Lessons From Ananias Life, a Foundational Member of the First Church
There are several people who have distinguished themselves either positively or negatively during the days of the apostles (disciples) by what they do. This is equally true of the present world, many people there are all over the globe, young, and old who have distinguished themselves by what they are doing positively or negatively, through that they cannot be hidden.
In this article I will want to talk about one of the foundational members of the first church of Christ, as recorded in the book of Acts of the Apostles, who though began very well but along the line missed his steps and this mis-steps could not be overlooked by Holy Ghost as it would be noticed that such overlooking happened afterwards, but his’ couldn’t be overlooked and he was struck dead on the spot.
What happened to him is recorded so that we shall learn thereby as the author of the book of Corinthians says unto the people in Corinth.
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Co 10:11)
The person I want to write on is Ananias. His name first jumped at bible students in chapter five of the book of Acts, and that essentially was where the summation of all things that happened to him was documented.
However, in understanding this story, we shall need to read some aspects of chapter two and four of the same book to have a full view and grasp of what led to what, and what may have pushed him to do what he did in agreement with his wife.
1. The Name, Ananias
Ananias in Greek is written as “Ἀνανίας”, Romanized form is Ananias, pronounced as an-an-ee'-as, while in Hebrew it is written as “חנניהוּ חנניה”, Romanized form is chănanyâh chănanyâhû (phonetic spelling is khan-an-yaw', khan-an-yaw'-hoo) it means Jah has favoured.
In the early church we shall discover that there are two Ananias mentioned, one I will write about here, which is one of the foundational members and the other Ananias was a disciple in another town, Damascus. He was the one who God used to heal Saul who later became Paul immediately after his conversion. He was the first disciple to attend to Saul and to tell him things about Jesus and the grace of God.
This shows that though some people may be bearing the same name, but that does not mean that because they are bearing the same name, they would have the same behavior. This has been the mindset of people in some parts of the world, that when a prominent person has tarnished a name, such name should not be given to children again because they believed by so doing, such new child would in the future be exhibiting such character that the person exhibited if the child be given a name the person bear
The third Ananias mentioned in the New Testament was not a disciple, in fact he was anti-Gospel, he was a judge, a high priest who asked one of his servants to smite Apostle Paul on the cheek when presenting his defense before him. (Acts 23)
2. Probably Contemporaries of The Apostles
The writers of biblestudytools.com says he was not an ordinary believer, he probably would be one of the 120 because he was mentioned after Barnabas as we can see from the book of Acts.
“And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
“Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.” (Act 4:36-37)
“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,” (Act 5:1)
This shows the position he has occupied among the early disciples and the naïve church. But this assertion by the writers of biblestudytools.com could not be ascertained.
However, if we follow this that bilblestudytools.com writers say, then the following points would have also been true of this man, Ananias.
3. He Would Also be One of The 500
We know from the scriptures that some of Jesus disciples’ names were not mentioned, albeit, we read of seventy when Jesus was alive, and when Jesus left the world for his father and our father, we also read that there are 120 disciples who gathered in the upper room.
“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) (Act 1:15)
If he has been with the 120 in the upper room as the writers of biblestudytools.com opines, it means he would be one of the disciples who were following Jesus before his death, resurrection and ascension. He would be with them at Galilee and would have seen when Jesus was taken off them. It therefore thence means that he was unarguably among the 500 mentioned by apostle Paul in his epistle to the Corinthians.
“Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Act 1:11)
“After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.” (1 Co 15:6)
4. These Are However Sure
Though what the writers of biblestudytools.com say could not be ascertained, but the followings could not be disputed because they are documented in the bible about the man.
(a) One of the Early Converts
This man, Ananias even if he was not a member of the 120 neither the 500 brethren mentioned by Apostle Paul, it is sure from the account of Acts of the Apostles that he and his wife would be one of the early converts, perhaps be among the first 3,000 people who were added to the church on the day of Pentecost after listening to Peter’s message.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” (Act 2:41)
(b) He Was Baptized
The bible says those people who were saved were baptized by the apostles before being added to them. Thus, since he has been saved, he would be among those who have been baptized by the apostles and added to the church.
It is unlike now when people hardly find time to be baptized, then they have time to be baptized, the leaders of the apostles make time for that to happen ditto for those who have given their lives to Jesus Christ.
