Acts 4:32 – 5:11 is one of my favorite New Testament stories.1
Ananias and his dear wife Sapphira belonged to one of the first Christian churches headed by Jesus’ disciple, Peter. The church was unique in that the members shared their money with each other and thus cared for their poor. One day, after selling a parcel of their land, Ananias and Sapphira decided to give away a portion of the sales to Peter’s church. They did not want to give the full amount that Peter wanted but they wanted to give up some of their money to help the poor.
So Ananias was happy to share some of his money with the growing church and gladly brought the money to Peter the great apostle.
But Peter was lethally angry with Ananias because the amount of money was short of what Peter expected. Peter accused Ananias of lying to him God.
And immediately Ananias fell dead – killed by the Holy Spirit (but no autopsy was reported). Yet the work of the Holy Spirit was not yet finished.
When Ananias was late coming home, Sapphira went to Peter to see where her husband was. Peter accused Sapphira of helping her husband in holding back some of the money that Peter wanted. He told her. “How could you agree to test me 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.”
Then Sapphira fell dead too, killed by the Holy Spirit for not paying her full tithe to the growing Church of the loving Lord Jesus. Of course, though this caused distress, all knew that Ananias and Sapphria deserved their deaths for lying to Peter The Holy Spirit and holding back their tithes.
Then “Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about the events.” But that was OK because it taught all future believers a valuable lesson.
For those who want the Biblical Passages, here is the portion from Acts 5 (NIV):
Ananias and Sapphira
1Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2With 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.
3Then 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? 4Didn’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.”
5When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
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?”
“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”
9Peter 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.”
10At 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. 11Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
1) Pictures are actually taken from this Christian site. OK, my narative is a little different. But go check out the cartoons there to help educate the Christian Children about their god.