Did God Kill Ananias and Sapphira

When we begin to learn how God is so much better than we ever thought before, we tend to gravitate toward verses that seem to say the contrary. We want to believe that God is good, but can’t help but have certain passages pop into our minds that are begging us to think otherwise. One of the most common questions I receive is, “Didn’t God kill Ananias and Sapphire in the New Testament?” 

My simple answer is, “No, He didn’t.” But I’m sure that’s not enough to convince you so let’s take a closer look.

The Thief

God gets the blame for a lot of bad things that happen. When someone loses their job, it’s because God is trying to teach them something. When sickness happens, it’s because they’ve somehow missed God’s will for their life. If someone dies, it’s because of sin. 

This mentality keeps people from stepping into the life God has for them because they fear God will cause pain if they slip up somewhere along the way. God is not in the business of killing people. We have to stop blaming Him for everything going wrong in our lives.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

According to John 10:10, it’s the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy, not God. In fact, He came to give us the complete opposite—an abundant life! The Message translation says, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

Many times, when we think about the thief, our minds go to the devil. While there is some truth to that, the context in John 10  is not talking about the devil. The thief is mentioned back in verse 1:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. (John 10:1)

Jesus is explaining how He is the only way to God and if anyone says anything otherwise, they are a thief and a robber. It’s not Jesus and your confession, your giving, your service, etc—it’s only Jesus. The thief in this context isn’t the devil, it’s a religious mindset that is stealing, killing and destroying God’s people!

Many of us believe that God is good, but He’ll throw something terrible at you for stepping out of line. We’ll say that His grace is enough to save you, but now it’s your responsibility to maintain that salvation. Taking our focus off of Jesus and putting it back on ourselves is stealing the abundant life God came to bring us. Mixing God’s amazing grace with old covenant law is literally killing people. 

Back To The Story

Leading up to the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 4, we can see how the church was functioning. Multitudes were flocking to hear the good news of the gospel and the church came together to accommodate all these people. It says that all the people in the church were of “one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own.” 

The people of this church saw the needs of everyone coming in so they sold their houses and land and brought the proceeds to the apostles’ feet. They weren’t forced to do it, they chose to. This became a communal society where everyone shared everything.

Ananias and Sapphira

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 5:1-2)

Now we have this husband and wife named Ananias and Sapphira who saw what was going on in this church and wanted to be a part of it—well, they wanted to look like they were, anyway. They sold some of their possessions, brought them to the apostles, and claimed to have sold everything. Peter immediately sees they lied and calls out Ananias. 

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:3-4)

Peter confronts Ananias and tells him that he wasn’t forced to do any of this. It was his choice to give however much he wanted, or nothing at all. But he doesn’t stop there. He continues to lay on the guilt and says, “You haven’t lied to men, but to God.” 

Did God Kill Ananias and Sapphira?

It’s typically taught that, since Ananias lied to God, he was struck down right there on the spot. But does the text really say that? 

Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. (Acts 5:5-6)

By thinking that God is behind our pain, sickness and lack, we will begin to see things in scripture that aren’t there. Nowhere is Act 5:5 does it say that God killed Ananias. It only says he “fell down and breathed his last.” 

Then, Sapphira walks in 3 hours later and Peter confronts her about the lie.

And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?” She said, “Yes, for so much.” Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. (Acts 5:8-10)

Again, nowhere does it say that God killed Sapphira. It simply says she “fell down and breathed her last.” People have come to the conclusion that God was behind their deaths, but that logic cannot be backed up in scripture. We can’t add things that aren’t there in order to fit our doctrinal beliefs. 

Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18)

When Ananias and Sapphira fell down and breathed their last, it says that “great fear came upon all those who heard these things.” If God is love, and perfect love casts out all fear, it leads me to believe that God isn’t behind any of this. God is not the author of death or fear. 

So, Who Killed Them?

Since there is no definitive proof that God killed this husband and wife, we need to look a little closer. I don’t believe the names Ananias and Sapphira are put here on accident. A simple study of the meaning behind these names reveals a lot. Ananias means “Jehovah is gracious.” Sapphira, or Sapphire, was placed on the priests’ breastplates under the old covenant to represent law and judgment.

So, right here we have grace and law married to one another. When we attempt to mix God’s amazing grace with law, it can literally kill you. It’s a religious mindset that steals, kills and destroys—not God! 

I believe Ananias and Sapphira had the wrong idea of who God was. When Peter began laying on the guilt, it was their beliefs about what God would do to them that killed them.

Lying To God

All of us have lied to God at some point. We’ve said things like:

“God, if you get me this job, I promise I will read my Bible every day.”

“Lord, if you heal me, I’ll up my giving to 11% at church.”

Then we get the job and the healing and nothing ever changes. If we can get away with lying to God without him striking us down, what makes Ananias and Sapphira any different? If God killed people for lying to Him, we’d all be in trouble!

If you get anything from this, please realize that God is not behind your pain. It’s the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy—not God. Stop blaming Him for your pain. If what you believe about God causes you to be afraid of what He might do to you, you don’t know God. It’s His perfect love that casts out all fear. Draw near to him and begin to live a life that’s greater than you could ever dream of. 

Clint ZellerComment