Poll 1: Baptism
Have you been baptized?
Poll 2: If No
Why have you not been baptized?
You must know that in this christian race, it is important for you to be baptized if you are still alive. Thus, I want to in the strongest possible terms implore thee to see that you are baptized, and God will help you as you make this resolution to be baptized in Jesus name. Amen.
(c) He Received the Gift of the Holy Ghost
Apostle Peter has told them earlier that they were not drunk with wine because the time of the day does not permit for sane men to be drunk and since they were sane people, they couldn’t have gotten themselves drunk to stupor at that time of the day. He continued in his speech that if they could repent and be converted what they were seeing in them which befuddle them, would equally happen in their lives, all they had to do first is being saved, repenting and coming to Jesus Christ.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Act 2:38)
I want to tell you that the promise is equally for you reading this, if thou can repent of your sins, renounce those sins, and give your life to Jesus Christ you will also receive the gift of Holy Ghost.
Poll 3: Holy Ghost
Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit since you believed?
That was the question apostle Paul asked those in Ephesus.
“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,
“He said unto them, have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, we have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.” (Act 19:1-2)
This promise is for you, it is for all believers all you must do after being saved is be willing to receive the gift and you will sure that God will crown your willingness by giving you his gift because he sees your heart and answers what is in our hearts.
This man, Ananias was one of those who have received the gift of Holy Ghost according to what apostle Peter said.
(d) Was Fellow-shipping with Them
He did not get converted, became baptized, received holy ghost for the fun of it, he did all these to become integrated into the new church that has been formed. He did all these to become integrated, into the church. He did not want to be left out of the movement of the hour thus he complied with all the instructions of the Apostles alongside with others.
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Act 2:41-42)
Fellowship is Greek word written as “κοινωνία”, Romanized form is koinōnia (pronounced as koy-nohn-ee'-ah) which means partnership, participation, communicate, communion, benefaction or social intercourse (association).
Poll 4: Compliance
Are you complying with biblical instructions?
We need to be complying with biblical instructions today, because it is via it that we know more about God, his likes and dislikes.
We know that this time is different from the days of the apostles, but that is why the bible has been given to all and sundry so that we shalkl be able to read it and would be able to make do of those things inside there.
I know that some people get saved through social media, V-blogging, books and tracts, and have not had direct interaction with believers most especially those who live in religious intolerant areas, thus it may not be easy for such people to be baptized like those who live in other areas and who have direct access to some spiritual leaders, but at that, they can still follow biblical injunctions that they are reading and this they should be doing because the Lord sees them, their desires and at the right time he shall ensure that what they have in mind would become established.
The people of Ephesus may be likened to you, they do not have people to put them through what it means to receive the Holy Ghost and even the baptism which were done was that of John the Baptist which was not in synchronicity with the baptism the apostles conducted on the brethren who got saved.
However, they were following what they believed was the truth, trying to do what is right to the best of their knowledge and at the nick of time, God sent someone to them who educated them, and they were baptized in Jesus name as well as received the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Thus, if you have been saved through social media, tract or bible reading like an American evangelist, Lawyer Charles Finney of blessed memory, who got saved after reading some portions of the scriptures, all you have to do is ensure that you continue in the faith, continue to be obedient to the word of God, the bible that you are reading and other social media messages that you are downloading and saving on your systems, and sooner than expected God will visit you.
And bring to pass that desire of yours to serve and know him better because that has always been his desire for mankind, and you are not an exemption even where you are in the religious intolerant city or country.
Ananias together with his wife were regularly associating with the brethren after given their lives to Jesus Christ according to this scripture
(e) Was Known as a Member
At least the church would have started for weeks before this incident happened, and it was not stated that he was an outsider, that someone from outside came to also drop something for them to be shared with the indigent people thus, he has been with them and has known what was going on, he knew the systems of things among them.
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Act 2:42)
The Greek word used for “continued” here is “ἦν”, Romanized form is ēn (phonetic spelling is ane) which has its origin from this Greek word “εἰμί” (Romanized form eimi with this pronunciation i-mee') which means I, thou, hold, use.
