Ananias and Sapphira were horrible communists

Another older post.

Seems creative interpretation of Scripture by non-believers is never ending.

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Before I get started on my comments, I would like to ask readers to read the following verses, pause for a few minutes, and then try to make sense of what happened in the account.

No Google, no blogs, no commentaries…just you and what these words mean to you.

Ananias and Sapphira

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With 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.

Then 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? Didn’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 just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

At 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. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

– Acts 5:1-11

Although there are some difficult passages in the Bible that take some explanation, that appear contradictory, or that require some historical context, the passages above are easy.

Whether you think it was fair or just, Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying.

That being said, I talk all the time to skeptics who have to, in order to validate their disbelief, make the Bible and the God of the Bible unfair, impossible to believe, and impossible to worship.

One of these such people tried to make the case the other day that the story of Ananias and Sapphira is a story of two people who were, although the account admittedly doesn’t mention it, murdered by the apostles because they were not good communists.

Yes, even though the passage specifically says that their land belonged to them and that the profit from selling it belonged to them and was at their disposal, the problem my atheist friend had with the passage is that they did not give what the church requires communal members to give in “from each according to his ability to each according to his need” fashion.

Taking this a step further, my friend desperately attempted to make the case that I am not a good Christian because I do not shun capitalism in favor of biblically mandated communal living, an exercise that itself shuns intellectual reasoning and critical thought in favor of recklessly supporting dogmatic and fundamentalist disbelief at all costs.

Make no mistake, the major sin of Ananias and Sapphira was dishonesty, deceit, hypocrisy, pretense, presenting a false image of themselves, implying a greater spirituality than they actually possessed, letting people think more highly of them than what they knew was warranted. They were more interested in appearances than in reality. As Peter said, “You have not lied to men, but to God” (Acts 5:4).

As far as communism and early Christians goes.

They were certainly not communists as modern people define the term but they did live their lives out of a loving concern for one another that went so far as to touch their wallets in ways that are unrecognized in the church today.

Early Christians realized that everything they had was from God, that it was given to them not for their own exclusive use, but to be shared with fellow believers. Although they may have lived more communally than we do today, there was no coercion involved and the lifestyle was not mandated by the early church.

Believers, then and now, are free to own property if they chose to and are not thought less of by anyone for doing so.

Yes, many of the early followers of Christ sold their material possessions and gave the proceeds to the apostles to be distributed to church members with a greater need, this was voluntary and cheerful giving, not coercion, not mandatory, and certainly not communism in any sense of the word.

Exit question: If you read the Bible, do you do so for a deeper understanding of the Word of God? Or do you do so to bolster your presuppositions?

Odds are your Bible reading could be objectively less than an intellectual pursuit.

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Categories: Apologetics, Christianity

Tags: , , , , , ,

20 replies

  1. Perhaps you should link to my post, which you are drawing this commentary from, so people can see for themselves yours and my comments on this matter in their natural setting….

    Just a suggestion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So…John…did you say that? Do you read in that passage that the Apostles murdered the pair for not being good communists? Because you really have to fill in some gaps to get to that conclusion. Clearly they were killed for lying, period. Just trying to keep up here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just gonna stick to your exit question: I read the Bible to better understand my God and His will for me and to have a daily conversation with Him. I ask God to give me openness and a teachable spirit so I can “hear” from Him, this allows me to be honest with Him about things I am concerned about, my worries, fears, anger, successes, gratitude, needs, challenges and things I do not understand about Him and His work in my life. God and I have a relationship through Jesus, I cherish this relationship and want it to grow and deepen so we need to spend time together!
    I just read Acts 5 a couple days ago, a difficult incident to understand when taken out of context which people often do to prove some point or other!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Betty,

      Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

      Non-believeers take the Bible out of context all the time to make it mean what they want it to.

      Keep doing what you’re doing and God will reveal himself through His Word.

      Blessings to you.

      James

      Like

  4. Good observations from the text. I think the fact that Acts 5 still acknowledged private property does not sit well with a Marxist reading of Acts 5.

    I would also add that the communal passages such as the one you mentioned here in Acts 5 and also Acts 2:44-45 must also be interpreted in the light of the larger flow of the book of Acts.
    We must remember that Acts 1:8 is the “controlling” verse for the direction of the book of Acts. Acts 1:8 is the command Jesus gave the disciples: “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Note there is an emphasis by Jesus that the Gospel is to go outward that comport with Matthew 28:19-20 (what is commonly called the Great Commission).
    It seems in light of Acts 1:8 that this gathering of an internal community sharing things in common is not the thing that Jesus or Acts want to stress as normative for the Christian, but it ought to be one of reaching out. In fact it took God bringing a persecution in Acts 8:1-5 that the Acts 1:8 plan gets unfolded (I think my interpretation is justified, note the echoes of Acts 1:8 in Acts 8:1-5 with the term “Jerusalem,” “Judea” and especially the multiple reference to “Samaria.” This point must not be missed).
    Acts 8 onwards is more normative of the Christian church era and I think Acts 2-7 with the believers gathering together fits in a specific context of the early Post-Pentecost age when believers from around the world was still getting to know the Gospel more deeply before eventually going back “home” to all the different parts of the Roman empire (see Acts 2 again) and beyond.
    What do you think? Does that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Seems creative interpretation of Scripture by non-believers is never ending.

    And based on the evidence, even more so with believers.
    Have you read the findings of the Acts Seminar, James?

    Like

    • Ark,

      I am familiar enough with the findings of the Acts Seminar and equally academically dishonest Jesus Seminar to seriously question all of their findings.

      Do you believe these were true academic pursuits or that they were motivated by extreme bias?

      James

      Like

      • Bias? Here we go again, James.
        Something that has been glaringly apparent with the way the bible was cobbled together, yet you continually turn a blind eye to! Incredible.

        The thrust of all you refutations is suggestive of some humongous conspiracy?

        As if a few select groups of scholars get together from time to time to ”plot” the downfall of your religion?

        The Jesus Seminar came in for some serious stick, this is common knowledge, largely because of their methodology but many of their findings were right on the button , based on evidence. There it is again …evidence.
        The same goes for the Acts Seminar.
        How long was it? Eleven years I think.
        Tell me, honestly, what would be the point if these people were not serious about what they did.
        Simply to piss off people like you?
        Even a reasonably astute lay person reading Acts can’t help but notice all the anomalies, especially if one has read the Epistles.

        Why are people like you so adamant they will not harbour the distinct possibility that their religion is simply man made,; no different to the myriad of religions that currently abound on Planet Earth?

        The ”tales” in Acts are Historical Fiction.
        Simple plot devices.

        And if you know the tales in Acts you will have an inkling from where and whom they were lifted.

        Ark

        Like

Trackbacks

  1. A little more on Jesus the communist | The Isaiah 53:5 Project
  2. Were Early Christians Communists? Part 1: Acts 5 | The Domain for Truth

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