Sapphira Wife of Ananias:

Sapphira is the wife of Ananias. The two of them agreed to withhold part of the money gained from sale of property from the church. They lied against the Holy Spirit when they claimed they brought it all. This lie cost them both their lives.
Acts 5:1-11

A certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Peter reminded Ananias that while it remained, it was his. Even after it was sold, it belonged to him. Peter wanted to know why he had conceived this thing in his heart reminding Ananias had not lied unto men, but unto God. Once Ananias heard these words he fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all those that heard these things. The young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

Three hours later his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. When Peter asks her, to tell him how much they sold the land for. Sapphira said for a certain amount. Then Peter said unto her, how is it that you have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Peter told her that the men at the door are the ones which have buried her husband are at the door, and shall carry her out. Then she fell down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

Sapphira was dishonest with the LORD. It was both Sapphira and Ananias who kept back part of the price of the land. They were both blinded by sin, and it was this blindness that caused her to persist in the sin, and she refused to admit her guilt therefore she sealed her own condemnation.

It was because of Ananias and Sapphira that there was great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things. It is important that we know that the LORD God does not condemn wealth or the people who possess that wealth. The LORD God punishes those who deceitfully try to test him when they pretend to be generous givers but in reality deceive Him especially by taking money taken secretly from a quantity belonging to a group of people.

Tempt the Spirit of the Lord means to put or to proof the character and power of the LORD God. Deuteronomy 6:16 tells us we shall ìNOT TEMPT the LORD thy God.î 1 Corinthians 10:9 repeats this message by saying ìNeither let us TEMPT CHRIST, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.î

Ananias and Sapphira did not get the praise and recognition they required. What they did get was condemnation by Peter and then the LORD God. What they did get was death.
When Ananias presented his gift to the church, Peter spoke very sternly to him. He said, “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” (Acts 5:3). And when Sapphira came later, Peter was just as stern; for he told her, “How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.” (Acts 5: 9).

There are far too many of our churches today who would say this was a very strong rebuke and should have been handled kinder the message from the churches is we should be more gentle and charitable and, not be so abrasive with Ananias and Sapphira. Ananias and Sapphira committed a vile sin and deserved to be denounced in strong language. We found Ananias and Sapphira, who were believers, sold a possession and held back a portion. If they would have said they held back a portion would have been honest. This would mean the churches that hold this view wants there to be a more gentle and charitable act toward evil! The sterns Peter used communicated to the sin that was committed.

Today in most of our churches, Ananias and Sapphira would not be rebuked sternly as Peter rebuked them; but they would be counseled gently; and then to help them feel “restored, and brought back into the fold.” Ananias would then be elected to the board to show that there were no hard feelings in the sinful dishonest action of Ananias. Sapphira would be given solo parts in the choir, asked to be a member of the ladies organization and given a Sunday School class to teach.

Ananias and Sapphira are an example to all of us warning us that a sin is a sin no matter who commits it. Peter denounced the evil of Ananias and Sapphira; he described Ananias’ sin as a “lie to the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 5:3). The sin of Sapphira was How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?” (Acts 5:9). Peter revealed that he understood the main harm of their sin it was primarily against the LORD God. It was the LORD God the Holy Spirit, not the church, they were mainly lying to and they were primarily tempting.

Failure to strongly rebuke and denounce sin is equal to dishonoring the LORD God. Peter shows the justification for the stern rebukes he gave Ananias and Sapphira by telling them they had sinned against the LORD God.

The LORD God killed Ananias and Sapphira in judgment for their sin. This judgment was sudden, severe in its character, shaming to the couple, and shocking to the community. The Bible warns about this sudden judgment. “For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” (Ecclesiastes 9:12).

When we view evil with less and less condemnation, we only promote evil. The severity of the judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira remind us that we must not look carelessly at any sin. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Ananias and Sapphira desired to be honored beyond and above their performance. Their sinful unholy desires and action resulted in them receiving great shame and disgrace for generations. The judgment of the LORD God not only took their lives suddenly, it also brought great and lasting shame to Ananias and Sapphira. “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? How long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.” (Psalm 4:2).

The suddenness and severity of the judgment which came upon Ananias and Sapphira made the judgment very shocking to others as can be expected. “Great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.” (Acts 5: 11). Great fear came on the church members this encourages righteousness. Judgment does not only deal with the guilty it also is a warning and instruction to others to behave righteously. “Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.” (Proverbs 19:25).

Ananias and Sapphira were not trying to determine the advantages of the LORD’s Spirit but were attempting to see what they could get by with. They did not get away with tempting the LORD God they lost their lives.

Cite Article Source

MLA Style Citation:

Holstein, Joanne “Sapphira Wife of Ananias:.” Becker Bible Studies Library Feb 2015.<,>.

APA Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2015, February) “Sapphira Wife of Ananias:.” Becker Bible Studies Library. Retrieved from,.

Chicago Style Citation:
Holstein, Joanne (2015) “Sapphira Wife of Ananias:.” Becker Bible Studies Library (February),, (accessed).

Joanne Holstein is a Becker Bible Studies Teacher and Author of Guided Bible Studies for Hungry Christians. She is a graduate of Psychology/Christian and Bible Counseling with Liberty University. She is well-known as a counselor to Christian faithful who are struggling with tremendous burden in these difficult times. She is a leading authority on historical development of Christian churches and the practices and beliefs of world religions and cults.

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