The Greek word for “steadfastly” is “προσκαρτερέω”, Romanized form is proskartereō (phonetic spelling is pros-kar-ter-eh'-o) which means adhere closely to, to attend assiduously to all exercises, attend (or give oneself) continually to.
Ananias like others hold unto the Apostles teachings assiduously. Though they met daily as the bible says, but all the teachings wouldn’t have been passed on them in a single day. This thence means that they would have been fellowshipping for weeks and months before the incident happened.
Before someone would be ascertained to be a member of an association in this part of the world, the person is expected to have spent 180 days in the association. Therefore, using my experience here, I want to say that he has spent at least minimum of six months of continuing interaction with the brethren after he was saved before he could be a member, and something would be taken of him by the leadership of the nascent church.
If we want to do anything, we should ensure that we do it well, do it with all our hearts. If we want to be a member of a fellowship, we should be a member and if we are not interested in the group, we should leave the place, it is not good to be playing ostrich, being one leg in one leg out of the fellowship (or a group) is not good.
When Ananias and his wife joined the brethren, they did not play ostrich with the group, they joined the group fully, and were known as members.
(f) Partaker of the Lord’s Table
One of the doctrines of the apostles is “breaking of bread”, this was impressed upon their hearts by their Lord, Jesus Christ when he ate the bread and drank the wine with them that they should always do that in remembrance of him.
“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (1 Co 11:24)
As it wasn’t long when their Lord and ours’, Jesus Christ has been taken off them, they ensure that they do what he said in remembrance of him regularly and impressed the message on the hearts of their converts, so that their hearts would be glued to things in heaven but not things on the earth.
“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart” (Act 2:46)
It would be seen that breaking of bread in the above verse is different from eating their meats. This shows that they are not the same and that the breaking of bread is talking about the communion which their Lord, Jesus asks them to be doing in remembrance of him when he is gone.
(g) Gave Himself to Prayer
He also gave himself unto prayer like others. The disciples at a time have asked their Lord before he left them to teach them how to pray like John the Baptist taught his followers and he has through several means taught them how to pray.
Thus, when he wasn’t with them again, they started practicing that which he has taught them by giving themselves to prayers alongside those who joined them.
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Act 2:42)
They need to give themselves to prayers and to teach those who have joined them because if they did not those people may be using the Mosaic means of praying to God whereas Jesus has told them what they would be using to pray unto God and what he told them was using the name of Jesus to pray unto God that whatsoever they asked in the name of Jesus God would do it for them.
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
“If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (Joh 14:13-14)
They have to teach them this because if they do not teach them how to be praying, and those people started praying as they were before, they cannot blame them, they cannot stop them. But when they have been shown how to be communing with God, if they wanted to err, they can call them to order, that such is not the means to be calling unto God.
Be it known that what you do not teach people, you cannot blame them for doing something contrary to it.
(h) He Was a Wealthy Disciple
From what we have read from the scriptures, the book of Acts of the Apostles, this man was a wealthy man, disciple, among the naïve church of Christ.
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
“And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” (Act 2:44-45)
“Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,” (Act 4:34)
It could be said from the foregoing that this man with others have been the engine for the growth and development of the early church by selling their possessions to be distributed among the needy ones among them, having known and remember what God said through prophet Moses that poor and indigent people wouldn’t cease in the land.
“For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” (Deu 15:11)
Since this religion starts immediately after the feasts of the festivals, and God has told them that during this time, they should ensure that they do not close their eyes and hands against the poor among them, they considered it right to extend their hands of love to other brethren mostly those who are poor among them.
On another note, what started on the day of Pentecost is entirely new, such hasn’t been witnessed before and because they are yet at the foundational phase of the new dispensation, a new religion, a new faith centered on Christ Jesus death, resurrection and ascension, those wealthy men among them must have considered it right to show love among the brethren ensuring that no one lacks among them because the Jesus equally told them before he departed that they should show love among themselves.
“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
“These things I command you, that ye love one another.” (Joh 15: 12, 13 & 17)
With the word of Jesus at the back of their minds, and what he has done in laying down his life for the sinners, they equally consider it right to do that for believers too so that the gospel would have accelerated growth in the country. And that was what happened.
(i) He Would Have Sold Part of His Belongings Before
For the growth and expansion of the naïve church, this man would have at a time sold some of his possessions and distributed it among the brethren as others were doing.
