Scripture Reference: Acts through Because so many Jewish Christians stayed in Jerusalem after Pentecost, some Christians sold property and gave the money to the church so those in need could have enough. Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, sold some of their property and then decided to give part of the money to the church. They proceeded to lie and say that they had given it all. Peter confronted Ananias in front of the church and told him that by doing this he had lied to God. Ananias fell down dead. Unaware of what had happened to her husband, Sapphira came before the church and lied again about the money.
She too fell down dead. The whole church was afraid. Click here for an overview of the Book of Acts. The event of Ananias and Sapphira is set against the backdrop of life in the early church. The church was on fire and growing rapidly every day. Passages such as Acts and Acts describe the unity of the early church and of selling their possessions and sharing with those in need. In the minds and hearts of these Christians, everything they owned was held in common. Private ownership only existed in this early Jerusalem church for the sake of the whole church You will see this is the practice in the story of Ananias and Sapphira.
During His ministry Jesus had encouraged his followers to not hold to any material attachments in this world, knowing that they would one day have to literally leave everything behind, whether due to persecution or the pending destruction of Jerusalem, or to the call of God. Jesus also taught the importance of caring for those in need through His words and example.
With these teachings in mind it is not surprising that the early church radically embraced these ideals in selling their property and sharing their profits. Understanding this backdrop is vital to understanding the gravity of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira and the harshness of their punishment.
Ananias and Sapphira were under no enforced obligation to give all of their profits to the church but as all property was no longer considered private there appeared to be an accepted agreement in the early church for complete honesty financially and morally. So the real sin of Ananias and Sapphira was not withholding money but the fact that they were lying to cover up the fact that they were publicly saying they gave all the money to the apostles while secretly keeping some of the proceeds for themselves.
It is important to understand why the punishment for Ananias and Sapphira was as harsh as it was. As modern day Christians we struggle with this idea of God smiting them in an atmosphere of the New Covenant and Grace. It does seem like an Old Testament thing to do. The incident of Ananias and Sapphira was the first noted internal spiritual attack in church history. God needed to protect the purity and the witness of the church. Should that lie have been overlooked or allowed to stand as it was, it would have allowed for further dishonesty, corruption and hypocrisy and thus could have destroyed the fledgling church.
Ananias and Sapphira were killed both as an example and as an act of protection. When teaching this story with the background in mind, it could be useful to explain why God takes dishonesty so seriously. Dishonesty can destroy marriages, families, churches, relationships and our witness. It hurts us. It hurts others. It hurts God. If we are honest, even when we make a mistake, things can be made better. Share a personal story about a time when you or someone you know told a lie which led to more lies or negative consequences.
Take care to be age appropriate. We can learn important lessons from the Bible. The book of Acts tells about some important things that the first Christians learned. This story is about a very serious lesson they learned about telling the truth. The church in Jerusalem grew bigger and bigger every day. People heard about Jesus and then told other people. Soon hundreds and hundreds and even thousands of people decided to follow Jesus and were baptised.
There were many different kinds of people in the church. Some were poor and some were rich. But everyone shared what they had so that no one would be hungry or not have a place to live.
One good man, named Joseph, owned a field and had a good idea. He sold the field and took all the money he earned to the apostles. The apostles shared the money with those who needed it. Everyone was happy to share what they had. Everyone, that is, except a man, Ananias, and his wife, Sapphira.
In the Bible we read that Ananias and Sapphira owned some property just like Joseph did. They decided to sell it and give the money to the apostles like Joseph had done. The apostles could share the money with those in need and everyone would see how generous they were.
They wanted to keep some to themselves. So Ananias made a plan. They would tell everyone that they were giving ALL the money to the apostles but, really, they would secretly keep some back for themselves. They thought they could tell this lie and no one would ever find out.
So Ananias hid some of the money and took the rest to the apostles. You can give to people who need it. But you decided to tell a lie about it in front of all of these people.
You have lied to God. You have lied to the Holy Spirit. Right after Peter said this everyone was shocked to see Ananias fall down and die. This was very serious! About three hours later Sapphira came to the same place. No one had told her about Ananias so she did not know what had happened earlier. He said that this is all the money. Is that the truth? Is this all the money? It is all the money. It is a very serious thing to lie to God! And everyone was shocked again when Sapphira fell down and died just like her husband did.
Sapphira was taken out and buried by her husband. They news spread to everyone. The Christians had learned an important lesson. They knew that lying was very serious to God and that they should always tell the truth. This story can be told using a variety of methods. Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods. Click here to download these illustrations and the slideshow.
Be selective. Too many illustrations can be confusing so eliminate any that cover other stories or details you do not wish to emphasise in this lesson. How to choose the best learning activities for my teaching situation.
Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson. God bless you more. You are most welcome. I hope your class about Ananias and Sapphira went well on Sunday.
Keep on teaching those children! This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Story Overview: Because so many Jewish Christians stayed in Jerusalem after Pentecost, some Christians sold property and gave the money to the church so those in need could have enough. Like this: Like Loading God bless you more Loading Mary Loading Older Comments. Leave a Reply Cancel reply. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email.