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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 5 - Verse 1



Verse 1. But a certain man. In the previous chapter, the historian had given an account of the eminent liberality and sincerity of the mass of early Christians, in being willing to give up their property to provide for the poor, and had mentioned the case of Barnabas as worthy of special attention. In this chapter he proceeds to mention a case, quite as striking, of insincerity and hypocrisy, and of the just judgment of God on those who were guilty of it. The case is a remarkable instance of the nature of hypocrisy, and goes to illustrate the art and cunning of the enemy of souls in attempting to corrupt the church, and to pervert the religion of the gospel. Hypocrisy consists in an attempt to imitate the people of God, or to assume the appearance of religion, in whatever form it may be manifested. In this case religion had been manifested by great self-denial and benevolence. The hypocrisy of Ananias consisted in attempting to imitate this appearance, and to impose in this way on the early Christians and on God.

With Sapphira his wife. With her concurrence, or consent. It was a matter of agreement between them, Ac 5:2,9.

Sold a possession. The word here used kthma does not indicate whether this was land or some other property. In Ac 5:3, however, we learn that it was land that was sold; and the word here translated possession, is translated in the Syriac, Arabic, and the Latin Vulgate, land. The pretence for which this was sold was doubtless to have the appearance of religion. That it was sold could be easily known by the Christian society, but it might not be so easily known for how much it was sold. Hence the attempt to impose on the apostles. It is clear that they were not under obligation to sell their property. But having sold it for the purposes of religion, it became their duty, if they professed to devote the avails of it to God, to do it entirely, and without any reservation.

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