“And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” (Act 2:45)
Having been selling some of his possessions like others were to be given to the indigent ones among them, he yet remains hidden in the camp, he wasn’t renown like others were.
5. His Error
Having been among those who have been selling their possessions before but without due recognition, he and his wife this time around when they saw what Barnabas did also decided to like that, they reasoned together to sell a portion of their estate. After they sold the portion, they however failed to do as Barnabas did for, they hid part of the money.
“But 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.” (Act 5:1-2)
Keeping part of the money to themselves while others dropped all at the apostles’ feet was his error.
Benson commentary says he seeks vain glory, he is covetous, fraud and impiety. He adds that, what he did happened to vindicate the honor of holy spirit among the brethren. While Matthew Henry’s concise commentary of the bible says of what he did that he was ambitious of being thought eminent disciples when they were not true disciples. Hypocrites may deny themselves, may forego their worldly advantage in one instance, with a prospect of finding their account in something else vain glory, covetous of the wealth of the world, and distrustful of God and his providence. They thought they might serve both God and mammon. The crime of Ananias was not his retaining part of the price of the land; he might have kept it all, had he pleased; but his endeavoring to impose upon the apostles with an awful lie, from a desire to make a vain show, joined with covetousness.
6. He may have done that because he wants to be recognized
If we go back to what the writers of biblestudytools.com says that he was probably among the 120 in the upper room, then it means that Ananias was a special believer and disciple among the brethren but who has been hidden and was perhaps seeking for means to become popular among the brethren because he also has money, wealth like Barnabas.
His possessions may have entered his head, such that he and his wife were seeking means of recognition because they have not been accorded proper recognition among the brethren, for assuming they have, he perhaps would have been shortlisted for the person who would replace Judas Iscariot in the upper room when the shortlisting was on going, but he wasn’t shortlisted.
“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
For it is written in the book of Psalms, let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.
Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
“And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.” (Act 1:15 & 20-23)
Too much of anything has a way of controlling the possessor, it has a way of entering the head of the owner, thus any believer who knows that he possesses something in vast quantity should always guide, guard himself and not open the door of his heart to the devil, because when he opens the door of his heart to the devil and he enters, he would infiltrate the heart of the person such that evil things would be oozing out of the person’s heart instead of positive things.
This Ananias was unarguably a wealthy man, and someone says he possesses different real estates and decides to sell one among them to show others, and most especially Barnabas who have sold his’ that he was not the only person who has been blessed, he could also do similar thing without his wealth getting diminished and still be hailed among the brethren.
Apostle Paul would later talk to Timothy his spiritual son of the need to talk to those who are wealthy among the believers that
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” (1 Ti 6:17)
The word charge here is written in Greek as “παραγγέλλω”, Romanized form is paraggellō (phonetic spelling is par-ang-gel'-lo) which means enjoin.
This great Apostle and spiritual father of Bishop Timothy knows that there are rich ones in the fellowship or church he oversees and admonished his son that if he would want to usher those people to God’s kingdom, he must learn how to instruct them, how to specially talk to them that they should not allow their possessions to enter their heads lest the devil enters their hearts and takes possession of the place, which is the seat of the Holy Ghost.
Our hearts are the seats, for the Holy spirit of God, and Holy Spirit wouldn’t allow for other things, filthy things to sit with him where he is sited in our hearts, if we would allow for devilish thoughts, then he would leave our hearts.
This probably has been the case with this wonderful agelong believer with the apostles, he allowed for his heart to be entered by devil and Holy Spirit leaves the place, because a car cannot be driven by two drivers.
Poll 5: Possessions
Do you have great possessions?
Poll 6: If Yes
Do you allow your possessions to control you?
We shouldn’t allow our possessions to control for when we allow that to happen it means those possessions have been our gods. Soak your mind, heart in the word of God and your possessions would not have means of controlling you.
7. Effect of What he did on him
After agreeing with his wife to hide part of the money and take some amount to the apostles, the leader of the apostles, Peter thorough the Holy Ghost discovered him where he was hiding and asked him, if the money he brought was the real amount for which he has sold the land. He replied their leader that the amount he laid at his feet was the exact amount for which they (he and his wife) sold the land.
