Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Acts 5:1-16 

warm up
   1. Which of the following would you say is the worst kind of lie and discuss why? 
   [  } 1. A whopper of a black lie.
   [  ] 2. A little white lie.
   [  ] 3. A half truth.
   2. Where will "all liars" go according to Revelation 21:8? Does this include lying Christians?
wise up

The events that took place in this chapter were a "wake up call" to Christians in the first century and a warning to those who live in this century. There are few sins more hideous than telling lies regardless of the reason. We may get away with deceiving others. We may become very apt in telling lies with a straight face. But when one lies to God, how does he or she really expect to get away with it?  

I. Lies are deceitful: Vs. 1-4, 8-9
   1. If there is one thing that Jesus did not want his followers to be it was "hypocritical." (Matthew 5-7.) Hypocrisy is play acting. It is pretending to be something that you really aren't. 
   2. In the early church some like Barnabas (Acts 4:36) gained a good reputation as being benevolent. They gave because of their love for Christ and for those who had need. But in the case of Ananias and Sapphira, we see the first recorded case of hypocrisy. Wanting to be recognized as a benevolent benefactor may not be very dignified, but that was not their sin. The sin came when they lied and pretended to be more generous than they actually were. 
   3. Is there any indication that it was mandatory that this couple sell their possession and give all the money to the apostles to be distributed among the needy? Could they have given part and kept part (as they did) and still have been pleasing to the Lord? Where did they go wrong? 
   4. In verse 3, Peter said that Satan filled the heart of Ananias to lie but verse 4 says that Ananias conceived this thing in his heart.  Did Satan "make" him lie? Satan may plant a thought or place a temptation in our pathway, but who has the final say as to what we do with that thought or temptation? 

II. Lies are deadly: Vs. 5-10
   1. Aren't you glad that God does not punish us today when we sin as quickly as he did Ananias and Sapphira? How did they die? Why was Sapphira held as accountable as her husband? (vs. 9.) 
   2. What does this story reveal about the wrath of God? When God's judgment comes is there time for repentance? What lessons should we learn from what happened to this couple? 
   3. There are some Christians who are obvious "tightwads." They don't attempt to deceive others into thinking that they are generous in their giving. They may proudly say, "I'm not a hypocrite. I don't pretend to be giving generously." Such people cannot be accused of seeking the praise of men like Ananias and Sapphira, but they will be held accountable for their covetousness and selfishness just the same. Don't misunderstand this story.... while it was hypocrisy and lying to God (Vs. 4) that caused God's judgment to come upon this Christian couple, there was also covetousness in their hearts. Covetousness plus vanity plus lies can become a deadly combination.

    [Note: Lying to the Holy Ghost (Vs. 3) is the same as lying to God (vs. 4). 
    The Holy Ghost is not a feeling or an "it." These two verses teach us that
    the Holy Spirit is deity.] 

III. Lies are demeaning: Vs. 11-16
   1. Discuss the consequences and implications regarding the power of God, respect for the authority of the apostles and reverence for the Holy Spirit, if this couple had gotten away with their lies and hypocrisy! The fact that they did not get away with lies and deception quickly spread through out the community of Christians and non-Christians. What was the result? What does a wholesome fear of God do for people? 
   2 Verses 12-16 are interesting consequences of what happened next. Immediately the apostles, with one accord, did many miracles at Solomon's porch near the temple. But verse 13 says that the "rest" (meaning the rest of the church) did not dare join or associate with them. While the people (non-Christians) magnified the apostles, the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira caused the brethren to be afraid of the apostles. Apostolic authority and the power of the Holy Spirit had taken on a higher level of respect among the brethren. 
  Meanwhile the non-Christian community magnified the apostles because of the miraculous demonstration of power. (Vs. 13b.) Even the shadow of Peter had a miraculous effect upon the sick. According to verse 16, how many were healed?
   4. This display of God's power and judgment caused multitudes of both men and "women" to believe. (Vs. 14.) It is interesting that in Acts 2:47, we read that the Lord "added to the church. . ." But what were the believers "added to" according to Acts 5:14? Are both of those verses saying the same thing?

wrap up

   1. There would never be any greater display of the authority and power of the Holy Spirit working through the apostles than in this chapter. The fear and faith that it produced was "great."    


  Please read Acts 5:17 - 42 for next week   copyright 2001