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Ananias and Sapphira

Marvel (4-5)Year 1Unit 4 (Marvel at the Holy Spirit’s Work)Session 1

Ananias and Sapphira

Members of the Christian community should be honest, sincere, and truthful and should not be concerned with being number one in the community.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Develop a sense of responsibility toward the Christian community we are a part of.
  • Be truthful, sincere, and caring in our relationships with other members of the Christian community.
  • Participate in an act of love and generosity toward someone in the congregation.
  • Ask for the Spirit's help in putting the needs of others before our own needs.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

I'm always amazed at the sheer skill of Luke as he tells the exciting story of the early church. Right from the start he lets us know that the early church in Jerusalem shared money and property with each other freely. Any reader has to wonder, How did that work out? Luke answers that question by setting before us a very positive example and a very troubling negative example.

The story begins with Barnabas, a believer who humbly brought a generous gift to the church. He sold the field that belonged to him and laid the proceeds at the apostle's feet. No wonder he's called Barnabas, "son of encouragement"; every time we meet him in this book of Acts he's helping or encouraging someone.

Immediately after we are introduced to Barnabas, we meet Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. Having seen how Barnabas was honored for his sacrificial act, Ananias and Sapphira probably wanted the same honor but were unwilling to make the same sacrifice. They too lay the proceeds from the sale of land at the apostles' feet, but in doing so they are complicit in a lie. While they appear to be giving all the proceeds, they have kept back some for themselves. Of course, they didn't have to give anything at all. The sharing of property was completely voluntary.

Somehow Peter smelled out the plot and confronted Ananias with his lie. He pinpointed exactly what was happening. "You have not lied just to human beings but to God."

Ananias dropped dead on the spot. Bystanders carried him out and buried him. Not long afterward his wife, Sapphira, came to see Peter, not knowing what had happened to her husband. Peter probed her with the same question, asking the price they had gotten for the land. Sapphira repeated the lie her husband had told them, and she too died on the spot.

We have lots of questions. Were they killed because they told a lie? Not everyone who lies is struck dead. Did Ananias and Sapphira die because they broke the unity of the community? Perhaps. But the deepest reason seems to be that these two brought the spirit of evil---of Satan, the original liar---into the church, the place where the Spirit of God lives and rules.

Clearly Luke points us to the reaction of the other members of the church. Twice he tells us that "great fear" seized them all. Does this mean that we are to live in fear of God's punishment? No, it means that the Holy Spirit is truly the one who creates and sustains the fellowship of believers. We must stand in awe of the Spirit's presence and be deeply thankful for it.

Today, we tend to think of the church as a voluntary organization that we may freely join and that should answer to our needs and desires. In the Bible the church is the creation of the Holy Spirit, who brings us into fellowship with Christ and each other. While this story does not teach us to be afraid in church, it does teach us to take our place in its fellowship very seriously.

  • What motivated the church in Jerusalem to share wealth and goods with each other? Was it a mistake? Do you think it would work today?

  • How did Peter know what was going on? Did he entrap Sapphira?

  • How do you feel about this story, and why do you think Luke chose to include it in his story of the early church?

  • This will be a difficult story for the kids in your group to understand. It may not seem “fair” to them that Ananias and Sapphira had to die for a lie. It’s not your job to make it seem right or fair. All you have to do is say that the Holy Spirit wanted us to hear this story, and ask why that might be.

  • Kids will be interested in the common purse idea. It may be helpful to distinguish between the practice of a common purse and the principle of equality and discuss the pros and cons of the practice.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

  • music smart
  • self smart
  • word smart
  • ​​people smart

During the coming unit, you’ll be living into some stories about the early Christian community—a community that was welcoming, encouraging, generous, and filled with God’s Spirit. As you welcome the members of your group each week, try to give them a sense of that community. Take time to talk to each of them personally—to ask about their lives and show that you care about them. Use questions of your own or ask one question, such as What’s the best or worst thing that happened to you this week? Make sure kids feel welcomed and cared for in your group.

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