Then Holy Ghost through Apostle Peter said he has erred, and he shouldn’t have lied to him because when he has not sold the land, the land was his, no one compelled him to sell the land, he wasn’t under any obligations to sell the land. On another note, after he sold the land, he could have decided not to bring the money to them because the money was yet in his custody after he sold the land, and because he never informed anyone that he was going to sell the land and bring the money to the group, when he knows that his mind was not ready to give the entire sum to the group, he could still have kept the money to himself and be using it, and if he had done this there wouldn’t have been issues, but having done that and decided to lie, Holy Ghost through Apostle Peter found this as a grievous error that couldn’t be overlooked for the nascent church and he thus struck him dead on the spot.
“But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
“Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
“And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
“And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.” (Act 5:3-6)
The church was just evolving from the Mosaic Law, and as the people who transgressed the Law in the wilderness were decisively dealt with, so the Lord wants them to know that he is yet the same Lord operating in another dimension now and that the people should appreciate him and embrace the new doctrine.
… Wife Not Spared
No one anticipated what happened, for assuming they had anticipated that they perhaps would have warned the couple of what they wanted to do. But since they did not know that such would happen there is no way they could have warned the couple, neither dig the ground for which they would bury the man.
Since he wasn’t warned, and the young men among them carried the corpse of the man away, they would have taken time before they washed the man and swathed him among other things they will do before burying the man.
It will be noticed that during these time, the wife was not informed, perhaps their house was far from the fellowship center, perhaps they had been expecting her to be at the gathering but she was yet to be there, she on another note having connived with her husband may have been waiting for her husband at home to bring the good news of how things changed for him during the fellowship hours, how the leadership of the house appreciated what they did, embraced him and put him on a special seat and corner, but after waiting for hours without seeing him return, she decided to go to the fellowship place to see for himself what it was that was going on.
The bible says, by the time she does all of this and would get to the place, it was an interval of three hours.
“And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
“And Peter answered unto her, tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
“Then Peter said unto 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.
“Then fell she 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.” (Act 5:7-10)
She was in complete oblivion of what had happened and may be thinking that they wanted to appreciate the family when Apostle Peter asked her the question again.
She replied as her husband has replied the apostle and the brethren saw that it was their agreement to tell lie to the holy Ghost, that would not be allowed in the gathering if the nascent church would grow, thus Holy Ghost struck her too and she died.
Benson commentary in his commentary on these incidents says, it was not clear that Peter designed for this to happen, but after it happened, he expected it to happen to his wife too. It is expected that his conscience smote him hard and developed cardiac troubles or angel smote him as it happened in Acts 12:23.
8. General Effect on the Church
After they had died, the bible says everyone feared the Lord among the brethren. They have been surprised about the Pentecost incident, but they never knew a repetition of what happened in the wilderness that they read of could happen amidst them, for such hasn’t happened for a very long time.
“And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.” (Act 5:11)
This incident created an awareness in them that they were indeed serving a Living and a terrible God who couldn’t be toyed with. They knew that in their midst it would either be all or none, you either say the truth or don’t talk at all, you keep your words to yourself. The incident would chase off their gathering the hocus-pocus members. If there have been members like Ananias and Saphira the incident would turn the couple’s heart or make them leave the gathering entirely because God is holy, and he would discover minutest secrets of their hearts.
Someone opined that it is because something like this is not happening among the brethren today that is why the world is as polluted and as corrupted as this, for if something akin to this is happening maybe such wouldn’t be happening.
Benson commentary of the bible says of this person’s opinion that what happened, happened to vindicate the honor of holy spirit; to deter others from presumptuous conduct because others who erred afterwards weren’t punished like him (Simon, Elymas)
The first church comprised mainly of the Jews who have been skeptical about Jesus Christ before and had allowed their hearts to be clouded by lies and liars that Jesus Christ did not resurrect (Mat. 28: 11-15), now when his disciples were telling all and sundry that he resurrected something needs to be done by God to show he is the same God who worked in the wilderness that is working with the apostles presenting himself in another dimension at the end of ages, he thus did what he did to impress it upon their hearts that he was the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8) and that he will not in anyway condone unholiness in their midst.
© 2020 OLUSEGUN