But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest. Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. Then some young men got up, wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?” “Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.” And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.” Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.Acts 5:1-10
I added these questions at the end of the last Gems:
- How did Luke know the details of this story when he wasn’t with the disciples during these events?
- Where did he get the details of the dialogue that went on at this time? It is not like the events were recorded on his smartphone and later played back.
- How is it that Luke tells us the events of the story in such detail?
I am delighted with the response from numbers of you to the questions I left you with, which prompted more questions from you readers.
- Do we know that Luke wasn’t there. Where was he? (He would have access to Peter and the other disciples and as the text says, they were all talking about it.)
- Were the Ananias of Acts 5 and the Ananias in Acts 9:10 one and the same?
The refrain “a certain man” caught Sunaryo’s attention. He wondered if there was a significance to the fact that Luke introduces our current Ananias as “a certain man named Ananias”. Sunaryo noticed that this is the same way Luke introduces Simon in Acts 8:9. – “But a certain man called Simon had long been conjuring in the city, and amazing the nation of Samaria, claiming himself to be some great one.” Is this Luke’s way of introducing people of shady character? Notice the two men mentioned in Luke’s gospel with this form of introduction.
- Luke 16:1 Jesus told this story to His disciples: “There was a certain rich man who had a manager handling his affairs. One day a report came that the manager was wasting his employer’s money.
- Luke 16:19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury.
- Acts 5:1 But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property.
- Acts 8:9 But a certain man called Simon had long been conjuring in the city, and amazing the nation of Samaria, claiming himself to be some great one.
Mmm, interesting observation. Is it that Luke likes to begin a story with a man of questionable character with this particular introduction? We could debate the point but we won’t solve the mystery until we meet Luke face to face. Hold that thought. But if that the element is used to introduce men of questionable character then Isaac also is of questionable character (Luke 15:11).
On the matter of Luke being present at this time in Acts, I refer you to what I said in Gem 1332:
Luke was a companion of Paul for the most part of the account recorded in the book of Acts. I draw your attention to the “we” sections found in the book of Acts, namely 16:11-17; Acts 20:6-16; Acts 21:18,27 and 28). Assuming Luke is the author of Acts, then it follows that Luke accompanied Paul on the larger part of his missionary journeys. Luke does not record for us his involvement apart from the use of“we”. When Luke uses the pronoun “we”, he is giving us a clue to the fact that he was with Paul on that part of the journey. So what about the portions of Acts where“we” is not used? If we are to infer that Luke was not present during those times, where does he get his facts from? Simply in accompanying Paul at the other times, we must assume that he had ample opportunity to question Paul about those times when he was not present. In the same way he put the gospel story together by interviewing those who experienced the events Luke writes about, we must assume that Luke takes the same thorough approach for his second book.
I imagine that Luke picked the brains of those who were Paul’s travelling companions at other times as well. It is likely that Luke was with Paul also during his last stay in Jerusalem and during the imprisonment at Caesarea. There is no reason to think that Luke suddenly left Paul in Jerusalem and returned to Caesarea only when Paul started to Rome (Acts 27:1). Luke had access to Paul himself for information concerning this period, as was true of the second journey, from Acts 13 to the end of the book. Luke was either present or he could have learned from Paul the facts used. He may have kept a travel diary, which was drawn upon when necessary. Luke could have taken notes of Paul’s addresses in Jerusalem (Acts 22) and Caesarea (Acts 24 through 26). From these, with Paul’s help, he probably composed the account of Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-30). . . . Paul and Philip were the witnesses to the events recorded in Acts 6:8 through 8:1 and a participant of the work in Antioch (Acts 11:19-30). Philip was present during Paul’s last journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:8), and was probably in Caesarea still, during Paul’s confinement there. He could have told Luke the events in Acts 6:1-7 and 8:4-40. The story of Peter’s work in Caesarea may have possibly even come from Cornelius himself (9:32 through 11:18).
As Joy said, Luke would have had access to Peter and the other disciples. If Luke was his normal self in writing the book of Acts, I am sure he questioned Peter about things that happened in the past and as Joy wrote, the text says they were all talking about it. This account of Ananias and Sapphira was clearly written about an impactful moment in the life of the early church and one at which Peter was present. I can’t imagine Luke not asking Peter for the details, assuming they met together. Although we have no clear statement in Scripture which gives the clue they ever met, I suspect they did. Whether it came directly from Peter himself is immaterial. I am sure there was enough of an oral tradition about this event which would have provided Luke with his source material. Such material would have included the indirect speech quotations of what Peter said to both Ananias and Sapphira. It is certainly not a story that was made up fictitiously but also highly likely Luke was NOT present at the time this event occurred.
The Ananias of Acts 5 is not the same Ananias of Acts 9. The Ananias of Acts 5 was DEAD by the time the Ananias of Acts 9 came on the scene. Ananias was a popular name at the time and commonly found in its Hebrew form in the Old Testament (e.g. 1Chron 25:4; Jer 28:1; Dan 1:6). (Hananiah). Ἁνανίας, Hananı́as is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew חנניה, which means “Yah has been gracious”. So we are clearly dealing with two different men by the name of Ananias. Having said all that, we will get back to the mainstream in the next Gems.
God corrects us because He loves us.Lavonia Grabau
You cannot hang out with negative people and expect to live a positive life.Anon
A pretty face is nothing if you have an ugly heart.Anon
It is better to walk alone than to walk with a crowd going in the wrong direction.Anon
One of the hardest questions you will ever face in your life is choosing whether to walk away or to try harder.Anon