that it seemed extreme, God’s Way are not always as clear to us as we may want them to be.

:slight_smile: yep.

I had never thought of their act as “The sin” against the Holy Spirit. I had always thought that they could be forgiven after death. Specifically, the death itself could be the punishment they earned. So, once they paid the price – they could be forgiven. AKA: Luke 23:41.

The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?
And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”v

The one thief was certainly not sentenced to eternal punishment in hell.
However, the passage in Acts DOES say that Satan filled them with the desire to sin against the Holy Spirit.

:shrug:


#18

Yes. Let’s think. :slight_smile:

That’s exactly the whole point! She did have the chance to repent, and Peter explicitly gave her that opportunity!

But he didn’t give her the warning of telling her his knew anything about the sale.
Rather, he merely asked her to describe the sale. So, yes… she had a chance, but didn’t realize she needed it. OTOH. Peter seems to be setting her up to lie to God.

We can only surmise what would’ve happened if, when Peter asked “did you sell the land for this amount?”, Sapphira would’ve answered, “forgive me, Peter! We didn’t! We sold it for more and kept some of the proceeds! Forgive me!”…

But, she didn’t repent. Having been given the chance, she held fast to that lie against God (cf v.4).

In a way, the story is reminiscent of the story of Susanna, in the Book of Daniel

Yes, Peter was cross examining her. But, what exactly are they guilty of?
The only thing I can estimate, from the testimony, is that they pretended to give more money than they did. But if the money belonged to them, why were they required to give it all in the first place? So … the only thing they seem guilty of is a lie. Not theft. Not rape, and attempted murder. Not a “captial” crime on par with the story of Susanna’s rapists.

The Catholic church regularly teaches that the sin against the “Holy Spirit” is the refusal to repent all the way to death. So… it’s hard to imagine that the sin PRIOR to Sapphira lying to Peter was actually the sin against the spirit. There is something elusive in the passage.

Hmmm … Mark 3:28-30 …


#19

Hi!
Correct, Pentecost had already taken place; my reference was to situate the event–this event took place shortly after Pentecost so I was attempting to make the connection that Jesus had introduced the Holy Spirit to the Church as the other Paraclete Who would bring the Church to the Fullness of Truth (the Father and Jesus share everything: they are One; everything that the Holy Spirit has Comes from Christ: they are One; ergo the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are One). Much like Jesus transferred the Old Testament warning of blaspheming against the Father to blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit now holds a direct relationship (no longer a shadow figure of God’s Presence) with and in the Church.

I don’t see that people were required to sell all their land. So, I’m not sure what a command to offer specific incense has to do with Annas and Sapphira. They don’t appear to be under a command to give everything.

…here, I’d attempted to allude to the difference between self-determination and obedience to God. In both cases man is able to reason if he wants to remain in fellowship with God. Yet, once he determines that he wants God to be his God, man must be obedient to God’s Will. Aaron sons chose to fake their devotion by taking a shortcut to the offering (Worship) while Ananias and Sapphira conspired to hide the truth from Cephas who was actually, in modern terms, acting in persona Christi; since the Church moves in the Holy Spirit, the couple ends up lying to God, the Third Person, not just His representative (Cephas). While there’s no obligation on man to serve, once man accepts God, he cannot choose and pick (Abel vs. Cain) how to serve and represent God!

I had never thought of their act as “The sin” against the Holy Spirit. I had always thought that they could be forgiven after death. Specifically, the death itself could be the punishment they earned. So, once they paid the price – they could be forgiven. AKA: Luke 23:41.

The one thief was certainly not sentenced to eternal punishment in hell.
However, the passage in Acts DOES say that Satan filled them with the desire to sin against the Holy Spirit.

:shrug:

I concur with you; St. Peter stated that they have not lied to man but to God (the Holy Spirit) which does not automatically translate to “the sin against the Holy Spirit.” Since God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Merciful, it is not beyond Him to have used this particular incident to demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is God (punishment for attempting to deceive the Holy Spirit) while simultaneously affording the couple, who nonetheless were Believers, a purification period (visit to Purgatory) rather then summary damnation in hell.

Maran atha!

Angel


#20

Hi!
I think that you are coming to conclusions… the guilt? The are lying (to a fisherman, in my estimation they thought to one that had finite understanding and easily beguiled); it is not that they pretended to give more but that while free to give one coin or none they understated the amount of money that they gained from the sale of the property.

Say the property value was 30K, Ananias and Sapphira could have kept the whole 30K, or given one tenth of it or given 100% of it or just given a few staters–there was no obligation to tithing (one tenth of all that is earned/owned); yet, once they determined to make an offering they had to be truthful in offering from their heart the “x” amount of money.

Their error was thinking that God could not tell what was contained (deceit) in their heart!

Maran atha!

Angel


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